As sometimes in a dead man’s face,
To those that watch it more and more,
A likeness, hardly seen before,
Comes out—to some one of his race:
So, dearest, now thy brows are cold,
I see thee what thou art, and know
Thy likeness to the wise below,
Thy kindred with the great of old.
But there is more than I can see,
And what I see I leave unsaid,
Nor speak it, knowing Death has made
His darkness beautiful with thee.
I leave thy praises unexpress’d
In verse that brings myself relief,
And by the measure of my grief
I leave thy greatness to be guess’d;
What practice howsoe’er expert
In fitting aptest words to things,
Or voice the richest-toned that sings,
Hath power to give thee as thou wert?
I care not in these fading days
To raise a cry that lasts not long,
And round thee with the breeze of song
To stir a little dust of praise.
Thy leaf has perish’d in the green,
And, while we breathe beneath the sun,
The world which credits what is done
Is cold to all that might have been.
So here shall silence guard thy fame;
But somewhere, out of human view,
Whate’er thy hands are set to do
Is wrought with tumult of acclaim.
Here, again, the verse tightens and is more passionate, The simile of the physical likeness of a dead person to their family members, is an elegant means of hinting at Hallam’s likeness to great people past and present.
I’m not sure why Tennyson writes ‘unsaid, nor speak it’ (one verb seems redundant) , although it leads to the splendid hyperbole of ‘death has made his darkness beautiful with thee.” He makes an apology for saying so little about Hallam and so much about himself in his in his poem. Readers should measure Hallam’s greatness by Tennyson’s grief. Silence is a better preserver of Hallam’s character than conventional praise, but praise will be given elsewhere for what Hallam is doing now.
I like to think that my daughter may be able to do now what her illness prevented her from doing while alive.