'Tis held that sorrow makes us wise;
Yet how much wisdom sleeps with thee
Which not alone had guided me,
But served the seasons that may rise;
For can I doubt, who knew thee keen
In intellect, with force and skill
To strive, to fashion, to fulfil—
I doubt not what thou wouldst have been:
A life in civic action warm,
A soul on highest mission sent,
A potent voice of Parliament,
A pillar steadfast in the storm,
Should licensed boldness gather force,
Becoming, when the time has birth,
A lever to uplift the earth
And roll it in another course,
With thousand shocks that come and go,
With agonies, with energies,
With overthrowings, and with cries
And undulations to and fro.
- The speaker continues his musings from the previous canto: he has no doubt that Arthur would have been a great man.
- He would have probably held some kind of high office. The third stanza affirms this by showing how he would have taken "civic action" and been a "potent voice of Parliament."
- In other words, Arthur was destined to be a leader of men, and one who would rally the troops when necessary.
- Tennyson doesn't stop there, though. He suggests that Arthur is a "soul on highest mission sent" and would become like a "lever to uplift the earth and roll it in another course." Wow—that's pretty impressive stuff.
- This is some major optimism here on the part of the speaker, but sadly it makes the loss of Arthur all the more poignant—considering what greatness he might have achieved if he had not died so young.