Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 23

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 23

Lines 485-508

Now, sometimes in my sorrow shut,
   Or breaking into song by fits,
   Alone, alone, to where he sits,
The Shadow cloak'd from head to foot,

Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
   I wander, often falling lame,
   And looking back to whence I came,
Or on to where the pathway leads;

And crying, How changed from where it ran
   Thro' lands where not a leaf was dumb;
   But all the lavish hills would hum
The murmur of a happy Pan:

When each by turns was guide to each,
   And Fancy light from Fancy caught,
   And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech;

And all we met was fair and good,
   And all was good that Time could bring,
   And all the secret of the Spring
Moved in the chambers of the blood;

And many an old philosophy
   On Argive heights divinely sang,
   And round us all the thicket rang
To many a flute of Arcady.

  • Now, Tennyson looks back on their journey and thinks about how the space rang with the sound of Pan playing his pipes (better check the "Allusions" section if you don't know who this guy is).
  • The two were so close that their imaginations would feed off of each other, and they would even complete each other's thoughts. That's really close.
  • He uses the word "wed" in lines 499 and 500 to capture just how close their thoughts were and how they would almost complete each other's sentences. (Again with the marriage imagery with these two.)
  • Around them are the songs of Argive philosophy (Argos is a major port city in Greece) and the flutes of Arcady (a rural area in Greece often regarded as a rustic kind of paradise).
  • So, there's the best of both worlds here—both the city and the country.