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The Sea-Fairies

First published in 1830 but excluded from all editions till its restoration, when it was greatly altered, in 1853. I here give the text as it appeared in 1830; where the present text is the same as that of 1830 asterisks indicate it.

This poem is a sort of prelude to the Lotus-Eaters, the burthen being the same, a siren song: "Why work, why toil, when all must be over so soon, and when at best there is so little to reward?"

Slow sailed the weary mariners, and saw Between the green brink and the running foam White limbs unrobed in a chrystal air, Sweet faces, etc. ... middle sea.

SONG.

Whither away, whither away, whither away? Fly no more! Whither away wi' the singing sail? whither away wi' the oar? Whither away from the high green field and the happy blossoming shore? Weary mariners, hither away, One and all, one and all, Weary mariners, come and play; We will sing to you all the day; Furl the sail and the foam will fall From the prow! one and all Furl the sail! drop the oar! Leap ashore! Know danger and trouble and toil no more. Whither away wi' the sail and the oar? Drop the oar, Leap ashore, Fly no more! Whither away wi' the sail? whither away wi' the oar? Day and night to the billow, etc. ... over the lea; They freshen the silvery-crimson shells, And thick with white bells the cloverhill swells High over the full-toned sea. Merrily carol the revelling gales Over the islands free: From the green seabanks the rose downtrails To the happy brimmèd sea. Come hither, come hither, and be our lords, For merry brides are we: We will kiss sweet kisses, etc. ... With pleasure and love and revelry; ... ridgèd sea. Ye will not find so happy a shore Weary mariners! all the world o'er; Oh! fly no more! Harken ye, harken ye, sorrow shall darken ye, Danger and trouble and toil no more; Whither away? Drop the oar; Hither away, Leap ashore; Oh! fly no more--no more. Whither away, whither away, whither away with the sail and the oar?

Slow sail'd the weary mariners and saw, Betwixt the green brink and the running foam, Sweet faces, rounded arms, and bosoms prest To little harps of gold; and while they mused, Whispering to each other half in fear, Shrill music reach'd them on the middle sea.

Whither away, whither away, whither away? fly no more. Whither away from the high green field, and the happy blossoming shore? Day and night to the billow the fountain calls; Down shower the gambolling waterfalls From wandering over the lea: Out of the live-green heart of the dells They freshen the silvery-crimsoned shells, And thick with white bells the clover-hill swells High over the full-toned sea: O hither, come hither and furl your sails, Come hither to me and to me: Hither, come hither and frolic and play; Here it is only the mew that wails; We will sing to you all the day: Mariner, mariner, furl your sails, For here are the blissful downs and dales, And merrily merrily carol the gales, And the spangle dances in bight [1] and bay, And the rainbow forms and flies on the land Over the islands free; And the rainbow lives in the curve of the sand; Hither, come hither and see; And the rainbow hangs on the poising wave, And sweet is the colour of cove and cave,

And sweet shall your welcome be: O hither, come hither, and be our lords For merry brides are we: We will kiss sweet kisses, and speak sweet words: O listen, listen, your eyes shall glisten With pleasure and love and jubilee: O listen, listen, your eyes shall glisten When the sharp clear twang of the golden cords Runs up the ridged sea. Who can light on as happy a shore All the world o'er, all the world o'er? Whither away? listen and stay: mariner, mariner, fly no more.

[Footnote 1: Bight is properly the coil of a rope; it then came to mean a bend, and so a corner or bay. The same phrase occurs in the 'Voyage of Maledune', v.: "and flung them in bight and bay".]


Lord Alfred Tennyson

Early Poems

Suppressed Poems

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