Now, sometimes in my sorrow shut,
Or breaking into song by fits,
Alone, alone, to where he sits,
The Shadow cloak’d from head to foot,
Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
I wander, often falling lame,
And looking back to whence I came,
Or on to where the pathway leads;
And crying, How changed from where it ran
Thro’ lands where not a leaf was dumb;
But all the lavish hills would hum
The murmur of a happy Pan:
When each by turns was guide to each,
And Fancy light from Fancy caught,
And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech;
And all we met was fair and good,
And all was good that Time could bring,
And all the secret of the Spring
Moved in the chambers of the blood;
And many an old philosophy
On Argive heights divinely sang,
And round us all the thicket rang
To many a flute of Arcady.
There are little touches of genius here that make the narrative convincing: the Shadow is said to hold the keys of all the creeds; the lavish hills seem generous indeed; the intermingled thought and speech of friends is well -caught; and above all the phrase, “and all the secret of the spring/ moved in the chambers of the blood” is as good as anything in Tennyson.
You can almost forgive the author the inept final stanza, with its “many a” striving after something which is not precisely enough invented.
I also have wanted to write about the good times shared with my late daughter, and have discovered how easy it is to hover on the edge of cliché, to allow the satisfying sense of loss to substitute for the detail of experience. In this canto Tennyson gives some memorable detail.