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The Progress Of Spring
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

English poet and dramatist, generally considered to be the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry. Tennyson's major works include his Poems. Chiefly Lyrical (1830); his two volume work, again entitled Poems, of 1842 which includes, alongside rewritten earlier works, the dramatic monologue 'Ulysses', 'Morte d'Arthur' and 'Sir Galahad' - his first pieces dealing with Arthurian legend, 'Locksley Hall' and 'Break, Break, Break'; the novella Princess: a Medly (1847) and his In Memorium A.H.H. (1850), a tribute to his deceased friend Arthur Hallam.

Other major works, this time from Tennyson's second period of creative out put after being made poet laureate, include Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington (1852), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) and Maud (1855), what Tennyson referred to as his "monodrama".

He also wrote, in later years, a number of works centred on Arthurian legends, including The Idylls of the King (1859), The Holy Grail and Other Poems (1870) and Gareth and Lynette (1872), as well as some poetic dramas: Queen Mary (1875), Harold (1877), Becket (1884) and, his only prose work, The Promise of May (produced at the Globe Theatre in November 1882). Other important works are Despair (1881), Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (1886), Demeter and Other Poems (1889) and his famous Crossing the Bar (1889). At Alfred's request, his poem "Crossing the Bar," an epitaph of sorts, is always printed last in any collection of his works (our thanks to visitor Cynthia R. for reminding Passions of this oversight).

The Progress Of Spring
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The groundflame of the crocus breaks the mould,
   Fair Spring slides hither o'er the Southern sea,
Wavers on her thin stem the snowdrop cold
   That trembles not to kisses of the bee:
Come Spring, for now from all the dripping eaves
   The spear of ice has wept itself away,
And hour by hour unfolding woodbine leaves
   O'er his uncertain shadow droops the day.
She comes! The loosen'd rivulets run;
   The frost-bead melts upon her golden hair;
Her mantle, slowly greening in the Sun,
   Now wraps her close, now arching leaves her bar
   To breaths of balmier air;

Up leaps the lark, gone wild to welcome her,
   About her glance the tits, and shriek the jays,
Before her skims the jubilant woodpecker,
   The linnet's bosom blushes at her gaze,
While round her brows a woodland culver flits,
   Watching her large light eyes and gracious looks,
And in her open palm a halcyon sits
   Patient--the secret splendour of the brooks.
Come Spring! She comes on waste and wood,
   On farm and field: but enter also here,
Diffuse thyself at will thro' all my blood,
   And, tho' thy violet sicken into sere,
   Lodge with me all the year!

Once more a downy drift against the brakes,
   Self-darken'd in the sky, descending slow!
But gladly see I thro' the wavering flakes
   Yon blanching apricot like snow in snow.
These will thine eyes not brook in forest-paths,
   On their perpetual pine, nor round the beech;
They fuse themselves to little spicy baths,
   Solved in the tender blushes of the peach;
They lose themselves and die
   On that new life that gems the hawthorn line;
Thy gay lent-lilies wave and put them by,
   And out once more in varnish'd glory shine
   Thy stars of celandine.

She floats across the hamlet. Heaven lours,
   But in the tearful splendour of her smiles
I see the slowl-thickening chestnut towers
   Fill out the spaces by the barren tiles.
Now past her feet the swallow circling flies,
   A clamorous cuckoo stoops to meet her hand;
Her light makes rainbows in my closing eyes,
   I hear a charm of song thro' all the land.
Come, Spring! She comes, and Earth is glad
   To roll her North below thy deepening dome,
But ere thy maiden birk be wholly clad,
   And these low bushes dip their twigs in foam,
   Make all true hearths thy home.

Across my garden! and the thicket stirs,
   The fountain pulses high in sunnier jets,
The blackcap warbles, and the turtle purrs,
   The starling claps his tiny castanets.
Still round her forehead wheels the woodland dove,
   And scatters on her throat the sparks of dew,
The kingcup fills her footprint, and above
   Broaden the glowing isles of vernal blue.
Hail ample presence of a Queen,
   Bountiful, beautiful, apparell'd gay,
Whose mantle, every shade of glancing green,
   Flies back in fragrant breezes to display
   A tunic white as May!

She whispers, 'From the South I bring you balm,
   For on a tropic mountain was I born,
While some dark dweller by the coco-palm
   Watch'd my far meadow zoned with airy morn;
From under rose a muffled moan of floods;
   I sat beneath a solitude of snow;
There no one came, the turf was fresh, the woods
   Plunged gulf on gulf thro' all their vales below
I saw beyond their silent tops
   The steaming marshes of the scarlet cranes,
The slant seas leaning oll the mangrove copse,
   And summer basking in the sultry plains
   About a land of canes;

'Then from my vapour-girdle soaring forth
   I scaled the buoyant highway of the birds,
And drank the dews and drizzle of the North,
   That I might mix with men, and hear their words
On pathway'd plains; for--while my hand exults
   Within the bloodless heart of lowly flowers
To work old laws of Love to fresh results,
   Thro' manifold effect of simple powers--
I too would teach the man
   Beyond the darker hour to see the bright,
That his fresh life may close as it began,
   The still-fulfilling promise of a light
   Narrowing the bounds of night.'

So wed thee with my soul, that I may mark
   The coming year's great good and varied ills,
And new developments, whatever spark
   Be struck from out the clash of warring wills;
Or whether, since our nature cannot rest,
   The smoke of war's volcano burst again
From hoary deeps that belt the changeful West,
   Old Empires, dwellings of the kings of men;
Or should those fail, that hold the helm,
   While the long day of knowledge grows and warms,
And in the heart of this most ancient realm
   A hateful voice be utter'd, and alarms
   Sounding 'To arms! to arms!'

A simpler, saner lesson might he learn
   Who reads thy gradual process, Holy Spring.
Thy leaves possess the season in their turn,
   And in their time thy warblers rise on wing.
How surely glidest thou from March to May,
   And changest, breathing it, the sullen wind,
Thy scope of operation, day by day,
   Larger and fuller, like the human mind '
Thy warmths from bud to bud
   Accomplish that blind model in the seed,
And men have hopes, which race the restless blood
   That after many changes may succeed
   Life, which is Life indeed.

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