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The Poet's Mind

First published in 1830.

A companion poem to the preceding. After line 7 in 1830 appears this stanza, afterwards omitted:--

Clear as summer mountain streams, Bright as the inwoven beams, Which beneath their crisping sapphire In the midday, floating o'er The golden sands, make evermore To a blossom-starrèd shore. Hence away, unhallowed laughter!


Vex not thou the poet's mind With thy shallow wit: Vex not thou the poet's mind; For thou canst not fathom it. Clear and bright it should be ever, Flowing like a crystal river; Bright as light, and clear as wind.


Dark-brow'd sophist, come not anear; All the place [1] is holy ground; Hollow smile and frozen sneer Come not here. Holy water will I pour Into every spicy flower Of the laurel-shrubs that hedge it around. The flowers would faint at your cruel cheer. In your eye there is death, There is frost in your breath Which would blight the plants. Where you stand you cannot hear From the groves within The wild-bird's din. In the heart of the garden the merry bird chants, It would fall to the ground if you came in. In the middle leaps a fountain Like sheet lightning, Ever brightening With a low melodious thunder; All day and all night it is ever drawn From the brain of the purple mountain Which stands in the distance yonder: It springs on a level of bowery lawn, And the mountain draws it from Heaven above, And it sings a song of undying love; And yet, tho' [2] its voice be so clear and full, You never would hear it; your ears are so dull; So keep where you are: you are foul with sin; It would shrink to the earth if you came in.

[Footnote 1: 1830. The poet's mind. With this may be compared the opening stanza of Gray's 'Installation Ode': "Hence! avaunt! 'tis holy ground," and for the sentiments 'cf'. Wordsworth's 'Poet's Epitaph.'

[Footnote 2: 1830 to 1851. Though.]

Lord Alfred Tennyson