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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 124


              1That which we dare invoke to bless;
              2      Our dearest faith; our ghastliest doubt;
              3      He, They, One, All; within, without;
              4The Power in darkness whom we guess;

              5I found Him not in world or sun,
              6      Or eagle's wing, or insect's eye;
              7      Nor thro' the questions men may try,
              8The petty cobwebs we have spun:

              9If e'er when faith had fall'n asleep,
            10      I heard a voice, "Believe no more,"
            11      And heard an ever-breaking shore
            12That tumbled in the Godless deep,

            13A warmth within the breast would melt
            14      The freezing reason's colder part,
            15      And like a man in wrath the heart
            16Stood up and answer'd, "I have felt."

            17No, like a child in doubt and fear:
            18      But that blind clamour made me wise;
            19      Then was I as a child that cries,
            20But crying, knows his father near;

            21And what I am beheld again
            22      What is, and no man understands;
            23      And out of darkness came the hands
            24That reach thro' nature, moulding men.

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.


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 3.76.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson