Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 49

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 49

Lines 953-968

From art, from nature, from the schools,
   Let random influences glance,
   Like light in many a shiver'd lance
That breaks about the dappled pools:

The lightest wave of thought shall lisp,
   The fancy's tenderest eddy wreathe,
   The slightest air of song shall breathe
To make the sullen surface crisp.

And look thy look, and go thy way,
   But blame not thou the winds that make
   The seeming-wanton ripple break,
The tender-pencil'd shadow play.

Beneath all fancied hopes and fears
   Ay me, the sorrow deepens down,
   Whose muffled motions blindly drown
The bases of my life in tears.

  • Art, nature, and philosophy ("schools" here meaning "schools of philosophy") can't touch him. They just "glance" off of him.
  • This means they briefly hit him and then bounce off exactly like a lance of light can't penetrate a pool of water, but instead just reflects off of it.
  • Nothing can get to him right now as much as his sorrow. If you don't believe us, check out his "Ay me" in the last stanza.
  • This is an archaic expression of lament. Sort of like, "Alas! Why dost this happenst to me?"
  • All of the foundations of his life are drowned in tears—major bummer.