Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
And only thro’ the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground:

Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold:

Calm and still light on yon great plain
That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main:

Calm and deep peace in this wide air,
These leaves that redden to the fall;
And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair:

Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
And waves that sway themselves in rest,
And dead calm in that noble breast
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.

At times the death of a loved person can bring a calm that imitates their condition: their fret and trouble are past. Here Tennyson allows that calm to discipline the whole world. It is so quiet he can hear the fall of a chestnut. As often with his best descriptions of the natural world, his language here is rich: “and on these dews that drench the furze” The words are simple but ordered for precision and amplitude. As he looks further over the great plain, the spread out farms seem to cluster together and the towers to decrease in height. This cinematic effect is one of Tennyson’s best tricks.

Of course, nature is dying into winter, and its calm includes the vivid colour of autumn, hinting at the richness of departing life. Finally Tennyson brings us to the imagined source of all this spreading calmness, the body of his friend, which is naturally, “dead calm.”

In this interlude death itself speaks to the troubled heart, counselling peace. It also slows down the episode of the ship, delaying its arrival in England, giving time in the poem for meditation and adjustment of emotion.








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