Top 20 Greatest Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson

These are the top twenty (20) greatest poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

From A Character to Love.

If you want to know his greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Keep reading!.

A Character

With a half-glance upon the sky
At night he said, ‘The wanderings
Of this most intricate Universe
Teach me the nothingness of things.’
Yet could not all creation pierce
Beyond the bottom of his eye.

He spake of beauty: that the dull
Saw no divinity in grass,
Life in dead stones, or spirit in air;
Then looking as ’twere in a glass,
He smooth’d his chin and sleek’d his hair,
And said the earth was beautiful.

He spake of virtue: not the gods
More purely, when they wish to charm
Pallas and Juno sitting by:
And with a sweeping of the arm,
And a lack-lustre dead-blue eye,
Devolved his rounded periods.

Most delicately hour by hour
He canvass’d human mysteries,
And trod on silk, as if the winds
Blew his own praises in his eyes,
And stood aloof from other minds
In impotence of fancied power.

With lips depress’d as he were meek,
Himself unto himself he sold:
Upon himself himself did feed:
Quiet, dispassionate, and cold,
And other than his form of creed,
With chisell’d features clear and sleek.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Oak

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Then; and then
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall’n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

Alfred Lord Tennyson


When from the terrors of Nature a people have fashion’d and worship a Spirit of Evil,
Blest he the Voice of the Teacher who calls to them
‘Set yourselves free!’

Noble the Saxon who hurl’d at his Idol a valorous weapon in olden England!
Great and greater, and greatest of women, island heroine, Kapiolani
Clomb the mountain, and flung the berries, and dared the Goddess, and freed the people
Of Hawa-i-ee!

A people believing that Peelè the Goddess would wallow in fiery riot and revel
On Kilaue-ä,
Dance in a fountain of flame with her devils, or shake with tier thunders and shatter her island,
Rolling her anger
Thro’ blasted valley and flaring forest in blood-red cataracts down to the sea!

Long as the lava-light
Glares from the lava-lake
Dazing the starlight,
Long as the silvery vapour in daylight
Over the mountain
Floats, will the glory of Kapiolani be mingled with either on Hawa-i-ee.

What said her Priesthood?
‘Woe to this island if ever a woman should handle or gather the berries of Peelè!
Accurséd were she!
And woe to this island if ever a woman should climb to the dwelling of Peelè the Goddess!
Accurséd were she!’

One from the Sunrise
Dawn’d on His people, and slowly before him
Vanish’d shadow-like
Gods and Goddesses,
None but the terrible Peelè remaining as Kapiolani ascended her mountain,
Baffled her priesthood,
Broke the Taboo,
Dipt to the crater,
Call’d on the Power adored by the Christian, and crying ‘I dare her, let Peelè avenge herself ‘!
Into the flame-billow dash’d the berries, and drove the demon from Hawa-i-ee.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Walking To The Mail

