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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 15

              1To-night the winds begin to rise
              2      And roar from yonder dropping day:
              3      The last red leaf is whirl'd away,
              4The rooks are blown about the skies;

              5The forest crack'd, the waters curl'd,
              6      The cattle huddled on the lea;
              7      And wildly dash'd on tower and tree
              8The sunbeam strikes along the world:

              9And but for fancies, which aver
            10      That all thy motions gently pass
            11      Athwart a plane of molten glass,
            12I scarce could brook the strain and stir

            13That makes the barren branches loud;
            14      And but for fear it is not so,
            15      The wild unrest that lives in woe
            16Would dote and pore on yonder cloud

            17That rises upward always higher,
            18      And onward drags a labouring breast,
            19      And topples round the dreary west,
            20A looming bastion fringed with fire.


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.

10-11] thy motions: the motions of the ship bearing Hallam's body.

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 3.64.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson