Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 17

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 17

Lines 361-380

Thou comest, much wept for: such a breeze
   Compell'd thy canvas, and my prayer
   Was as the whisper of an air
To breathe thee over lonely seas.

For I in spirit saw thee move
   Thro' circles of the bounding sky,
   Week after week: the days go by:
Come quick, thou bringest all I love.

Henceforth, wherever thou may'st roam,
   My blessing, like a line of light,
  Is on the waters day and night,
And like a beacon guards thee home.

So may whatever tempest mars
   Mid-ocean, spare thee, sacred bark;
   And balmy drops in summer dark
Slide from the bosom of the stars.

So kind an office hath been done,
   Such precious relics brought by thee;
   The dust of him I shall not see
Till all my widow'd race be run.

  • The speaker goes back to addressing the ship. He calls it a "bark" in this canto (and back in line 352). He wishes it smooth sailing because it did him the great kindness of bringing his friend's body home safely.