John. I’m glad I walk’d. How fresh the meadows look
Above the river, and, but a month ago,
The whole hill-side was redder than a fox.
Is yon plantation where this byway joins
The turnpike?
James. Yes.
John. And when does this come by?
James. The mail? At one o’clock.
John. What is it now?
James. A quarter to.
John. Whose house is that I see?
No, not the County Member’s with the vane:
Up higher with the yew-tree by it, and half
A score of gables.
James. That? Sir Edward Head’s:
But he’s abroad: the place is to be sold.
John. Oh, his. He was not broken.
James. No, sir, he,
Vex’d with a morbid devil in his blood
That veil’d the world with jaundice, hid his face
From all men, and commercing with himself,
He lost the sense that handles daily life—
That keeps us all in order more or less—
And sick of home went overseas for change.
John. And whither?
James. Nay, who knows? he’s here and there.
But let him go; his devil goes with him,
As well as with his tenant, Jockey Dawes.
John. What’s that?
James. You saw the man—on Monday, was it?—
There by the hump-back’d willow; half stands up
And bristles; half has fall’n and made a bridge;
And there he caught the younker tickling trout—
Caught in flagrante—what’s the Latin word?—
Delicto; but his house, for so they say,
Was haunted with a jolly ghost, that shook
The curtains, whined in lobbies, tapt at doors,
And rummaged like a rat: no servant stay’d:
The farmer vext packs up his beds and chairs,
And all his household stuff; and with his boy
Betwixt his knees, his wife upon the tilt,
Sets out, and meets a friend who hails him, ‘What!
You’re flitting!’ ‘Yes, we’re flitting,’ says the ghost
(For they had pack’d the thing among the beds).
‘Oh, well,’ says he, ‘you flitting with us too—
Jack, turn the horses’ heads and home again’.
John. He left his wife behind; for so I heard.
James. He left her, yes. I met my lady once:
A woman like a butt, and harsh as crabs.
John. Oh, yet, but I remember, ten years back—
’Tis now at least ten years—and then she was—
You could not light upon a sweeter thing:
A body slight and round and like a pear
In growing, modest eyes, a hand a foot
Lessening in perfect cadence, and a skin
As clean and white as privet when it flowers.
James. Ay, ay, the blossom fades and they that loved
At first like dove and dove were cat and dog.
She was the daughter of a cottager,
Out of her sphere. What betwixt shame and pride,
New things and old, himself and her, she sour’d
To what she is: a nature never kind!
Like men, like manners: like breeds like, they say.
Kind nature is the best: those manners next
That fit us like a nature second-hand;
Which are indeed the manners of the great.
John. But I had heard it was this bill that past,
And fear of change at home, that drove him hence.
James. That was the last drop in the cup of gall.
I once was near him, when his bailiff brought
A Chartist pike. You should have seen him wince
As from a venomous thing: he thought himself
A mark for all, and shudder’d, lest a cry
Should break his sleep by night, and his nice eyes
Should see the raw mechanic’s bloody thumbs
Sweat on his blazon’d chairs; but, sir, you know
That these two parties still divide the world—
Of those that want, and those that have: and still
The same old sore breaks out from age to age
With much the same result. Now I myself,
A Tory to the quick, was as a boy
Destructive, when I had not what I would.
I was at school—a college in the South:
There lived a flayflint near; we stole his fruit,
His hens, his eggs; but there was law for us;
We paid in person. He had a sow, sir. She,
With meditative grunts of much content,
Lay great with pig, wallowing in sun and mud.
By night we dragg’d her to the college tower
From her warm bed, and up the corkscrew stair
With hand and rope we haled the groaning sow,
And on the leads we kept her till she pigg’d.
Large range of prospect had the mother sow,
And but for daily loss of one she loved,
As one by one we took them—but for this—
As never sow was higher in this world—
Might have been happy: but what lot is pure!
We took them all, till she was left alone
Upon her tower, the Niobe of swine,
And so return’d unfarrowed to her sty.
John. They found you out?
James. Not they.
John. Well—after all—
What know we of the secret of a man?
His nerves were wrong. What ails us, who are sound,
That we should mimic this raw fool the world,
Which charts us all in its coarse blacks or whites,
As ruthless as a baby with a worm,
As cruel as a schoolboy ere he grows
To Pity—more from ignorance than will,
But put your best foot forward, or I fear
That we shall miss the mail: and here it comes
With five at top: as quaint a four-in-hand
As you shall see—three pyebalds and a roan.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Lady Of Shalott

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road run by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the beared barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower’d Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, ” ‘Tis the fairy
The Lady of Shalott.”

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care heat she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Early Sonnets



As when with downcast eyes we muse and brood,
And ebb into a former life, or seem
To lapse far back in some confused dream
To states of mystical similitude,
If one but speaks or hems or stirs his chair,
Ever the wonder waxeth more and more,
So that we say, ‘All this hath been before,
All this hath been, I know not when or where;’
So, friend, when first I look’d upon your face,
Our thought gave answer each to each, so true–
Opposed mirrors each reflecting each–
That, tho’ I knew not in what time or place,
Methought that I had often met with you,
And either lived in either’s heart and speech.


To J.M.K.

My hope and heart is with thee–thou wilt be
A latter Luther, and a soldier-priest
To scare church-harpies from the master’s feast;
Our dusted velvets have much need of thee:
Thou art no Sabbath-drawler of old saws,
Distill’d from some worm-canker’d homily;
But spurr’d at heart with fieriest energy
To embattail and to wall about thy cause
With iron-worded proof, hating to hark
The humming of the drowsy pulpit-drone
Half God’s good Sabbath, while the worn-out clerk
Brow-beats his desk below. Thou from a throne
Mounted in heaven wilt shoot into the dark
Arrows of lightnings. I will stand and mark.


