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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 2


              1Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
              2      That name the under-lying dead,
              3      Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
              4Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.

              5The seasons bring the flower again,
              6      And bring the firstling to the flock;
              7      And in the dusk of thee, the clock
              8Beats out the little lives of men.

              9O not for thee the glow, the bloom,
            10      Who changest not in any gale,
            11      Nor branding summer suns avail
            12To touch thy thousand years of gloom:

            13And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
            14      Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
            15      I seem to fail from out my blood
            16And grow incorporate into thee.

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.

7] the clock: of St. Andrew's Church, Clevedon, behind the yew whose pollen dusts the clock-face, while its roots penetrate the coffin of Hallam buried nearby. Actually Hallam was buried in a vault inside the church. Tennyson only imagines the funeral.


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: 1850
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.62.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson