O living will that shalt endure

When all that seems shall suffer shock,

Rise in the spiritual rock,

Flow thro’ our deeds and make them pure,

That we may lift from out of dust

A voice as unto him that hears,

A cry above the conquer’d years

To one that with us works, and trust,

With faith that comes of self-control,

The truths that never can be proved

Until we close with all we loved,

And all we flow from, soul in soul.——

O true and tried, so well and long,

Demand not thou a marriage lay;

In that it is thy marriage day

Is music more than any song.

Nor have I felt so much of bliss

Since first he told me that he loved

A daughter of our house; nor proved

Since that dark day a day like this;

Tho’ I since then have number’d o’er

Some thrice three years: they went and came,

Remade the blood and changed the frame,

And yet is love not less, but more;

No longer caring to embalm

In dying songs a dead regret,

But like a statue solid-set,

And moulded in colossal calm.

Regret is dead, but love is more

Than in the summers that are flown,

For I myself with these have grown

To something greater than before;

Which makes appear the songs I made

As echoes out of weaker times,

As half but idle brawling rhymes,

The sport of random sun and shade.

But where is she, the bridal flower,

That must be made a wife ere noon?

She enters, glowing like the moon

Of Eden on its bridal bower:

On me she bends her blissful eyes

And then on thee; they meet thy look

And brighten like the star that shook

Betwixt the palms of paradise.

O when her life was yet in bud,

He too foretold the perfect rose.

For thee she grew, for thee she grows

For ever, and as fair as good.

And thou art worthy; full of power;

As gentle; liberal-minded, great,

Consistent; wearing all that weight

Of learning lightly like a flower.

But now set out: the noon is near,

And I must give away the bride;

She fears not, or with thee beside

And me behind her, will not fear.

For I that danced her on my knee,

That watch’d her on her nurse’s arm,

That shielded all her life from harm

At last must part with her to thee;

Now waiting to be made a wife,

Her feet, my darling, on the dead;

Their pensive tablets round her head,

And the most living words of life

Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,

The “wilt thou” answer’d, and again

The “wilt thou” ask’d, till out of twain

Her sweet “I will” has made you one.

Now sign your names, which shall be read,

Mute symbols of a joyful morn,

By village eyes as yet unborn;

The names are sign’d, and overhead

Begins the clash and clang that tells

The joy to every wandering breeze;

The blind wall rocks, and on the trees

The dead leaf trembles to the bells.

O happy hour, and happier hours

Await them. Many a merry face

Salutes them–maidens of the place,

That pelt us in the porch with flowers.

O happy hour, behold the bride

With him to whom her hand I gave.

They leave the porch, they pass the grave

That has to-day its sunny side.

To-day the grave is bright for me,

For them the light of life increased,

Who stay to share the morning feast,

Who rest to-night beside the sea.

Let all my genial spirits advance

To meet and greet a whiter sun;

My drooping memory will not shun

The foaming grape of eastern France.

It circles round, and fancy plays,

And hearts are warm’d and faces bloom,

As drinking health to bride and groom

We wish them store of happy days.

Nor count me all to blame if I

Conjecture of a stiller guest,

Perchance, perchance, among the rest,

And, tho’ in silence, wishing joy.

But they must go, the time draws on,

And those white-favour’d horses wait;

They rise, but linger; it is late;

Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.

A shade falls on us like the dark

From little cloudlets on the grass,

But sweeps away as out we pass

To range the woods, to roam the park,

Discussing how their courtship grew,

And talk of others that are wed,

And how she look’d, and what he said,

And back we come at fall of dew.

Again the feast, the speech, the glee,

The shade of passing thought, the wealth

Of words and wit, the double health,

The crowning cup, the three-times-three,

And last the dance,–till I retire:

Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,

And high in heaven the streaming cloud,

And on the downs a rising fire:

And rise, O moon, from yonder down,

Till over down and over dale

All night the shining vapour sail

And pass the silent-lighted town,

The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,

And catch at every mountain head,

And o’er the friths that branch and spread

Their sleeping silver thro’ the hills;

And touch with shade the bridal doors,

With tender gloom the roof, the wall;

And breaking let the splendour fall

To spangle all the happy shores

By which they rest, and ocean sounds,

And, star and system rolling past,

A soul shall draw from out the vast

And strike his being into bounds,

And, moved thro’ life of lower phase,

Result in man, be born and think,

And act and love, a closer link

Betwixt us and the crowning race

Of those that, eye to eye, shall look

On knowledge; under whose command

Is Earth and Earth’s, and in their hand

Is Nature like an open book;

No longer half-akin to brute,

For all we thought and loved and did,

And hoped, and suffer’d, is but seed

Of what in them is flower and fruit;

Whereof the man, that with me trod

This planet, was a noble type

Appearing ere the times were ripe,

That friend of mine who lives in God,

That God, which ever lives and loves,

One God, one law, one element,

And one far-off divine event,

To which the whole creation moves.





Lord Alfred Tennyson

More poems by Baron Alfred, Lord Tennyson