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.’
Yes, we can move on from grief but still reject the wisdom that tells us it was a stepping stone to higher things. Tennyson holds here to the bitter, precious fact of grief, refusing to let it become a factor in self-development. If tears are an investment how on earth can we collect the interest on them?
No, he says, let love clasp grief. That seems right to me. I have moved on from loss but still carry my grief, and when I turn towards it, or it to me, it retains its fresh bitterness, its woe. Passing time does not conquer “the long result of love” nor does it of itself comfort grief.
The brutality of capitalist society that tells mourners to get back to work after a generous two weeks’ leave, schools us to disregard our feelings in order to remain productive, so that to wear some indication of mourning in the work place would be viewed as evidence of trauma requiring counselling.
I went back to my work as a minister of the church after two weeks but I did not pretend to be the same person as before, and met a quiet understanding in the response of the congregation. Although God seemed distant they were near.
This section states Tennyson’s theme that his feelings are precious as they are, not to be rejected, amended, regretted or binned, but cherished as truths.