I fell in love with the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson while teaching the Victorian Era to my British Literature kiddos last semester. I think I got…way too into Tennyson. Almost all of the lessons included some shout-out to Tennyson or his style or his voice.
Because he’s a painter, right? He doesn’t tell you what to feel. He doesn’t tell you what you will experience. He paints it and steps back, letting you do the rest. I don’t read a poem by Tennyson the same way twice. It wasn’t designed for that.
I borrowed The Collected Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson from the BINUS school library over the weekend, as I was getting ready for school this morning I thumbed through it to a random page.
I struck upon The Poet and casually read through it. When I came to the last two lines, my eyes got a bit misty.
I would like to share this poem with you, in hopes that it moves you like it did me.
I have only posted original poetry as of now, but this exception is worth it.
The poet in a golden clime was born,
With golden stars above;
Dower’d with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
The love of love.
He saw thro’ life and death, thro’ good and ill,
He saw thro’ his own soul.
The marvel of the everlasting will,
An open scroll,
Before him lay: with echoing feet he threaded
The secretest walks of fame:
The viewless arrows of his thoughts were headed
And wing’d with flame,
Like Indian reeds blown from his silver tongue,
And of so fierce a flight,
From Calpe unto Caucasus they sung,
Filling with light
And vagrant melodies the winds which bore
Them earthward till they lit;
Then, like the arrow-seeds of the field flower,
The fruitful wit.
Cleaving, took root, and springing forth anew
Where’er they fell, behold,
Like to the mother plant in semblance, grew
A flower all gold.
And bravely furnish’d all abroad to fling
The winged shafts of truth.
To throng with stately blooms the breathing spring
Of Hope and Youth.
So many minds did grid their orbs with beam,
Tho’ one did fling the fire.
Heaven flow’d upon the soul in many dreams
Of high desire.
Thus truth was multiplied on truth, the words
Like one great garden show’d
And thro’ the wreaths of floating dark upcurl’d
Rare sunrise flow’d.
And Freedom rear’d in that august sunrise
Her beautiful bold brow
When rites and forms before his burning eyes
Melted like snow.
There was no blood upon her maiden robes
Sunn’d by those orient skies;
But round about the circles of the globes
Of her keen eyes
And in her raiment’s hem was traced in flame
WISDOM, a name to shake
All evil dreams of power—a sacred name.
And when she spake,
Her words did gather thunder as they ran.
And as the lightning to the thunder
Which follows it, riving the spirit of man,
Making earth wonder,
So was their meaning to her words. No sword
Of wrath her right arm whirl’d,
But one poor poet’s scroll, and with his word
She shook the world.