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First printed in 1830.


Airy, fairy Lilian, Flitting, fairy Lilian, When I ask her if she love me, Claps her tiny hands above me, Laughing all she can; She'll not tell me if she love me, Cruel little Lilian.


When my passion seeks Pleasance in love-sighs She, looking thro' and thro' [1] me Thoroughly to undo me, Smiling, never speaks: So innocent-arch, so cunning-simple, From beneath her gather'd wimple [2] Glancing with black-beaded eyes, Till the lightning laughters dimple The baby-roses in her cheeks; Then away she flies.


Prythee weep, May Lilian! Gaiety without eclipse Wearieth me, May Lilian: Thro' [3] my very heart it thrilleth When from crimson-threaded [4] lips Silver-treble laughter [5] trilleth: Prythee weep, May Lilian.


Praying all I can, If prayers will not hush thee, Airy Lilian, Like a rose-leaf I will crush thee, Fairy Lilian.

[Footnote 1: 1830. Through and through me.]

[Footnote 2: 1830. Purfled.]

[Footnote 3: 1830. Through.]

[Footnote 4: With "crimson-threaded" 'cf.' Cleveland's 'Sing-song on Clarinda's Wedding', "Her 'lips those threads of scarlet dye'"; but the original is 'Solomons Song' iv. 3, "Thy lips are 'like a thread of scarlet'".]

[Footnote 5: 1830. Silver treble-laughter.]

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Early Poems

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