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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 72

              1Risest thou thus, dim dawn, again,
              2      And howlest, issuing out of night,
              3      With blasts that blow the poplar white,
              4And lash with storm the streaming pane?

              5Day, when my crown'd estate begun
              6      To pine in that reverse of doom,
              7      Which sicken'd every living bloom,
              8And blurr'd the splendour of the sun;

              9Who usherest in the dolorous hour
            10      With thy quick tears that make the rose
            11      Pull sideways, and the daisy close
            12Her crimson fringes to the shower;

            13Who might'st have heaved a windless flame
            14      Up the deep East, or, whispering, play'd
            15      A chequer-work of beam and shade
            16Along the hills, yet look'd the same.

            17As wan, as chill, as wild as now;
            18      Day, mark'd as with some hideous crime,
            19      When the dark hand struck down thro' time,
            20And cancell'd nature's best: but thou,

            21Lift as thou may'st thy burthen'd brows
            22      Thro' clouds that drench the morning star,
            23      And whirl the ungarner'd sheaf afar,
            24And sow the sky with flying boughs,

            25And up thy vault with roaring sound
            26      Climb thy thick noon, disastrous day;
            27      Touch thy dull goal of joyless gray,
            28And hide thy shame beneath the ground.


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.
dim dawn: of September 15, the anniversary of Hallam's death.

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 3.69.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson