Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 82

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 82

Lines 1513-1528

I wage not any feud with Death
   For changes wrought on form and face;
   No lower life that earth's embrace
May breed with him, can fright my faith.

Eternal process moving on,
   From state to state the spirit walks;
   And these are but the shatter'd stalks,
Or ruin'd chrysalis of one.

Nor blame I Death, because he bare
   The use of virtue out of earth:
   I know transplanted human worth
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere.

For this alone on Death I wreak
   The wrath that garners in my heart;
   He put our lives so far apart
We cannot hear each other speak.

  • Tennyson doesn't have a beef with Death for the changes that dying causes in a body's "form and face." Sure, it's kind of gross, but the speaker isn't shaken in his faith because of this gory process.
  • It's an "eternal process" that just happens. One thing changes into another. Something new comes from the chrysalis of something else. It's like when a caterpillar changes to a beautiful butterfly.
  • He's not even mad at Death because Arthur could have accomplished greater things on earth; he trusts instead that he'll accomplish these things "otherwhere," which is a nice, mystical-sounding name for the afterlife.
  • The only thing he's really peeved with Death about is that now he and Arthur are so far apart that they cannot communicate at all.
  • Notice all the imagery here that relates to things changing: "changes," "eternal process," "chrysalis," and "transplant[ing]." Change seems to be comforting to Tennyson because it suggests that something continues instead of just stopping.