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Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt


 

 

THE LOTOS-EATERS

[231] The main idea in "The Lotos-Eaters" is, are we justified in running away from unpleasant duties? Or, is insensibility justifiable?

Laddie, do you recollect learning this poem after we had read the story of "Odysseus"? "The struggle of the soul urged to action, but held back by the spirit of self-indulgence." These were the points we discussed. Alfred Tennyson (1809-92).

"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 thro' 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 agèd snow,

Stood sunset-flush'd: and, dew'd with showery drops,

Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse.


The charmèd sunset linger'd low adown

In the red West: thro' mountain clefts the dale

[232]

Was seen far inland, and the yellow down

Border'd with palm, and many a winding vale

And meadow, set with slender galingale;

A land where all things always seem'd the same!

And round about the keel with faces pale,

Dark faces pale against that rosy flame,

The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-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 seem'd, 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 seem'd 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."


ALFRED TENNYSON.


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