Maud Part XVIII - I Have Led Her Home, My Love, My Only Friend

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I have led her home, my love, my only friend.
There is none like her, none.
And never yet so warmly ran my blood
And sweetly, on and on
Calming itself to the long-wish'd-for end,
Full to the banks, close on the promised good.

None like her, none.
Just now the dry-tongued laurels' pattering talk
Seem'd her light foot along the garden walk,
And shook my heart to think she comes once more;
But even then I heard her close the door,
The gates of Heaven are closed, and she is gone.

There is none like her, none.
Nor will be when our summers have deceased.
O, art thou sighing for Lebanon
In the long breeze that streams to thy delicious East,
Sighing for Lebanon,
Dark cedar, tho’ thy limbs have here increased,
Upon a pastoral slope as fair,

And looking to the South, and fed
With honey'd rain and delicate air,
And haunted by the starry head
Of her whose gentle will has changed my fate,
And made my life a perfumed altar-flame;
And - over whom thy darkness must have spread
With such delight as theirs of old, thy great
Forefathers of the throneless garden, there
Shadowing the snow-limb'd Eve from whom she came.

Critical Analysis

      The central love poem in Maud, the first three stanzas, which Tennyson said could be read as one, are one of the great love poems of the language. Maud has confessed her love for the hero. The opening line is a variation on the dominant theme of the marriage hymns which celebrate the leading home of the bride. It is to her own home, the Hall, that he leads her, though one or two critics have mistakenly thought otherwise. (Maud had done no more than tell him that she loves him.) In the wide range of styles in Maud, nothing is more impressive than the Hebraic or biblical style of the opening two lines, and the repetition of the Hebraic second line at the beginning of the second and third stanzas, against the iambics, which are not characteristic of the monodrama. (By Hebraic, of course, is meant the style of the English Authorised Version of the early seventeenth century, the rhythms of which are everywhere in English poetry.) This may have influenced Tennyson in the passage on the cedar of Lebanon outside the Hall, which echoes the Psalms of David, and by which the experience of love is returned to its origin in the thornless Garden of Eden.

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