Sunday, April 10, 2005

Tears, Idle Tears

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (from The Princess)

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ay, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
On lips that are for others: deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.

* * *

This is one of my favourite poems. It seems that Tennyson was able to understand exactly the feelings that I've had so many times. Tears fall, but "I know not what they mean." I know what it's like, but I don't know what it is. And I certainly couldn't tell why I'm upset.

It's just a sad, melancholy feeling, that sometimes resembles sadness only "as the mist resembles the rain," and sometimes is a tumult of emotion. Maybe it's too much listening to "the still, sad music of humanity."

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