Saturday, April 6, 2013

Analysis of "In Memoriam (VII)" by Alfred Tennyson

Original poem reprinted online here:  "In Memoriam (VII)" by Alfred Tennyson
Originally read: January 14, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Alfred Tennyson

This is another hesitation by me.  I like the poem (why would I choose to do this if I didn't).  However, looking around the internet, a simple search shows more detailed analysis of the poem from people like me (mostly readers) to scholars who write the context, the history, and the meaning behind every rhyme scheme and word.  I can also see why this would be a turn off for people trying to get into poetry (for such a short piece why is there so much context?).  So, I'm going forward the best I can.

Do I know the context behind this poem?  Somewhat.  You'd probably find more information here, or here.  This is part 7 of a 17 year elegy.  There's so many nuances and allusion in the poem that I possibly cannot get.  I think for a reader of poetry (with any amount of background or knowledge), he/she has to accept that there's going to be missed meanings, and lost context; however, it's no excuse to not try to look up the backdrop of a poem to further contextualize meaning and image.

I spent too much time with theory, now onto practice.  The poem is in rhymed quatrains with the second and third line rhyming and the first and fourth line rhyming as well.  The second and third line are indented so there's a visual of a couplet and a separation.

There's interesting adjective noun combinations like "unlovely street" which previous me wrote, "I like it" good analysis there past me.  Current me thinks that "streets" a symbol for a passageway is butted up with a cutting adjective "unlovely" which brings an emotional pull to the streets -- something visually and emotionally unpleasing.

The flow of the poem follows a simplest act -- a simple handshake that the speaker cannot let go of.  In the second stanza the line, "Behold me, for I cannot sleep" brings a sense of the now when the first stanza was more of past action.  The speaker cannot sleep because he's like a "guilty thing" (not actually one).  By being like a guilty thing, the speaker defines himself as not (well not really) and through circular logic, the speaker is in a sense feeling guilty for not feeling guilty.

Or rather, the feeling of guilt is starting to wane as time passes.

The last stanza turns in the screw about the elegy about "him," but the poem shifts to a "her" speaker.  Past me questions who the she is, and this is the part where I write the beginning all over again -- there's a context which I don't understand.  I don't know who she represents...


It was added in on my part..the "she"  I was wondering why it was there why the second and third line didn't rhyme -- it should be "again" and "rain."  Well then...this is embarrassing.

Then the last part makes sense.  The speaker goes through the streets, sleepless, feeling empty ("bald" and "blank" emphasize this), and wondering what to do.

So the question for me is how did "she" get there....Freudian slip on my part I guess.

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