Tennyson's Poems

"Love Thou Thy Land, With Love Far-Brought..."

First published in 1842.

This poem had been written by 1834, for Tennyson sends it in a letter dated that year to James Spedding (see 'Life',, i., 173).

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,

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

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,

Tho' [1] sitting girt with doubtful light.

Make knowledge [2] circle with the winds;

But let her herald, Reverence, fly

Before her to whatever sky

Bear seed of men and growth [3] of minds.

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

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;

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,

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.

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

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 an act;

For all the past of Time reveals

A bridal dawn of thunder-peals,

Wherever Thought hath wedded Fact.

Ev'n now we hear with inward strife

A motion toiling in the gloom--

The Spirit of the years to come

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--

The warders of the growing hour,

But vague in vapour, hard to mark;

And round them sea and air are dark

With great contrivances of Power.

Of many changes, aptly join'd,

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;

To shame the boast so often made, [4]

That we are wiser than our sires.

Oh, yet, if Nature's evil star

Drive men in manhood, as in youth,

To follow flying steps of Truth

Across the brazen bridge of war--[5]

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;

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, [6]

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 good that broke

From either side, nor veil his eyes;

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

Raw haste, half-sister to Delay.

[Footnote 1: 1842 and so till 1851. Though.]

[Footnote 2: 1842. Knowledge is spelt with a capital K.]

[Footnote 3: 1842. Or growth.]

[Footnote 4: 1842. The boasting words we said.]

[Footnote 5: Possibly suggested by Homer's expression, [Greek: ana] ptolemoio gephuras], 'Il'., viii., 549, and elsewhere; but Homer's and Tennyson's meaning can hardly be the same. In Homer the "bridges of war" seem to mean the spaces between the lines of tents in a bivouac: in Tennyson the meaning is probably the obvious one.

[Footnote 6: All up to and including 1851. Not less, though dogs of] Faction bay.