by Alfred Tennyson, Lord (1809 - 1892)

What be those crown'd forms high over...
Language: English 
What be those crown'd forms high over the sacred fountain?
Bards, that the mighty Muses have raised to the heights of the mountain,
And over the flight of the Ages! O Goddesses, help me up thither!
Lightning may shrivel the laurel of Cæsar, but mine would not wither.
Steep is the mountain, but you, you will help me to overcome it,
And stand with my head in the zenith, and roll my voice from the summit,
Sounding for ever and ever thro’ Earth and her listening nations,
And mixt with the great sphere-music of stars and of constellations.

What be those two shapes high over the sacred fountain,
Taller than all the Muses, and huger than all the mountain?
On those two known peaks they stand ever spreading and heightening;
Poet, that evergreen laurel is blasted by more than lightning!
Look, in their deep double shadow the crown’d ones all disappearing!
Sing like a bird and be happy, nor hope for a deathless hearing!
‘Sounding for ever and ever?’ pass on! the sight confuses —
These are Astronomy and Geology, terrible Muses!

If the lips were touch’d with fire from off a pure Pierian altar,
Tho’ their music here be mortal need the singer greatly care?
Other songs for other worlds! the fire within him would not falter;
Let the golden Iliad vanish, Homer here is Homer there.

R. Sowash sets lines 5-8

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Alfred Tennyson, Demeter, and Other Poems, 1889


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Paul Ezust [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2017-10-01
Line count: 20
Word count: 228