The Window

A poem by Alfred Tennyson


The lights and shadows fly!
Yonder it brightens and darkens down on the plain.
A jewel, a jewel dear to a lover’s eye!
Oh is it the brook, or a pool, or her window pane,
When the winds are up in the morning?

Clouds that are racing above,
And winds and lights and shadows that cannot be still,
All running on one way to the home of my love,
You are all running on, and I stand on the slope of the hill,
And the winds are up in the morning!

Follow, follow the chase!
And my thoughts are as quick and as quick, ever on, on, on.
O lights, are you flying over her sweet little face?
And my heart is there before you are come, and gone,
When the winds are up in the morning!

Follow them down the slope
And I follow them down to the window-pane of my dear,
And it brightens and darkens and brightens like my hope,
And it darkens and brightens and darkens like my fear,
And the winds are up in the morning.


Vine, vine and eglantine,
Clasp her window, trail and twine!
Rose, rose and clematis,
Trail and twine and clasp and kiss,
Kiss, kiss; and make her a bower
All of flowers, and drop me a flower,
Drop me a flower.

Vine, vine and eglantine,
Cannot a flower, a flower, be mine?
Rose, rose and clematis,
Drop me a flower, a flower, to kiss,
Kiss, kiss—and out of her bower
All of flowers, a flower, a flower,
Dropt, a flower.


Gone, till the end of the year,
Gone, and the light gone with her, and left me in shadow here!
Gone-flitted away,
Taken the stars from the night and the sun from the day!
Gone, and a cloud in my heart, and a storm in the air!
Flown to the east or the west, flitted I know not where!
Down in the south is a flash and a groan: she is there! she is there!


The frost is here,
And fuel is clear,
And woods are sear,
And fires burn clear,
And frost is here
And has bitten the heel of the going year.

Bite, frost, bite!
You roll up away from the light
The blue wood-louse, and the plump dormouse,
And the bees are still’d, and the flies are kill’d,
And you bite far into the heart of the house,
But not into mine.

Bite, frost, bite!
The woods are all the searer,
The fuel is all the dearer,
The fires are all the clearer,
My spring is all the nearer,
You have bitten into the heart of the earth,
But not into mine


Birds’ love and birds’ song
Flying here and there,
Birds’ song and birds’ love,
And you with gold for hair!
Birds’ song and birds’ love.
Passing with the weather,
Men’s song and men’s love,
To love once and for ever.

Men’s love and birds’ love,
And women’s love and men’s!
And you my wren with a crown of gold,
You my queen of the wrens!
You the queen of the wrens—
We’ll be birds of a feather,
I’ll be King of the Queen of the wrens,
And all in a nest together.


Where is another sweet as my sweet,
Fine of the fine, and shy of the shy?
Fine little hands, fine little feet—
Dewy blue eye.
Shall I write to her? shall I go?
Ask her to marry me by and by?
Somebody said that she’d say no;
Somebody knows that she’ll say ay!

Ay or no, if ask’d to her face?
Ay or no, from shy of the shy?
Go, little letter, apace, apace,
Fly to the light in the valley below—
Tell my wish to her dewy blue eye:
Somebody said that she’d say no;
Somebody knows that she’ll say ay!


The mist and the rain, the mist and the rain!
Is it ay or no? is it ay or no?
And never a glimpse of her window pane!
And I may die but the grass will grow,
And the grass will grow when I am gone,
And the wet west wind and the world will go on.

Ay is the song of the wedded spheres,
No is trouble and cloud and storm.
Ay is life for a hundred years,
No will push me down to the worm,
And when I am there and dead and gone,
The wet west wind and the world will go on.

The wind and the wet, the wind and the wet!
Wet west wind how you blow, you blow!
And never a line from my lady yet!
Is it ay or no? is it ay or no?
Blow then, blow, and when I am gone,
The wet west wind and the world may go on.


Winds are loud and you are dumb,
Take my love, for love will come,
Love will come but once a life.
Winds are loud and winds will pass!
Spring is here with leaf and grass:
Take my love and be my wife.
After-loves of maids and men
Are but dainties drest again:
Love me now, you’ll love me then:
Love can love but once a life,


Two little hands that meet,
Claspt on her seal, my sweet!
Must I take you and break you,
Two little hands that meet?
I must take you, and break you,
And loving hands must part—
Take, take—break, break—
Break—you may break my heart.
Faint heart never won—
Break, break, and all’s done.


Be merry, all birds, to-day,
Be merry on earth as you never were merry before,
Be merry in heaven, O larks, and far away,
And merry for ever and ever, and one day more.
For it’s easy to find a rhyme.
Look, look, how he flits,
The fire-crown’d king of the wrens, from out of the pine!
Look how they tumble the blossom, the mad little tits!
‘Cuck-oo! Cuck-oo!’ was ever a May so fine?
For it’s easy to find a rhyme.
O merry the linnet and dove,
And swallow and sparrow and throstle, and have your desire!
O merry my heart, you have gotten the wings of love,
And flit like the king of the wrens with a crown of fire.
For it’s ay ay, ay ay.


Sun comes, moon comes,
Time slips away.
Sun sets, moon sets,
Love, fix a day.

‘A year hence, a year hence.’
‘We shall both be gray.’
‘A month hence, a month hence.
‘Far, far away.’

‘A week hence, a week hence.’
‘Ah, the long delay.’
‘Wait a little, wait a little,
You shall fix a day.’

‘To-morrow, love, to-morrow,
And that’s an age away.’
Blaze upon her window, sun,
And honour all the day.


Light, so low upon earth,
You send a flash to the sun.
Here is the golden close of love,
All my wooing is done.
Oh, the woods and the meadows,
Woods where we hid from the wet,
Stiles where we stay’d to be kind,
Meadows in which we met!

Light, so low in the vale
You flash and lighten afar,
For this is the golden morning of love,
And you are his morning star.
Flash, I am coming, I come,
By meadow and stile and wood,
Oh, lighten into my eyes and my heart,
Into my heart and my blood!

Heart, are you great enough
For a love that never tires?
O heart, are you great enough for love?
I have heard of thorns and briers.
Over the thorns and briers,
Over the meadows and stiles,
Over the world to the end of it
Flash for a million miles.

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