Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 88

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 88

Lines 1769-1780

Wild bird, whose warble, liquid sweet,
   Rings Eden thro' the budded quicks,
   O tell me where the senses mix,
O tell me where the passions meet,

Whence radiate: fierce extremes employ
   Thy spirits in the darkening leaf,
   And in the midmost heart of grief
Thy passion clasps a secret joy:

And I—my harp would prelude woe—
   I cannot all command the strings;
   The glory of the sum of things
Will flash along the chords and go.

  • Now he's talking to a bird, like a sad Victorian Dr. Doolittle.
  • He pleads with the bird to teach him how to sing about his feelings, because he's having a hard time sorting out the extremes of sadness and joy he's feeling.
  • Tennyson can't make his figurative instrument play these chords correctly to capture his complex feelings.