Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasp’d no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro’ the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
Of course we cannot be sure that the “I” of the poem is Tennyson the historical person, nor that the events of the poem were events in Tennyson’s life. His picture of the bereaved man, unable to sleep, turning up at his dead friend’s door, is modestly imagined, and the shock of the world without his friend is brilliantly evoked in the line, “On the bald street breaks the blank day.”
He makes use of the pathetic fallacy here: the pale light of dawn and the depressing drizzle are images of his mood. The alliteration of the initial letter b, binds bald, breaks and blank into a composite bleakness without any over- obtrusive emotion. The mourner comes up against fact that cannot be wished away: his friend is and will be absent.
After my daughter’s death, I found it strangely bracing to go past her house. Its familiarity as the building in which she had lived, and its new reality as the place in which she would never live again, were both helpful to me. Its factuality replaced at least for a moment the complex mix of grieving in my mind.