Mine be the strength of spirit, full and free,
Like some broad river rushing down alone,
With the selfsame impulse wherewith he was thrown
From his loud fount upon the echoing lea;–
Which with increasing might doth forward flee
By town, and tower, and hill, and cape, and isle,
And in the middle of the green salt sea
Keeps his blue waters fresh for many a mile.
Mine be the power which ever to its sway
Will win the wise at once, and by degrees
May into uncongenial spirits flow;
Even as the warm gulf-stream of Florida
Floats far away into the Northern seas
The lavish growths of southern Mexico.



Warrior of God, whose strong right arm debased
The throne of Persia, when her Satrap bled
At Issus by the Syrian gates, or fled
Beyond the Memmian naphtha-pits, disgraced
For ever–thee (thy pathway sand-erased)
Gliding with equal crowns two serpents led
Joyful to that palm-planted fountain-fed
Ammonian Oasis in the waste.
There in a silent shade of laurel brown
Apart the Chamian Oracle divine
Shelter’d his unapproached mysteries:
High things were spoken there, unhanded down;
Only they saw thee from the secret shrine
Returning with hot cheek and kindled eyes.



He thought to quell the stubborn hearts of oak,
Madman!–to chain with chains, and bind with bands
That island queen who sways the floods and lands
From Ind to Ind, but in fair daylight woke,
When from her wooden walls,–lit by sure hands,–
With thunders, and with lightnings, and with smoke,–
Peal after peal, the British battle broke,
Lulling the brine against the Coptic sands.
We taught him lowlier moods, when Elsinore
Heard the war moan along the distant sea,
Rocking with shatter’d spars, with sudden fires
Flamed over; at Trafalgar yet once more
We taught him; late he learned humility
Perforce, like those whom Gideon school’d with briers.



How long, O God, shall men be ridden down,
And trampled under by the last and least
Of men? The heart of Poland hath not ceased
To quiver, tho’ her sacred blood doth drown
The fields, and out of every smouldering town
Cries to Thee, lest brute Power be increased,
Till that o’ergrown Barbarian in the East
Transgress his ample bound to some new crown,–
Cries to Thee, ‘Lord, how long shall these things be?
How long this icy-hearted Muscovite
Oppress the region?’ Us, O Just and Good,
Forgive, who smiled when she was torn in three;
Us, who stand now, when we should aid the right–
A matter to be wept with tears of blood!


Caress’d or chidden by the slender hand,
And singing airy trifles this or that,
Light Hope at Beauty’s call would perch and stand,
And run thro’ every change of sharp and flat;
And Fancy came and at her pillow sat,
When Sleep had bound her in his rosy band,
And chased away the still-recurring gnat,
And woke her with a lay from fairy land.
But now they live with Beauty less and less,
For Hope is other Hope and wanders far,
Nor cares to lisp in love’s delicious creeds;
And Fancy watches in the wilderness,
Poor Fancy sadder than a single star,
That sets at twilight in a land of reeds.


The form, the form alone is eloquent!
A nobler yearning never broke her rest
Than but to dance and sing, be gaily drest,
And win all eyes with all accomplishment;
Yet in the whirling dances as we went,
My fancy made me for a moment blest
To find my heart so near the beauteous breast
That once had power to rob it of content.
A moment came the tenderness of tears,
The phantom of a wish that once could move,
A ghost of passion that no smiles restore–
For ah! the slight coquette, she cannot love,
And if you kiss’d her feet a thousand years,
She still would take the praise, and care no more.


Wan Sculptor, weepest thou to take the cast
Of those dead lineaments that near thee lie?
O, sorrowest thou, pale Painter, for the past,
In painting some dead friend from memory?
Weep on; beyond his object Love can last.
His object lives; more cause to weep have I:
My tears, no tears of love, are flowing fast,
No tears of love, but tears that Love can die.
I pledge her not in any cheerful cup,
Nor care to sit beside her where she sits–
Ah! pity–hint it not in human tones,
But breathe it into earth and close it up
With secret death for ever, in the pits
Which some green Christmas crams with weary bones.


If I were loved, as I desire to be,
What is there in the great sphere of the earth,
And range of evil between death and birth,
That I should fear,–if I were loved by thee?
All the inner, all the outer world of pain
Clear Love would pierce and cleave, if thou wert mine,
As I have heard that, somewhere in the main,
Fresh-water springs come up through bitter brine.
’Twere joy, not fear, claspt hand-in-hand with thee,
To wait for death–mute–careless of all ills,
Apart upon a mountain, tho’ the surge
Of some new deluge from a thousand hills
Flung leagues of roaring foam into the gorge
Below us, as far on as eye could see.



