Return to Page 4

Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892

"To the Queen"
from The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate (London: Kegan Paul, 1878).

 O LOYAL to the royal in thyself,
 And loyal to thy land, as this to thee--
 Bear witness, that rememberable day,
 When, pale as yet, and fever-worn, the Prince
 Who scarce had pluck'd his flickering life again
 From halfway down the shadow of the grave,
 Past with thee thro' thy people and their love,
 And London roll'd one tide of joy thro'all
 Her trebled millions, and loud leages of man
 And welcome! witness, too, the silent cry,                   10
 The prayer of many a race and creed, and clime--
 Thunderless lightnings strking under sea
 From sunset and sunrise of all thy realm,
 And that true North, whereof we lately heard
 A strain to shame us 'keep you to yourselves;
 So loyal is too costly! friends--your love
 Is but a burthen: loose the bond, and go.'
 Is this the tone of empire? here the faith
 That made us rulers? this, indeed, her voice
 And meaning, whom the roar of Hougoumont                     20
 Left mightiest of all peoples under heaven?
 What shock has fool'd her since, that she should speak
 So feebly? wealther--wealthier--hour by hour!
 The voice of Britain, or a sinking land,
 Some third-rate isle half-lost among her seas?
 There rang her voice, when the full city peal'd
 Thee and thy Prince!  The loyal to their crown
 Are loyal to their own far sons, who love
 Our ocean-empire with her boundless homes
 For ever-broadening England, and her throne                  30
 In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle,
 That knows not her own greatness: if she knows
 And dreads it we are fall'n.--But thous, my Queen,
 Not for itslef, but thro' thy living love
 For one to whom I made it o'er his grave
 Sacred, accept this old imperfect tale,
 New-old, and shadowing Sense at war with Soul
 Rather than that gray king, whose name, a ghost,
 Streams like a cloud, man-shaped, from mountain peak,
 And cleaves and cromlech still; or him                       40
 Of Geoffrey's book, or him of Malleor's one
 Touch'd by the adulterous finger of a time
 That hover'd between war and wantonness,
 And crownings and dethronements: take withal
 Thy poet's blessing, and his trust that Heaven
 Will blow the tempest in the distance back
 From thine and ours: for some are scared, who mark,
 Or wisely or unwisely, signs of storm,
 Waverings of every vane with every wind,
 And wordy trucklings to the transient hour,                  50
 And fierce or careless looseners of the faith,
 And Softness breeding scorn of simple life,
 Or Cowardice, the child of lust for gold,
 Or Labour, with a groan and not a voice,
 Or Art with poisonous honey stol'n from France,
 And that which knows, but careful for itself
 And that which knows not, ruling that which knows
 To its own harm: the goal of this great world
 Lies beyond sight: yet--if our slowly-grown
 And crown'd Republic's crowning common-sense,                60
 That saved her many times, not fail--their fears
 Are morning shadows huger than the shapes
 That cast them, not those gloomier which forego
 The darkness of that battle in the West,
 Where all of high and holy dies away.

[ Return ]

Updated 2 August 1999 by the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Copyright © 1999, the University of South Carolina.