Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘In Memoriam’
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
STRONG Son of God, immortal Love,
  Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
  By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove:
Thine are these orbs of light and shade;        5
  Thou madest Life in man and brute;
  Thou madest Death: and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
  Thou madest man, he knows not why,—        10
  He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.
Thou seemest human and divine,
  The highest, holiest manhood, thou:
  Our wills are ours, we know not how;        15
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
Our little systems have their day;
  They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
  And thou, O Lord, art more than they.        20
We have but faith; we cannot know:
  For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
  A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more,        25
  But more of reverence in us dwell;
  That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster. We are fools and slight;
  We mock thee when we do not fear:        30
  But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.
Forgive what seemed my sin in me;
  What seemed my worth since I began:
  For merit lives from man to man,        35
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.
Forgive my grief for one removed,—
  Thy creature, whom I found so fair:
  I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.        40
Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
  Confusions of a wasted youth;
  Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

I ENVY not in any moods
  The captive void of noble rage,
  The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods;
I envy not the beast that takes
  His license in the field of time,        50
  Unfettered by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
Nor, what may count itself as blest,
  The heart that never plighted troth,
  But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;        55
Nor any want-begotten rest.
I hold it true, whate’er befall,—
  I feel it when I sorrow most,—
  ’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.        60

THAT each, who seems a separate whole,
  Should move his rounds, and fusing all
  The skirts of self again, should fall
Remerging in the general Soul,
Is faith as vague as all unsweet:        65
  Eternal form shall still divide
  The eternal soul from all beside;
And I shall know him when we meet;
And we shall sit at endless feast,
  Enjoying each the other’s good:        70
  What vaster dream can hit the mood
Of Love on earth? He seeks at least
Upon the last and sharpest height,
  Before the spirits fade away,
  Some landing-place, to clasp and say,        75
“Farewell! We lose ourselves in light.”

OH yet we trust that somehow good
  Will be the final goal of ill,
  To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;        80
That nothing walks with aimless feet;
  That not one life shall be destroyed,
  Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;
That not a worm is cloven in vain;        85
  That not a moth with vain desire
  Is shriveled in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another’s gain.
Behold, we know not anything;
  I can but trust that good shall fall        90
  At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.
So runs my dream: but what am I?
  An infant crying in the night;
  An infant crying for the light:        95
And with no language but a cry.
*        *        *
The wish, that of the living whole
  No life may fail beyond the grave,
  Derives it not from what we have
The likest God within the soul?        100
Are God and Nature then at strife,
  That Nature lends such evil dreams?
  So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;
That I, considering everywhere        105
  Her secret meaning in her deeds,
  And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,
I falter where I firmly trod,
  And falling with my weight of cares        110
  Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
That slope through darkness up to God,
I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
  And gather dust and chaff, and call
  To what I feel is Lord of all,        115
And faintly trust the larger hope.
*        *        *
“So careful of the type?” but no.
  From scarpèd cliff and quarried stone
  She cries, “A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing; all shall go.        120
“Thou makest thine appeal to me:
  I bring to life, I bring to death;
  The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more.” And he, shall he,
Man, her last work, who seemed so fair,        125
  Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
  Who rolled the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
Who trusted God was love indeed,
  And love Creation’s final law,—        130
  Though Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shrieked against his creed,—
Who loved, who suffered countless ills,
  Who battled for the True, the Just,—
  Be blown about the desert dust,        135
Or sealed within the iron hills?
No more? A monster then, a dream,
  A discord. Dragons of the prime,
  That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music matched with him.        140
O life as futile, then, as frail!
  Oh for thy voice to soothe and bless!
  What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.

RING out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
  The flying cloud, the frosty light:
  The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
  Ring, happy bells, across the snow;        150
  The year is going, let him go:
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
  For those that here we see no more;
  Ring out the feud of rich and poor,        155
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
  And ancient forms of party strife;
  Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.        160
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
  The faithless coldness of the times;
  Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,        165
  The civic slander and the spite;
  Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
  Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;        170
  Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
  The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
  Ring out the darkness of the land,        175
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

LOVE is and was my Lord and King,
  And in his presence I attend
  To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.        180
Love is and was my King and Lord,
  And will be, though as yet I keep
  Within his court on earth, and sleep
Encompassed by his faithful guard,
And hear at times a sentinel        185
  Who moves about from place to place,
  And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.

