Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 70

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 70

Lines 1305-1320

I cannot see the features right,
   When on the gloom I strive to paint
   The face I know; the hues are faint
And mix with hollow masks of night;

Cloud-towers by ghostly masons wrought,
   A gulf that ever shuts and gapes,
   A hand that points, and palled shapes
In shadowy thoroughfares of thought;

And crowds that stream from yawning doors,
   And shoals of pucker'd faces drive;
   Dark bulks that tumble half alive,
And lazy lengths on boundless shores;

Till all at once beyond the will
   I hear a wizard music roll,
   And thro' a lattice on the soul
Looks thy fair face and makes it still.

  • What could be worse than not being able to remember what someone really important to you looked like? Probably not much.
  • This is what's happening to Tennyson right now. He's having a hard time remembering what Arthur looked like. This is a common thing that happens when someone close to you dies—or even if you just haven't seen someone in a long time. You have a difficult time remembering his or her face.
  • It's only at night (in dreams?) that Tennyson is able to really remember his friend's features clearly.