With weary steps I loiter on,
Tho’ always under alter’d skies
The purple from the distance dies,
My prospect and horizon gone.
No joy the blowing season gives,
The herald melodies of spring,
But in the songs I love to sing
A doubtful gleam of solace lives.
If any care for what is here
Survive in spirits render’d free,
Then are these songs I sing of thee
Not all ungrateful to thine ear.
For Tennyson a purple sky towards the horizon was a positive prospect, although I have not found any explanation of this preference. Now he lacks such a focus for his life. Even Spring gives him no comfort, but he comforts himself that if the dead still care for earthly lives, then Hallam may still appreciate his poems.
But is he indeed singing of Hallam? In MEMORIAM was not his original choice of a title, and he makes little attempt at presenting the reader with the living Hallam. Rather he gives his feelings about his living and now dead friend. His poem was originally entitled “The way of the soul.”