Idylls of the King, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

To the Queen

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 plucked his flickering life again

From halfway down the shadow of the grave,

Past with thee through thy people and their love,

And London rolled one tide of joy through all

Her trebled millions, and loud leagues of man

And welcome! witness, too, the silent cry,

The prayer of many a race and creed, and clime —

Thunderless lightnings striking 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

Left mightiest of all peoples under heaven?

What shock has fooled her since, that she should speak

So feebly? wealthier — 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 pealed

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

In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle,

That knows not her own greatness: if she knows

And dreads it we are fallen. — But thou, my Queen,

Not for itself, but through 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,

Ideal manhood closed in real man,

Rather than that gray king, whose name, a ghost,

Streams like a cloud, man-shaped, from mountain peak,

And cleaves to cairn and cromlech still; or him

Of Geoffrey’s book, or him of Malleor’s, one

Touched by the adulterous finger of a time

That hovered 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,

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 stolen 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 crowned Republic’s crowning common-sense,

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.

Enid and the Countess
Enid and the Countess

The Dawn of Love
The Dawn of Love

The Knights' Progress
The Knights' Progress

Lancelot Relating His Adventures
Lancelot Relating His Adventures

Terrace Scene
Terrace Scene

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01