Of Old Sat Freedom on the Heights

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892 Alfred, Lord Tennyson
   Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
      The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
      She heard the torrents meet.

   There in her place she did rejoice,
      Self-gather'd in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
      Came rolling on the wind.

   Then stept she down thro' town and field
      To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal'd
      The fulness of her face—

   Grave mother of majestic works,
      From her isle-altar gazing down,
Who, God-like, grasps the triple forks,
      And, King-like, wears the crown:

   Her open eyes desire the truth.
      The wisdom of a thousand years
Is in them. May perpetual youth
      Keep dry their light from tears;

   That her fair form may stand and shine,
      Make bright our days and light our dreams,
Turning to scorn with lips divine
      The falsehood of extremes!

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Poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892



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 Alfred, Lord  Tennyson


More than any other Victorian writer, Tennyson has seemed the embodiment of his age, both to his contemporaries and to modern readers. In his own day he was said to be—with Queen Victoria and Gladstone—one of the three most famous living persons, a reputation no other poet writing in English has ever had. As official poetic spokesman for the reign of Victoria, he felt called upon to celebrate a quickly changing industrial and . . .

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Poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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