Tiresias, and Other Poems

To E. Fitzgerald

Alfred Tennyson

OLD FITZ, who from your suburb grange,
    Where once I tarried for a while,
Glance at the wheeling Orb of change,
     And greet it with a kindly smile;
Whom yet I see as there you sit
     Beneath your sheltering garden-tree,
And while your doves about you flit,
     And plant on shoulder, hand and knee,
Or on your head their rosy feet,
     As if they knew your diet spares
Whatever moved in that full sheet
     Let down to Peter at his prayers;
Who live on milk and meal and grass;
     And once for ten long weeks I tried
Your table of Pythagoras,
     And seem’d at first ‘a thing enskied’
(As Shakespeare has it) airy-light
     To float above the ways of men,
Then fell from that half-spiritual height
     Chill’d, till I tasted flesh again
One night when earth was winter-black,
     And all the heavens flash’d in frost;
And on me, half-asleep, came back
     That wholesome heat the blood had lost,
And set me climbing icy capes
     And glaciers, over which there roll’d
To meet me long-arm’d vines with grapes
     Of Eshcol hugeness; for the cold
Without, and warmth within me, wrought
     To mould the dream; but none can say
That Lenten fare makes Lenten thought,
     Who reads your golden Eastern lay,
Than which I know no version done
     In English more divinely well;
A planet equal to the sun
     Which cast it, that large infidel
Your Omar; and your Omar drew
     Full-handed plaudits from our best
In modern letters, and from two,
     Old friends outvaluing all the rest,
Two voices heard on earth no more;
     But we old friends are still alive,
And I am nearing seventy-four,
     While you have touch’d at seventy-five,
And so I send a birthday line
     Of greeting; and my son, who dipt
In some forgotten book of mine
     With sallow scraps of manuscript,
And dating many a year ago,
     Has hit on this, which you will take
My Fitz, and welcome, as I know
     Less for its own than for the sake
Of one recalling gracious times,
     When, in our younger London days,
You found some merit in my rhymes,
     And I more pleasure in your praise.

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