I know that this was Life,—the track
Whereon with equal feet we fared;
And then, as now, the day prepared
The daily burden for the back.

But this it was that made me move
As light as carrier-birds in air;
I loved the weight I had to bear,
Because it needed help of Love:

Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
When mighty Love would cleave in twain
The lading of a single pain,
And part it, giving half to him.

Tennyson admits that each day brought its load for the back, but affirms his delight in the need that led him to share it with his friend, and the generosity with which his friend accepted it. The word “lading” is interesting, having mainly a commercial use in Tennyson’s time – “bills of lading” for example, often with reference to shipments. Here it balances the poetic exaggeration of “mighty love would cleave in twain”, anchoring it in the ordinary.

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