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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 121


              1Sad Hesper o'er the buried sun
              2      And ready, thou, to die with him,
              3      Thou watchest all things ever dim
              4And dimmer, and a glory done:

              5The team is loosen'd from the wain,
              6      The boat is drawn upon the shore;
              7      Thou listenest to the closing door,
              8And life is darken'd in the brain.

              9Bright Phosphor, fresher for the night,
            10      By thee the world's great work is heard
            11      Beginning, and the wakeful bird;
            12Behind thee comes the greater light:

            13The market boat is on the stream,
            14      And voices hail it from the brink;
            15      Thou hear'st the village hammer clink,
            16And see'st the moving of the team.

            17Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
            18      For what is one, the first, the last,
            19      Thou, like my present and my past,
            20Thy place is changed; thou art the same.

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 MDCCCXXXIIII: he died in 1833.
Hesper: Greek name for the evening star, and Phosphor, for the morning star. Both are the same planet, Venus, hence symbols of two phases of his love for Hallam.


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 3.75.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson