St. Agnes' Eve

Original Text: 
The Keepsake (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1837). AY 13 K5 ROBA. Revised in Alfred lord Tennyson, Poems, 2 vols. (Boston: W. D. Ticknor, 1842). Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2      Are sparkling to the moon:
3My breath to heaven like vapour goes;
4      May my soul follow soon!
5The shadows of the convent-towers
6      Slant down the snowy sward,
7Still creeping with the creeping hours
8      That lead me to my Lord:
9Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
10      As are the frosty skies,
11Or this first snowdrop of the year
12      That in my bosom lies.
13As these white robes are soil'd and dark,
14      To yonder shining ground;
15As this pale taper's earthly spark,
18      My spirit before Thee;
19So in mine earthly house I am,
20      To that I hope to be.
21Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
22      Thro' all yon starlight keen,
23Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
24      In raiment white and clean.
25He lifts me to the golden doors;
26      The flashes come and go;
27All heaven bursts her starry floors,
28      And strows her lights below,
29And deepens on and up! the gates
30      Roll back, and far within
31For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
32      To make me pure of sin.
33The sabbaths of Eternity,
34      One sabbath deep and wide--
35A light upon the shining sea--
36      The Bridegroom with his bride!


1] Until the edition of 1855, the poem was called St. Agnes. The change was perhaps intended to bring out the contrast with Keats's Eve of St. Agnes. Keats develops the theme in secular, Tennyson in religious, terms. Back to Line
16] argent round: the silvery moon. Back to Line
17] Lamb: Christ. The name "Agnes" also signifies "lamb." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
H. M. McLuhan
RPO Edition: 
3RP 3.44.