Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 61

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 61

Lines 1161-1172

If, in thy second state sublime,
   Thy ransom'd reason change replies
   With all the circle of the wise,
The perfect flower of human time;

And if thou cast thine eyes below,
   How dimly character'd and slight,
   How dwarf'd a growth of cold and night,
How blanch'd with darkness must I grow!

Yet turn thee to the doubtful shore,
   Where thy first form was made a man;
   I loved thee, Spirit, and love, nor can
The soul of Shakespeare love thee more.

  • Tennyson imagines Arthur watching him from Heaven in his perfected state ("state sublime").
  • He imagines his close friend hob-nobbing with all the fancy intellectual elites who are with him up there. That's the whole "circle of the wise" that Tennyson regards as being the highest perfection of humanity.
  • If Arthur looks down on him, he'll seem pretty low compared to those other guys.
  • The images he uses here really drive this point home. He's "dimly character'd," "slight" (which means small and insubstantial), and like a dwarf.
  • But Tennyson's got something going for him that all these other wise souls—including Shakespeare—don't: his love for Arthur. That will never be equaled.