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Poetical Excursion #1:

“Blow, Bugle, Blow”

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.



The splendour falls on castle walls

And snowy summits old in story:

The long light shakes across the lakes,

And the wild cataract leaps in glory.

Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,

Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,

And thinner, clearer, farther going!

O sweet and far from cliff and scar

The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!

Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:

Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,

They faint on hill or field or river:

Our echoes roll from soul to soul,

And grow for ever and for ever.

Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,

And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

(How perfectly Tennyson uses alliterative effects and rhyming to suggest the echoing of a bugle call. More than that, his language implies things passing into memory — repetitions of the word “dying”, reference to “long light” which suggests sunset, and elegant phrasing implying distance: “farther going”, “faintly blowing”. The effect is masterful. This is a poem that begs to be read aloud. If pressed to name a favorite poet, I will generally name either Whitman or Tennyson — depending on which I’ve read more recently.)

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