A PILGRIMAGE THROUGH ‘IN MEMORIAM’ 13 (To be read after blog 12)

Lo, as a dove when up she springs
To bear thro’ Heaven a tale of woe,
Some dolorous message knit below
The wild pulsation of her wings;

Like her I go; I cannot stay;
I leave this mortal ark behind,
A weight of nerves without a mind,
And leave the cliffs, and haste away

O’er ocean-mirrors rounded large,
And reach the glow of southern skies,
And see the sails at distance rise,
And linger weeping on the marge,

And saying; `Comes he thus, my friend?
Is this the end of all my care?’
And circle moaning in the air:
‘Is this the end? Is this the end?’

And forward dart again, and play
About the prow, and back return
To where the body sits, and learn
That I have been an hour away.

The notion of spirit-journeys is common enough in literature, and may be linked to the practice of the shaman who has special ability to make such. This journey however, although strongly worded, comes over as banal, leading to no discovery or revelation, but merely focused on the fretful grief of the protagonist. Tennyson may want to communicate that fretfulness, but picturing himself as an hysterical carrier pigeon is probably not the best way to do it.







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