ENOCH ARDEN, &c.
by ALFRED TENNYSON.
In the Valley of Cauteretz
A Welcome to Alexandra
Ode sung at the Opening of the
Specimen of a Translation of
the Iliad in Blank Verse
Long lines of cliff breaking have left a chasm;
And in the chasm are foam and yellow sands;
Beyond, red roofs about a narrow wharf
In cluster; then a moulder'd church; and higher
A long street climbs to one tall-tower'd mill;
And high in heaven behind it a gray down
With Danish barrows; and a hazelwood,
By autumn nutters haunted, flourishes
Green in a cuplike hollow of the down.
Here on this beach a hundred years ago,
Three children of three houses, Annie Lee,
The prettiest little damsel
in the port,
And Philip Ray the miller's only son,
And Enoch Arden, a rough sailor's lad
by a winter shipwreck, play'd
Among the waste and lumber
of the shore,
Hard coils of cordage, swarthy
Anchors of rusty fluke, and boats updrawn,
And built their castles of dissolving sand
To watch them overflow'd, or following up
And flying the white breaker, daily left
The little footprint
daily wash'd away.
A narrow cave ran in beneath the cliff:
In this the children play'd at keeping house.
Enoch was host one day, Philip the next,
While Annie still was mistress; but at times
Enoch would hold possession for a week:
'This is my house and this my little wife.'
'Mine too' said Philip 'turn and turn about:'
When, if they quarrell'd, Enoch stronger-made
Was master: then would Philip, his blue eyes
All flooded with the helpless
wrath of tears,
Shriek out 'I hate you, Enoch,' and at this
The little wife would weep for company,
And pray them not to quarrel for her sake,
And say she would be little wife to both.
But when the dawn of rosy childhood
And the new warmth
of life's ascending sun
Was felt by either, either fixt his heart
On that one girl; and Enoch spoke his love,
But Philip loved in silence; and the girl
Seem'd kinder unto Philip than to him;
But she loved Enoch; tho' she knew it not,
And would if ask'd deny it. Enoch set
A purpose evermore
before his eyes,
To hoard all savings to the uttermost,
To purchase his own boat, and make a home
For Annie: and so prosper'd that at last
A luckier or a bolder fisherman,
A carefuller in peril, did not breathe
For leagues along that breaker-beaten coast
Than Enoch. Likewise had he served a year
On board a merchantman, and made himself
Full sailor; and he thrice
had pluck'd a life
From the dread sweep of the down-streaming seas:
And all me look'd upon him favorably:
And ere he touch'd his one-and-twentieth May
He purchased his own boat, and made a home
For Annie, neat and nestlike, halfway up
The narrow street that clamber'd toward the mill.
Then, on a golden autumn eventide,
The younger people making holiday,
With bag and sack and basket, great and small,
Went nutting to the hazels. Philip stay'd
(His father lying sick and needing him)
An hour behind; but as he climb'd the hill,
Just where the prone edge of the wood began
toward the hollow, saw the pair,
Enoch and Annie, sitting hand-in-hand,
His large gray eyes and weather-beaten face
All-kindled by a still and sacred
That burn'd as on an altar. Philip look'd,
And in their eyes and faces read his doom;
Then, as their faces drew together, groan'd,
And slipt aside, and like a wounded life
Crept down into the hollows of the wood;
There, while the rest were loud in merrymaking,
Had his dark hour unseen, and rose and past
Bearing a lifelonghunger
in his heart.
So these were wed, and merrily
rang the bells,
ran the years, seven happy years,
Seven happy years of health and competence,
love and honorable toil;
With children; first a daughter. In him woke,
With his first babe's first cry, the noble wish
To save all earnings
to the uttermost,
And give his child a better bringing-up
Than his had been, or hers; a wish renew'd,
When two years after came a boy to be
The rosy idol of her solitudes,
While Enoch was abroad
on wrathful seas,
Or often journeying landward; for in truth
Enoch's white horse, and Enoch's ocean-spoil
In ocean-smelling osier, and his face,
Rough-redden'd with a thousand winter gales,
Not only to the market-cross were known,
But in the leafy lanes behind the down,
Far as the portal-warding lion-whelp,
And peacock-yewtree of the lonely
Whose Friday fare was Enoch's ministering.
Then came a change, as all things human change.
