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A Dirge

First printed in 1830.

1

Now is done thy long day's work; Fold thy palms across thy breast, Fold thine arms, turn to thy rest. Let them rave. Shadows of the silver birk [1] Sweep the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

2

Thee nor carketh [2] care nor slander; Nothing but the small cold worm Fretteth thine enshrouded form. Let them rave. Light and shadow ever wander O'er the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

3

Thou wilt not turn upon thy bed; Chaunteth not the brooding bee Sweeter tones than calumny? Let them rave. Thou wilt never raise thine head From the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

4

Crocodiles wept tears for thee; The woodbine and eglatere Drip sweeter dews than traitor's tear. Let them rave. Rain makes music in the tree O'er the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

5

Round thee blow, self-pleached [1] deep, Bramble-roses, faint and pale, And long purples [2] of the dale. Let them rave. These in every shower creep. Thro' [3] the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

6

The gold-eyed kingcups fine: The frail bluebell peereth over Rare broidry of the purple clover. Let them rave. Kings have no such couch as thine, As the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

7

Wild words wander here and there; God's great gift of speech abused Makes thy memory confused: But let them rave. The balm-cricket [4] carols clear In the green that folds thy grave. Let them rave.

[Footnote 1: Still used in the north of England for "birch".]

[Footnote 2: Carketh. Here used transitively, "troubles," though in Old English it is generally intransitive, meaning to be careful or thoughtful; it is from the Anglo-Saxon 'Carian'; it became obsolete in the seventeenth century. The substantive cark, trouble or anxiety, is generally in Old English coupled with "care".]

[Footnote 3: Self-pleached, self-entangled or intertwined. 'Cf'. Shakespeare, "pleached bower," 'Much Ado', iii., i., 7.]

[Footnote 4: 1830. "'Long purples'," thus marking that the phrase is borrowed from Shakespeare, 'Hamlet', iv., vii., 169:--

and 'long purples' That liberal shepherds give a grosser name. It is the purple-flowered orchis, 'orchis mascula'.]

[Footnote 5: 1830. Through.]

[Footnote 6: Balm cricket, the tree cricket; 'balm' is a corruption of 'baum'.]


Lord Alfred Tennyson

Early Poems

Suppressed Poems

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