Tears of the widower, when he sees
A late-lost form that sleep reveals,
And moves his doubtful arms, and feels
Her place is empty, fall like these;
Which weep a loss for ever new,
A void where heart on heart reposed;
And, where warm hands have prest and closed,
Silence, till I be silent too.
Which weep the comrade of my choice,
An awful thought, a life removed,
The human-hearted man I loved,
A Spirit, not a breathing voice.
Come, Time, and teach me, many years,
I do not suffer in a dream;
For now so strange do these things seem,
Mine eyes have leisure for their tears;
My fancies time to rise on wing,
And glance about the approaching sails,
As tho’ they brought but merchants’ bales,
And not the burthen that they bring.
In this section Tennyson moves from sad contemplation of the emptiness which has taken the place of the warm humanity of his friend, to a fantasy in which he is still alive.. The widower who reaches for the dreamed body of his dead wife is pictured to make real this emptiness, this silence which silences the bereaved person. Life has been removed and only a spirit remains which is no substitute for warm -hearted humanity.
Perhaps because my daughter’s physical existence had become such a burden to her, rendering mere survival a daily problem and all her previous pleasures impossible, I did not experience her physical absence as a frightening void, but rather as a liberation for her. Because she was no longer a physical body she would not be in pain.