Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 37

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 37

Lines 741-764

Urania speaks with darken'd brow:
   `Thou pratest here where thou art least;
   This faith has many a purer priest,
And many an abler voice than thou.

"Go down beside thy native rill,
   On thy Parnassus set thy feet,
   And hear thy laurel whisper sweet
About the ledges of the hill."

And my Melpomene replies,
   A touch of shame upon her cheek:
   "I am not worthy ev'n to speak
Of thy prevailing mysteries;

"For I am but an earthly Muse,
   And owning but a little art
   To lull with song an aching heart,
And render human love his dues;

"But brooding on the dear one dead,
   And all he said of things divine,
   (And dear to me as sacred wine
To dying lips is all he said),

"I murmur'd, as I came along,
   Of comfort clasp'd in truth reveal'd;
   And loiter'd in the master's field,
And darken'd sanctities with song."

  • Tennyson does a lot of name-dropping in this canto, so you'd better be ready to visit the "Allusions" section.
  • Urania is the muse of astronomy. Astronomy deals with all the stars, planets, galaxies, etc., outside of Earth. This area (outside of Earth) has also been called "the heavens." So, Urania is a sort of muse of the heavens, or exists over all the other muses.
  • She scolds the speaker for complaining about these topics when he's nothing compared to the more learned priests and others who have made the same complaints before. She sends him off to listen to the other muses (they live on Mount Parnassus, by the by).
  • Melpomene (muse of singing or tragedy) admits that she's not even worthy to speak of Urania's mysteries.
  • She's only an earthly muse who is trying to make the speaker feel a bit better about his dead friend by singing about Arthur and the things he held sacred while he was alive.