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In Memoriam A.H.H.
(excerpt)

LIV

Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroyed,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivelled in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another’s gain.

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 – 1892, is one of the greatest and persistently most popular poets of the English language. Long-term Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom (his appointment to this capacity succeeded William Wordsworth’s tenure); accepting a baronetcy, took his seat in the House of Lords in 1884. “In Memoriam A.H.H.” is a long poem, composed over several years. Including the prologue and epilogue, it comprises 133 divisions called cantos (Italian for “songs”); it’s a meditation on love and loss, sorrow and hope. Its original title was “The Way of the Soul”. As to his religious beliefs, Tennyson admitted that they were not an orthodox / traditionalist Christianity, they “defied convention, leaning towards agnosticism and pandeism”.

Given a century’s perspective, Victorian poetry can be considered to be “essentially a continuation of Romantic poetry into the third and fourth generations” (Victorian Prose and Poetry, 1973; editors Lionel Trilling and Harold Bloom; this volume is part of the series “The Oxford Anthology of English Literature”).
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The phrase in memoriam is Latin for “in memory of / to the memory of / as a memorial to”

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