The lesser griefs that may be said,
That breathe a thousand tender vows,
Are but as servants in a house
Where lies the master newly dead;
Who speak their feeling as it is,
And weep the fulness from the mind:
"It will be hard," they say, "to find
Another service such as this."
My lighter moods are like to these,
That out of words a comfort win;
But there are other griefs within,
And tears that at their fountain freeze;
For by the hearth the children sit
Cold in that atmosphere of Death,
And scarce endure to draw the breath,
Or like to noiseless phantoms flit;
But open converse is there none,
So much the vital spirits sink
To see the vacant chair, and think,
"How good! how kind! and he is gone."
- We're getting another metaphor, folks. When Tennyson is able to express some of his "lesser griefs," these are like "servants in a house" where the master has just died.
- So, these "lesser griefs" are just everyday type griefs that go about their business? That's what we're going to go with.
- But wait—we find out that these servants in Tennyson's metaphor are going to find it hard to find another boss such as the guy who just passed away.
- Okay—the servants really liked their jobs, and won't find adequate replacements. That's how Tennyson's "lesser griefs" are: they'll never find another worthy person to be so grievous over.
- A final word from these imaginary servants: "How good! how kind! and he is gone" (436).
- This starts to give us a bit more on what kind of man Arthur was in life. We now know he was good and kind.