Ten miles to northward
of the narrow port
Open'd a larger haven: thither
Enoch at times to go by land or sea;
And once when there, and clambering on a mast
In harbor, by mischance he slipt and fell:
A limb was broken when they lifted him;
And while he lay recovering there, his wife
Bore him another son, a sickly
Another hand crept too across his trade
Taking her bread and theirs: and on him fell,
Altho' a grave and staid God-fearing man,
Yet lying thus inactive, doubt and gloom.
He seem'd, as in a nightmare
of the night,
To see his children leading evermore
lives of hand-to-mouth,
And her, he loved, a beggar: then he pray'd
'Save them from this, whatever
comes to me.'
And while he pray'd, the master of that ship
Enoch had served in, hearing
Came, for he knew the man and valued him,
Reporting of his vessel
yet a boatswain. Would he go?
There yet were many weeks before she sail'd,
Sail'd from this port. Would Enoch have the place?
And Enoch all at once assented to it,
Rejoicing at that answer to his prayer.
So now that the shadow of mischance appear'd
No graver than as when some little cloud
Cuts off the fiery highway
of the sun,
And isles a light in the offing: yet the wife--
When he was gone--the children--what to do?
Then Enoch lay long-pondering on his plans;
To sell the boat--and yet he loved her well--
How many a rough sea had he weather'd in her!
He knew her, as a horseman
knows his horse--
And yet to sell her--then with what she brought
Buy goods and stores--set Annie forth in trade
With all that seamen needed or their wives--
So might she keep the house while he was gone.
Should he not trade himself out yonder? go
more than once? yea twice or thrice--
As oft as needed--last, returning rich,
Become the master of a larger craft,
With fuller profits lead an easier life,
Have all his pretty young ones educated,
And pass his days in peace among his own.
Thus Enoch in his heart determined all:
Then moving homeward
came on Annie pale,
Nursing the sickly
babe, her latest-born.
Forward she started with a happy cry,
And laid the feebleinfant
in his arms;
Whom Enoch took, and handled all his limbs,
Appraised his weight and fondled fatherlike,
But had no heart to break his purposes
To Annie, till the morrow, when he spoke.
Then first since Enoch's golden ring had girt
Her finger, Annie fought against his will:
Yet not with brawling opposition
entreaties, many a tear,
Many a sad kiss by day and night renew'd
(Sure that all evil would come out of it)
Besought him, supplicating, if he cared
For here or his dear children, not to go.
He not for his own self caring but her,
Her and her children, let her plead in vain;
So grieving held his will, and bore it thro'.
For Enoch parted with his old sea-friend,
Bought Annie goods and stores, and set his hand
To fit their little streetward sitting-room
With shelf and corner for the goods and stores.
So all day long till Enoch's last at home,
Shaking their pretty cabin, hammer
Auger and saw, while Annie seem'd to hear
Her own death-scaffold raising, shrill'd and rang,
Till this was ended, and his careful hand,--
The space was narrow,--having order'd all
Almost as neat and close as Nature packs
or her seedling, paused; and he,
Who needs would work for Annie to the last,
Ascending tired, heavily slept till morn.
And Enoch faced this morning of farewell
Brightly and boldly. All his Annie's fears,
Save, as his Annie's, were a laughter
Yet Enoch as a brave God-fearing man
Bow'd himself down, and in that mystery
Where God-in-man is one with man-in-God,
Pray'd for a blessing
on his wife and babes
Whatever came to him: and then he said
'Annie, this voyage
by the grace of God
Will bring fair weather yet to all of us.
Keep a clean hearth
and a clear fire for me,
For I'll be back, my girl, before you know it.'
rocking baby's cradle
This pretty, puny, weakly little one,--
Nay--for I love him all the better for it--
God bless him, he shall sit upon my knees
And I will tell him tales of foreign parts,
And make him merry, when I come home again.
Come Annie, come, cheer up before I go.'
on thus hopefully
And almost hoped herself; but when he turn'd
The current of his talk to graver things
In sailor fashion roughly
and trust in Heaven, she heard,
Heard and not heard him; as the village girl,
Who sets her pitcherunderneath
Musing on him that used to fill it for her,
Hears and not hears, and lets it overflow.
At length she spoke 'O Enoch, you are wise;
And yet for all your wisdom
well know I
That I shall look upon your face no more.'
'Well then,' said Enoch, 'I shall look on yours.
Annie, the ship I sail in passes here
(He named the day) get you a seaman's glass,
Spy out my face, and laugh at all your fears.'
But when the last of those last moments came,
'Annie my girl, cheer up, be comforted,
Look to the babes, and till I come again,
Keep everything shipshape, for I must go.
And fear no more for me; or if you fear
Cast all your cares on God; that anchor