Sad Hesper o’er the buried sun
And ready, thou, to die with him,
Thou watchest all things ever dim
And dimmer, and a glory done:
The team is loosen’d from the wain,
The boat is drawn upon the shore;
Thou listenest to the closing door,
And life is darken’d in the brain.
Bright Phosphor, fresher for the night,
By thee the world’s great work is heard
Beginning, and the wakeful bird;
Behind thee comes the greater light:
The market boat is on the stream,
And voices hail it from the brink;
Thou hear’st the village hammer clink,
And see’st the moving of the team.
Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
For what is one, the first, the last,
Thou, like my present and my past,
Thy place is changed; thou art the same.
The doubleness of the planet Venus, seen as evening star (Hesperus) and morning star (Phosphor), is used here as a metaphor for the doubleness of Tennyson’s life, past/ present, grieving/ recovering, death/life. He emphasises that the doubleness is not illusory, the evening and morning twilights are clearly distinguished, each with its rural accompaniments. But there is nevertheless a unity, the one planet, the one man, who grieves and recovers.
I recognise this doubleness in myself. Because I still grieve, I am not disabled; because I participate in social pleasure, I have not ceased to grieve.