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6. I do but sing, etc. Compare with Pope, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot :

“I lisped in numbers for the numbers came.”

5. latest moon. The planet Neptune, discovered in 1846, probably

just before the writing of these stanzas. XXII. Four years of companionship. 1. Compare with Lycidas, 23–31:

For we were nurs'd upon the self-same hill," etc. 2, 3. From April on to April went, etc.

“ Three winters cold
Have from the forest shook three summers' pride;
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd,
In process of the seasons have I seen;
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet art green."

Shakespeare, Sonnet 104.

3. Shadow. The shadow of death. See Job xxiv. 17: “For the

morning is to them even as the shadow of death; if one know them,

they are in the terrors of the shadow of death." XXIII. Recollections of that companionship.

3. Pan. See note 59, page 71.

6. flute of Arcady. See note 7, page 67. XXIV. Imagination may paint the past in too bright colors.

1. fount of Day, etc. The very sun has its spots. XXV. But Love's burden is light. XXVI. Forgetfulness of the past is less to be desired than death. 1. Still onward, etc. Compare with Gray's Elegy, 3. The preceding

verses were written in the autumn, very soon after Arthur's death. Some weeks have now passed, the Christmas time is approaching,

and the poet again takes up his pen. 3-4. I would rather find “that Shadow waiting with the keys,” than

know that I would live indifferent to Love.

XXVII. The blessedness of having loved.
XXVIII. The Christmas bells.
XXIX. Christmas eve.
3. We will keep it for old custom's sake — because we were wont to

do so, because we used to do so. Compare with lxxviii., below.

XXX. Christmas day.
How we kept the Christmas eve. Conflicting thoughts. Compare it

with the second Christmas (see lxxviii.), and note the change which

time brings. XXXI. The present state of the dead. In this and the next five flights we have a series of meditations on the

condition of the departed, suggested by the story of the resurrection

of Lazarus (see John xi., xii.). XXXII. The devotion of Mary.

1. See Luke x. 42.

3. See John xii. 3. XXXIII. Simple faith better than formal devotion. XXXIV. Immortality our only hope.

XXXV. The moral chaos that would ensue if this were not so. 5-6. If Death were the end, then Love itself would be “mere fellow

ship,” etc.

XXXVI. The incarnation of Christ. 3. the Word. “In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word

was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”.

John i. 4. and to cease. Compare with Keats's Ode to a Nightingale, 56:

To cease upon the midnight with no pain."

XXXVII. Superiority of revelation over uninspired poetry.

1. Urania. See note 2 on Adonais, page 136. 2. Parnassus. The dwelling place or favorite haunt of Apollo and

the Muses. 3. Melpomene. The singing goddess. The Muse who presided over



XXXVIII. Song cheers the weary way.
The spring approaches, we are “under altered skies,” the “blowing

of March is here, the “herald melodies” of singing birds are heard. 2. herald melodies. Compare with Shakespeare, Sonnet I:

"The only herald to the gaudy spring."

XXXIX. A second address to the yew-tree. See ii., and the note on the


XL. Death's parting is final. 6-8. The bride returns to her friends; but the Spirits breathed away

come not again. XLI. The poet fears that he will always be one life behind his friend. If

this be the case, they can never be comrades again. XLII. And yet may they not meet as teacher and pupil? XLIII. Death may be a trance. XLIV. Do the dead forget their former life? 1. If our souls existed before we were born, we have forgotten that existence. And may not the spirit in the next life also forget? —

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting :
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,

Hath elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar.” — Wordsworth. 2. And yet we cannot say that “some little flash, some mystic hint”

of the former life does not sometimes come to us: —

“Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home.”. Wordsworth.

3. And so may not some such mystic hint awaken the memory of the

dead — if indeed Death so taste of forgetfulness. — Lethean. Per-
taining to Lethe, the river of forgetfulness: —

"A slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
Forthwith his former state and being forgets —
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain."

Milton, Paradise Lost, ii. 583.

XLV. Perhaps the consciousness of personal existence first comes to us in

this present life and is never lost. XLVI. The memory of our five years' friendship will surely remain. XLVII. The doctrine of Pantheism is both vague and distasteful. See

note on Adonais, xxxviii., page 147. XLVIII. The mission of Sorrow. 2. Sorrow ministers to love, and cares not to “part and prove” the

great problems of existence:

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this withered embassage,
To witness duty, and to show my wit."

Shakespeare, Sonnet 26.

See iii.

4. The poet dares not “trust a larger lay,” but sings only in "short

swallow-flights song," i.e. in these one hundred and thirty odd

divisions of In Memoriam.
XLIX. The song may be light but the sorrow is deep. See cvi. 4, 5.
L. An invocation.

1. Thou wilt be my light.
2. Thou wilt be my strength.
3. Thou wilt aid my faith.

4. Thou wilt be a strong presence to support me. LI. The superior wisdom of the dead.

2. Compare with Shakespeare, Sonnet 61:

“Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee

So far from home into my deeds to pry,
To find out shames and idle hours in me?"

3-4. I fear not the searching eyes of the Spirits to whom even shame

may be laid bare. For their larger wisdom will enable them to

understand my weakness. LII. The poet would not blame his own weakness overmuch. LIII. Evil in retrospect.

Is there anywhere proof that evil is in any sense desirable or necessary? 4. “ Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” — 1. Thessalo

nians v. 21. LIV. All things work together for good.

5. See cxxiv. 5. LV. Is the universal desire of immortality a proof that existence is

eternal ? 4, 5. We know nothing. We have only Faith, and upon it we must

rest everything LVI. The confusion of an appeal to Nature. 3-5. Shall man become dust to be blown about by the winds or locked

up in the tomb? Is this the end? See Hamlet, v. I.

7. Where shall we find an answer to these wearying doubts?“ Behind

the veil, behind the veil.” Compare with cxviii.
LVII. The funeral bell.
3. See Shakespeare, Sonnet 71:-

“No longer mourn for me when I am dead,
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell

Give warning to the world that I am fled."
It would seem that Tennyson's first intention was that the poem
should end here.

LVIII. Why shed the fruitless tear?
LIX. Apostrophe to Sorrow. Sorrow in a personified form has taken the
place of the dead. Compare with Shakespeare, King John :

“Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form:

Then, have I reason to be fond of grief."
Compare with the poet's former address to Sorrow, in iii., above.
LX. Lowly love entertained for one in higher station.

LXI. The sincerity of my love for him. 3. the soul of Shakespeare. “ The transcendent love for a beautiful

soul, “passing the love of woman,' of which the soul of Shakespeare was capable, is here hinted at, and the poet declares that even this love cannot surpass his for his friend. The allusion appears to indicate a deep and probably recent study of the Sonnets of Shakespeare.”

- Tennysoniana. LXII. “Though an unworthy love, once past, perishes, . . LXIII. “Yet the higher Being may in some sort feel for the affection

borne to it by the inferior.” — - Robertson.

LXIV. Does the great man remember the humble companion of his

boyhood ?

LXV. Our love must still be in some degree mutual.

LXVI. My loss is like the blind man's loss of sight. But even the blind

man's “inner day can never die.”

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