Tennyson's Poems

L ' Envoi

(No alteration since 1843 except in numbering the stanzas.)


You shake your head. A random string

Your finer female sense offends.

Well--were it not a pleasant thing

To fall asleep with all one's friends;

To pass with all our social ties

To silence from the paths of men;

And every hundred years to rise

And learn the world, and sleep again;

To sleep thro' terms of mighty wars,

And wake on science grown to more,

On secrets of the brain, the stars,

As wild as aught of fairy lore;

And all that else the years will show,

The Poet-forms of stronger hours,

The vast Republics that may grow,

The Federations and the Powers;

Titanic forces taking birth

In divers seasons, divers climes;

For we are Ancients of the earth,

And in the morning of the times.


So sleeping, so aroused from sleep

Thro' sunny decads new and strange,

Or gay quinquenniads would we reap

The flower and quintessence of change.


Ah, yet would I--and would I might!

So much your eyes my fancy take--

Be still the first to leap to light

That I might kiss those eyes awake!

For, am I right or am I wrong,

To choose your own you did not care;

You'd have 'my' moral from the song,

And I will take my pleasure there:

And, am I right or am I wrong,

My fancy, ranging thro' and thro',

To search a meaning for the song,

Perforce will still revert to you;

Nor finds a closer truth than this

All-graceful head, so richly curl'd,

And evermore a costly kiss

The prelude to some brighter world.


For since the time when Adam first

Embraced his Eve in happy hour,

And every bird of Eden burst

In carol, every bud to flower,

What eyes, like thine, have waken'd hopes?

What lips, like thine, so sweetly join'd?

Where on the double rosebud droops

The fullness of the pensive mind;

Which all too dearly self-involved, [1]

Yet sleeps a dreamless sleep to me;

A sleep by kisses undissolved,

That lets thee [2] neither hear nor see:

But break it. In the name of wife,

And in the rights that name may give,

Are clasp'd the moral of thy life,

And that for which I care to live.

[Foonote 1: 1842. The pensive mind that, self-involved.]

[Foonote 2: 1842. Which lets thee.]