Tennyson's Poems

Love And Death

First printed in 1830.

What time the mighty moon was gathering light [1]

Love paced the thymy plots of Paradise,

And all about him roll'd his lustrous eyes;

When, turning round a cassia, full in view

Death, walking all alone beneath a yew,

And talking to himself, first met his sight:

"You must begone," said Death, "these walks are mine".

Love wept and spread his sheeny vans [2] for flight;

Yet ere he parted said, "This hour is thine;

Thou art the shadow of life, and as the tree

Stands in the sun and shadows all beneath,

So in the light of great eternity

Life eminent creates the shade of death;

The shadow passeth when the tree shall fall,

But I shall reign for ever over all". [3]

[Footnote 1: The expression is Virgil's, 'Georg'., i., 427: "Luna] revertentes cum primum 'colligit ignes'".

[Footnote 2: Vans used also for "wings" by Milton, 'Paradise Lost', ii.,] 927-8:--

His sail-broad 'vans'

He spreads for flight.

So also Tasso, 'Ger. Lib'., ix., 60:

"Indi spiega al gran volo 'i vanni' aurati".

[Footnote 3: 'Cf. Lockley Hall Sixty Years After': "Love will conquer at] the last".