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Oenone

There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
  Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
  The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
  Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
  And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
  The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
  Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
  The long brook falling thro' the clov'n ravine
  In cataract after cataract to the sea.
  Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
  Stands up and takes the morning: but in front
  The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
  Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,
  The crown of Troas. Hither came at noon
  Mournful Œnone, wandering forlorn
  Of Paris, once her playmate on the hills.
  Her cheek had lost the rose, and round her neck
  Floated her hair or seem'd to float in rest.
  She, leaning on a fragment twined with vine,
  Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shade
  Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.

  "O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
  Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  For now the noonday quiet holds the hill:
  The grasshopper is silent in the grass:
  The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,
  Rests like a shadow, and the winds are dead.
  The purple flower droops: the golden bee
  Is lily-cradled: I alone awake.
  My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
  My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,
  And I am all aweary of my life.

  "O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
  Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  Hear me, O Earth, hear me, O Hills, O Caves
  That house the cold crown'd snake! O mountain brooks,
  I am the daughter of a River-God,
  Hear me, for I will speak, and build up all
  My sorrow with my song, as yonder walls
  Rose slowly to a music slowly breathed,
  A cloud that gather'd shape: for it may be
  That, while I speak of it, a little while
  My heart may wander from its deeper woe.

  "O mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
  Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  I waited underneath the dawning hills,
  Aloft the mountain lawn was dewy-dark,
  And dewy-dark aloft the mountain pine:
  Beautiful Paris, evil-hearted Paris,
  Leading a jet-black goat white-horn'd, white-hooved,
  Came up from reedy Simois all alone.

  "O mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  Far-off the torrent call'd me from the cleft:
  Far up the solitary morning smote
  The streaks of virgin snow. With down-dropt eyes
  I sat alone: white-breasted like a star
  Fronting the dawn he moved; a leopard skin
  Droop'd from his shoulder, but his sunny hair
  Cluster'd about his temples like a God's:
  And his cheek brighten'd as the foam-bow brightens
  When the wind blows the foam, and all my heart
  Went forth to embrace him coming ere he came.

  "Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  He smiled, and opening out his milk-white palm
  Disclosed a fruit of pure Hesperian gold,
  That smelt ambrosially, and while I look'd
  And listen'd, the full-flowing river of speech
  Came down upon my heart. `My own Œnone,
  Beautiful-brow'd Œnone, my own soul,
  Behold this fruit, whose gleaming rind ingrav'n
  "For the most fair," would seem to award it thine,
  As lovelier than whatever Oread haunt
  The knolls of Ida, loveliest in all grace
  Of movement, and the charm of married brows.'

  "Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  He prest the blossom of his lips to mine,
  And added 'This was cast upon the board,
  When all the full-faced presence of the Gods
  Ranged in the halls of Peleus; whereupon
  Rose feud, with question unto whom 'twere due:
  But light-foot Iris brought it yester-eve,
  Delivering that to me, by common voice
  Elected umpire, Herè comes to-day,
  Pallas and Aphroditè, claiming each
  This meed of fairest. Thou, within the cave
  Behind yon whispering tuft of oldest pine,
  Mayst well behold them unbeheld, unheard
  Hear all, and see thy Paris judge of Gods.'

  "Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  It was the deep midnoon: one silvery cloud
  Had lost his way between the piney sides
  Of this long glen. Then to the bower they came,
  Naked they came to that smooth-swarded bower,
  And at their feet the crocus brake like fire,
  Violet, amaracus, and asphodel,
  Lotos and lilies: and a wind arose,
  And overhead the wandering ivy and vine,
  This way and that, in many a wild festoon
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:44 min read
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Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.  more…

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