Keep Moving Forward…

In Memoriam by Alfred Tennyson is perhaps one of the most interesting pieces we have read in this class, and definitely a new favorite of mine (I even went as far as to purchase a copy from Kindle for cheap so I can keep it with me). Reading or writing poetry is a most cathartic experience, in my opinion, and as someone who has had 6 close people pass away within the last 2 years… I can understand why this would become such a popular piece of literature, and have been a very helpful tool for dealing with grief. 

In this second part of the narrative, we see that Tennyson is detailing how his life is progressing after this devastating loss of Arthur Hallam. As with real grief, there are moments when the sections are hopeful, perhaps even a little uplifting, and sections that encompass all of the depression that must have been bottled up inside Tennyson. This second part, however, seems to be twinged with sadness, but overall a journal of how he is learning to live again despite the fact that he still really misses his friend. “…knowing Death has made / His darkness beautiful with thee” (1391-2) shows that there has been some progress with this distraught man, while he is still resentful of the fact that Hallam is gone it almost seems that he is trying to force himself to accept this. We even see the closing to this circle of sadness at the Epliogue where Tennyson details just how happy of a situation his sister Ceclia’s wedding is, and while giving tidbits about Hallam, we see that Tennyson has grown able to enjoy the happiness around himself, “ Nor have I felt so much of bliss / Since first he told me that he loved / A daughter of our house;” (2757-9). 

Reading through this piece has helped me to get a better grasp on grief, and perhaps understand not only my own battles with grief, but what my younger brother has also been going through for the last year. The night of Thanksgiving in November of 2015, my brother lost his best friend in an automobile accident. They were as close as siblings, and lines 217-220, “My Arthur, whom I shall not see / Till all my widow’d race be run; / Dear as the mother to the son, / More than my brothers are to me.” Is something that really reflects their friendship. Everything in In Memoriam has seemed like some sentiment that my brother has expressed over the last year and a half. Less than a month ago we lost my aunt to cancer, a mere 6 days after her granddaughter had been born (my cousin’s first child). He is currently experiencing a grief that could perhaps rival that of Tennyson. Having finished this piece, I think that I may refer both of them to this beautiful depiction of the processing of grief. 

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3 responses to “Keep Moving Forward…

  1. I like that you stated that “Reading through this piece has helped me to get a better grasp on grief”, because as much as I learned from reading the poem from an analytical standpoint, I learned much more from an emotional standpoint. I haven’t lost many people in my life, but this poem gave me a glimpse into what it will feel like when I do, so I like that you pointed this out.

  2. Wow, I am so sorry to hear this, but I’m glad you were able to find some empathy in the poem. That empathy is something I very much understand, on a different level, but similar nonetheless. This poem certainly moves through all of those stages of grief, sometimes even combining them within two lines or one stanza. I think that’s one of the most important things to note about this poem, as you do. We get a bunch of fragments yet we also get prolonged moments, which all mimic grief: fragmented memories, fragmented feelings, prolonged memories, prolonged feelings, all mixed up. Luckily, resolve can happen, and that mixed up chaos will sort itself out eventually.

  3. I liked how you related the Tennyson’s grief to your own observations and experiences. I feel as though all of us can relate to this in some way. The uncertainty of death seems to be something that Tennyson is trying to grapple with intellectually and emotionally. Yet, on another note, it’s interesting that you’d mention his bliss when he heard of his other sister being loved. (2757) Perhaps, the loss of Arthur makes him capable of appreciating things like this more. His moments of joy do come throughout the piece, although they are very few and short-lived. So maybe not that important but worth noting.

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