O bridesmaid, ere the happy knot was tied,
Thine eyes so wept that they could hardly see;
Thy sister smiled and said, ‘No tears for me!
A happy bridesmaid makes a happy bride.’
And then, the couple standing side by side,
Love lighted down between them full of glee,
And over his left shoulder laugh’d at thee,
‘O happy bridesmaid, make a happy bride.’
And all at once a pleasant truth I learn’d,
For while the tender service made thee weep,
I loved thee for the tear thou couldst not hide,
And prest thy hand, and knew the press return’d,
And thought, ‘My life is sick of single sleep:
O happy bridesmaid, make a happy bride!’

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Flower
Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed.
Up there came a flower,
The people said, a weed.

To and fro they went
Thro’ my garden bower,
And muttering discontent
Cursed me and my flower.

Then it grew so tall
It wore a crown of light,
But thieves from o’er the wall
Stole the seed by night.

Sow’d it far and wide
By every town and tower,
Till all the people cried,
“Splendid is the flower!”

Read my little fable:
He that runs may read.
Most can raise the flowers now,
For all have got the seed.

And some are pretty enough,
And some are poor indeed;
And now again the people
Call it but a weed.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

St. Telemachus

Had the fierce ashes of some fiery peak
Been hurl’d so high they ranged about the globe?
For day by day, thro’ many a blood-red eve,
In that four-hundredth summer after Christ,
The wrathful sunset glared against a cross
Rear’d on the tumbled ruins of an old fane
No longer sacred to the Sun, and flamed
On one huge slope beyond, where in his cave
The man, whose pious hand had built the cross,
A man who never changed a word with men,
Fasted and pray’d, Telemachus the Saint.
Eve after eve that haggard anchorite
Would haunt the desolated fane, and there
Gaze at the ruin, often mutter low
‘Vicisti Galilæe’; louder again,
Spurning a shatter’d fragment of the God,
‘Vicisti Galilæe!’ but—when now
Bathed in that lurid crimson—ask’d ‘Is earth
On fire to the West? or is the Demon-god
Wroth at his fall?’ and heard an answer ‘Wake
Thou deedless dreamer, lazying out a life
Of self-suppression, not of selfless love.’
And once a flight of shadowy fighters crost
The disk, and once, he thought, a shape with wings
Came sweeping by him, and pointed to the West,
And at his ear he heard a whisper ‘Rome’
And in his heart he cried ‘ The call of God!’
And call’d arose, and, slowly plunging down
Thro’ that disastrous glory, set his face
By waste and field and town of alien tongue,
Following a hundred sunsets, and the sphere
Of westward-wheeling stars; and every dawn
Struck from him his own shadow on to Rome.
Foot-sore, way-worn, at length he touch’d his goal,
The Christian city. All her splendour fail’d
To lure those eyes that only yearn’d to see,
Fleeting betwixt her column’d palace-walls,
The shape with wings. Anon there past a crowd
With shameless laughter, Pagan oath, and jest,
Hard Romans brawling of their monstrous games;
He, all but deaf thro’ age and weariness,
And muttering to himself ‘The call of God’
And borne along by that full stream of men,
Like some old wreck on some indrawing sea,
Gain’d their huge Colosseum. The caged beast
Yell’d, as he yell’d of yore for Christian blood.
Three slaves were trailing a dead lion away,
One, a dead man. He stumbled in, and sat
Blinded; but when the momentary gloom,
Made by the noonday blaze without, had left
His aged eyes, he raised them, and beheld
A blood-red awning waver overhead,
The dust send up a steam of human blood,
The gladiators moving toward their fight,
And eighty thousand Christian faces watch
Man murder man. A sudden strength from heaven,
As some great shock may wake a palsied limb,
Turn’d him again to boy, for up he sprang,
And glided lightly down the stairs, and o’er
The barrier that divided beast from man
Slipt, and ran on, and flung himself between
The gladiatorial swords, and call’d ‘Forbear
In the great name of Him who died for men,
Christ Jesus!’ For one moment afterward
A silence follow’d as of death, and then
A hiss as from a wilderness of snakes,
Then one deep roar as of a breaking sea,
And then a shower of stones that stoned him dead,
And then once more a silence as of death.
His dream became a deed that woke the world,
For while the frantic rabble in half-amaze
Stared at him dead, thro’ all the nobler hearts
In that vast Oval ran a shudder of shame.
The Baths, the Forum gabbled of his death,
And preachers linger’d o’er his dying words,
Which would not die, but echo’d on to reach
Honorius, till he heard them, and decreed
That Rome no more should wallow in this old lust
Of Paganism, and make her festal hour
Dark with the blood of man who murder’d man.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Silent Voices

