The Lady of Shalott, and Other Poems

‘You ask me, why, tho’ ill at ease’

Alfred Tennyson

YOU ask me, why, tho’ ill at ease,
    Within this region I subsist,
    Whose spirits falter in the mist,
And languish for the purple seas.

It is the land that freemen till,
    That sober-suited Freedom chose,
    The land, where girt with friends or foes
A man may speak the thing he will;

A land of settled government,
    A land of just and old renown,
    Where Freedom slowly broadens down
From precedent to precedent;

Where faction seldom gathers head,
    But, by degrees to fullness wrought,
    The strength of some diffusive thought
Hath time and space to work and spread.

Should banded unions persecute
    Opinion, and induce a time
    When single thought is civil crime,
And individual freedom mute,

Tho’ power should make from land to land
    The name of Britain trebly great—
    Tho’ every channel of the State
Should fill and choke with golden sand—

Yet waft me from the harbor-mouth,
    Wild wind! I seek a warmer sky,
    And I will see before I die
The palms and temples of the South.

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