Demeter, and Other Poems

To Ulysses 1

Alfred Tennyson

ULYSSES, much-experienced man,
    Whose eyes have known this globe of ours,
    Her tribes of men, and trees, and flowers,
From Corrientes to Japan,

To you that bask below the Line,
    I soaking here in winter wet—
    The century’s three strong eights have met
To drag me down to seventy-nine

In summer if I reach my day—
    To you, yet young, who breathe the balm
    Of summer-winters by the palm
And orange grove of Paraguay,

I tolerant of the colder time,
    Who love the winter woods, to trace
    On paler heavens the branching grace
Of leafless elm, or naked lime,

And see my cedar green, and there
    My giant ilex keeping leaf
    When frost is keen and days are brief—
Or marvel how in English air

My yucca, which no winter quells,
    Altho’ the months have scarce begun,
    Has push’d toward our faintest sun
A spike of half-accomplish’d bells—

Or watch the waving pine which here
    The warrior of Caprera set,2
    A name that earth will not forget
Till earth has roll’d her latest year—

I, once half-crazed for larger light
    On broader zones beyond the foam,
    But chaining fancy now at home
Among the quarried downs of Wight,

Not less would yield full thanks to you
    For your rich gift, your tale of lands
    I know not,3 your Arabian sands;
Your cane, your palm, tree-fern, bamboo,

The wealth of tropic bower and brake;
    Your Oriental Eden-isles,4
    Where man, nor only Nature smiles;
Your wonder of the boiling lake;5

Phra-Chai, the Shadow of the Best,6
    Phra-bat7 the step; your Pontic coast;
    Crag-cloister;8 Anatolian Ghost;9
Hong-Kong,10 Karnac,11 and all the rest.

Thro’ which I follow’d line by line
    Your leading hand, and came, my friend,
    To prize your various book, and send
A gift of slenderer value, mine.

1.    ‘Ulysses,’ the title of a number of essays by W. G. Palgrave. He died at Monte Video before seeing my poem.    [back]

2.    Garibaldi said to me, alluding to his barren island, ‘I wish I had your trees.’    [back]

3.    The tale of Nejd.    [back]

4.    The Philippines.    [back]

5.    In Dominica.    [back]

6.    The Shadow of the Lord. Certain obscure markings on a rock in Siam, which express the image of Buddha to the Buddhist more or less distinctly according to his faith and his moral worth.    [back]

7.    The footstep of the Lord on another rock.    [back]

8.    The monastery of Sumelas.    [back]

9.    Anatolian Spectre stories.    [back]

10.    The Three Cities.    [back]

11.    Travels in Egypt.    [back]

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