Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 8

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 8

Lines 177-200

A happy lover who has come
To look on her that loves him well,
Who 'lights and rings the gateway bell,
And learns her gone and far from home; 

He saddens, all the magic light
Dies off at once from bower and hall,
And all the place is dark, and all
The chambers emptied of delight: 

So find I every pleasant spot
   In which we two were wont to meet,
   The field, the chamber, and the street,
For all is dark where thou art not. 

Yet as that other, wandering there
   In those deserted walks, may find
   A flower beat with rain and wind,
Which once she foster'd up with care; 

So seems it in my deep regret,
   O my forsaken heart, with thee
   And this poor flower of poesy
Which little cared for fades not yet.

But since it pleased a vanish'd eye,
   I go to plant it on his tomb,
   That if it can it there may bloom,
Or, dying, there at least may die. 

  • Now Tennyson drops an extended metaphor on us.
  • When a man comes to visit a woman he loves and discovers that she is not there, he grows sad and all the light is sucked out of the place, since his hopes are dashed. Yep, that's exactly how Tennyson feels now that his friend is gone.
  • All of the places they once used to meet are now dark because he is not there.
  • This canto is heavy with the darkness vs. light imagery that we've been noticing.
  • He returns to his previous metaphor of the man and woman in love (is this a strange metaphor for two male friends?).
  • Tennyson's poem is like a flower that the beloved woman once nurtured, but that has now been beaten down with wind and rain.
  • Just as a grieving man might put a flower on the tomb of his beloved, Tennyson is going to "plant" his poem on his friend's tomb. If it doesn't bloom (like the metaphorical flower), it will at least be close to him.
  • And we're thinking the act of placing the poem on his friend's tomb is just another metaphor. He's probably not really going to take his manuscript and place it physically on the guy's grave.