Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 58

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 58

Lines 1117-1128

In those sad words I took farewell:
   Like echoes in sepulchral halls,
   As drop by drop the water falls
In vaults and catacombs, they fell;

And, falling, idly broke the peace
   Of hearts that beat from day to day,
   Half-conscious of their dying clay,
And those cold crypts where they shall cease.

The high Muse answer'd: "Wherefore grieve
   Thy brethren with a fruitless tear?
   Abide a little longer here,
And thou shalt take a nobler leave."

  • Now, Tennyson is leaving his friend's gravesite. If you're interested in all of the cemetery-like imagery here—and you should be—head on over to "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay."
  • His Muse seems to comfort him a bit by telling him that something "nobler" will come out of all this, so stop crying all over the place.
  • And since the muses were inspirational spirits for art, scholarship, and music, we can assume that this means In Memoriam itself will be the "nobler leave" the Muse refers to.
  • See, previously the speaker has conceived of his poem as just pieces. He "break[s] into song by fits" (486) or creates "short swallow flights" of song (951).
  • Now, he starts to see how this all might be linking up into a greater whole.