You Ask Me, Why, Tho' Ill at Ease

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892 Alfred, Lord Tennyson
   You ask me, why, tho' ill at ease,
      Within this region I subsist,
      Whose spirits falter in the mist,
And languish for the purple seas.

   It is the land that freemen till,
      That sober-suited Freedom chose,
      The land, where girt with friends or foes
A man may speak the thing he will;

   A land of settled government,
      A land of just and old renown,
      Where Freedom slowly broadens down
From precedent to precedent:

   Where faction seldom gathers head,
      But by degrees to fullness wrought,
      The strength of some diffusive thought
Hath time and space to work and spread.

   Should banded unions persecute
      Opinion, and induce a time
      When single thought is civil crime,
And individual freedom mute;

   Tho' Power should make from land to land
      The name of Britain trebly great—
      Tho' every channel of the State
Should fill and choke with golden sand—

   Yet waft me from the harbour-mouth,
      Wild wind! I seek a warmer sky,
      And I will see before I die
The palms and temples of the South.

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Poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Alfred, Lord  Tennyson

Biography

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

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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