In Memoriam A.H.H.
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In Memoriam A.H.H. is a long poem by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, completed in 1849. It is a requiem for the poet's Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in Vienna in 1833, but it is also much more. Written over a period of 17 years, it can be seen as reflective of Victorian society at the time, and the poem discusses many of the issues that were beginning to be questioned. It is the work in which Tennyson reaches his highest musical peaks and his poetic experience comes full circle. It is regarded as one of the greatest poems of the 19th century.
The most frequently quoted lines in the poem are perhaps
- I hold it true, whate'er befall;
- I feel it when I sorrow most;
- 'Tis better to have loved and lost
- Than never to have loved at all.
This stanza is to be found in Canto 27. The last two lines are usually taken as offering a meditation on the dissolution of a romantic relationship. However the lines actually refer to the death of the poet's beloved friend. Another much-quoted phrase from the poem is "nature, red in tooth and claw," found in Canto 56, referring to humanity:
- Who trusted God was love indeed
- And love Creation's final law
- Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
- With ravine, shriek'd against his creed
Also, the following are found in Canto 54
- So runs my dream, but what am I?
- An infant crying in the night
- An infant crying for the light
- And with no language but a cry.