Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, not as one that weeps
I come once more; the city sleeps;
I smell the meadow in the street;

I hear a chirp of birds; I see
Betwixt the black fronts long-withdrawn
A light-blue lane of early dawn,
And think of early days and thee,

And bless thee, for thy lips are bland,
And bright the friendship of thine eye;
And in my thoughts with scarce a sigh
I take the pressure of thine hand.

Cunningly, Tennyson inserts here another visit to Hallam’s house, not, he emphasises, in the spirit of mourning, but out of a desire for the support of his friend in what he is saying. Beyond the black of the stone/ brick he sees the blue line of dawn. Beyond the sorrow of the world as it is, he detects the dawning of something happier. Hallam’s lips are “bland” in its Latin sense of approving, flattering. He offers his hand in friendly encouragement.

When I drive through Arbroath, the town in which my daughter lived before her death, I sometimes imagine her encouraging me in whatever problems I face. At the same time however, I know she knows how misplaced any encouragement may be.

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