Saturday, October 4, 2008

Let Love Clasp Grief

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote a long poem, or perhaps a series of poems, to mourn the loss of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam. Although Hallam died less than four years after they had met, both the length of In Memoriam and the depth of loss expressed in it show how close their friendship had grown in that short time. And Tennyson did not mourn for himself alone, for Hallam had been engaged to Emilia, Tennyson's sister, a union for which Tennyson longed.

Most poeple are familiar with the prologue to In Memoriam. It includes the famous stanza:

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

It seems quite a shame that the prologue is as far as people generally get in this lovely poem of love, loss and faith. Here I will post the first poem (after the prologue) and the last poem (before the epilogue). I will put a line of asterixes in between to stand for the 129 portions that we are skipping over.

from In Memoriam
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.

But who shall so forecast the years
And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand thro' time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?

Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown'd,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with death, to beat the ground,

Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast,
'Behold the man that loved and lost,
But all he was is overworn.'

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

O living will that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow thro' our deeds and make them pure,

That we may lift from out of dust
A voice as unto him that hears,
A cry above the conquer'd years
To one that with us works, and trust,

With faith that comes of sef-control,
The truths that never can be proved
Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.


J. Andrew Lockhart said...

Thank you for stopping by. It is so nice to come here. I see that we both have 4 children. I have 2 boys, though. Two girls are enough for me! :)
Theologian - I wish we could go to the coffee shop and talk for hours.
Please come back.

Doug P. Baker said...

Do you go by Andrew?

Next time I'm in Arkansas I'll take you up on that cup of coffee and the chat! Of course I love to discuss theology, but I'd also love to talk haiku with someone who uses it as naturally as you do.

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

any time - yes, it's Andrew :)