Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 121

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 121

Lines 2565-2584

Sad Hesper o'er the buried sun
   And ready, thou, to die with him,
   Thou watchest all things ever dim
And dimmer, and a glory done:

The team is loosen'd from the wain,
   The boat is drawn upon the shore;
   Thou listenest to the closing door,
And life is darken'd in the brain.

Bright Phosphor, fresher for the night,
   By thee the world's great work is heard
   Beginning, and the wakeful bird;
Behind thee comes the greater light:

The market boat is on the stream,
  And voices hail it from the brink;
  Thou hear'st the village hammer clink,
And see'st the moving of the team.

Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
   For what is one, the first, the last,
   Thou, like my present and my past,
Thy place is changed; thou art the same.

  • "Hesper" is the evening star (actually the planet Venus), which Tennyson addresses here.
  • Then he talks to "Phosphor," the morning star. Strangely enough, that's also the planet Venus.
  • So, these two are the same thing seen at different times, blending into "Hesper-Phosphor" in the final stanza here.
  • This double star symbolizes the speaker's past and present, and the grief that he once felt along with the happiness that he's starting to feel.
  • They're all the same. They come from the same source (meaning Arthur).
  • He concludes in the final line here that, even though Arthur is in a different place ("Thy place is changed"), he is still the same. His essence still remains, and this is something Tennyson can continue to love and have hope that he will eventually be reunited with.