Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 34

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 34

Lines 685-700

My own dim life should teach me this,
   That life shall live for evermore,
   Else earth is darkness at the core,
And dust and ashes all that is;

This round of green, this orb of flame,
   Fantastic beauty; such as lurks
   In some wild Poet, when he works
Without a conscience or an aim.

What then were God to such as I?
   'Twere hardly worth my while to choose
   Of things all mortal, or to use
A tattle patience ere I die;

'Twere best at once to sink to peace,
   Like birds the charming serpent draws,
   To drop head-foremost in the jaws
Of vacant darkness and to cease.

  • The speaker is now starting to struggle again with the issue of what meaning there is for man if there's no immortality at the end. Tennyson presents this emptiness as "darkness at the core" of earth (687).
  • He describes the world as being beautiful, but a sort of random beauty that might be created by a "wild Poet."
  • If this is the case, it's better for Tennyson to just go ahead and die like a bird when a snake charms it into its clutches—cheery, eh?