In Memoriam Prologue

In Memoriam Prologue

By Lord Alfred Tennyson

 Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

Summary of In Memoriam Prologue

  • Popularity of “In Memoriam”: “In Memoriam” by Lord Alfred Tennyson, a popular Victorian love poet, is an iconic requiem written in the memory of Arthur Henry Hallam. The poem first appeared in 1850, though, it is surmised that it was composed between the period from 1833 to 1850. Henry Hallam was just 22 when he left this mundane abode for his eternal abode.
  • In Memoriam” As a Representative of Memory, Sorrow and Bereavement: The poem opens the poem with a prologue as the poet praises God and Christ saying “Strong Son of God, immortal love.” The poet’s strong faith in God and faith in his faith or religion makes him praise his Lord heavily attributing all good things on the earth to him. Tennyson showers praise on his divine power and his strong faith that Lord would not leave human beings here alone to die due to His sense of justice and love. The poet, then, expresses the limits and inabilities of human beings, adding that although nobody is able to cross these boundaries, he asks God to have our faith with us so that we could grow and sing in the praise of God in unison. He also feels that we human beings are humble “We are fools and slight” and that God must forgive us for our follies and stupidities. Despite these truths, he asks God to forgive him for his sorrow as he cannot tolerate it with silence and asks God to bless him with wisdom.
  • Major Themes in “In Memoriam”: Faith in Christianity, faith in God and divine blessings are three major poetic themes. The poet expresses his faith in God and his religion in the very first lines where he thinks that although they have not seen God, yet they believe in him due to their faith. He also recalls and pays tribute to Christ for being a source of immortal love and thanks God for showering human beings with infinite blessings – divine blessings. He, after becoming quite humble, asks forgiveness from God for being lugubrious despite knowing all this and seeks wisdom instead of anything else.

 Analysis of Literary Devices Used In “In Memoriam Prologue”

literary devices mould simple poetic pieces into excellent poems. Their appropriate usage makes language grand and enchanting. Cruz has also used some literary devices in this poem whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Anaphora: It means the repetition of the first part of the sentence in the next clauses or verses such as “Thou madest…” in the second stanza and “Our wills…” in the fourth stanza.
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “Strong Son of God, immortal Love” the sound of /e/ in “Thine are these orbs of light and shade” and the sound of /o/ in “Let knowledge grow from more to more.”
  3. Alliteration: The poem shows the use of alliteration in the shape of initial consonant sounds of the neighboring words such as the sound of /m/ in “May make” and again the sound of /m/ in “make me” or the sound of /s/ in “Strong son.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ and /th/ in “Thine are these orbs of light and shade”, the sound of /th/ and /r/ in “They are but broken lights of thee” and the sound of /m/ and /w/ in “Let knowledge grow from more to more.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Tennyson has used imagery in this poem such as “I found him worthier to be loved”, “Thine are these orbs of light and shade” and “Is on the skull which thou has made.”
  2. Metaphor: The poem shows the use of metaphors such as Love, light, shade, Death and manhood by comparing them with different things.
  3. Personification: The poem shows the use of personifications of orbs, wills, systems and beam as if they have life and emotions of their own.
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of religious symbols such as faith, death, light, mind and soul.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “In Memoriam Prologue ”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction and Tone: The poem shows the use of religious jargons in poetic diction. The tone is serious and full of reverence and humility.
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB rhyme scheme in all of its four-lined stanzas.
  3. Quatrain: It is a type of four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. All the stanzas in this prologue is a quatrain.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are eleven stanzas in this part of the poem with each having four lines/verses.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “In Memoriam Prologue” are appropriate to quote delivering a lecture about God and how to seek forgiveness from His Holy Spirit.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.