Lord Tennyson’s Tears

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-awaken’d 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 feign’d
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!

Tears, Idle Tears is a lyric poem that Victorian poet Alfred Tennyson embedded in his 1847 narrative poem “The Princess”, where it is sung by a court maiden.

The speaker is caught up in her memories making the song an intense meditation on the passing of time.

Her tears are “idle”, they have no clear cause or purpose, but they are soon linked to the death of friends, the memory of past love, changes in nature, and the days that are gone and will never return (“the days that are no more”).

Recalling the past is a bittersweet experience: what is remembered is both present and absent, and regret may become despair when we realize a greater and greater part of our lives is becoming memory as time moves on.
More and more friends who once lived and breathed are leaving.
Like the maiden we are alive, but she says that without her dear ones she sees herself as practically dead, leading to her cry, “O Death in Life.”

Lacrime, lacrime vane , non so cosa vogliano dire,
lacrime dal profondo di una qualche disperazione divina
sgorgano nel cuore, e s’adunano negli occhi,
alla vista dei lieti campi d’autunno,
e al pensiero dei giorni che non sono più.

Dolci come il primo raggio che scintilla sulla vela
che ci riporta gli amici dall’ oltretomba,
tristi come l’ultimo raggio che la arrossa
mentre scompare con chi amiamo oltre l’orizzonte;
così tristi, così dolci, i giorni che non sono più.

Tristi e strani come nelle scure albe d’estate
è il canto mattutino di uccelli appena desti
per gli orecchi moribondi, mentre per gli occhi moribondi
la finestra lentamente diventa un quadrato illuminato¬;
così tristi, così strani, i giorni che non sono più.

Cari come baci ricordati dopo la morte,
e dolci come quelli immaginati da vana fantasia
su labbra che sono per altri; profondi come l’amore,
come il primo amore, e folli di rimpianto;
o Morte in Vita, i giorni che non sono più!
(Trad: L.Z.)

Image: Flickr L’art au present (Charles Edouard de Beaumont .- “Jeune Femme assise et pleurant devant une autre jeune Femme debout” – drawing, dessin, disegno – Louvre RF34484 – Detail)

54 thoughts on “Lord Tennyson’s Tears

  1. I’VE LOVED LORD TENNYSON SINCE I MARRIED GENE IN 1970 BECAUSE HE INTRODUCED ME TO HIM I WAS JUST 18YRS OLD, GENE GAVE ME HIS WRITTEN POEMS PUT THEM IN WRAPPED TIN FOIL, TAPED THEM TO THE WINDSHIELD OF HIS 1964 VOLKSWAGEN IN THE WINTER FOR ME !!!! I FELT SOOO SPECIAL THANKS LU🧣🧦ISA 📚 OH, BY THE WAY YOU ASKED ME TO TELL YOU WHEN GENE’S DEATH ANNIVERSARY WAS AND HIS BIRTHDAY WAS /. ANNIVERSARY AUGUST 4TH. / B,DAY AUGUST 6TH 😍😪💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For both of those days please feel me close to you. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will go to spend a few days at the lake, and I don’t know if the internet connection there will be as efficient as here, so I don’t know how much time I will be able to spend on WordPress
      A warm hug, dearest Sharon ❤🧡❤🧡❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Tu as raison, tu as fait bien attention de t’en apercevoir et je t’en remercie mon cher Jean-Louis 🙏🙏🙏
      Je suis un peu déprimée ces jours-ci mais j’ai décidé : le billet de demain, qui aurait encore parlé de larmes, sera modifié. Un gros bisou 🥰🥰🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aujourd’hui, nous avons enfin du soleil. Dans le nord de l’Italie, il y a des orages continus, tandis que dans le sud, une chaleur extrême et de graves incendies
        Bonne journée et bonne semaine 🙏💖

        Liked by 1 person

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