"Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Tennyson, poet laureate and heartbeat of Victorian England, commented in his poetry on most of the issues that troubled the Englishman of the nineteenth century. The Princess, a half-jesting and half-serious treatment of the problem of education for women, concerns a young woman, Princess Ida, who, in spite of her betrothal to a noble prince, removes herself from society and founds an institution solely for the education of her own sex. The Prince, insistent upon claiming his bride, goes to war with his followers against the followers of the beautiful Ida. At the end of Canto V, he falls in battle, supposedly dead. In the 1850 edition of the poem Tennyson inserted a number of songs between the cantos to make clear the superiority of natural affection over cold intellect. The child of Psyche, one of the chief followers of Ida, thus plays an important role in the reconciliation of Ida and her prince. Between Cantos V and VI there appears the song, unrelated directly to the main plot, of a dead warrior, his widow, and their child:

Home they brought her warrior dead;
She nor swooned, nor uttered cry;
All her maidens, watching, said,
"She must weep or she will die."
. . . Rose a nurse of ninety years,
Set his child upon her knee;
Like summer tempest came her tears–
"Sweet my child, I live for thee."