Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 22

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 22

Lines 465-484

The path by which we twain did go,
   Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
   Thro' four sweet years arose and fell,
From flower to flower, from snow to snow:

And we with singing cheer'd the way,
   And, crown'd with all the season lent,
   From April on to April went,
And glad at heart from May to May:

But where the path we walk'd began
   To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
   As we descended following Hope,
There sat the Shadow fear'd of man;

Who broke our fair companionship,
   And spread his mantle dark and cold,
   And wrapt thee formless in the fold,
And dull'd the murmur on thy lip,

And bore thee where I could not see
   Nor follow, tho' I walk in haste,
   And think, that somewhere in the waste
The Shadow sits and waits for me.

  • For four years, Tennyson and Arthur were tight. The speaker conveys this in terms of the two of them ("twain," which just means "two") walking a path.
  • They were happy throughout all of the seasons, whether spring or winter (symbolized by the flowers and snow in line 468).
  • In the fifth year of their friendship, though, they meet "the Shadow fear'd by man" along their path.
  • Heads up for a scary personification of death in all his Grim Reaper-y glory: Death wraps Arthur up in his "mantle" (cloak), and takes him away to a place Tennyson cannot see.
  • He knows that Shadow is also waiting for him.