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Tears, Idle Tears by Alfred Tennyson


This lyric poem was originally published as a song in "The Princess" in 1847 and is regarded as one of Tennyson's most famous lyrics. It is written in blank verse, which is unlike many of his other works where he uses a very simple rhyme scheme. The blank verse allows Tennyson to go out of his shell and give us something he wouldn't be able to do while inside the confines of a scheme.

Tennyson himself stated the poem was about "the passion of the past, the abiding in the transient."


Tears, Idle Tears

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.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened 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 remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
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.

Written in .

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Literary Movement
Victorian, 19th Century

Lyric, Blank verse

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