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Poetry By Lord Tennyson

Art by Louis Rhead

MERLIN AND THE GLEAM

by

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

I.

O YOUNG Mariner,

You from the haven

Under the sea-cliff,

You that are watching

The gray Magician

With eyes of wonder,

I am Merlin,

And I am dying,

I am Merlin

Who follow The Gleam.

II.

Mighty the Wizard

Who found me at sunrise

Sleeping, and woke me

And learn’d me Magic!

Great the Master,

And sweet the Magic,

When over the valley,

In early summers,

Over the mountain,

On human faces,

And all around me,

Moving to melody,

Floated The Gleam.

III.

Once at the croak of a Raven who crost it,

A barbarous people,

Blind to the magic,

And deaf to the melody,

Snarl’d at and cursed me.

A demon vext me,

The light retreated,

The landskip darken’d,

The melody deaden’d,

The Master whisper’d

“Follow The Gleam.”

IV.

Then to the melody,

Over a wilderness

Gliding, and glancing at

Elf of the woodland,

Gnome of the cavern,

Griffin and Giant,

And dancing of Fairies

In desolate hollows,

And wraiths of the mountain,

And rolling of dragons

By warble of water,

Or cataract music

Of falling torrents,

Flitted The Gleam.

V.

Down from the mountain

And over the level,

And streaming and shining on

Silent river,

Silvery willow,

Pasture and plowland,

Horses and oxen,

Innocent maidens,

Garrulous children,

Homestead and harvest,

Reaper and gleaner,

And rough-ruddy faces

Of lowly labour,

Slided The Gleam.–

VI.

Then, with a melody

Stronger and statelier,

Led me at length

To the city and palace

Of Arthur the king;

Touch’d at the golden

Cross of the churches,

Flash’d on the Tournament,

Flicker’d and bicker’d

From helmet to helmet,

And last on the forehead

Of Arthur the blameless

Rested The Gleam.

VII.

Clouds and darkness

Closed upon Camelot;

Arthur had vanish’d

I knew not whither,

The king who loved me,

And cannot die;

For out of the darkness

Silent and slowly

The Gleam, that had waned to a wintry glimmer

On icy fallow

And faded forest,

Drew to the valley

Named of the shadow,

And slowly brightening

Out of the glimmer,

And slowly moving again to a melody

Yearningly tender,

Fell on the shadow,

No longer a shadow,

But clothed with The Gleam.

VIII.

And broader and brighter

The Gleam flying onward,

Wed to the melody,

Sang thro’ the world;

And slower and fainter,

Old and weary,

But eager to follow,

I saw, whenever

In passing it glanced upon

Hamlet or city,

That under the Crosses

The dead man’s garden,

The mortal hillock,

Would break into blossom;

And so to the land’s

Last limit I came–

And can no longer,

But die rejoicing,

For thro’ the Magic

Of Him the Mighty,

Who taught me in childhood,

There on the border

Of boundless Ocean,

And all but in Heaven

Hovers The Gleam.

IX.

Not of the sunlight,

Not of the moonlight,

Not of the starlight!

O young Mariner,

Down to the haven,

Call your companions,

Launch your vessel,

And crowd your canvas,

And, ere it vanishes

Over the margin,

After it, follow it,

Follow The Gleam.