The Charge of the Light Brigade and Other Poems

The Charge of the Light Brigade and Other Poems

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by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Treasury of verse by the great Victorian poet includes the famous long narrative poem, Enoch Arden, plus "The Lady of Shalott," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Break, break, break," "Flower in the crannied Wall" and more. Also included are excerpts from three longer works: The Princess, "Maud" and "The Brook."  See more details below


Treasury of verse by the great Victorian poet includes the famous long narrative poem, Enoch Arden, plus "The Lady of Shalott," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Break, break, break," "Flower in the crannied Wall" and more. Also included are excerpts from three longer works: The Princess, "Maud" and "The Brook."

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The Charge of the Light Brigade and Other Poems

By Alfred Lord Tennyson, STANLEY APPELBAUM

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1992 Dover Publications, Inc
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11360-9


Selected Poems


      'Mariana in the moated grange.'

      Measure for Measure.

      WITH blackest moss the flower-plots
      Were thickly crusted, one and all;
      The rusted nails fell from the knots
      That held the pear to the gable-wall.
      The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:
      Unlifted was the clinking latch;
      Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
      Upon the lonely moated grange.

      She only said, 'My life is dreary,
      He cometh not,' she said;
      She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      I would that I were dead!'

      Her tears fell with the dews at even;
      Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
      She could not look on the sweet heaven,
      Either at morn or eventide.
      After the flitting of the bats,
      When thickest dark did trance the sky,
      She drew her casement-curtain by,
      And glanced athwart the glooming flats.

      She only said, 'The night is dreary,
      He cometh not,' she said;
      She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      I would that I were dead!'

      Upon the middle of the night,
      Waking she heard the night-fowl crow;
      The cock sung out an hour ere light;
      From the dark fen the oxen's low
      Came to her; without hope of change,
      In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn,
      Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn
      About the lonely moated grange.

      She only said, 'The day is dreary,
      He cometh not,' she said;
      She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      I would that I were dead!'

      About a stone-cast from the wall
      A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,
      And o'er it many, round and small,
      The cluster'd marish-mosses crept.
      Hard by a poplar shook alway
      All silver-green with gnarled bark:
      For leagues no other tree did mark
      The level waste, the rounding gray.

      She only said, 'My life is dreary,
      He cometh not,' she said;
      She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      I would that I were dead!'

      And ever when the moon was low,
      And the shrill winds were up and away,
      In the white curtain, to and fro,
      She saw the gusty shadow sway.
      But when the moon was very low,
      And wild winds bound within their cell,
      The shadow of the poplar fell
      Upon her bed, across her brow.

      She only said, 'The night is dreary,
      He cometh not,' she said;
      She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      I would that I were dead!'

      All day within the dreamy house,
      The doors upon their hinges creak'd;
      The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
      Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,
      Or from the crevice peer'd about.
      Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,
      Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
      Old voices called her from without.

      She only said, 'My life is dreary,
      He cometh not,' she said;
      She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      I would that I were dead!'

      The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,
      The slow clock ticking, and the sound
      Which to the wooing wind aloof
      The poplar made, did all confound
      Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
      When the thick-moted sunbeam lay
      Athwart the chambers, and the day
      Was sloping toward his western bower.

      Then said she, 'I am very dreary,
      He will not come,' she said;
      She wept, 'I am aweary, aweary,
      O God, that I were dead!'

      The Lady of Shalott

      PART I

      ON either side the river lie
      Long fields of barley and of rye,
      That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
      And thro' the field the road runs 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
      Thro' the wave that runs for ever
      By the island in the river
      Flowing down to Camelot.
      Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
      Overlook a space of flowers,
      And the silent isle imbowers
      The Lady of Shalott.

      By the margin, willow-veil'd,
      Slide the heavy barges trail'd d
      By slow horses; and unhail'd
      The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
      Skimming down to Camelot:
      But who hath seen her wave her hand?
      Or at the casement seen her stand?
      Or is she known in all the land,
      The Lady of Shalott?

      Only reapers, reaping early
      In among the bearded 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 ' 'T is the fairy
      Lady of Shalott.'

      PART II

      There she weaves by night and day
      A magic web with colors 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 hath she,
      The Lady of Shalott.

      And moving thro' 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;
      There the river eddy whirls,
      And there the surly village-churls,
      And the red cloaks of market girls,
      Pass onward from Shalott.

      Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
      An abbot on an ambling pad,
      Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
      Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
      Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
      And sometimes thro' 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 thro' 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.

      PART III

      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.

      The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
      Like to some branch of stars we see
      Hung in the golden Galaxy.
      The bridle bells rang merrily
      As he rode down to Camelot;
      And from his blazon'd baldric slung
      A mighty silver bugle hung,
      And as he rode his armor rung,
      Beside remote Shalott.

