On Re-Reading Tennyson’s Princess.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


IF at this moment, in his distant isle
And home, shut in by trees and ivied walls,
Where, bidden like the fountains of the Nile,
He dreams among his palms and waterfalls,—
If there he knew how one beneath the pines
Of Transatlantic lands, to him unknown,
Followed with glowing throb the poet’s lines
From page to page o’er all the waves of tone,
And read with stirring pulse and moistened eyes,
And fancy in delighted tumult caught
Mid fairy splendors, visionary skies,
And wild Æolian melodies of thought,—
Should then this stranger tell him all he felt,
In speech, or letter burdened with his praise,
Think you that proud, sequestered soul would melt
To answer from behind his British bays?
Nay, might he not his gates more closely bar
Against the intrusion, as of one that sought
With alien touch to unsphere the poet’s star,
And dwarf with diagrams his orbéd thought?

So have I whistled to a woodland thrush
That charmed the silence of a forest green:
Sudden the liquid cadence ceased to gush;
Deep in the leafy gloom he hid unseen.
And so the poet sings, nor can unmask
With gloss of random talk his secret runes.
Hope not the English nightingale will task
His tongue beneath the old, unbidden tunes.
Nor seek to snare the aroma of the rose
That fills the garden with its mystic scents;
Nor, when the enchanted stream of music flows,
Press a prose comment from the instruments.
Enough that one who prompts the melody
Of younger bards and lords it in their style
Should sing unanswered, where alone and free
He dreams amid his fountains of the Nile.

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