The Islet

A poem by Alfred Tennyson

‘Whither, O whither, love, shall we go,
For a score of sweet little summers or so?’
The sweet little wife of the singer said,
On the day that follow’d the day she was wed,
‘Whither, O whither, love, shall we go?’
And the singer shaking his curly head
Turn’d as he sat, and struck the keys
There at his right with a sudden crash,
Singing, ‘And shall it be over the seas
With a crew that is neither rude nor rash,
But a bevy of Eroses apple-cheek’d,
In a shallop of crystal ivory-beak’d?
With a satin sail of a ruby glow,
To a sweet little Eden on earth that I know,
A mountain islet pointed and peak’d;
Waves on a diamond shingle dash,
Cataract brooks to the ocean run,
Fairily-delicate palaces shine
Mixt with myrtle and clad with vine,
And overstream’d and silvery-streak’d
With many a rivulet high against the sun
The facets of the glorious mountain flash
Above the valleys of palm and pine.’

‘Thither, O thither, love, let us go.’

‘No, no, no!
For in all that exquisite isle, my dear,
There is but one bird with a musical throat,
And his compass is but of a single note,
That it makes one weary to hear.’

‘Mock me not! mock me not! love, let us go.’

‘No, love, no.
For the bud ever breaks into bloom on the tree,
And a storm never wakes on the lonely sea,
And a worm is there in the lonely wood,
That pierces the liver and blackens the blood,
And makes it a sorrow to be.’

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