Summary of March 6 Class on In Memoriam by Khloe T

Continuing on our discussion of Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam A.H.H” we looked at his attempt to overcome his own grief by trusting that everything happens for a purpose and good will always win over ill. In section 54 and line 5, “nothing walks with aimless feet” sparked the discussion on how Tennyson is trying to overcome his grief for his loss of Hallam. The line symbolizes that nothing dies without meaning and to trust in meaning. This gives Tennyson some insight for his grief and a direction or beginning of his understanding. Tennyson references himself to a colicky baby who is crying in desperation. This sparked the discussion on how unsettling it was that there was a time you were so dependent on someone and didn’t have the ability to fend for yourself. The reference to Tennyson as an infant created the image that he was desperately searching for answers as a baby desperately cries for it’s own needs.

During the duration of this poem Tennyson ask and tries to answer several questions for himself. During the poem he is constantly questioning his own memories and is left feeling uncertain about what the past was like. In section 57 the first sign of “acceptance” is displayed. With the use of certain language like, “Peace,” “let us go” and “all is well” a much more relaxed tone is implied. In this section he more directly faces death by confirming its existence. He says, “The passing of the sweetest soul/ That ever looked with human eyes” specifically acknowledging the death of his dear friend Hallam.  Tennyson is no longer using the language to shield him from the idea of death but instead using it as his own way of understanding death.

Further we explored section 124 and how Tennyson is now beyond consolation and moving towards acceptance. The class looked at how he can’t quite speak his grief but trusts that his ‘father’ is near. In addition, when Tennyson begins to lose direction or hope, he then finds God in unusual places and trusts in him to guide his direction. We discussed “The Blind clamour,” and how it reflects the blind noise that is God even if he can’t see him; he can still trust that he’s there. During Tennyson’s darkest times, the discovery of God leads to his further affirmation in faith. For Tennyson this affirmation confirms that above all science and evidence it is in God where he can rely his trust.

In summary, to me, the poem shows importance for several reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates how poetry can immortalize the poet and it’s subject while invoking a strong reaction in me as a reader. This poem allowed the class as well as myself to experience and examine things closely despite the difference in time from when this poem was first written. Finally, Tennyson used his own poem as a means of therapy to manage his grief for the loss of Hallam and while doing that we were able to experience his grief and journey to resolution with him.

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