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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: [Prelude]


              1Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
              2      Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
              3      By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
              4Believing where we cannot prove;

              5Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
              6      Thou madest Life in man and brute;
              7      Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
              8Is on the skull which thou hast made.

              9Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
            10      Thou madest man, he knows not why,
            11      He thinks he was not made to die;
            12And thou hast made him: thou art just.

            13Thou seemest human and divine,
            14      The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
            15      Our wills are ours, we know not how,
            16Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

            17Our little systems have their day;
            18      They have their day and cease to be:
            19      They are but broken lights of thee,
            20And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

            21We have but faith: we cannot know;
            22      For knowledge is of things we see;
            23      And yet we trust it comes from thee,
            24A beam in darkness: let it grow.

            25Let knowledge grow from more to more,
            26      But more of reverence in us dwell;
            27      That mind and soul, according well,
            28May make one music as before,

            29But vaster. We are fools and slight;
            30      We mock thee when we do not fear:
            31      But help thy foolish ones to bear;
            32Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

            33Forgive what seem'd my sin in me,
            34      What seem'd my worth since I began;
            35      For merit lives from man to man,
            36And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

            37Forgive my grief for one removed,
            38      Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
            39      I trust he lives in thee, and there
            40I find him worthier to be loved.

            41Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
            42      Confusions of a wasted youth;
            43      Forgive them where they fail in truth,
            44And in thy wisdom make me wise.

Notes

1] First published anonymously in the volume with this title in 1850, though the 131 sections or separate poems that compose it were written and rewritten from 1833 to the time of publication. Two of the 131 sections were added in later editions: LIX in 1851, and XXXIX in 1872. The poem is in memory of Tennyson's friend Arthur Henry Hallam, son of the eminent historian. Hallam was engaged to marry Tennyson's sister Emily, when he died suddenly of a stroke in Vienna on September 15, 1833, at the age of twenty-two. Although written without any plan at first, the parts of the poem were finally arranged in a pattern to cover the period of about three years following Hallam's death. Tennyson himself insisted that it is "a poem, not a biography .... The different moods of sorrow as in a drama are dramatically given, and my conviction that fear, doubts, and suffering will find answer and relief only through Faith in a God of Love. `I' is not always the author speaking of himself, but the voice of the human race speaking through him."
OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: he died in 1833.
immortal love: Tennyson later indicated that he used these words in the same sense as St. John (I John 4: 8 and 9).


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Alfred lord Tennyson, In Memoriam (London: E. Moxon, 1850). PR 5562 A1 1850 Victoria College Library (Toronto). Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1849
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 2RP 2.61.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson