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The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls

The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Immortality Theme

The theme of "Immortality" is pretty closely related to "Memory and the Past" in "The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls": both have to do with the ways that "echoes" can affect us. But instead of the "echoes" of the past coming back to haunt us in the present, the speaker realizes at the end of the poem that we create "echoes" of our own that can give us a kind of immortality. That's not so bad, right?

Questions About Immortality

  1. When the speaker refers to "our echoes" in line 14, whose "echoes" do you think he's referring to? His own and his "love's" (12)? Or does it apply to everyone?
  2. In other words, is the kind of immortality that the speaker describes universal, or does it work only for people who have heard the "bugle" in the valley?
  3. If the mountains are "old in story" (2), does that mean that they have a kind of "immortality"? Why or why not? What different types of "immortality" come up in this poem?
  4. When a poet like Tennyson writes about immortality, we always have to wonder if he was thinking about whether or not future generations would read his poetry. Do you think that Tennyson was making a point about that kind of literary immortality? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Tennyson forever! The reference to fairy tales and mythology through the description of the "castle" (1) and the mention of "Elfland" (10) suggest that literature can offer a kind of "immortality," which suggests that the poet was consciously trying to attain this kind of literary immortality for himself.

Immorality is like an exclusive club. The "echoes" of line 14 serve as a kind of conduit for immortality, but it is an immortality that is only available for people who understand the deep connection between individuals that the speaker has realized.

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