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For Poetry Monday, something that is, again, longer than my 50-line rule-of-thumb -- thus a cut.


The Daisy, Alfred the Tennyson

O love, what hours were thine and mine
In lands of palm and southern pine,—
    In lands of palm, of orange-blossom,
Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine.

What Roman strength Turbìa showed
In ruin, by the mountain road;
    How like a gem, beneath, the city
Of little Monaco, basking, glowed.

How richly down the rocky dell
The torrent vineyard streaming fell
    To meet the sun and sunny waters,
That only heaved with a summer swell.

What slender campanili grew
By bays, the peacock’s neck in hue;
    Where, here and there, on sandy beaches
A milky-belled amaryllis blew.

How young Columbus seemed to rove,
Yet present in his natal grove,
    Now watching high on mountain cornice,
And steering, now, from a purple cove,

Now pacing mute by ocean’s rim
Till, in a narrow street and dim,
    I stayed the wheels at Cogoletto,
And drank, and loyally drank to him.

Nor knew we well what pleased us most,
Not the clipt palm of which they boast;
    But distant color, happy hamlet,
A mouldered citadel on the coast,

Or tower, or high hill-convent, seen
A light amid its olives green;
    Or olive-hoary cape in ocean;
Or rosy blossom in hot ravine,

Where oleanders flushed the bed
Of silent torrents, gravel-spread;
    And, crossing, oft we saw the glisten
Of ice, far up on a mountain head.

We loved that hall, though white and cold,
Those nichéd shapes of noble mould,
    A princely people’s awful princes,
The grave, severe Genovese of old.

At Florence, too, what golden hours
In those long galleries were ours;
    What drives about the fresh Cascinè,
Or walks in Boboli’s ducal bowers.

In bright vignettes, and each complete,
Of tower or duomo, sunny-sweet,
    Or palace, how the city glittered,
Through cypress avenues, at our feet.

But when we crost the Lombard plain
Remember what a plague of rain;
    Of rain at Reggio, rain at Parma;
At Lodi, rain, Piacenza, rain.

And stern and sad (so rare the smiles
Of sunlight) looked the Lombard piles;
    Porch-pillars on the lion resting,
And sombre, old, colonnaded aisles.

O Milan, O the chanting quires,
The giant windows’ blazoned fires,
    The height, the space, the gloom, the glory!
A mount of marble, a hundred spires!

I climbed the roofs at break of day;
Sun-smitten Alps before me lay.
    I stood among the silent statues,
And statued pinnacles, mute as they.

How faintly flushed, how phantom-fair,
Was Monte Rosa hanging there
    A thousand shadowy-pencilled valleys
And snowy dells in a golden air.

Remember how we came at last
To Como; shower and storm and blast
    Had blown the lake beyond his limit,
And all was flooded; and how we past

From Como, when the light was gray,
And in my head, for half the day,
    The rich Virgilian rustic measure
Of Lari Maxume, all the way,

Like ballad-burden music, kept,
As on the Lariano crept
    To that fair port below the castle
Of Queen Theodolind, where we slept;

Or hardly slept, but watched awake
A cypress in the moonlight shake,
    The moonlight touching o’er a terrace
One tall agavè above the lake.

What more? we took our last adieu,
And up the snowy Splugen drew,
    But ere we reached the highest summit
I plucked a daisy, I gave it you.

It told of England then to me,
And now it tells of Italy.
    O love, we two shall go no longer
To lands of summer across the sea;

So dear a life your arms enfold
Whose crying is a cry for gold:
    Yet here to-night in this dark city,
When ill and weary, alone and cold,

I found, though crushed to hard and dry,
This nursling of another sky
    Still in the little book you lent me,
And where you tenderly laid it by:

And I forgot the clouded Forth,
The gloom that saddens heaven and earth,
    The bitter east, the misty summer
And gray metropolis of the North.

Perchance to lull the throbs of pain,
Perchance to charm a vacant brain,
    Perchance to dream you still beside me,
My fancy fled to the South again.


This was written in 1853 while his wife was recovering from some pretty serious surgery; they took the described Italian tour in 1851, the year after they finally married. (Emily Tennyson was, btw, the niece of arctic explorer John Franklin.) In 2015, the first draft manuscript was sold for £12,500.)

---L.

Subject quote from "Come down, O maid," from "The Princess," by Alfred the Tennyson.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/667858.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

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