When the dumb Hour, clothed in black,
Brings the Dreams about my bed,
Call me not so often back,
Silent Voices of the dead,
Toward the lowland ways behind me,
And the sunlight that is gone!
Call me rather, silent voices,
Forward to the starry track
Glimmering up the heights beyond me
On, and always on!

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Crossing The Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For through from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Early Spring


Once more the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And domes the red-plow’d hills
With loving blue;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The throstles too.


Opens a door in heaven;
From skies of glass
A Jacob’s ladder falls
On greening grass,
And o’er the mountain-walls
Young angels pass.


Before them fleets the shower,
And burst the buds,
And shine the level lands,
And flash the floods;
The stars are from their hands
Flung thro’ the woods,


The woods with living airs
How softly fann’d,
Light airs from where the deep,
All down the sand,
Is breathing in his sleep,
Heard by the land.


O, follow, leaping blood,
The season’s lure!
O heart, look down and up
Serene, secure,
Warm as the crocus cup,
Like snowdrops, pure!


Past, Future glimpse and fade
Thro’ some slight spell,
A gleam from yonder vale,
Some far blue fell,
And sympathies, how frail,
In sound and smell!


Till at thy chuckled note,
Thou twinkling bird,
The fairy fancies range,
And, lightly stirr’d,
Ring little bells of change
From word to word.


For now the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And thaws the cold, and fills
The flower with dew;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The poets too.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Frater Ave Atque Vale

‘Frater Ave atque Vale’

Row us out from Desenzano, to your Sirmione row!
So they row’d, and there we landed–’O venusta Sirmio!’
There to me thro’ all the groves of olive in the summer glow,
There beneath the Roman ruin where the purple flowers grow,
Came that ‘Ave atque Vale’ of the Poet’s hopeless woe,
Tenderest of Roman poets nineteen-hundred years ago,
‘Frater Ave atque Vale’–as we wander’d to and fro
Gazing at the Lydian laughter of the Garda Lake below
Sweet Catullus’s all-but-island, olive-silvery Sirmio!

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Ballad Of Oriana

My heart is wasted with my woe,
There is no rest for me below,
When the long dun wolds are ribb’d with snow,
And loud the Norland whirlwinds blow,
Alone I wander to and fro,

Ere the light on dark was growing,
At midnight the cock was crowing,
Winds were blowing, waters flowing,
We heard the steeds to battle going,
Aloud the hollow bugle blowing,

In the yew-wood black as night,
Ere I rode into the fight,
While blissful tears blinded my sight
By star-shine and by moonlight,

I to thee my troth did plight,
She stood upon the castle wall,
She watch’d my crest among them all,
She saw me fight, she heard me call,
When forth there stept a foeman tall,
Atween me and the castle wall,
The bitter arrow went aside,
The false, false arrow went aside,
The damned arrow glanced aside,
And pierced thy heart, my love, my bride,
Thy heart, my life, my love, my bride,

O, narrow, narrow was the space,
Loud, loud rung out the bugle’s brays,
O, deathful stabs were dealt apace,
The battle deepen’d in its place,
But I was down upon my face,

They should have stabb’d me where I lay,
How could I rise and come away,
How could I look upon the day?
They should have stabb’d me where I lay,
They should have trod me into clay,

O breaking heart that will not break,
O pale, pale face so sweet and meek,
Thou smilest, but thou dost not speak,
And then the tears run down my cheek,
What wantest thou? whom dost thou seek,

I cry aloud; none hear my cries,
Thou comest atween me and the skies,
I feel the tears of blood arise
Up from my heart unto my eyes,
Within thy heart my arrow lies,

O cursed hand! O cursed blow!
O happy thou that liest low,
All night the silence seems to flow
Beside me in my utter woe,
A weary, weary way I go,

When Norland winds pipe down the sea,
I walk, I dare not think of thee,
Thou liest beneath the greenwood tree,
I dare not die and come to thee,
I hear the roaring of the sea,

Alfred Lord Tennyson

A farewell

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.

