In Memoriam Response by Cassandra I

“A Vanished Life Through the Eyes of Tennyson”

Tennyson’s work in poetry is extraordinarily representative of his true emotions within his everyday life. With the loss of a best friend and life-long companion comes grief and sorrow. Mental suffering of one’s close ally can be detrimental to the individual, which becomes conspicuous in Tennyson’s case. The darkness in Tennyson’s life overlaps into his work of “In Memoriam A.H.H”. Tennyson explores his relationship with Arthur Henry Hallam, his sorrow after the death, the use of language in life and finally, acceptance of his loss. The idea of a “vanished life” (8) is thoroughly explored in Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”.

“In Memoriam” is a work of Tennyson’s, depicting his direct relationship with life-long friend and English poet, Arthur Henry Hallam. Hallam had suffered from a brain hemorrhage leading to his death. Tennyson uses the prologue of his poem to describe the issue of death and how it’s sudden occurrence can sneak up on anyone. No one can ever be sure of when their number is up in life, as explained by Tennyson when he says, “But vaster. We are fools and slight;” (29). What a person fears holds the potential to take over life when least expected. Tennyson continues with painting an image of darkness after the death. He writes, “And all the place is dark, and all / The chambers emptied of delight:” (7-8). Without Hallam present in his life, darkness takes over Tennyson’s soul, becoming the only thing he can see. He is overwhelmed with the loss of his friend that he is too blind to see the meaning in anything else within his life. He describes his relationship with Hallam to be, “My friend, the brother of my love;” (9). His relationship with Hallam is more than just friends, it is a family type relationship. The closeness Tennyson experienced with Hallam makes the death that much harder to recover from, leaving him in darkness throughout the majority of “In Memoriam”.

Tennyson’s use of scientific language in his poetry impacts the message he wishes to relay in a powerful manner. Tennyson states, “But, for the unquiet heart and brain, / A use in measured language lies;” (5-6), revealing the powerful nature of poetry. With his words, Tennyson is able to work through his grief and eventually get over the sorrow felt by the loss of his friend. He finds poetry to be a sort-of release for the tragedy in his life, a therapeutic exercise. Tennyson continues by exploring the use of questions and scientific language. In section twelve, Tennyson writes, “Some dolorous message knit below / The wild pulsation of her wings;” (4), using the scientific word “pulsation” to bring to life his beating, broken heart. Continuing on, Tennyson questions, “And saying: “Comes he thus, my friend? / Is this the end of all my care?”” (13-14). Using the language tool of questions makes Tennyson’s dark mind-set a real issue in the eyes of his audience. Tennyson is successful in bringing his words off the page and to life through the language he uses.

Towards the end of the poem, Tennyson expresses emotions of acceptance towards the loss of his friend, Hallam. Through this poem, Tennyson works through his grief and eventually overcomes the sorrow in his life. Acceptance for the tragic loss becomes evident when Tennyson says, “And out of darkness came the hands / That reach through nature, molding men.” (23-24). Such a statement emphasizes that the darkness experienced by Tennyson made him wiser in his faith. He now knows that God is near and his faith is reconfirmed through his loss. He made it through the darkness and can now finally see the light in life. Tennyson is able to accept the loss of Hallam and move forward in his life within his poetry.

Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” works as a type of tribute to his closest friend. He has loved and lost in life, and he works through this loss in his poetry. The audience becomes aware of the closeness of Tennyson’s relationship with his friend Arthur Henry Hallam. With the use of Tennyson’s scientific language and well-balanced poetry, his grief is expressed in a therapeutic manner. Eventually Tennyson is successful in working through the death of his friends and able to move on in his life.    An intense dark approach to poetry present within “In Memoriam” becomes an essential tool for grieving after death in Tennyson’s life.

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