Thy converse drew us with delight,
The men of rathe and riper years:
The feeble soul, a haunt of fears,
Forgot his weakness in thy sight.
On thee the loyal-hearted hung,
The proud was half disarm'd of pride,
Nor cared the serpent at thy side
To flicker with his double tongue.
The stern were mild when thou wert by,
The flippant put himself to school
And heard thee, and the brazen fool
Was soften'd, and he knew not why;
While I, thy nearest, sat apart,
And felt thy triumph was as mine;
And loved them more, that they were thine,
The graceful tact, the Christian art;
Nor mine the sweetness or the skill,
But mine the love that will not tire,
And, born of love, the vague desire
That spurs an imitative will.
- Continuing on with the effusive praise of Arthur, we see that he was able to inspire strength in others, and kind of tamed those who might be too proud or who were tricky (those with a "double tongue").
- In fact, Arthur's good nature pretty much made all those who came into contact with him a better person. He turned the "stern" to "mild" and "soften'd" up the "brazen fool."
- His good qualities, then, were able to bring out the best in others.
- From afar, Tennyson shares in this, and admires Arthur's tact and Christian behavior. He, himself, didn't have Arthur's skills, but his example and the love he had for his friend made Tennyson strive to be a better man. This is what that whole "imitative will" (desire to be like someone or something else) thing is about in the last line.