Alfred Tennyson on prophecy and wisdom in “Locksley Hall”

Depiction of air battle (Moscow, Russia: I. D. Sytina, 1914)

Depiction of air battle (Moscow, Russia: I. D. Sytina, 1914).
Image credit: BibliOdyssey - On The Fly

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro’ the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.

So I triumph’d, ere my passion sweeping thro’ me left me dry,
Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;

Eye, to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint,
Science moves, but slowly slowly, creeping on from point to point:

Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.

Yet I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen’d with the process of the suns.

What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys,
Tho’ the deep heart of existence beat forever like a boy’s?

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.
Alfred Tennyson in his poem “Locksley Hall” in Poems, Volume 2, (London: E. Moxon; Boston, Massachusetts: William D. Ticknor, 1842), p. 104. Cited in part by Lee Graves in private email (August 9, 2010).

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"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see"
Alfred Tennyson Posted on behalf of Alfred Tennyson on Friday, August 13th, 2010 under Quotations.

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