      All in the blue unclouded weather
      Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
      The helmet and the helmet-feather
      Burn'd like one burning flame together,
      As he rode down to Camelot;
      As often thro' the purple night,
      Below the starry clusters bright,
      Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
      Moves over still 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 flash'd into the crystal mirror,
      'Tirra lirra,' by the river
      Sang Sir Lancelot.

      She left the web, she left the loom,
      She made three paces thro' the room,
      She saw the water-lily bloom,
      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.

      PART IV

      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 round 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.

      Lying, robed in snowy white
      That loosely flew to left and right—
      The leaves upon her falling light—
      Thro' the noises of the night
      She floated down to Camelot;
      And as the boat-head wound along
      The willowy hills and fields among,
      They heard her singing her last song,
      The Lady of Shalott.

      Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
      Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
      Till her blood was frozen slowly,
      And her eyes were darken'd 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 round 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 cross'd 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.'


      THERE lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
      Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
      The swimming vapor slopes athwart the glen,
      Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
      And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
      The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
      Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
      The long brook falling thro' the cloven ravine
      In cataract after cataract to the sea.
      Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
      Stands up and takes the morning; but in front
      The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
      Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,
      The crown of Troas.

      Hither came at noon
      Mournful ?none, wandering forlorn
      Of Paris, once her playmate on the hills.
      Her cheek had lost the rose, and round her neck
      Floated her hair or seem'd to float in rest.
      She, leaning on a fragment twined with vine,
      Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shade
      Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.

      'O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
      Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      For now the noonday quiet holds the hill;
      The grasshopper is silent in the grass;
      The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,
      Rests like a shadow, and the winds are dead.
      The purple flower droops, the golden bee
      Is lily-cradled; I alone awake.
      My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
      My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,
      And I am all aweary of my life.

      'O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
      Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      Hear me, O earth, hear me, O hills, O caves
      That house the cold crown'd snake! O mountain brooks,
      I am the daughter of a River-God,
      Hear me, for I will speak, and build up all
      My sorrow with my song, as yonder walls
      Rose slowly to a music slowly breathed,
      A cloud that gather'd shape; for it may be
      That, while I speak of it, a little while
      My heart may wander from its deeper woe.

      'O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
      Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      I waited underneath the dawning hills;
      Aloft the mountain lawn was dewy-dark,
      And dewy dark aloft the mountain pine.
      Beautiful Paris, evil-hearted Paris,
      Leading a jet-black goat white-horn'd, white-hooved,
      Came up from reedy Simois all alone.

      'O mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      Far-off the torrent call'd me from the cleft;
      Far up the solitary morning smote
      The streaks of virgin snow. With down-dropt eyes
      I sat alone; white-breasted like a star
      Fronting the dawn he moved; a leopard skin
      Droop'd from his shoulder, but his sunny hair
      Cluster'd about his temples like a Gods;
      And his cheek brighten'd as the foam-bow brightens
      When the wind blows the foam, and all my heart
      Went forth to embrace him coming ere he came.

      'Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      He smiled, and opening out his milk-white palm
      Disclosed a fruit of pure Hesperian gold,
      That smelt ambrosially, and while I look'd
      And listen'd, the full-flowing river of speech
      Came down upon my heart:
      '"My own ?none,
      Beautiful-brow'd ?none, my own soul,
      Behold this fruit, whose gleaming rind ingraven
      'For the most fair,' would seem to award it thine,
      As lovelier than whatever Oread haunt
      The knolls of Ida, loveliest in all grace
      Of movement, and the charm of married brows."

      'Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      He prest the blossom of his lips to mine,
      And added, "This was cast upon the board,
      When all the full-faced presence of the Gods
      Ranged in the halls of Peleus; whereupon
      Rose feud, with question unto whom 't were due;
      But light-foot Iris brought it yester-eve,
      Delivering, that to me, by common voice
      Elected umpire, Here comes to-day,
      Pallas and Aphrodite, claiming each
      This meed of fairest. Thou, within the cave
      Behind yon whispering tuft of oldest pine,
      Mayst well behold them unbeheld, unheard
      Hear all, and see thy Paris judge of Gods."

      'Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      It was the deep midnoon; one silvery cloud
      Had lost his way between the piny sides
      Of this long glen. Then to the bower they came,
      Naked they came to that smooth-swarded bower,
      And at their feet the crocus brake like fire,
      Violet, amaracus, and asphodel,
      Lotos and lilies; and a wind arose,
      And overhead the wandering ivy and vine,
      This way and that, in many a wild festoon
      Ran riot, garlanding the gnarled boughs
      With bunch and berry and flower thro' and thro'.

      'O mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      On the tree-tops a crested peacock lit,
      And o'er him flow'd a golden cloud, and lean'd
      Upon him, slowly dropping fragrant dew.
      Then first I heard the voice of her to whom
      Coming thro' heaven, like a light that grows
      Larger and clearer, with one mind the Gods
      Rise up for reverence. She to Paris made
      Proffer of royal power, ample rule
      Unquestion'd, overflowing revenue
      Wherewith to embellish state, "from many a vale
      And river-sunder'd champaign clothed with corn,
      Or labor'd mine undrainable of ore.
      Honor," she said, "and homage, tax and toll,
      From many an inland town and haven large,
      Mast-throng'd beneath her shadowing citadel
      In glassy bays among her tallest towers."

      'O mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      Still she spake on and still she spake of power,
      "Which in all action is the end of all;
      Power fitted to the season; wisdom-bred
      And throned of wisdom-from all neighbor crowns
      Alliance and allegiance, till thy hand
      Fail from the sceptre-staff. Such boon from me,
      From me, heaven's queen, Paris, to thee king-born,
      A shepherd all thy life but yet king-born,
      Should come most welcome, seeing men, in power
      Only, are likest Gods, who have attain'd
      Rest in a happy place and quiet seats
      Above the thunder, with undying bliss
      In knowledge of their own supremacy."

      'Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      She ceased, and Paris held the costly fruit
      Out at arm's-length, so much the thought of power
      Flatter'd his spirit; but Pallas where she stood
      Somewhat apart, her clear and bared limbs
      O'erthwarted with the brazen-headed spear
      Upon her pearly shoulder leaning cold,
      The while, above, her full and earnest eye
      Over her snow-cold breast and angry cheek
      Kept watch, waiting decision, made reply:

      '"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,
      These three alone lead life to sovereign power.
      Yet not for power (power of herself
      Would come uncall'd for) but to live by law,
      Acting the law we live by without fear;
      And, because right is right, to follow right
      Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence."

      'Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      Again she said: "I woo thee not with gifts.
      Sequel of guerdon could not alter me
      To fairer. Judge thou me by what I am,
      So shalt thou find me fairest.
      Yet, indeed,
      If gazing on divinity disrobed
      Thy mortal eyes are frail to judge of fair,
      Unbias'd by self-profit, O, rest thee sure
      That I shall love thee well and cleave to thee,
      So that my vigor, wedded to thy blood,
      Shall strike within thy pulses, like a God's,
      To push thee forward thro' a life of shocks,
      Dangers, and deeds, until endurance grow
      Sinew'd with action, and the full-grown will,
      Circled thro' all experiences, pure law,
      Commeasure perfect freedom."
      'Here she ceas'd,
      And Paris ponder'd, and I cried, "O Paris,
      Give it to Pallas!" but he heard me not,
      Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me!

      'O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
      Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      Idalian Aphrodite beautiful,
      Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells,
      With rosy slender fingers backward drew
      From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair
      Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat
      And shoulder; from the violets her light foot
      Shone rosy-white, and o'er her rounded form
      Between the shadows of the vine-bunches
      Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved.

      'Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      She with a subtle smile in her mild eyes,
      The herald of her triumph, drawing nigh
      Half-whisper'd in his ear, "I promise thee
      The fairest and most loving wife in Greece."
      She spoke and laugh'd; I shut my sight for fear;
      But when I look'd, Paris had raised his arm,
      And I beheld great Here's angry eyes,
      As she withdrew into the golden cloud,
      And I was left alone within the bower;
      And from that time to this I am alone,
      And I shall be alone until I die.

      'Yet, mother Ida, harken ere I die.
      Fairest—why fairest wife? am I not fair?
      My love hath told me so a thousand times.
      Methinks I must be fair, for yesterday,
      When I past by, a wild and wanton pard,
      Eyed like the evening star, with playful tail
      Crouch'd fawning in the weed. Most loving is she?
      Ah me, my mountain shepherd, that my arms
      Were wound about thee, and my hot lips prest
      Close, close to thine in that quick-falling dew
      Of fruitful kisses, thick as autumn rains
      Flash in the pools of whirling Simois!

      'O mother, hear me yet before I die.
      They came, they cut away my tallest pines,
      My tall dark pines, that plumed the craggy ledge
      High over the blue gorge, and all between
      The snowy peak and snow-white cataract
      Foster'd the callow eaglet—from beneath
      Whose thick mysterious boughs in the dark morn
      The panther's roar came muffled, while I sat
      Low in the valley. Never, never more
      Shall lone ?none see the morning mist
      Sweep thro' them; never see them overlaid
      With narrow moonlit slips of silver cloud,
      Between the loud stream and the trembling stars.


Excerpted from The Charge of the Light Brigade and Other Poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson, STANLEY APPELBAUM. Copyright © 1992 Dover Publications, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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