TENNYSON, ALFRED (1809-1892)
AUTOGRAPH REVISED MANUSCRIPT, IN EFFECT A DRAFT, OF HIS BEAUTIFUL POEM 'THE DAISY' WITH UNPUBLISHED RECONSIDERED READINGS, the title and location in Tennyson's hand at head in pencil, 120 lines without stanza breaks, including deletions, revisions and insertions in both pencil and pen and ink preserving reconsidered readings, the title in pencil, written without stanza breaks, some subsequently indicated in pencil, 4 leaves, 6 pages, octavo, including text on the verso of two leaves, numbered in pencil, formerly in olive green morocco binding by Riviere (present), bookplates (see Provenance below), not dated, Edinburgh, [August 1853]
O love, what hours were thine & mine
In lands of palm & southern pine
In lands of palm, of orange-blossom
Of olive, aloe, & maize & vine...
...What more? we took our last adieu
And up the snowy Splugen drew
But ere we reached the highest summit
I pluck'd a daisy & gave it you.
It told of England then to me,
And now it tells of Italy.
O love, we two shall go no longer
To lands of summer beyond the sea,
So dear a life your arms enfold
Whose crying is a cry for gold:
Yet here to-night, alone & cold,
I found, tho' crush'd to hard & dry,
This nurseling of another sky
Still in the little book you lent me
And where you tenderly laid it by:
And I forgot the clouded Forth,
The gloom that saddens Heaven & Earth,
The bitter east, the misty summer
And gray metropolis of the North;
Perchance, to lull the throbs of pain,
Perchance, to charm a vacant brain,
Perchance, to dream you still beside me,
My fancy fled to the South again.
THIS IS THE ONLY SURVIVING MANUSCRIPT OF 'THE DAISY', 'ONE OF THE GREAT POETIC EVOCATIONS OF GRATITUDE' -- 'It sings and rings at once with the reciprocity of love...It is the poem in which Tennyson most deeply expressed all that he owed to Emily, and there is no sentimentality in our feeling gratitude to her as well as to him for one of the great poetic evocations of gratitude.'' (Ricks, Tennyson). This manuscript was not known to Christopher Ricks, who records no others, in either Tennyson or Tennyson Archive, and neither the reconsidered readings nor the many differences in accidentals are recorded in his definitive edition of Tennyson's poems. The printed version is presented in four-line stanzas and comprises 108 lines.
'The Daisy', a verse epistle written in 1853 with great tact and magnanimity, is addressed to his wife Emily, who did not like foreign travel, remembering their Italian tour of 1851, and in a metre he 'invented, representing in some measure the grandest of metres, the Horatian Alcaic.' The daisy which he found in her book when in Edinburgh, where he was recovering for three weeks from two surgical operations, had been picked by him near the highest point of the Splugen Pass in Switzerland and placed in the book by her. One line in particular would have resonated with her: 'In lands of palm, of orange-blossom' -- on her honeymoon she had written to Charles and Louisa on 17 June 1850, 'The smell and sight of real orange flowers was almost the only sign of a wedding.'
Reconsidered readings in the manuscript include some 17 lines, mostly three trial versions of some lines and a final version on the verso of the first leaf, which become a stanza for the printed text. Lines 79-80 in Ricks's text read: 'To that fair port below the castle / Of Queen Theodolind, where we slept:', where the manuscript has: 'Or paused at happy quays, & left us / In sweet Varenna, whereat we slept.'
PROVENANCE: Lucy Wharton Drexel (1867-1944); Bois Penrose II; Arthur A Houghton.
REFERENCES: Christopher Ricks, Tennyson, 1989; The Poems of Tennyson, edited by Christopher Ricks (revised edition 1987); Tennyson Archive, 31 volumes, edited by Christopher Ricks and Aidan Day, 31 volumes, 1987-1993.