Tennyson's Poems


First printed in 1833. When reprinted in 1842 the alterations noted were then made, and after that the text remained unchanged.


Thy dark eyes open'd not,

Nor first reveal'd themselves to English air,

For there is nothing here,

Which, from the outward to the inward brought,

Moulded thy baby thought.

Far off from human neighbourhood,

Thou wert born, on a summer morn,

A mile beneath the cedar-wood.

Thy bounteous forehead was not fann'd

With breezes from our oaken glades,

But thou wert nursed in some delicious land

Of lavish lights, and floating shades:

And flattering thy childish thought

The oriental fairy brought,

At the moment of thy birth,

From old well-heads of haunted rills,

And the hearts of purple hills,

And shadow'd coves on a sunny shore,

The choicest wealth of all the earth,

Jewel or shell, or starry ore,

To deck thy cradle, Eleaenore. [1]


Or the yellow-banded bees, [2]

Thro' [3] half-open lattices

Coming in the scented breeze,

Fed thee, a child, lying alone,

With whitest honey in fairy gardens cull'd--

A glorious child, dreaming alone,

In silk-soft folds, upon yielding down,

With the hum of swarming bees

Into dreamful slumber lull'd.


Who may minister to thee?

Summer herself should minister

To thee, with fruitage golden-rinded

On golden salvers, or it may be,

Youngest Autumn, in a bower

Grape-thicken'd from the light, and blinded

With many a deep-hued bell-like flower

Of fragrant trailers, when the air

Sleepeth over all the heaven,

And the crag that fronts the Even,

All along the shadowing shore,

Crimsons over an inland [4] mere,

[5] Eleaenore!


How may full-sail'd verse express,

How may measured words adore

The full-flowing harmony

Of thy swan-like stateliness,


The luxuriant symmetry

Of thy floating gracefulness,


Every turn and glance of thine,

Every lineament divine,


And the steady sunset glow,

That stays upon thee? For in thee

Is nothing sudden, nothing single;

Like two streams of incense free

From one censer, in one shrine,

Thought and motion mingle,

Mingle ever. Motions flow

To one another, even as tho' [6]

They were modulated so

To an unheard melody,

Which lives about thee, and a sweep

Of richest pauses, evermore

Drawn from each other mellow-deep;

Who may express thee, Eleaenore?


I stand before thee, Eleanore;

I see thy beauty gradually unfold,

Daily and hourly, more and more.

I muse, as in a trance, the while

Slowly, as from a cloud of gold,

Comes out thy deep ambrosial smile. [7]

I muse, as in a trance, whene'er

The languors of thy love-deep eyes

Float on to me. _I_ would _I_ were

So tranced, so rapt in ecstacies,

To stand apart, and to adore,

Gazing on thee for evermore,

Serene, imperial Eleanore!


Sometimes, with most intensity

Gazing, I seem to see

Thought folded over thought, smiling asleep,

Slowly awaken'd, grow so full and deep

In thy large eyes, that, overpower'd quite,

I cannot veil, or droop my sight,

But am as nothing in its light:

As tho' [8] a star, in inmost heaven set,

Ev'n while we gaze on it,

Should slowly round his orb, and slowly grow

To a full face, there like a sun remain

Fix'd--then as slowly fade again,

And draw itself to what it was before;

So full, so deep, so slow,

Thought seems to come and go

In thy large eyes, imperial Eleanore.


As thunder-clouds that, hung on high,

Roof'd the world with doubt and fear, [9]

Floating thro' an evening atmosphere,

Grow golden all about the sky;

In thee all passion becomes passionless,

Touch'd by thy spirit's mellowness,

Losing his fire and active might

In a silent meditation,

Falling into a still delight,

And luxury of contemplation:

As waves that up a quiet cove

Rolling slide, and lying still

Shadow forth the banks at will: [10]

Or sometimes they swell and move,

Pressing up against the land,

With motions of the outer sea:

And the self-same influence

Controlleth all the soul and sense

Of Passion gazing upon thee.

His bow-string slacken'd, languid Love,

Leaning his cheek upon his hand, [11]

Droops both his wings, regarding thee,

And so would languish evermore,

Serene, imperial Eleaenore.


But when I see thee roam, with tresses unconfined,

While the amorous, odorous wind

Breathes low between the sunset and the moon;

Or, in a shadowy saloon,

On silken cushions half reclined;

I watch thy grace; and in its place

My heart a charmed slumber keeps, [12]

While I muse upon thy face;

And a languid fire creeps

Thro' my veins to all my frame,

Dissolvingly and slowly: soon

From thy rose-red lips MY name

Floweth; and then, as in a swoon, [13]

With dinning sound my ears are rife,

My tremulous tongue faltereth,

I lose my colour, I lose my breath,

I drink the cup of a costly death,

Brimm'd with delirious draughts of warmest life.

I die with my delight, before

I hear what I would hear from thee;

Yet tell my name again to me,

I _would_ [14] be dying evermore,

So dying ever, Eleaenore.

[Footnote 1: With the picture of Eleaenore may be compared the] description which Ibycus gives of Euryalus. See Bergk's 'Anthologia Lyrica' (Ibycus), p. 396.

[Footnote 2: With yellow banded bees 'cf'. Keats's "yellow girted bees,"] 'Endymion', i. With this may be compared Pindar's beautiful picture of lamus, who was also fed on honey, 'Olympian', vi., 50-80.

[Footnote 3: 1833 and 1842. Through.]

[Footnote 4: Till 1857. Island.]

[Footnote 5: 1833. Meer.]

[Footnote 6: 1842 and 1843. Though.]

[Footnote 7: Ambrosial, the Greek sense of [Greek: ambrosios], divine.]

[Footnote 8: 1833 to 1851. Though.]

[Footnote 9: 1833. Did roof noonday with doubt and fear.]

[Footnote 10: 1833.]

As waves that from the outer deep

Roll into a quiet cove,

There fall away, and lying still,

Having glorious dreams in sleep,

Shadow forth the banks at will.

[Footnote 11: 'Cf.' Horace, 'Odes', iii., xxvii., 66-8:]

Aderat querenti

Perfidum ridens Venus, et _remisso_

Filius _arcu_.

[Footnote 12: 1833.]

I gaze on thee the cloudless noon

Of mortal beauty.

[Footnote 13: 1833. Then I faint, I swoon. The latter part of the eighth] stanza is little more than an adaptation of Sappho's famous Ode, filtered perhaps through the version of Catullus.

[Footnote 14: It is curious that a poet so scrupulous as Tennyson should] have retained to the last the italics.