Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
V. Death and Bereavement
Selections from “In Memoriam”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
 
[Arthur Henry Hallam, Ob. 1833]

Grief Unspeakable
V.
I SOMETIMES hold it half a sin
  To put in words the grief I feel:
  For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
 
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,        5
  A use in measured language lies;
  The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
 
In words, like weeds, I ’ll wrap me o’er,
  Like coarsest clothes against the cold;        10
  But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
 
Dead, in a Foreign Land
IX.
FAIR ship, that from the Italian shore
  Sailest the placid ocean-plains
  With my lost Arthur’s loved remains,        15
Spread thy full wings, and waft him o’er.
 
So draw him home to those that mourn
  In vain; a favorable speed
  Ruffle thy mirrored mast, and lead
Through prosperous floods his holy urn.        20
 
All night no ruder air perplex
  Thy sliding keel, till Phosphor, bright
  As our pure love, through early light
Shall glimmer on the dewy decks.
 
Sphere all your lights around, above;        25
  Sleep, gentle heavens, before the prow;
  Sleep, gentle winds, as he sleeps now,
My friend, the brother of my love;
 
My Arthur, whom I shall not see
  Till all my widowed race be run;        30
  Dear as the mother to the son,
More than my brothers are to me.
 
The Peace of Sorrow
XI.
CALM is the morn without a sound,
  Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
  And only through the faded leaf        35
The chestnut pattering to the ground:
 
Calm and deep peace on this high wold
  And on these dews that drench the furze,
  And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold:        40
 
Calm and still light on yon great plain
  That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
  And crowded farms, and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main:
 
Calm and deep peace in this wide air,        45
  These leaves that redden to the fall;
  And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair:
 
Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
  And waves that sway themselves in rest,        50
  And dead calm in that noble breast
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.
 
Time and Eternity
XLII.
IF Sleep and Death be truly one,
  And every spirit’s folded bloom
  Through all its intervital gloom        55
In some long trance should slumber on;
 
Unconscious of the sliding hour,
  Bare of the body, might it last,
  And silent traces of the past
Be all the color of the flower:        60
 
So then were nothing lost to man;
  So that still garden of the souls
  In many a figured leaf enrolls
The total world since life began;
 
And love will last as pure and whole        65
  As when he loved me here in Time,
  And at the spiritual prime
Rewaken with the dawning soul.
 
Personal Resurrection
XLVI.
THAT each, who seems a separate whole,
  Should move his rounds, and fusing all        70
  The skirts of self again, should fall
Remerging in the general Soul,
 
Is faith as vague as all unsweet:
  Eternal form shall still divide
  The eternal soul from all beside;        75
And I shall know him when we meet:
 
And we shall sit at endless feast,
  Enjoying each the other’s good:
  What vaster dream can hit the mood
Of Love on earth? He seeks at least        80
 
Upon the last and sharpest height,
  Before the spirits fade away,
  Some landing-place to clasp and say,
“Farewell! We lose ourselves in light.”
 
Spiritual Companionship
XCIII.
How pure at heart and sound in head,
        85
  With what divine affections bold,
  Should be the man whose thought would hold
An hour’s communion with the dead.
 
In vain shalt thou, or any, call
  The spirits from their golden day,        90
  Except, like them, thou too canst say,
My spirit is at peace with all.
 
They haunt the silence of the breast,
  Imaginations calm and fair,
  The memory like a cloudless air,        95
The conscience as a sea at rest:
 
But when the heart is full of din,
  And doubt beside the portal waits,
  They can but listen at the gates,
And hear the household jar within.        100
 
L.
DO we indeed desire the dead
  Should still be near us at our side?
  Is there no baseness we would hide?
No inner vileness that we dread?
 
Shall he for whose applause I strove,        105
  I had such reverence for his blame,
  See with clear eye some hidden shame,
And I be lessened in his love?
 
I wrong the grave with fears untrue:
  Shall love be blamed for want of faith?        110
  There must be wisdom with great Death:
The dead shall look me through and through.
 
Be near us when we climb or fall:
  Ye watch, like God, the rolling hours
  With larger other eyes than ours,        115
To make allowance for us all.
 
Death in Life’s Prime
LXXII.
SO many worlds, so much to do,
  So little done, such things to be,
  How know I what had need of thee?
For thou wert strong as thou wert true.        120
 
The fame is quenched that I foresaw,
  The head hath missed an earthly wreath:
  I curse not nature, no, nor death;
For nothing is that errs from law.
 
We pass; the path that each man trod        125
  Is dim, or will be dim, with weeds:
  What fame is left for human deeds
In endless age? It rests with God.
 
O hollow wraith of dying fame,
  Fade wholly, while the soul exults,        130
  And self-enfolds the large results
Of force that would have forged a name.
 
The Poet’s Tribute
LXXVI.
WHAT hope is here for modern rhyme
  To him who turns a musing eye
  On songs, and deeds, and lives, that lie        135
Foreshortened in the tract of time?
 
These mortal lullabies of pain
  May bind a book, may line a box,
  May serve to curl a maiden’s locks:
Or when a thousand moons shall wane        140
 
A man upon a stall may find,
  And, passing, turn the page that tells
  A grief, then changed to something else,
Sung by a long-forgotten mind.
 
But what of that? My darkened ways        145
  Shall ring with music all the same;
  To breathe my loss is more than fame,
To utter love more sweet than praise.
 
 
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