Alfred Tennyson

The Sleeping Beauty

Poem by Alfred Tennyson


Year after year unto her feet,
She lying on her couch alone,
Across the purpled coverlet,
The maiden's jet-black hair has grown, [1]
On either side her tranced form
Forth streaming from a braid of pearl:
The slumbrous light is rich and warm,
And moves not on the rounded curl.


The silk star-broider'd [2] coverlid
Unto her limbs itself doth mould
Languidly ever; and, amid
Her full black ringlets downward roll'd,
Glows forth each softly-shadow'd arm,
With bracelets of the diamond bright:
Her constant beauty doth inform
Stillness with love, and day with light.


She sleeps: her breathings are not heard
In palace chambers far apart. [3]
The fragrant tresses are not stirr'd
That lie upon her charmed heart.
She sleeps: on either hand [4] upswells
The gold-fringed pillow lightly prest:
She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells
A perfect form in perfect rest.

[Footnote 1: 1830.

  The while she slumbereth alone,
  _Over_ the purple coverlet,
  The maiden's jet-black hair hath grown.]

[Footnote 2: 1830. Star-braided.]

[Footnote 3: A writer in 'Notes and Queries', February, 1880, asks whether these lines mean that the lovely princess did _not_ snore so loud that she could be heard from one end of the palace to the other and whether it would not have detracted from her charms had that state of things been habitual. This brings into the field Dr. Gatty and other admirers of Tennyson, who, it must be owned, are not very successful in giving a satisfactory reply.]

[Footnote 4: 1830. Side.]