On the Jubilee of Queen Victoria
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Fifty times the rose has flower’d and faded,
Fifty times the golden harvest fallen,
Since our Queen assumed the globe, the sceptre.
She beloved for a kindliness
Rare in fable or history,
Queen, and Empress of India,
Crown’d so long with a diadem
Never worn by a worthier,
Now with prosperous auguries
Comes at last to the bounteous
Crowning year of her Jubilee.
Nothing of the lawless, of the despot,
Nothing of the vulgar, or vainglorious,
All is gracious, gentle, great and queenly.
You then joyfully, all of you,
Set the mountain aflame to-night,
Shoot your stars to the firmament,
Deck your houses, illuminate
All your towns for a festival,
And in each let a multitude
Loyal, each, to the heart of it,
One full voice of allegiance,
Hail the fair Ceremonial
Of this year of her Jubilee.
Queen, as true to womanhood as Queenhood,
Glorying in the glories of her people,
Sorrowing with the sorrows of the lowest!
You, that wanton in affluence,
Spare not now to be bountiful,
Call your poor to regale with you,
All the lowly, the destitute,
Make their neighborhood healthfuller,
Give your gold to the hospital,
Let the weary be comforted,
Let the needy be banqueted,
Let the maim’d in his heart rejoice
At this glad Ceremonial,
And this year of her Jubilee.
Henry’s fifty years are all in shadow,
Gray with distance Edward’s fifty summers,
Even her Grandsire’s fifty half forgotten.
You, the Patriot Architect,
You that shape for eternity,
Raise a stately memorial,
Make it regally gorgeous,
Some Imperial Institute,
Rich in symbol, in ornament,
Which may speak to the centuries,
All the centuries after us,
Of this great Ceremonial,
And this year of her Jubilee.
Fifty years of ever-broadening Commerce!
Fifty years of ever-brightening Science!
Fifty years of ever-widening Empire!
You, the Mighty, the Fortunate,
You, the Lord-territorial,
You, the Lord-manufacturer,
You, the hardy, laborious,
Patient children of Albion,
You, Canadian, Indian,
All your hearts be in harmony,
All your voices in unison.
Singing, ‘Hail to the glorious
Golden year of her Jubilee!’
Are there thunders moaning in the distance?
Are there spectres moving in the darkness?
Trust the Hand of Light will lead her people,
Till the thunders pass, the spectres vanish,
And the Light is Victor, and the darkness
Dawns into the Jubilee of the Ages.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) was Poet Laureate from 1850 until his death and enjoyed a close relationship with Queen Victoria during this time. He is the longest-serving laureate in history and captured the Victorian style perfectly: grandiose, patriotic, sentimental and serious. The son of a Lincolnshire clergyman, his grandfather suggested he too might be ordained but his commitment was to poetry; he dedicated his life to its craft and wrote memorable pieces on numerous national events. Sadly he never lived to see Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, but this 1887 poem for her Golden Jubilee sees him in full celebratory pomp, rejoicing in monarch, empire and longevity, with the end striking a suitably religious note. He was buried in Westminster Abbey at Poets’ Corner.