Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Friendship
The Dead Friend
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
From “In Memoriam”

THE PATH by which we twain did go,
  Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
  Through four sweet years arose and fell,
From flower to flower, from snow to snow.
*        *        *        *        *
But where the path we walked began        5
  To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
  As we descended, following Hope,
There sat the Shadow feared of man;
*        *        *        *        *
Who broke our fair companionship,
  And spread his mantle dark and cold,        10
  And wrapped thee formless in the fold,
And dulled the murmur on thy lip.
*        *        *        *        *
When each by turns was guide to each,
  And Fancy light from Fancy caught,
  And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought        15
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech;
And all we met was fair and good,
  And all was good that Time could bring,
  And all the secret of the Spring
Moved in the chambers of the blood;        20
I know that this was Life,—the track
  Whereon with equal feet we fared;
  And then, as now, the day prepared
The daily burden for the back.
But this it was that made me move        25
  As light as carrier-birds in air;
  I loved the weight I had to bear
Because it needed help of Love:
Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
  When mighty Love would cleave in twain        30
  The lading of a single pain,
And part it, giving half to him.
*        *        *        *        *
But I remained, whose hopes were dim,
  Whose life, whose thoughts were little worth,
  To wander on a darkened earth,        35
Where are all things round me breathed of him.
O friendship, equal-poised control,
  O heart, with kindliest motion warm,
  O sacred essence, other form,
O solemn ghost, O crownèd soul!        40
Yet none could better know than I,
  How much of act at human hands
  The sense of human will demands,
By which we dare to live or die.
Whatever way my days decline,        45
  I felt and feel, though left alone,
  His being working in mine own,
The footsteps of his life in mine.
*        *        *        *        *
My pulses therefore beat again
  For other friends that once I met;        50
  Nor can it suit me to forget
The mighty hopes that make us men.
I woo your love: I count it crime
  To mourn for any overmuch;
  I, the divided half of such        55
A friendship as had mastered Time;
Which masters Time, indeed, and is
  Eternal, separate from fears:
  The all-assuming months and years
Can take no part away from this.
*        *        *        *        *
O days and hours, your work is this,
  To hold me from my proper place,
  A little while from his embrace,
For fuller gain of after bliss:
That out of distance might ensue
  Desire of nearness doubly sweet;        65
  And unto meeting when we meet,
Delight a hundred-fold accrue.
*        *        *        *        *
*        *        *        *        *
The hills are shadows, and they flow
  From form to form, and nothing stands;
  They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.        70
But in my spirit will I dwell,
  And dream my dream, and hold it true;
  For tho’ my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.