But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.

A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

June Bracken And Heather

There on the top of the down,
The wild heather round me and over me June’s high blue,
When I look’d at the bracken so bright and the heather so brown,
I thought to myself I would offer this book to you,
This, and my love together,
To you that are seventy-seven,
With a faith as clear as the heights of the June-blue heaven,
And a fancy as summer-new
As the green of the bracken amid the gloom of the heather.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Merlin And The Gleam

O young Mariner,
You from the haven
Under the sea-cliff,
You that are watching
The gray Magician
With eyes of wonder,
I am Merlin,
And I am dying,
I am Merlin
Who follow The Gleam.

Mighty the Wizard
Who found me at sunrise
Sleeping, and woke me
And learn’d me Magic!
Great the Master,
And sweet the Magic,
When over the valley,
In early summers,
Over the mountain,
On human faces,
And all around me,
Moving to melody,
Floated The Gleam.

Once at the croak of a Raven who crost it,
A barbarous people,
Blind to the magic,
And deaf to the melody,
Snarl’d at and cursed me.
A demon vext me,
The light retreated,
The landskip darken’d,
The melody deaden’d,
The Master whisper’d
‘Follow The Gleam.’

Then to the melody,
Over a wilderness
Gliding, and glancing at
Elf of the woodland,
Gnome of the cavern,
Griffin and Giant,
And dancing of Fairies
In desolate hollows,
And wraiths of the mountain,
And rolling of dragons
By warble of water,
Or cataract music
Of falling torrents,
Flitted The Gleam.

Down from the mountain
And over the level,
And streaming and shining on
Silent river,
Silvery willow,
Pasture and plowland,
Horses and oxen,
Innocent maidens,
Garrulous children,
Homestead and harvest,
Reaper and gleaner,
And rough-ruddy faces
Of lowly labour,
Slided The Gleam.―

Then, with a melody
Stronger and statelier,
Led me at length
To the city and palace
Of Arthur the king;
Touch’d at the golden
Cross of the churches,
Flash’d on the Tournament,
Flicker’d and bicker’d
From helmet to helmet,
And last on the forehead
Of Arthur the blameless
Rested The Gleam.

Clouds and darkness
Closed upon Camelot;
Arthur had vanish’d
I knew not whither,
The king who loved me,
And cannot die;
For out of the darkness
Silent and slowly
The Gleam, that had waned to a wintry glimmer
On icy fallow
And faded forest,
Drew to the valley
Named of the shadow,
And slowly brightening
Out of the glimmer,
And slowly moving again to a melody
Yearningly tender,
Fell on the shadow,
No longer a shadow,
But clothed with The Gleam.

And broader and brighter
The Gleam flying onward,
Wed to the melody,
Sang thro’ the world;
And slower and fainter,
Old and weary,
But eager to follow,
I saw, whenever
In passing it glanced upon
Hamlet or city,
That under the Crosses
The dead man’s garden,
The mortal hillock,
Would break into blossom;
And so to the land’s
Last limit I came— —
And can no longer,
But die rejoicing,
For thro’ the Magic
Of Him the Mighty,
Who taught me in childhood,
There on the border
Of boundless Ocean,
And all but in Heaven
Hovers The Gleam.

Not of the sunlight,
Not of the moonlight,
Not of the starlight!
O young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel,
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow The Gleam.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

De Profundis

The Two Greetings.


Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
Where all that was to be, in all that was,
Whirl’d for a million æons thro’ the vast
Waste dawn of multitudinous-eddying light—
Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
Thro’ all this changing world of changeless law,
And every phase of ever-heightening life,
And nine long months of antenatal gloom,
With this last moon, this crescent—her dark orb
Touch’d with earth’s light—thou comest, darling boy;
Our own; a babe in lineament and limb
Perfect, and prophet of the perfect man;
Whose face and form are hers and mine in one,
Indissolubly married like our love;
Live, and be happy in thyself, and serve
This mortal race thy kin so well, that men
May bless thee as we bless thee, O young life
Breaking with laughter from the dark; and may
The fated channel where thy motion lives
Be prosperously shaped, and sway thy course
Along the years of haste and random youth
Unshatter’d; then full-current thro’ full man:
And last in kindly curves, with gentlest fall,
By quiet field:, a slowly-dying power,
To that last deep where we and thou are still.



Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
From that great deep, before our world begins,
Whereon the Spirit of God moves as he will—
Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
From that true world within the world we see,
Whereof our world is but the bounding shore—
Out of the deep, Spirit, out of the deep,
With this ninth moon, that sends the hidden sun
Down yon dark sea, thou comest, darling boy.


For in the world, which is not ours, They said
‘Let us make man’ and that which should be man,
From that one light no man can look upon,
Drew to this shore lit by the suns and moons
And all the shadows. O dear Spirit half-lost
In thine own shadow and this fleshly sign
That thou art thou—who wailest being born
And banish’d into mystery, and the pain
Of this divisible-indivisible world
Among the numerable-innumerable
Sun, sun, and sun, thro’ finite-infinite space
In finite-infinite Time—our mortal veil
And shatter’d phantom of that infinite One,
Who made thee unconceivably Thyself
Out of His whole World-self and all in all—
Live thou! and of the grain and husk, the grape
And ivyberry, choose; and still depart
From death to death thro’ life and life, and find
Nearer and ever nearer Him, who wrought
Not Matter, nor the finite-infinite,
But this main-miracle, that thou art thou,
With power on thine own act and on the world.

The Human Cry.


Hallowed be Thy name—Halleluiah!—
Infinite Ideality!
Immeasurable Reality!
Infinite Personality!
Hallowed be Thy name—Halleluiah!


We feel we are nothing—for all is Thou and in Thee;
We feel we are something—that also has come from Thee;
We know we are nothing—but Thou wilt help us to be.
Hallowed be Thy name—Halleluiah!

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Song: ‘A Spirit Haunts The Year’s Last Hours


A spirit haunts the year’s last hours
Dwelling amid these yellowing bowers:
To himself he talks;
For at eventide, listening earnestly,
At his work you may hear him sob and sigh
In the walks;
Earthward he boweth the heavy stalks
Of the mouldering flowers:
Heavily hangs the broad sunflower
Over its grave i’ the earth so chilly;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,
Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.


The air is damp, and hush’d, and close,
As a sick man’s room when he taketh repose
An hour before death;
My very heart faints and my whole soul grieves
At the moist rich smell of the rotting leaves,
And the breath
Of the fading edges of box beneath,
And the year’s last rose.
Heavily hangs the broad sunflower
Over its grave i’ the earth so chilly;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,
Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.

Alfred Lord Tennyson



Thou, from the first, unborn, undying Love,
Albeit we gaze not on thy glories near,
Before the face of God didst breathe and move,
Though night and pain and rain and death reign here.
Thou foldest, like a golden atmosphere,
The very throne of the eternal God;
Passing through thee the edicts of his fear
Are mellowed into music, borne abroad
By the loud winds, though they uprend the sea,
Even from its central deeps: thine empery
Is over all; thou wilt not brook eclipse;
Thou goest and returnest to His leeps
Like lightning: thou dost ever brood above
The silence of all hearts, unutterable Love.


To know thee is all wisdom, and old age
Is but to know thee: dimly we behold thee
Athwart the veils of evils which infold thee.
We beat upon our aching hearts in rage;
We cry for thee; we deem the world thy tomb.
As dwellers in lone planets look upon
The mighty disk of their majestic sun,
Hollowed in awful chasms of wheeling gloom,
Making their day dim, so we gaze on thee.
Come, thou of many crowns, white-robéd Love,
Oh! rend the veil in twain: all men adore thee;
Heaven crieth after thee; earth waiteth for thee;
Breathe on thy wingéd throne, and it shall move
In music and in light o’er land and sea.


And now–methinks I gaze upon thee now,
As on a serpent in his agonies
Awe-stricken Indians; what time laid low
And crushing the thick fragrant reeds he lies,
When the new year warm-breathéd on the Earth,
Waiting to light him with her purple skies,
Calls to him by the fountain to uprise.
Already with the pangs of a new birth
Strain the hot spheres of his convulséd eyes,
And in his writhings awful hues begin
To wander down his sable-sheeny sides,
Like light on troubled waters: from within
Anon he rusheth forth with merry din,
And in him light and joy and strength abides;
And from his brows a crown of living light
Looks through the thick-stemmed woods by day and night.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wow! That was a great use of powerful visual imagery in all of his poems. No doubt, he was awarded Chancellor’s Gold Medal.

Honestly, I can’t decide which one is my favorite poem in his collection―whether it’s A Character or Love, both are amazing!

What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of Alfred Lord Tennyson?

Do you still want to add another of his poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉


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