2 Background to the PoemThis poem, published in 1850, was written in memory of Tennyson’s friend, Arthur Henry Hallam who was engaged to marry his sister but died of a strokeIn Memoriam has 133 sections – this extract is section 7The poem was written over 17 years, and is comprised of many short poems which he wove togetherIt does not only concern Alfred, but also reflects on Tennyson’s philosophical ideas on religion, life, death, science and immortalityIn this Section, Tennyson is paying a visit to the house in which Arthur used to live
3 Dark house, by which once more I stand Dark house = metaphor for death (the dark house of the tomb), the two words are stressed, creating a spondee but are also stressed by the use of the commaNow Arthur has died, he has taken all the beauty with him – Tennyson sees everything as dark and dull due to his griefAlliteration of long “l” sounds illustrates his extended grief and loneliness“Doors” is emphasised by the two commas, and may symbolise a border between life and deathDark house, by which once more I standHere in the long unlovely street,Doors, where my heart was used to beatSo quickly, waiting for a handHarsh sounding rhyme “street” and “beat” reflects his painCommas slow the rhythm down, mirroring how his heart has also slowed – it doesn’t beat quickly anymoreThe unclasped hand is a sign that his friend is gone forever
4 A hand that can be clasp’d no more- Behold me, for I cannot sleep, The reference to the unclasped hand spreads over two stanzas, displaying the distance between the two friends, or the distinction between life and deathA hand that can be clasp’d no more-Behold me, for I cannot sleep,And like a guilty thing I creepAt earliest morning to the door.The poet is feeling guilty so unable to sleep, but why?Morning = pun on mourning?
5 He is not here; but far away The noise of life begins again, The semi colon conveys the poet’s complicated, confused feelingsThis line is ambiguous, it has a different meaning if you pause it the end of the first line to if you carry on throughIn each stanza, half the lines are indented and half are not, perhaps representing Tennyson’s distance from his friendHe is not here; but far awayThe noise of life begins again,And ghastly thro’ the drizzling rainOn bald street breaks the blank day.The rhythm of the last line contrasts with the rest of the poem, which could suggest he is coming to terms with the loss. The plosives sound harsh, mirroring the idea of him waking up and getting on with his life, although this may be painfulThe “blank day” could reflect his emptiness, but could also signify a blank slate or new beginning
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