jpmurad

The Lotus-Eaters

In Poetry on October 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I woke up this last week with the name ‘Tennyson’ on my mind.  After reading over several of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poems, I came across this gem.  I found the poem more interesting while reading it aloud.  Check out the language; can you relate to being lulled into indifference, apathy and complacency?

The Lotus-Eaters

“Courage!” he said, and pointed toward the land,
“This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.”
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.

A land of streams! Some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some through wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
From the inner land: far off, three mountain-tops,
Three silent pinnacles of aged snow,
Stood sunset-flushed: and, dewed with showery drops,
Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse.

The charmed sunset lingered low adown
In the red West: through mountain clefts the dale
Was seen far inland, and the yellow down
Bordered with palm, and many a winding vale
And meadow, set with slender galingale;
A land where all things always seemed the same!
And round about the keel with faces pale,
Dark faces pale against that rosy flame,
The mild-eyed melancholy Lotus-eaters came.

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each, but whoso did receive of them,
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep-asleep he seemed, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make.

They sat them down upon the yellow sand,
Between the sun and moon upon the shore;
And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland,
Of child, and wife, and slave; but evermore
Most weary seemed the sea, weary the oar,
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam.
Then some one said, “We will return no more;”
And all at once they sang, “Our island home
Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.”

Lord Tennyson’s profile picture on Wikipedia reminds me of Geoffrey Rush (click here).  Rush fits the picture of this sea-faring poem (think Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Carribean).  Lord Tennyson was elected poet laureate during the reign of Queen Victoria in England.  Around that same time, Dr. David Livingstone explored into the heart of Africa looking for the ‘source’ of the Nile.  Tennyson wrote into his eighties (must have loved it) and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

I hope you enjoy this featured poem.  One thing I notice about poetry, it requires patience and attention.  Such qualities beckon me out of hurry and into a slowed ponderance.

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