Alfred Tennyson

Text and Wordlist

It little profits that an idle king,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags, 

Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole 

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd

Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when 

Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known; cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments, 

Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;

And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'

Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades

For ever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!

As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life

Were all too little, and of one to me

Little remains: but every hour is saved

From that eternal silence, something more,

A bringer of new things; and vile it were

For some three suns to store and hoard myself, 

And this gray spirit yearning in desire

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

     This is my son, mine own Telemachus, 

To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,- 

Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil

This labour, by slow prudence to make mild 

A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees 

Subdue them to the useful and the good. 

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere 

Of common duties, decent not to fail

In offices of tenderness, and pay

Meet adoration to my household gods, 

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

     There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me- 

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads-you and I are old; 

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end, 

Some work of noble note, may yet be done, 

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. 

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep 

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

'T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days 

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; 

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


profits: (money made/good things received)

idle: (not operating or working now, but able to)

hearth: fireplace

barren: sterile, desolate

match'd: matched

aged: (old/allowed to get old/got older)

savage: animal-like

hoard: accumulate

thro': through

climates: weather

councils: (groups of people who advise or govern)

honour'd: honoured

gleams: shines

tho': though

vile: disgusting

yearning: wishing

the utmost: extreme

mine own: my own

sceptre: (royal wand/royal power)

discerning: seeing (little things/little differences)

prudence: caution and intelligence

subdue: control/calm

blameless: innocent

sphere: world/area/ball

adoration: deep love

vessel: ship

gloom: sadness/darkness

wrought: created/formed

frolic: amused

opposed: argued/against

hath: has

toil: hard work

ere: before

unbecoming: ugly

strove: tried

wanes: reduces/lessens

'T is: it is

seek: look (for)

smite: hit hard/kill

furrows: grooves (= solchi)

shall: will

abides: puts up with/obeys

fate: (the) unavoidable, already-decided future

strive: try

to yield: to give up, to abandon