When rosy plumelets tuft the larch,
And rarely pipes the mounted thrush;
Or underneath the barren bush
Flits by the sea-blue bird of March;

Come, wear the form by which I know
Thy spirit in time among thy peers;
The hope of unaccomplish’d years
Be large and lucid round thy brow.

When summer’s hourly-mellowing change
May breathe, with many roses sweet,
Upon the thousand waves of wheat,
That ripple round the lonely grange;

Come: not in watches of the night,
But where the sunbeam broodeth warm,
Come, beauteous in thine after form,
And like a finer light in light.

I didn’t remember the springtime larch and had to look it up. Tennyson is referring to the female reproductive cones that emerge on the tips of twigs. They are sometimes called ‘larch roses.’

In the spring Hallam is to appear as he was, recognisable by the hope of unaccomplished years. In summer he should appear as he now is, a light in light, unlike Christ who is “light from light.” Tennyson’s imagination of Hallam links him to the seasons, which also arouse his love.

A photograph of my daughter, near me at my desk, shows her in summer, on a hilltop, overlooking an extensive landscape. In my mind she has always been linked with nature, so that now it is both a cause of grief and a consolation.



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