Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 97

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 97

Lines 2009-2044

My love has talk'd with rocks and trees;
   He finds on misty mountain-ground
   His own vast shadow glory-crown'd;
He sees himself in all he sees.

Two partners of a married life—
   I look'd on these and thought of thee
   In vastness and in mystery,
And of my spirit as of a wife.

These two—they dwelt with eye on eye,
   Their hearts of old have beat in tune,
   Their meetings made December June
Their every parting was to die.

Their love has never past away;
   The days she never can forget
   Are earnest that he loves her yet,
Whate'er the faithless people say.

Her life is lone, he sits apart,
   He loves her yet, she will not weep,
   Tho' rapt in matters dark and deep
He seems to slight her simple heart.

He thrids the labyrinth of the mind,
   He reads the secret of the star,
   He seems so near and yet so far,
He looks so cold: she thinks him kind.

She keeps the gift of years before,
   A wither'd violet is her bliss:
   She knows not what his greatness is,
For that, for all, she loves him more.

For him she plays, to him she sings
   Of early faith and plighted vows;
   She knows but matters of the house,
And he, he knows a thousand things.

Her faith is fixt and cannot move,
   She darkly feels him great and wise,
   She dwells on him with faithful eyes,
"I cannot understand: I love."

  • The love Tennyson has for Arthur is reflected in everything he sees around him in the world.
  • And we mean everything: rocks, trees, misty mountains—the works.
  • And we're getting another extended metaphor, so get ready.
  • Tennyson images a married couple who felt like dying whenever they had to be separated.
  • The husband is a totally smart guy—kind of an egghead professor type. He's always thinking about "matters dark and deep," while the wife is much more simple (and probably shouldn't worry her pretty little head about intellectual matters, arewerite?).
  • This couple is separated by intellectual capacity, but united in love. It doesn't matter to her that she doesn't understand—she has love, which is enough.
  • Remember all of those class-related metaphors from earlier cantos? Tennyson put Arthur in the place of someone from a much higher class to show how he is in a higher spiritual realm than Tenny at this point.
  • Well, this canto is explaining how these divisions don't matter at all. Their love for each other makes them transcend these divisions. Even though the woman here doesn't understand her lover's intellectual words, she loves him and that's all that matters. How…sweet?