Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock
Beats out the little lives of men.
O, not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale,
Nor branding summer suns avail
To touch thy thousand years of gloom:
And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.
“The seasons bring the flower again”……. I have always been moved by the changing seasons since I was a child. My grieving for Eleanor did not lessen my love for seasonal change, but simply added to their poignancy in marking the movement of time that measures our lives. That’s why Tennyson does not write “BUT in the dusk of thee, but rather AND. The seasons are also a clock.
There is an almost childish choice in Tennyson’s identification with the stubborn Yew; he will not abandon his hurt. I did not choose the more sombre character I became, but I have affirmed it. I am no longer good at parties. I can feel delight in many good things but the melody in the bass of my self is stoic. I am not the person I was when she was alive. This section of Tennyson’s poem charts this kind of change with the marvellous line, “I seem to fail from out my blood.” Yes, exactly.