Alfred Tennyson

MYSTERY of mysteries,
        Faintly smiling Adeline,
        Scarce of earth nor all divine,
Nor unhappy, nor at rest,
        But beyond expression fair
        With thy floating flaxen hair;
Thy rose-lips and full blue eyes
        Take the heart from out my breast.
    Wherefore those dim looks of thine,
    Shadowy, dreaming Adeline?

    Whence that aery bloom of thine,
        Like a lily which the sun
    Looks thro’ in his sad decline,
        And a rose-bush leans upon,
    Thou that faintly smilest still,
        As a Naiad in a well,
        Looking at the set of day,
    Or a phantom two hours old
        Of a maiden passed away,
    Ere the placid lips be cold?
    Wherefore those faint smiles of thine,
        Spiritual Adeline?

What hope or fear or joy is thine?
Who talketh with thee, Adeline?
    For sure thou art not all alone:
        Do beating hearts of salient springs
    Keep measure with thine own?
            Hast thou heard the butterflies
        What they say betwixt their wings?
        Or in stillest evenings
With what voice the violet woos
To his heart the silver dews?
        Or when little airs arise,
    How the merry bluebell rings
            To the mosses underneath?
            Hast thou look’d upon the breath
        Of the lilies at sunrise?
Wherefore that faint smile of thine,
Shadowy, dreaming Adeline?

Some honey-converse feeds thy mind,
    Some spirit of a crimson rose
    In love with thee forgets to close
    His curtains, wasting odorous sighs
All night long on darkness blind.
What aileth thee? whom waitest thou
With thy soften’d, shadow’d brow,
        And those dew-lit eyes of thine,
        Thou faint smiler, Adeline?

Lovest thou the doleful wind
        When thou gazest at the skies?
    Doth the low-tongued Orient
        Wander from the side of the morn,
            Dripping with Sabsean spice
    On thy pillow, lowly bent
        With melodious airs lovelorn,
    Breathing Light against thy face,
While his locks a-dropping twined
    Round thy neck in subtle ring
Make a carcanet of rays,
        And ye talk together still,
    In the language wherewith Spring
        Letters cowslips on the hill?
Hence that look and smile of thine,
            Spiritual Adeline.

Juvenilia - Contents

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