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.
“Oh That ’Twere Possible”
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
From ‘Maud’

OH that ’twere possible
  After long grief and pain
To find the arms of my true love
  Round me once again!
When I was wont to meet her        5
  In the silent woody places
    By the home that gave me birth,
  We stood tranced in long embraces,
Mixt with kisses sweeter, sweeter,
    Than anything on earth.        10
A shadow flits before me,
  Not thou, but like to thee:
Ah Christ! that it were possible
  For one short hour to see
The souls we loved, that they might tell us        15
  What and where they be.
It leads me forth at evening;
  It lightly winds and steals
In a cold white robe before me,
  When all my spirit reels        20
At the shouts, the leagues of lights,
  And the roaring of the wheels.
Half the night I waste in sighs,
  Half in dreams I sorrow after
The delight of early skies;        25
  In a wakeful doze I sorrow
For the hand, the lips, the eyes,
  For the meeting of the morrow,
The delight of happy laughter,
  The delight of low replies.        30
’Tis a morning pure and sweet,
  And a dewy splendor falls
On the little flower that clings
  To the turrets and the walls;
’Tis a morning pure and sweet,        35
And the light and shadow fleet:
  She is walking in the meadow,
    And the woodland echo rings;
In a moment we shall meet;
  She is singing in the meadow,        40
And the rivulet at her feet
  Ripples on in light and shadow
    To the ballad that she sings.
Do I hear her sing as of old,
  My bird with the shining head,        45
My own dove with the tender eye?
But there rings on a sudden a passionate cry,
  There is some one dying or dead,
And a sullen thunder is rolled;
For a tumult shakes the city,        50
  And I wake—my dream is fled;
In the shuddering dawn, behold,
Without knowledge, without pity,
  By the curtains of my bed
That abiding phantom cold.        55
Get thee hence, nor come again;
  Mix not memory with doubt;
Pass, thou deathlike type of pain,
  Pass and cease to move about!
’Tis the blot upon the brain        60
  That will show itself without.
Then I rise; the eavedrops fall,
  And the yellow vapors choke
    The great city sounding wide;
The day comes, a dull red ball        65
  Wrapt in drifts of lurid smoke
    On the misty river-tide.
Through the hubbub of the market
  I steal, a wasted frame;
It crosses here, it crosses there,        70
Through all that crowd confused and loud,
  The shadow still the same;
And on my heavy eyelids
  My anguish hangs like shame.
Alas for her that met me,        75
  That heard me softly call,
Came glimmering through the laurels
  At the quiet evenfall,
In the garden by the turrets
  Of the old manorial hall.        80
Would the happy spirit descend,
  From the realms of light and song,
In the chamber or the street,
  As she looks among the blest,—
Should I fear to greet my friend,        85
  Or to say “Forgive the wrong,”
Or to ask her, “Take me, sweet,
  To the regions of thy rest?”
But the broad light glares and beats,
And the shadow flits and fleets        90
  And will not let me be:
And I loathe the squares and streets,
And the faces that one meets,
  Hearts with no love for me;
Always I long to creep        95
Into some still cavern deep,
There to weep, and weep, and weep
  My whole soul out to thee.

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