Tears of the widower, when he sees
A late-lost form that sleep reveals,
And moves his doubtful arms, and feels
Her place is empty, fall like these;
Which weep a loss for ever new,
A void where heart on heart reposed;
And, where warm hands have prest and closed,
Silence, till I be silent too.
Which weep the comrade of my choice,
An awful thought, a life removed,
The human-hearted man I loved,
A Spirit, not a breathing voice.
Come, Time, and teach me, many years,
I do not suffer in a dream;
For now so strange do these things seem,
Mine eyes have leisure for their tears;
My fancies time to rise on wing,
And glance about the approaching sails,
As tho' they brought but merchants' bales,
And not the burthen that they bring.
- Now Tennyson is comparing himself with a widower who mourns his wife's death. That would put Arthur in the place of his wife. We're starting to think these two really were really big fans of each other.
- Again, we get the sense that Tennyson is looking back over a long time to when Arthur's death was fresh in his mind.
- He describes the things he has been talking about over the past couple of cantos (the ship and his friend's body) as "strange," which means "foreign" and can also mean "remote."
- Because he has some distance on the event, he has the "leisure" for weeping.
- In the last stanza here, he imagines coming to this moment anew, as if the ship only carried goods to be sold, and not the "burthen" (burden) of his dear friend's dead body.