Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 32

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 32

Lines 653-668

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,
   Nor other thought her mind admits
   But, he was dead, and there he sits,
And he that brought him back is there.

Then one deep love doth supersede
   All other, when her ardent gaze
   Roves from the living brother's face,
And rests upon the Life indeed.

All subtle thought, all curious fears,
   Borne down by gladness so complete,
   She bows, she bathes the Saviour's feet
With costly spikenard and with tears.

Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers,
   Whose loves in higher love endure;
   What souls possess themselves so pure,
Or is there blessedness like theirs?

  • Mary gazes from Lazarus to Jesus, who brought him back to life (and is described as "Life," so a personification of life itself).
  • She's so happy that her brother has returned that she bathes Jesus's feet with "spikenard" and her own tears.
  • Um, so what's spikenard? It sounds kind of stinky, but it's actually not. It turns out that spikenard is an aromatic essential oil that comes from a flowering plant, so it probably smells pretty good. It's also pricey and swank, so fit for the son of God's tootsies.