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    Mariana in the South

    by Lord Alfred Tennyson
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    First printed in 1833.

    This poem had been written as early as 1831 (see Arthur Hallam's letter, 'Life', i., 284-5, Appendix), and Lord Tennyson tells us that it "came to my father as he was travelling between Narbonne and Perpignan"; how vividly the characteristic features of Southern France are depicted must be obvious to every one who is familiar with them. It is interesting to compare it with the companion poem; the central position is the same in both, desolate loneliness, and the mood is the same, but the setting is far more picturesque and is therefore more dwelt upon. The poem was very greatly altered when re-published in 1842, that text being practically the final one, there being no important variants afterwards.

    In the edition of 1833 the poem opened with the following stanza, which was afterwards excised and the stanza of the present text substituted.

    Behind the barren hill upsprung With pointed rocks against the light, The crag sharpshadowed overhung Each glaring creek and inlet bright. Far, far, one light blue ridge was seen, Looming like baseless fairyland; Eastward a slip of burning sand, Dark-rimmed with sea, and bare of green, Down in the dry salt-marshes stood That house dark latticed. Not a breath Swayed the sick vineyard underneath, Or moved the dusty southernwood. "Madonna," with melodious moan Sang Mariana, night and morn, "Madonna! lo! I am all alone, Love-forgotten and love-forlorn."

    With one black shadow at its feet, The house thro' all the level shines, Close-latticed to the brooding heat, And silent in its dusty vines: A faint-blue ridge upon the right, An empty river-bed before, And shallows on a distant shore, In glaring sand and inlets bright. But "Ave Mary," made she moan, And "Ave Mary," night and morn, And "Ah," she sang, "to be all alone, To live forgotten, and love forlorn".

    She, as her carol sadder grew, From brow and bosom slowly down [1] Thro' rosy taper fingers drew Her streaming curls of deepest brown To left and right, [2] and made appear, Still-lighted in a secret shrine, Her melancholy eyes divine, [3] The home of woe without a tear. And "Ave Mary," was her moan, [4] "Madonna, sad is night and morn"; And "Ah," she sang, "to be all alone, To live forgotten, and love forlorn".

    Till all the crimson changed, [5] and past Into deep orange o'er the sea, Low on her knees herself she cast, Before Our Lady murmur'd she; Complaining, "Mother, give me grace To help me of my weary load". And on the liquid mirror glow'd The clear perfection of her face. "Is this the form," she made her moan, "That won his praises night and morn?" And "Ah," she said, "but I wake alone, I sleep forgotten, I wake forlorn". [6]

    Nor bird would sing, nor lamb would bleat, Nor any cloud would cross the vault, But day increased from heat to heat, On stony drought and steaming salt; Till now at noon she slept again, And seem'd knee-deep in mountain grass, And heard her native breezes pass, And runlets babbling down the glen. She breathed in sleep a lower moan, And murmuring, as at night and morn, She thought, "My spirit is here alone, Walks forgotten, and is forlorn". [7]

    Dreaming, she knew it was a dream: She felt he was and was not there, [8] She woke: the babble of the stream Fell, and without the steady glare Shrank one sick willow [9] sere and small. The river-bed was dusty-white; And all the furnace of the light Struck up against the blinding wall. [10] She whisper'd, with a stifled moan More inward than at night or morn, "Sweet Mother, let me not here alone Live forgotten, and die forlorn". [11]

    [12] And rising, from her bosom drew Old letters, breathing of her worth, For "Love," they said, "must needs be true, To what is loveliest upon earth". An image seem'd to pass the door, To look at her with slight, and say, "But now thy beauty flows away, So be alone for evermore". "O cruel heart," she changed her tone, "And cruel love, whose end is scorn, Is this the end to be left alone, To live forgotten, and die forlorn!"

    But sometimes in the falling day An image seem'd to pass the door, To look into her eyes and say, "But thou shalt be alone no more". And flaming downward over all From heat to heat the day decreased, And slowly rounded to the east The one black shadow from the wall. "The day to night," she made her moan, "The day to night, the night to morn, And day and night I am left alone To live forgotten, and love forlorn."

    At eve a dry cicala sung, There came a sound as of the sea; Backward the lattice-blind she flung, And lean'd upon the balcony. There all in spaces rosy-bright Large Hesper glitter'd on her tears, And deepening thro' the silent spheres, Heaven over Heaven rose the night. And weeping then she made her moan, "The night comes on that knows not morn, When I shall cease to be all alone, To live forgotten, and love forlorn". [13]

    [Footnote 1: 1833 From her warm brow and bosom down.]

    [Footnote 2: 1833. On either side.]

    [Footnote 3: Compare Keats, 'Eve of St. Agnes', "her maiden eyes divine".]

    [Footnote 4: 1833. "Madonna," with melodious moan Sang Mariana, etc.]

    [Footnote 5: 1833. When the dawncrimson changed.]

    [Footnote 6: 1833.

    Unto our Lady prayed she. She moved her lips, she prayed alone, She praying disarrayed and warm From slumber, deep her wavy form In the dark-lustrous mirror shone. "Madonna," in a low clear tone Said Mariana, night and morn, Low she mourned, "I am all alone, Love-forgotten, and love-forlorn".]

    [Footnote 7: 1833.

    At noon she slumbered. All along The silvery field, the large leaves talked With one another, as among The spikèd maize in dreams she walked. The lizard leapt: the sunlight played: She heard the callow nestling lisp, And brimful meadow-runnels crisp. In the full-leavèd platan-shade. In sleep she breathed in a lower tone, Murmuring as at night and morn, "Madonna! lo! I am all alone. Love-forgotten and love-forlorn".]

    [Footnote 8: 1835. Most false: he was and was not there.]

    [Footnote 9: 1833. The sick olive. So the text remained till 1850, when "one" was substituted.]

    [Footnote 10: 1833.

    From the bald rock the blinding light Beat ever on the sunwhite wall.]

    [Footnote 11: 1833.

    "Madonna, leave me not all alone, To die forgotten and live forlorn."]

    [Footnote 12: This stanza and the next not in 1833.]

    [Footnote 13: 1833.

    One dry cicala's summer song At night filled all the gallery. Ever the low wave seemed to roll Up to the coast: far on, alone In the East, large Hesper overshone The mourning gulf, and on her soul Poured divine solace, or the rise Of moonlight from the margin gleamed, Volcano-like, afar, and streamed On her white arm, and heavenward eyes. Not all alone she made her moan, Yet ever sang she, night and morn, "Madonna! lo! I am all alone, Love-forgotten and love-forlorn".]
    If you're writing a Mariana in the South essay and need some advice, post your Lord Alfred Tennyson essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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