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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 55


              1The wish, that of the living whole
              2      No life may fail beyond the grave,
              3      Derives it not from what we have
              4The likest God within the soul?

              5Are God and Nature then at strife,
              6      That Nature lends such evil dreams?
              7      So careful of the type she seems,
              8So careless of the single life;

              9That I, considering everywhere
            10      Her secret meaning in her deeds,
            11      And finding that of fifty seeds
            12She often brings but one to bear,

            13I falter where I firmly trod,
            14      And falling with my weight of cares
            15      Upon the great world's altar-stairs
            16That slope thro' darkness up to God,

            17I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
            18      And gather dust and chaff, and call
            19      To what I feel is Lord of all,
            20And faintly trust the larger hope.

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.

4] likest to God within the soul: man's most God-like quality, manifested in "the wish," is clearly love.


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