Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 112

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 112

Lines 2401-2416

High wisdom holds my wisdom less,
   That I, who gaze with temperate eyes
   On glorious insufficiencies,
Set light by narrower perfectness.

But thou, that fillest all the room
   Of all my love, art reason why
   I seem to cast a careless eye
On souls, the lesser lords of doom.

For what wert thou? some novel power
   Sprang up for ever at a touch,
   And hope could never hope too much,
In watching thee from hour to hour,

Large elements in order brought,
   And tracts of calm from tempest made,
   And world-wide fluctuation sway'd
In vassal tides that follow'd thought.

  • Tennyson much more admires the "narrower perfectness" of Arthur than the "glorious insuffiencies" of the false gentlemen whom he described in the previous canto.
  • He loves Arthur so much that he is sure Arthur would have accomplished great things, even though in his short life he had not yet had the opportunity to do so.
  • The speaker gives him some mad props when he says that Arthur was "some novel power / Sprang up for ever at a touch" (2409-2410).
  • No, this doesn't mean "novel" as in a longish fictional book, but rather "novel" as in "new."
  • So, Arthur was kind of like a whole new type of person, whose abilities Tennyson couldn't overestimate. This becomes apparent when Tennyson says: "hope could never hope too much, / In watching thee from hour to hour."