Written at the Request of the Mantuans for the Nineteenth Centenary of

Virgil’s Death

Roman Virgil, thou that singest

Ilion’s lofty temples robed in fire,

Ilion falling, Rome arising,

wars, and filial faith, and Dido’s pyre;

Landscape-lover, lord of language

more than he that sang the Works and Days,

All the chosen coin of fancy

flashing out from many a golden phrase;

Thou that singest wheat and woodland,

tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;

All the charm of all the Muses

often flowering in a lonely word;

Poet of the happy Tityrus

piping underneath his beechen bowers;

Poet of the poet-satyr

whom the laughing shepherd bound with flowers;

Chanter of the Pollio, glorying

in the blissful years again to be,

Summers of the snakeless meadow,

unlaborious earth and oarless sea;

Thou that seest Universal

Nature moved by Universal Mind;

Thou majestic in thy sadness

at the doubtful doom of human kind;

Light among the vanished ages;

star that gildest yet this phantom shore;

Golden branch amid the shadows,

kings and realms that pass to rise no more;

Now thy Forum roars no longer,

fallen every purple Caesar’s dome;

Tho’ thine ocean-roll of rhythm

sound for ever of Imperial Rome;

Now the Rome of slaves hath perished,

and the Rome of freemen holds her place,

I, from out the Northern Island

sundered once from all the human race,

I salute thee, Mantovano,

I that loved thee since my day began,

Wielder of the stateliest measure

ever moulded by the lips of man.





Lord Alfred Tennyson

More poems by Baron Alfred, Lord Tennyson