O LIVING will that shalt endure
  When all that seems shall suffer shock,        190
  Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow through our deeds and make them pure;
That we may lift from out of dust
  A voice as unto him that hears,
  A cry above the conquered years        195
To one that with us works, and trust,
With faith that comes of self-control,
  The truths that never can be proved
  Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.        200

O TRUE and tried, so well and long,
  Demand not thou a marriage lay;
  In that it is thy marriage day
Is music more than any song.
Nor have I felt so much of bliss        205
  Since first he told me that he loved
  A daughter of our house; nor proved
Since that dark day a day like this:
Though I since then have numbered o’er
  Some thrice three years; they went and came,        210
  Remade the blood and changed the frame,
And yet is love not less, but more:
No longer caring to embalm
  In dying songs a dead regret,
  But like a statue solid-set,        215
And molded in colossal calm.
Regret is dead, but love is more
  Than in the summers that are flown,
  For I myself with these have grown
To something greater than before;        220
Which makes appear the songs I made
  As echoes out of weaker times,
  As half but idle brawling rhymes,
The sport of random sun and shade.
But where is she, the bridal flower,        225
  That must be made a wife ere noon?
  She enters, glowing like the moon
Of Eden on its bridal bower:
On me she bends her blissful eyes,
  And then on thee; they meet thy look,        230
  And brighten like the star that shook
Betwixt the palms of Paradise.
Oh, when her life was yet in bud,
  He too foretold the perfect rose.
  For thee she grew, for thee she grows        235
For ever, and as fair as good.
And thou art worthy: full of power,
  As gentle; liberal-minded, great,
  Consistent; wearing all that weight
Of learning lightly like a flower.        240
But now set out: the noon is near,
  And I must give away the bride;
  She fears not, or with thee beside
And me behind her, will not fear.
For I that danced her on my knee,        245
  That watched her on her nurse’s arm,
  That shielded all her life from harm,
At last must part with her to thee:
Now waiting to be made a wife,
  Her feet, my darling, on the dead;        250
  Their pensive tablets round her head,
And the most living words of life
Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,
  The “wilt thou” answered, and again
  The “wilt thou” asked, till out of twain        255
Her sweet “I will” has made you one.
Now sign your names, which shall be read,
  Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
  By village eyes as yet unborn;—
The names are signed, and overhead        260
Begins the clash and clang that tells
  The joy to every wandering breeze;
  The blind wall rocks, and on the trees
The dead leaf trembles to the bells.
O happy hour, and happier hours        265
  Await them. Many a merry face
  Salutes them—maidens of the place,
That pelt us in the porch with flowers.
O happy hour, behold the bride
  With him to whom her hand I gave.        270
  They leave the porch, they pass the grave
That has to-day its sunny side.
To-day the grave is bright for me;
  For them the light of life increased.
  Who stay to share the morning feast,        275
Who rest to-night beside the sea.
Let all my genial spirits advance
  To meet and greet a whiter sun;
  My drooping memory will not shun
The foaming grape of eastern France.        280
It circles round, and fancy plays,
  And hearts are warmed and faces bloom,
  As drinking health to bride and groom
We wish them store of happy days.
Nor count me all to blame if I        285
  Conjecture of a stiller guest,
  Perchance, perchance, among the rest,
And though in silence, wishing joy.
But they must go,—the time draws on,
  And those white-favored horses wait:        290
  They rise, but linger; it is late:
Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.
A shade falls on us like the dark
  From little cloudlets on the grass;
  But sweeps away as out we pass        295
To range the woods, to roam the park,
Discussing how their courtship grew,
  And talk of others that are wed,
  And how she looked, and what he said,—
And back we come at fall of dew.        300
Again the feast, the speech, the glee,
  The shade of passing thought, the wealth
  Of words and wit, the double health,
The crowning cup, the three-times-three.
And last the dance;—till I retire.        305
  Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,
  And high in heaven the streaming cloud,
And on the downs a rising fire:
And rise, O moon, from yonder down,
  Till over down and over dale        310
  All night the shining vapor sail
And pass the silent-lighted town,
The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,
  And catch at every mountain head,
  And o’er the friths that branch and spread        315
Their sleeping silver through the hills;
And touch with shade the bridal doors,
  With tender gloom the roof, the wall;
  And breaking let the splendor fall
To spangle all the happy shores        320
By which they rest, and ocean sounds,
  And, star and system rolling past,
  A soul shall draw from out the vast
And strike his being into bounds,
And, moved through life of lower phase,        325
  Result in man, be born and think,
  And act and love, a closer link
Betwixt us and the crowning race
Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
  On knowledge: under whose command        330
  Is Earth and Earth’s, and in their hand
Is Nature like an open book:
No longer half akin to brute,
  For all we thought and loved and did
  And hoped and suffered, is but seed        335
Of what in them is flower and fruit;
Whereof the man that with me trod
  This planet was a noble type,
  Appearing ere the times were ripe,—
That friend of mine who lives in God;        340
That God which ever lives and loves,—
  One God, one law, one element,
  And one far-off Divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.

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