Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 11

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 11

Lines 241-260

Calm is the morn without a sound,
   Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
   And only thro' the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground:

Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
   And on these dews that drench the furze,
   And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold:

Calm and still light on yon great plain
   That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
   And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main:

Calm and deep peace in this wide air,
   These leaves that redden to the fall;
   And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair:

Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
   And waves that sway themselves in rest,
   And dead calm in that noble breast
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.

  • Do you get the impression that the main theme in this section is—wait for it—"calm"? Ding, ding, ding—we have a winner.
  • There's anaphora all throughout this canto with repetitions of "calm" at the beginning of tons of lines.
  • This totally make sense, since Tennyson is now lapsing into what he calls a "calm despair."
  • And check out how the imagery emphasizes this calmness.
  • We have: a quiet morning, drops of dew coating the trees ("furze" is a type of tree), "silvery gossamers" (which are probably spiderwebs that are highlighted with dew and sunlight), and ocean waves that are now calm.
  • What about sound here? Well, pay a short visit to "Sound Check" for some info on how consonance and assonance are working here. (Hint: they produce a lulling sound, which emphasizes, well...calm.)
  • You should also notice the reference to "leaves that redden to the fall" in line 254. This is a reference to time passing, but so far we don't have a solid hook to hang this on, temporally speaking.