A poem by Alfred Tennyson


Thy dark eyes open’d not,
Nor first reveal’d themselves to English air,
For there is nothing here
Which, from the outward to the inward brought,
Moulded thy baby thought.
Far off from human neighborhood
Thou wert born, on a summer morn,
A mile beneath the cedar-wood.
Thy bounteous forehead was not fann’d
With breezes from our oaken glades,
But thou wert nursed in some delicious land
Of lavish lights, and floating shades;
And flattering thy childish thought
The oriental fairy brought,
At the moment of thy birth,
From old well-heads of haunted rills,
And the hearts of purple hills,
And shadow’d coves on a sunny shore,
The choicest wealth of all the earth,
Jewel or shell, or starry ore,
To deck thy cradle, Eleanore.


Or the yellow-banded bees,
Thro’ half-open lattices
Coming in the scented breeze,
Fed thee, a child, lying alone,
With whitest honey in fairy gardens cull’d–
A glorious child, dreaming alone,
In silk-soft folds, upon yielding down,
With the hum of swarming bees
Into dreamful slumber lull’d.


Who may minister to thee?
Summer herself should minister
To thee, with fruitage golden-rinded
On golden salvers, or it may be,
Youngest Autumn, in a bower
Grape-thicken’d from the light, and blinded
With many a deep-hued bell-like flower
Of fragrant trailers, when the air
Sleepeth over all the heaven,
And the crag that fronts the even,
All along the shadowing shore,
Crimsons over an inland mere,



How may full-sail’d verse express,
How may measured words adore
The full-flowing harmony
Of thy swan-like stateliness,


The luxuriant symmetry
Of thy floating gracefulness,


Every turn and glance of thine,
Every lineament divine,


And the steady sunset glow
That stays upon thee? For in thee
Is nothing sudden, nothing single;
Like two streams of incense free
From one censer in one shrine,
Thought and motion mingle,
Minge ever. Motions flow
To one another, even as tho’
They were modulated so
To an unheard melody,
Which lives about thee, and a sweep
Of richest pauses, evermore
Drawn from each other mellow-deep;
Who may express thee, Eleanore?


I stand before thee, Eleanore;
I see thy beauty gradually unfold,
Daily and hourly, more and more.
I muse, as in a trance, the while
Slowly, as from a cloud of gold,
Comes out thy deep ambrosial smile.
I muse, as in a trance, whene’er
The languors of thy love-deep eyes
Float on to me. I would I were
So tranced, so rapt in ecstasies,
To stand apart, and to adore,
Gazing on thee for evermore,
Serene, imperial Eleanore!


Sometimes, with most intensity
Gazing, I seem to see
Thought folded over thought, smiling asleep,
Slowly awaken’d, grow so full and deep
In thy large eyes that, overpower’d quite,
I cannot veil or droop my sight,
But am as nothing in its light.
As tho’ a star, in inmost heaven set,
Even while we gaze on it,
Should slowly round his orb, and slowly grow
To a full face, there like a sun remain
Fix’d–then as slowly fade again,
And draw itself to what it was before;
So full, so deep, so slow,
Thought seems to come and go
In thy large eyes, imperial Eleanore.


As thunder-clouds that, hung on high,
Roof’d the world with doubt and fear,
Floating thro’ an evening atmosphere,
Grow golden all about the sky;
In thee all passion becomes passionless,
Touch’d by thy spirit’s mellowness,
Losing his fire and active might
In a silent meditation,
Falling into a still delight,
And luxury of contemplation.
As waves that up a quiet cove
Rolling slide, and lying still
Shadow forth the banks at will,
Or sometimes they swell and move,
Pressing up against the land
With motions of the outer sea;
And the self-same influence
Controlleth all the soul and sense
Of Passion gazing upon thee.
His bow-string slacken’d, languid Love,
Leaning his cheek upon his hand,
Droops both his wings, regarding thee,
And so would languish evermore,
Serene, imperial Eleanore.


But when I see thee roam, with tresses unconfined,
While the amorous odorous wind
Breathes low between the sunset and the moon;
Or, in a shadowy saloon,
On silken cushions half reclined;
I watch thy grace, and in its place
My heart a charmed slumber keeps,
While I muse upon thy face;
And a languid fire creeps
Thro’ my veins to all my frame,
Dissovlingly and slowly. Soon
From thy rose-red lips MY name
Floweth; and then, as in a swoon,
With dinning sound my ears are rife,
My tremulous tongue faltereth,
I lose my color, I lose my breath,
I drink the cup of a costly death,
Brimm’d with delirious draughts of warmest life.
I die with my delight before
I hear what I would hear from thee,
Yet tell my name again to me,
I would be dying evermore,
So dying ever, Eleanore.

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