A PILGRIMAGE THROUGH’IN MEMORIAM’ 73

Risest thou thus, dim dawn, again,
And howlest, issuing out of night,
With blasts that blow the poplar white,
And lash with storm the streaming pane?


Day, when my crown’d estate begun
To pine in that reverse of doom,
Which sicken’d every living bloom,
And blurr’d the splendour of the sun;


Who usherest in the dolorous hour
With thy quick tears that make the rose
Pull sideways, and the daisy close
Her crimson fringes to the shower;


Who might’st have heaved a windless flame
Up the deep East, or, whispering, play’d
A chequer-work of beam and shade
Along the hills, yet look’d the same,


As wan, as chill, as wild as now;
Day, mark’d as with some hideous crime,
When the dark hand struck down thro’ time,
And cancell’d nature’s best: but thou,


Lift as thou may’st thy burthen’d brows
Thro’ clouds that drench the morning star,
And whirl the ungarner’d sheaf afar,
And sow the sky with flying boughs,


And up thy vault with roaring sound
Climb thy thick noon, disastrous day;
Touch thy dull goal of joyless gray,
And hide thy shame beneath the ground.

Tennyson invites the reader to imagine the anniversary of Hallam’s death as a wild day, windy and wet, as if the day itself were determined to prove the truth of the pathetic fallacy. The language is forceful rather than vivid: the dolorous hour and the tears insist on anguish rather than representing it.

Of course the day might have been calm and pleasant, but it was in fact wan, cold and wild. I’m not sure if Tennyson means us to think of two days, the day of his death and its anniversary, both of them being wild. In any case he denies that the pathos is a fallacy, as Auden does in his elegy on Yeats “all of our instruments agree/ the day of his death was a dark, cold day”

Tennyson commands the day to continue with rain, wild winds, and dark clouds, through its noon, to its disappearance. “Hiding thy shame beneath the ground” applies to the death of the day and to Hallam’s grave.

I have survived two anniversaries of our daughter’s death, recognising that these days are no fuller of her death than any other days but somehow forced by convention into fresh mourning. The inner weather of such days is for me bleak rather than stormy.

 

 

 

 

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