In Memoriam, [To Sleep I give my powers away]
Lord Alfred Tennyson
To Sleep I give my powers away;
My will is bondsman to the dark;
I sit within a helmless bark,
And with my heart I muse and say:
O heart, how fares it with thee now,
That thou should fail from thy desire,
Who scarcely darest to inquire,
“What is it makes me beat so low?”
Something it is which thou hast lost,
Some pleasure from thine early years.
Break thou deep vase of chilling tears,
That grief hath shaken into frost!
Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
All night below the darkened eyes;
With morning wakes the will, and cries,
“Thou shalt not be the fool of loss.”
“In Memoriam” consists of 131 smallerpoems of varying length, of which the above poem is an excerpt. Tennyson wrote “In Memoriam” after he learned that his beloved friend Arthur Henry Hallam had died suddenly and unexpectedly of a fever at the age of 22. Hallam was not only the poet’s closest friend and confidante, but also the fiancé of his sister. After learning of Hallam’s death, Tennyson was overwhelmed with doubts about the meaning of life and the significance of man’s existence. He composed the short poems that comprise “In Memoriam” over the course of seventeen years (1833-1849) with no intention of weaving them together, though he ultimately published them as a single lengthy poem in 1850.
A year ago today, my beloved Grandmama passed away. I wanted to post a poem that would be in memory of her. The above poem is not perfect for this purpose, but it works to an extent. I mourn Grandmama’s life each day. Last night I read the post I did last year right after she died. I sat and cried. I couldn’t help myself. Then I read the loving comments of my readers, and my spirits were lifted a little. Though she is now gone, she will forever live in my heart.
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