Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman
   English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
640. Love Thou Thy Land
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
LOVE thou thy land, with love far-brought
  From out the storied past, and used
  Within the present, but transfused
Thro’ future time by power of thought;
True love turn’d round on fixed poles,        5
  Love, that endures not sordid ends,
  For English natures, freemen, friends,
Thy brothers, and immortal souls.
But pamper not a hasty time,
  Nor feed with crude imaginings        10
  The herd, wild hearts and feeble wings
That every sophister can lime.
Deliver not the tasks of might
  To weakness, neither hide the ray
  From those, not blind, who wait for day,        15
Tho’ sitting girt with doubtful light.
Make knowledge circle with the winds;
  But let her herald, Reverence, fly
  Before her to whatever sky
Bear seed of men and growth of minds.        20
Watch what main-currents draw the years:
  Cut Prejudice against the grain.
  But gentle words are always gain;
Regard the weakness of thy peers.
Nor toil for title, place, or touch        25
  Of pension, neither count on praise
  It grows to guerdon after-days.
Nor deal in watch-words overmuch;
Not clinging to some ancient saw,
  Not master’d by some modern term,        30
  Not swift nor slow to change, but firm;
And in its season bring the law,
That from Discussion’s lip may fall
  With Life that, working strongly, binds—
  Set in all lights by many minds,        35
To close the interests of all.
For Nature also, cold and warm,
  And moist and dry, devising long,
  Thro’ many agents making strong,
Matures the individual form.        40
Meet is it changes should control
  Our being, lest we rust in ease.
  We all are changed by still degrees,
All but the basis of the soul.
So let the change which comes be free        45
  To ingroove itself with that which flies,
  And work, a joint of state, that plies
Its office, moved with sympathy.
A saying hard to shape in act;
  For all the past of Time reveals        50
  A bridal dawn of thunder-peals,
Wherever Thought hath wedded Fact.
Even now we hear with inward strife
  A motion toiling in the gloom—
  The Spirit of the years to come        55
Yearning to mix himself with Life.
A slow-develop’d strength awaits
  Completion in a painful school;
  Phantoms of other forms of rule,
New Majesties of mighty States—        60
The warders of the growing hour,
  But vague in vapor, hard to mark;
  And round them sea and air are dark
With great contrivances of Power.
Of many changes, aptly join’d,        65
  Is bodied forth the second whole.
  Regard gradation, lest the soul
Of Discord race the rising wind;
A wind to puff your idol-fires,
  And heap their ashes on the head;        70
  To shame the boast so often made,
That we are wiser than our sires.
O, yet, if Nature’s evil star
  Drive men in manhood, as in youth,
  To follow flying steps of Truth        75
Across the brazen bridge of war—
If New and Old, disastrous feud,
  Must ever shock, like armed foes,
  And this be true, till Time shall close
That Principles are rain’d in blood;        80
Not yet the wise of heart would cease
  To hold his hope thro’ shame and guilt,
  But with his hand against the hilt,
Would pace the troubled land, like Peace;
Not less, tho’ dogs of Faction bay,        85
  Would serve his kind in deed and word,
  Certain, if knowledge bring the sword,
That knowledge takes the sword away—
Would love the gleams of love that broke
  From either side, nor veil his eyes;        90
  And if some dreadful need should rise
Would strike, and firmly, and one stroke.
To-morrow yet would reap to-day,
  As we bear blossom of the dead;
  Earn well the thrifty months, nor wed        95
Raw Haste, half-sister to Delay.


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