Tennyson's Poems

To The Queen

This dedication was first prefixed to the seventh edition of these poems in 1851, Tennyson having succeeded Wordsworth as Poet Laureate, 19th Nov., 1850.

Revered, beloved [1]--O you that hold

A nobler office upon earth

Than arms, or power of brain, or birth

Could give the warrior kings of old,

Victoria, [2]--since your Royal grace

To one of less desert allows

This laurel greener from the brows

Of him that utter'd nothing base;

And should your greatness, and the care

That yokes with empire, yield you time

To make demand of modern rhyme

If aught of ancient worth be there;

Then--while [3] a sweeter music wakes,

And thro' wild March the throstle calls,

Where all about your palace-walls

The sun-lit almond-blossom shakes--

Take, Madam, this poor book of song;

For tho' the faults were thick as dust

In vacant chambers, I could trust

Your kindness. [4] May you rule us long.

And leave us rulers of your blood

As noble till the latest day!

May children of our children say,

"She wrought her people lasting good; [5]

"Her court was pure; her life serene;

God gave her peace; her land reposed;

A thousand claims to reverence closed

In her as Mother, Wife and Queen;

"And statesmen at her council met

Who knew the seasons, when to take

Occasion by the hand, and make

The bounds of freedom wider yet [6]

"By shaping some august decree,

Which kept her throne unshaken still,

Broad-based upon her people's will, [7]

And compass'd by the inviolate sea."

MARCH, 1851.

[Footnote 1: 1851. Revered Victoria, you that hold.]

[Footnote 2: 1851. I thank you that your Royal grace.]

[Footnote 3: This stanza added in 1853.]

[Footnote 4: 1851. Your sweetness.]

[Footnote 5: In 1851 the following stanza referring to the first Crystal] Palace, opened 1st May, 1851, was inserted here:--

She brought a vast design to pass,

When Europe and the scatter'd ends

Of our fierce world were mixt as friends

And brethren, in her halls of glass.

[Footnote 6: 1851. Broader yet.]

[Footnote 7: With this cf. Shelley, 'Ode to Liberty':--]

Athens diviner yet

Gleam'd with its crest of columns _on the will_

Of man.