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Supposed Confessions


There has been only one important alteration made in this poem, when it was reprinted among the 'Juvenilia' in 1871, and that was the suppression of the verses beginning "A grief not uninformed and dull" to "Indued with immortality" inclusive, and the substitution of "rosy" for "waxen".

Capitals are in all cases inserted in the reprint where the Deity is referred to, "through" is altered into "thro'" all through the poem, and hyphens are inserted in the double epithets. No further alterations were made in the edition of 1830.

Oh God! my God! have mercy now. I faint, I fall. Men say that thou Didst die for me, for such as _me_, Patient of ill, and death, and scorn, And that my sin was as a thorn Among the thorns that girt thy brow, Wounding thy soul.--That even now, In this extremest misery Of ignorance, I should require A sign! and if a bolt of fire Would rive the slumbrous summernoon While I do pray to thee alone, Think my belief would stronger grow! Is not my human pride brought low? The boastings of my spirit still? The joy I had in my freewill All cold, and dead, and corpse-like grown? And what is left to me, but thou, And faith in thee? Men pass me by; Christians with happy countenances-- And children all seem full of thee! And women smile with saint-like glances Like thine own mother's when she bow'd Above thee, on that happy morn When angels spake to men aloud, And thou and peace to earth were born. Goodwill to me as well as all-- I one of them: my brothers they: Brothers in Christ--a world of peace And confidence, day after day; And trust and hope till things should cease, And then one Heaven receive us all. How sweet to have a common faith! To hold a common scorn of death! And at a burial to hear The creaking cords which wound and eat Into my human heart, whene'er Earth goes to earth, with grief, not fear, With hopeful grief, were passing sweet!

A grief not uninformed, and dull Hearted with hope, of hope as full As is the blood with life, or night And a dark cloud with rich moonlight. To stand beside a grave, and see The red small atoms wherewith we Are built, and smile in calm, and say-- "These little moles and graves shall be Clothed on with immortality More glorious than the noon of day-- All that is pass'd into the flowers And into beasts and other men, And all the Norland whirlwind showers From open vaults, and all the sea O'er washes with sharp salts, again Shall fleet together all, and be Indued with immortality."

Thrice happy state again to be The trustful infant on the knee! Who lets his waxen fingers play About his mother's neck, and knows Nothing beyond his mother's eyes. They comfort him by night and day; They light his little life alway; He hath no thought of coming woes; He hath no care of life or death, Scarce outward signs of joy arise, Because the Spirit of happiness And perfect rest so inward is; And loveth so his innocent heart, Her temple and her place of birth, Where she would ever wish to dwell, Life of the fountain there, beneath Its salient springs, and far apart, Hating to wander out on earth, Or breathe into the hollow air, Whose dullness would make visible Her subtil, warm, and golden breath, Which mixing with the infant's blood, Fullfills him with beatitude. Oh! sure it is a special care Of God, to fortify from doubt, To arm in proof, and guard about With triple-mailed trust, and clear Delight, the infant's dawning year.

Would that my gloomed fancy were As thine, my mother, when with brows Propped on thy knees, my hands upheld In thine, I listen'd to thy vows, For me outpour'd in holiest prayer-- For me unworthy!--and beheld Thy mild deep eyes upraised, that knew The beauty and repose of faith, And the clear spirit shining through. Oh! wherefore do we grow awry From roots which strike so deep? why dare Paths in the desert? Could not I Bow myself down, where thou hast knelt, To th' earth--until the ice would melt Here, and I feel as thou hast felt? What Devil had the heart to scathe Flowers thou hadst rear'd--to brush the dew From thine own lily, when thy grave Was deep, my mother, in the clay? Myself? Is it thus? Myself? Had I So little love for thee? But why Prevail'd not thy pure prayers? Why pray To one who heeds not, who can save But will not? Great in faith, and strong Against the grief of circumstance Wert thou, and yet unheard. What if Thou pleadest still, and seest me drive Thro' utter dark a fullsailed skiff, Unpiloted i' the echoing dance Of reboant whirlwinds, stooping low Unto the death, not sunk! I know At matins and at evensong, That thou, if thou were yet alive, In deep and daily prayers wouldst strive To reconcile me with thy God. Albeit, my hope is gray, and cold At heart, thou wouldest murmur still-- "Bring this lamb back into thy fold, My Lord, if so it be thy will". Wouldst tell me I must brook the rod, And chastisement of human pride; That pride, the sin of devils, stood Betwixt me and the light of God! That hitherto I had defied And had rejected God--that grace Would drop from his o'erbrimming love, As manna on my wilderness, If I would pray--that God would move And strike the hard hard rock, and thence, Sweet in their utmost bitterness, Would issue tears of penitence Which would keep green hope's life. Alas! I think that pride hath now no place Nor sojourn in me. I am void, Dark, formless, utterly destroyed.

Why not believe then? Why not yet Anchor thy frailty there, where man Hath moor'd and rested? Ask the sea At midnight, when the crisp slope waves After a tempest, rib and fret The broadimbasèd beach, why he Slumbers not like a mountain tarn? Wherefore his ridges are not curls And ripples of an inland mere? Wherefore he moaneth thus, nor can Draw down into his vexed pools All that blue heaven which hues and paves The other? I am too forlorn, Too shaken: my own weakness fools My judgment, and my spirit whirls, Moved from beneath with doubt and fear.

"Yet" said I, in my morn of youth, The unsunned freshness of my strength, When I went forth in quest of truth, "It is man's privilege to doubt, If so be that from doubt at length, Truth may stand forth unmoved of change, An image with profulgent brows, And perfect limbs, as from the storm Of running fires and fluid range Of lawless airs, at last stood out This excellence and solid form Of constant beauty. For the Ox Feeds in the herb, and sleeps, or fills The horned valleys all about, And hollows of the fringed hills In summerheats, with placid lows Unfearing, till his own blood flows About his hoof. And in the flocks The lamb rejoiceth in the year, And raceth freely with his fere, And answers to his mother's calls From the flower'd furrow. In a time, Of which he wots not, run short pains Through his warm heart; and then, from whence He knows not, on his light there falls A shadow; and his native slope, Where he was wont to leap and climb, Floats from his sick and filmed eyes, And something in the darkness draws His forehead earthward, and he dies. Shall man live thus, in joy and hope As a young lamb, who cannot dream, Living, but that he shall live on? Shall we not look into the laws Of life and death, and things that seem, And things that be, and analyse Our double nature, and compare All creeds till we have found the one, If one there be?" Ay me! I fear All may not doubt, but everywhere Some must clasp Idols. Yet, my God, Whom call I Idol? Let thy dove Shadow me over, and my sins Be unremembered, and thy love Enlighten me. Oh teach me yet Somewhat before the heavy clod Weighs on me, and the busy fret Of that sharpheaded worm begins In the gross blackness underneath.

O weary life! O weary death! O spirit and heart made desolate! O damnéd vacillating state!

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Early Poems

Suppressed Poems

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