Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 104

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 104

Lines 2221-2232

The time draws near the birth of Christ;
   The moon is hid, the night is still;
   A single church below the hill
Is pealing, folded in the mist.

A single peal of bells below,
   That wakens at this hour of rest
   A single murmur in the breast,
That these are not the bells I know.

Like strangers' voices here they sound,
   In lands where not a memory strays,
   Nor landmark breathes of other days,
But all is new unhallow'd ground.

  • It's Christmas again. We're up to the third year after our speaker's bestie has passed away.
  • There's only one pealing of bells, where before there were four. It's clear the speaker is in a new place.
  • Yep—in the last stanza he notes how these bells sound like strangers, and there are no memories anywhere in this new land. It's all new and unholy ground.
  • We get the sense that it's "unhallow'd" because Arthur's presence has never blessed this landscape like the one he's been describing to us over the last several cantos.
  • Do you think this will end up being good or bad? Will it help his grief, or make him dwell on it more? There's only one way to find out…