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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 131

              1O living will that shalt endure
              2      When all that seems shall suffer shock,
              3      Rise in the spiritual rock,
              4Flow thro' our deeds and make them pure,

              5That we may lift from out of dust
              6      A voice as unto him that hears,
              7      A cry above the conquer'd years
              8To one that with us works, and trust,

              9With faith that comes of self-control,
            10      The truths that never can be proved
            11      Until we close with all we loved,
            12And all we flow from, soul in soul.

            13O true and tried, so well and long,
            14      Demand not thou a marriage lay;
            15      In that it is thy marriage day
            16Is music more than any song.

            17Nor have I felt so much of bliss
            18      Since first he told me that he loved
            19      A daughter of our house; nor proved
            20Since that dark day a day like this;

            21Tho' I since then have number'd o'er
            22      Some thrice three years: they went and came,
            23      Remade the blood and changed the frame,
            24And yet is love not less, but more;

            25No longer caring to embalm
            26      In dying songs a dead regret,
            27      But like a statue solid-set,
            28And moulded in colossal calm.

            29Regret is dead, but love is more
            30      Than in the summers that are flown,
            31      For I myself with these have grown
            32To something greater than before;

            33Which makes appear the songs I made
            34      As echoes out of weaker times,
            35      As half but idle brawling rhymes,
            36The sport of random sun and shade.

            37But where is she, the bridal flower,
            38      That must be made a wife ere noon?
            39      She enters, glowing like the moon
            40Of Eden on its bridal bower:

            41On me she bends her blissful eyes
            42      And then on thee; they meet thy look
            43      And brighten like the star that shook
            44Betwixt the palms of paradise.

            45O when her life was yet in bud,
            46      He too foretold the perfect rose.
            47      For thee she grew, for thee she grows
            48For ever, and as fair as good.

            49And thou art worthy; full of power;
            50      As gentle; liberal-minded, great,
            51      Consistent; wearing all that weight
            52Of learning lightly like a flower.

            53But now set out: the noon is near,
            54      And I must give away the bride;
            55      She fears not, or with thee beside
            56And me behind her, will not fear.

            57For I that danced her on my knee,
            58      That watch'd her on her nurse's arm,
            59      That shielded all her life from harm
            60At last must part with her to thee;

            61Now waiting to be made a wife,
            62      Her feet, my darling, on the dead;
            63      Their pensive tablets round her head,
            64And the most living words of life

            65Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,
            66      The "wilt thou" answer'd, and again
            67      The "wilt thou" ask'd, till out of twain
            68Her sweet "I will" has made you one.

            69Now sign your names, which shall be read,
            70      Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
            71      By village eyes as yet unborn;
            72The names are sign'd, and overhead

            73Begins the clash and clang that tells
            74      The joy to every wandering breeze;
            75      The blind wall rocks, and on the trees
            76The dead leaf trembles to the bells.

            77O happy hour, and happier hours
            78      Await them. Many a merry face
            79      Salutes them--maidens of the place,
            80That pelt us in the porch with flowers.

            81O happy hour, behold the bride
            82      With him to whom her hand I gave.
            83      They leave the porch, they pass the grave
            84That has to-day its sunny side.

            85To-day the grave is bright for me,
            86      For them the light of life increased,
            87      Who stay to share the morning feast,
            88Who rest to-night beside the sea.

            89Let all my genial spirits advance
            90      To meet and greet a whiter sun;
            91      My drooping memory will not shun
            92The foaming grape of eastern France.

            93It circles round, and fancy plays,
            94      And hearts are warm'd and faces bloom,
            95      As drinking health to bride and groom
            96We wish them store of happy days.

            97Nor count me all to blame if I
            98      Conjecture of a stiller guest,
            99      Perchance, perchance, among the rest,
          100And, tho' in silence, wishing joy.

          101But they must go, the time draws on,
          102      And those white-favour'd horses wait;
          103      They rise, but linger; it is late;
          104Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.

          105A shade falls on us like the dark
          106      From little cloudlets on the grass,
          107      But sweeps away as out we pass
          108To range the woods, to roam the park,

          109Discussing how their courtship grew,
          110      And talk of others that are wed,
          111      And how she look'd, and what he said,
          112And back we come at fall of dew.

          113Again the feast, the speech, the glee,
          114      The shade of passing thought, the wealth
          115      Of words and wit, the double health,
          116The crowning cup, the three-times-three,

          117And last the dance,--till I retire:
          118      Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,
          119      And high in heaven the streaming cloud,
          120And on the downs a rising fire:

          121And rise, O moon, from yonder down,
          122      Till over down and over dale
          123      All night the shining vapour sail
          124And pass the silent-lighted town,

          125The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,
          126      And catch at every mountain head,
          127      And o'er the friths that branch and spread
          128Their sleeping silver thro' the hills;

          129And touch with shade the bridal doors,
          130      With tender gloom the roof, the wall;
          131      And breaking let the splendour fall
          132To spangle all the happy shores

          133By which they rest, and ocean sounds,
          134      And, star and system rolling past,
          135      A soul shall draw from out the vast
          136And strike his being into bounds,

          137And, moved thro' life of lower phase,
          138      Result in man, be born and think,
          139      And act and love, a closer link
          140Betwixt us and the crowning race

          141Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
          142      On knowledge; under whose command
          143      Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand
          144Is Nature like an open book;

          145No longer half-akin to brute,
          146      For all we thought and loved and did,
          147      And hoped, and suffer'd, is but seed
          148Of what in them is flower and fruit;

          149Whereof the man, that with me trod
          150      This planet, was a noble type
          151      Appearing ere the times were ripe,
          152That friend of mine who lives in God,

          153That God, which ever lives and loves,
          154      One God, one law, one element,
          155      And one far-off divine event,
          156To which the whole creation moves.


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.
living will. In the Memoir, I, 319, Tennyson indicated that he meant by this, "Free-will, the higher and enduring part of man."

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 3.77.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abba

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson