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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 54

              1Oh, yet we trust that somehow good
              2      Will be the final end of ill,
              3      To pangs of nature, sins of will,
              4Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

              5That nothing walks with aimless feet;
              6      That not one life shall be destroy'd,
              7      Or cast as rubbish to the void,
              8When God hath made the pile complete;

              9That not a worm is cloven in vain;
            10      That not a moth with vain desire
            11      Is shrivell'd in a fruitless fire,
            12Or but subserves another's gain.

            13Behold, we know not anything;
            14      I can but trust that good shall fall
            15      At last--far off--at last, to all,
            16And every winter change to spring.

            17So runs my dream: but what am I?
            18      An infant crying in the night:
            19      An infant crying for the light:
            20And with no language but a cry.


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.

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: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.401.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14*1:2002/11/17

Rhyme: abba

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson