So many worlds, so much to do, So little done, such things to be, How know I what had need of thee, For thou wert strong as thou wert true?
The fame is quench'd that I foresaw, The head hath miss'd an earthly wreath: I curse not nature, no, nor death; For nothing is that errs from law.
We pass; the path that each man trod Is dim, or will be dim, with weeds: What fame is left for human deeds In endless age? It rests with God.
O hollow wraith of dying fame, Fade wholly, while the soul exults, And self-infolds the large results Of force that would have forged a name.
There's so many worlds and so much to do, the speaker remarks.
He acknowledges that he has no idea if Arthur had a higher purpose, if something or someone else out there needed him for something.
The fame or great reputation that Tennyson thought he saw for Arthur has been extinguished.
Plus, Arthur isn't getting an "earthly wreath." We think this means he's not going to be figurativelycrowned with laurel, a gesture of honor or victory in ancient Greece. (In fact, it will be Tennyson who will wear a figurative laurel crown when he's made Poet Laureate of England.)
He can't be angry with nature, or even with death itself, for taking Arthur away because these two forces have to follow a law—presumably one that is set down by God.
Only God knows that for sure what will be left over of human deeds in the afterlife: "It rests with God."