Study Guide

In Memoriam A.H.H. Canto 98

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Canto 98

Lines 2045-2076

You leave us: you will see the Rhine,
   And those fair hills I sail'd below,
   When I was there with him; and go
By summer belts of wheat and vine

To where he breathed his latest breath,
   That City. All her splendour seems
   No livelier than the wisp that gleams
On Lethe in the eyes of Death.

Let her great Danube rolling fair
   Enwind her isles, unmark'd of me:
   I have not seen, I will not see
Vienna; rather dream that there,

A treble darkness, Evil haunts
   The birth, the bridal; friend from friend
   Is oftener parted, fathers bend
Above more graves, a thousand wants

Gnarr at the heels of men, and prey
   By each cold hearth, and sadness flings
   Her shadow on the blaze of kings:
And yet myself have heard him say,

That not in any mother town
   With statelier progress to and fro
   The double tides of chariots flow
By park and suburb under brown

Of lustier leaves; nor more content,
   He told me, lives in any crowd,
   When all is gay with lamps, and loud
With sport and song, in booth and tent,

Imperial halls, or open plain;
   And wheels the circled dance, and breaks
   The rocket molten into flakes
Of crimson or in emerald rain.

  • Who is the "you" here? Good question—it's someone off to take a trip to Europe, apparently.
  • "That City"—that sounds ominous, no? This is where Arthur died, so Tennyson is not wanting to visit Vienna anytime soon, if ever. Darkness haunts that city, even though his friend previously told him about what a great place it was.
  • What's "Gnarr," you ask? It's an old-timey word that means "to snarl or growl." This is an onomatopoeia, meaning it's a word that resembles its meaning. This helps to emphasize the ominous elements of "That City" in Tennyson's mind.
  • So, the darkness that comes out of The City makes a growling sound at the heels of men, as if it's chasing them. This personification turns the volume way, way up on Tennyson's feelings for Vienna. He pretty much hates it, because that's where Arthur was last alive—and where he met his death.