Tennyson's Poems

The Poet's Mind

First published in 1830.

A companion poem to the preceding. After line 7

in 1830 appears this stanza, afterwards omitted:--

Clear as summer mountain streams,

Bright as the inwoven beams,

Which beneath their crisping sapphire

In the midday, floating o'er

The golden sands, make evermore

To a blossom-starred shore.

Hence away, unhallowed laughter!


Vex not thou the poet's mind

With thy shallow wit:

Vex not thou the poet's mind;

For thou canst not fathom it.

Clear and bright it should be ever,

Flowing like a crystal river;

Bright as light, and clear as wind.


Dark-brow'd sophist, come not anear;

All the place [1] is holy ground;

Hollow smile and frozen sneer

Come not here.

Holy water will I pour

Into every spicy flower

Of the laurel-shrubs that hedge it around.

The flowers would faint at your cruel cheer.

In your eye there is death,

There is frost in your breath

Which would blight the plants.

Where you stand you cannot hear

From the groves within

The wild-bird's din.

In the heart of the garden the merry bird chants,

It would fall to the ground if you came in.

In the middle leaps a fountain

Like sheet lightning,

Ever brightening

With a low melodious thunder;

All day and all night it is ever drawn

From the brain of the purple mountain

Which stands in the distance yonder:

It springs on a level of bowery lawn,

And the mountain draws it from Heaven above,

And it sings a song of undying love;

And yet, tho' [2] its voice be so clear and full,

You never would hear it; your ears are so dull;

So keep where you are: you are foul with sin;

It would shrink to the earth if you came in.

[Footnote 1: 1830. The poet's mind. With this may be compared the] opening stanza of Gray's 'Installation Ode': "Hence! avaunt! 'tis holy ground," and for the sentiments 'cf'. Wordsworth's 'Poet's Epitaph.'

[Footnote 2: 1830 to 1851. Though.]