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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 45


              1The baby new to earth and sky,
              2      What time his tender palm is prest
              3      Against the circle of the breast,
              4Has never thought that "this is I":

              5But as he grows he gathers much,
              6      And learns the use of "I," and "me,"
              7      And finds "I am not what I see,
              8And other than the things I touch."

              9So rounds he to a separate mind
            10      From whence clear memory may begin,
            11      As thro' the frame that binds him in
            12His isolation grows defined.

            13This use may lie in blood and breath
            14      Which else were fruitless of their due,
            15      Had man to learn himself anew
            16Beyond the second birth of Death.

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.

10] clear memory: The child begins to remember as it becomes aware of its own identity; memory and self-consciousness develop together.


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 3.67.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson