Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 78

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 78

Lines 1445-1464

Again at Christmas did we weave
   The holly round the Christmas hearth;
   The silent snow possess'd the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:

The yule-clog sparkled keen with frost,
   No wing of wind the region swept,
   But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.

As in the winters left behind,
   Again our ancient games had place,
   The mimic picture's breathing grace,
And dance and song and hoodman-blind.

Who show'd a token of distress?
   No single tear, no mark of pain:
   O sorrow, then can sorrow wane?
O grief, can grief be changed to less?

O last regret, regret can die!
   No—mixt with all this mystic frame,
   Her deep relations are the same,
But with long use her tears are dry.

  • It's Christmas time again, so break out the tree, eggnog, and presents. This seems to be the second Christmas since Arthur's death. Again, though, time doesn't work very neatly in this poem.
  • Things appear to be going as usual. Tennyson's family and friends are celebrating with games and song, and aren't loud in their grief like they were during the previous Christmas. In fact, no one is really crying—um, yay?
  • The speaker wants us to understand, though, that while he's not literally crying his eyes out anymore, he's no less sad.
  • Ah, ok then—sniff.