Sleep, kinsman thou to death and trance
And madness, thou hast forged at last
A night-long Present of the Past
In which we went thro’ summer France.
Hadst thou such credit with the soul?
Then bring an opiate trebly strong,
Drug down the blindfold sense of wrong
That so my pleasure may be whole;
While now we talk as once we talk’d
Of men and minds, the dust of change,
The days that grow to something strange,
In walking as of old we walk’d
Beside the river’s wooded reach,
The fortress, and the mountain ridge,
The cataract flashing from the bridge,
The breaker breaking on the beach.
Tennyson represents his pleasure in clear memories which are more comforting than any speculation about the dead. The phrase ‘blindfold sense of wrong’ is interesting as it depicts his anger against fate or God as preventing him seeing the kind of truth that matters. The words that describe his walk with Hallam are deliberately mundane, the ‘as you do’ of walking tours; the breaker doing no more than breaking on the beach.
This walking tour in France took place in the summer of 1830 but it remained vivid for him over many years. A poem written in 1861 “The valley of Cauteretz” refers to it. I am a walker and climber; my daughter was my climbing buddy. My memories of being on mountains together are so clear that they make my expeditions now very painful.