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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 39

              1Old warder of these buried bones,
              2      And answering now my random stroke
              3      With fruitful cloud and living smoke,
              4Dark yew, that graspest at the stones

              5And dippest toward the dreamless head,
              6      To thee too comes the golden hour
              7      When flower is feeling after flower;
              8But Sorrow--fixt upon the dead,

              9And darkening the dark graves of men,--
            10      What whisper'd from her lying lips?
            11      Thy gloom is kindled at the tips,
            12And passes into gloom again.


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 this one, 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.
warder: the Yew tree of lyric II.

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: Poems by Alfred Tennyson (London: Strahan, 1872). tenn T366 A105 1872. Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1872
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.66.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson