Sunday, August 28, 2005

From "In Memoriam"

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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 clasp'd 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 thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.

* * *

This is part of Tennyson's long poem sequence on the death of his best friend, Arthur Hallam. It's always been one of my favorites. As Tennyson always seems to manage to do, the sound is an echo to the sense.

The abba rhyme scheme contributes, I think, to a meditative mood. But my favorite line is, "On the bald street breaks the blank day." The street is bald because there is no friendly face on it. The day is blank because the friend is not there to fill it. And the "b" sound reminds one of breaking. It adds a bitter tone to the speaker's voice.

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