Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 30

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 30

Lines 605-636

With trembling fingers did we weave
   The holly round the Chrismas hearth;
   A rainy cloud possess'd the earth,
And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.

At our old pastimes in the hall
   We gambol'd, making vain pretence
   Of gladness, with an awful sense
Of one mute Shadow watching all.

We paused: the winds were in the beech
   We heard them sweep the winter land
   And in a circle hand-in-hand
Sat silent, looking each at each.

Then echo-like our voices rang;
   We sung, tho' every eye was dim,
   A merry song we sang with him
Last year: impetuously we sang:

We ceased: a gentler feeling crept
   Upon us: surely rest is meet:
   "They rest," we said, "their sleep is sweet,"
And silence follow'd, and we wept.

Our voices took a higher range;
   Once more we sang: "They do not die
   Nor lose their mortal sympathy,
Nor change to us, although they change;

"Rapt from the fickle and the frail
   With gather'd power, yet the same,
   Pierces the keen seraphic flame
From orb to orb, from veil to veil."

Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn,
   Draw forth the cheerful day from night:
   O Father, touch the east, and light
The light that shone when Hope was born.

  • Tennyson and others kind of half-heartedly celebrate Christmas, all while mourning Arthur.
  • There's one "mute Shadow" that's watching everyone (612). Pretty ominous, huh?
  • It seems like this Shadow can either be death (which "Shadow" has referred to previously) or the spirit of Arthur.
  • They remember the happy song they sang last year at this time with Arthur, and everyone starts crying.
  • The song they sing is about how when people die, they are changed, but not totally gone. This seems to be a hopeful point in the poem.
  • And we get Hope personified in the last line of the Canto.