Tennyson's Poems

The Poet

First printed in 1830.

In this poem we have the first grand note struck by Tennyson, the first poem exhibiting the [Greek: spoudaiotaes] of the true poet.

The poet in a golden clime was born,

With golden stars above;

Dower'd with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,[1]

The love of love.

He saw thro' [2] life and death, thro' [2] good and ill,

He saw thro' [2] his own soul.

The marvel of the everlasting will,

An open scroll,

Before him lay: with echoing feet he threaded

The secretest walks of fame:

The viewless arrows of his thoughts were headed

And wing'd with flame,--

Like Indian reeds blown from his silver tongue,

And of so fierce a flight,

From Calpe unto Caucasus they sung,

Filling with light

And vagrant melodies the winds which bore

Them earthward till they lit;

Then, like the arrow-seeds of the field flower,

The fruitful wit

Cleaving, took root, and springing forth anew

Where'er they fell, behold,

Like to the mother plant in semblance, grew

A flower all gold,

And bravely furnish'd all abroad to fling

The winged shafts of truth,

To throng with stately blooms the breathing spring

Of Hope and Youth.

So many minds did gird their orbs with beams,

Tho' [3] one did fling the fire.

Heaven flow'd upon the soul in many dreams

Of high desire.

Thus truth was multiplied on truth, the world

Like one [4] great garden show'd,

And thro' the wreaths of floating dark upcurl'd,

Rare sunrise flow'd.

And Freedom rear'd in that august sunrise

Her beautiful bold brow,

When rites and forms before his burning eyes

Melted like snow.

There was no blood upon her maiden robes

Sunn'd by those orient skies;

But round about the circles of the globes

Of her keen eyes

And in her raiment's hem was traced in flame

WISDOM, a name to shake

All evil dreams of power--a sacred name. [5]

And when she spake,

Her words did gather thunder as they ran,

And as the lightning to the thunder

Which follows it, riving the spirit of man,

Making earth wonder,

So was their meaning to her words.

No sword

Of wrath her right arm whirl'd, [6]

But one poor poet's scroll, and with 'his' word

She shook the world.

[Footnote 1: The expression, as is not uncommon with Tennyson, is] extremely ambiguous; it may mean that he hated hatred, scorned scorn, and loved love, or that he had hatred, scorn and love as it were in quintessence, like Dante, and that is no doubt the meaning.

[Footnotes 2: 1830. Through.]

[Footnote 3: 1830 till 1851. Though.]

[Footnote 4: 2 1830. A.]

[Footnote 5: 1830.]

And in the bordure of her robe was writ

Wisdom, a name to shake

Hoar anarchies, as with a thunderfit.

[Footnote 6: 1830. Hurled.]