English Literature » Alfred Tennyson » The Miller’s Daughter

The Miller’s Daughter by

It is the miller’s daughter,
And she is grown so dear, so dear,
That I would be the jewel
That trembles at her ear:
For hid in ringlets day and night,
I’d touch her neck so warm and white.

And I would be the girdle
About her dainty, dainty waist,
And her heart would beat against me,
In sorrow and in rest:
And I should know if it beat right,
I’d clasp it round so close and tight.

And I would be the necklace,
And all day long to fall and rise
Upon her balmy bosom,
With her laughter or her sighs:
And I would lie so light, so light,
I scarce should be unclasped at night.

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First published in 1833. It was greatly altered when republished in 1842, and in some respects, so Fitzgerald thought, not for the better. No alterations of much importance were made in it after 1842.

The characters as well as the scenery were, it seems, purely imaginary. Tennyson said that if he thought of any mill it was that of Trumpington, near Cambridge, which bears a general resemblance to the picture here given.

In the first edition the poem opened with the following stanza, which the ‘Quarterly’ ridiculed, and which was afterwards excised. Its omission is surely not to be regretted, whatever Fitzgerald may have thought.

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