Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 68

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 68

Lines 1269-1284

When in the down I sink my head,
   Sleep, Death's twin-brother, times my breath;
   Sleep, Death's twin-brother, knows not Death,
Nor can I dream of thee as dead:

I walk as ere I walk'd forlorn,
   When all our path was fresh with dew,
   And all the bugle breezes blew
Reveill´e to the breaking morn.

But what is this? I turn about,
   I find a trouble in thine eye,
   Which makes me sad I know not why,
Nor can my dream resolve the doubt:

But ere the lark hath left the lea
   I wake, and I discern the truth;
   It is the trouble of my youth
That foolish sleep transfers to thee.

  • When Tennyson sleeps, he can forget. Notice how he equates sleep and death here. They are "twin-brother[s]," so when Tennyson sleeps it's kind of like death. He doesn't know Arthur is gone. During these times, what he doesn't know literally won't hurt him.
  • He dreams of walking with Arthur way back when, when they were first starting their friendship. Tennyson emphasizes this with images relating to beginnings: "fresh with dew," "Reveill'e" (which is the bugle song played to wake people up in the morning), and the dawning of a new morning.
  • In this dream, he notices that Arthur is sad, and this in turn makes him sad.
  • When he wakes, though, he realizes that it was just his own sadness that he was transferring onto the dream-Arthur.