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From "In Memoriam A.H.H."

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
by

Maddy Eissler

on 16 March 2013

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Transcript of From "In Memoriam A.H.H."

In Memoriam A. H. H. Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasped no more --
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly through the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day. Structure Summary Diction Alliteration Punctuation Rhyme Scheme Darkness Death Themes "Dark house" (1)
"I cannot sleep" (6)
"like a guilty thing I creep" (7)
"...where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasped no more" (3-5) "He is not here; but far away" (9) ABBA ABBA ABBA "Here in the long unlovely street" (2) "waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasped no more --
Behold me, for I cannot sleep," (4-6) "guilty" (7)
"creep" (7)
"ghastly" (11)
"drizzling rain" (11)
"bald streets" (12)
"blank day" (12) Tennyson's woeful and beautiful testimony to the memory of his deceased friend conveys the depths of grief and sadness in its simplicity and real life imagery. The "Dark house" outside of which Tennyson stands could be both literal and figurative, yet the simple idea of a lonely, melancholy man standing outside the empty house of his deceased friend is enough to evoke great sympathy and emotion. He still clings to the hope that his friend may exist in an afterlife or some other part of the world. His hope gives him the strength to rise for another day, no matter how painful it may be. "Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself but with its subject."
-Keats The excerpt from "In Memoriam A.H.H." is great poetry by Keats' definition because in its simplicity and beauty, it creeps into the heart and soul of the reader and forces him/her to comprehend the tragic beauty and melancholy experienced by the speaker and everyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. It is not shocking or amazing. Death and grief are a basic part of life, yet Tennyson's expression of grief is so personal and touching that it cannot help but resonate within the soul of the reader. From Alfred, Lord Tennyson written in iambic tetrameter Grief The poem opens on a dreary, dark house, which sets the tone/mood of the entire poem. The "Dark house" outside of which the speaker (Tennyson) stands is the home of his sister's fiance, his deceased best friend. The speaker's existence is dark without the light of his friend's presence in the world. The house is both dark because it is unoccupied but also because the friend's light has gone out of the world. For the first two and a half stanzas, the speaker focuses on the absence of his deceased friend in life and questions how he can go on without him. His 'heart used to beat / So quickly' in the home of his friend, which is now dark and empty. The entire poem "In Memoriam A.H.H." is Tennyson's expression of grief over the death of his best friend. Tennyson expresses his grief and pain at the unexpected death of hi friend. He cannot fathom its reality because it should not be real. The unexpected death of a young person is particularly painful. Tennyson hints at the possibility of an afterlife by remarking that the friend is somewhere else. In order to be elsewhere, one must exist. The repeated 'l' sound is elongated and suggests a lengthy period of time spent by the speaker on this 'unlovely' street. "On the bald street breaks the blank day" (12) The repetition of the 'b' serves to emphasize the words "bald," "break," and "blank." The final line of the poem underscores the bleakness of life in grief, the lack of joy and beauty. Tennyson's purposeful exclusion of a period of comma at the end of line 5 suggests that he was almost not able to finish what he was saying because it was so painful to comprehend. The dashes are like a heartbreaking sigh or pause in the poem. His immediate transition into 'Behold me' signals that, in order to continue his thoughts, he must change their course. "He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again" (9-10) The phrase "He is not here" ends with a semi-colon, not a period. The lack of a definitive ending suggests that Tennyson clings to a hope that his friend still exists elsewhere. The line continues "but far away / The noise of life begins again." Tennyson's use of enjambment gives an ambiguous meaning to these lines. Without the semi-colon, one could read line 9 as "He is not here but far away," meaning that Tennyson believes his friend to still have some form of existence elsewhere in the universe or afterlife. Tennyson uses creepy, bleak, mournful, and melancholic diction throughout the poem to convey his grief and misery.
"The noise of life begins again" (10) Tennyson describes life as "noise," an interruption of his grief and sadness. The life that continues on despite his crumbling world is an annoyance to him.
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