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In Memoriam

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,521 ratings  ·  146 reviews
In Memoriam is Tennyson’s tribute to his friend Arthur Henry Hallam who died at the age of 22, written over a period of 17 years.

The original title of the poem was "The Way of the Soul", and this might give an idea of how the poem is an account of all Tennyson's thoughts and feelings as he copes with his grief over such a long period, including wrestling with the big philo
Paperback, Second Edition, 252 pages
Published August 22nd 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1850)
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 ·  3,521 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Sean Barrs
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I’ve been reading a lot of poetry lately, and I’m starting to get a real taste for it. This poem is an emotional and heartfelt lament to someone who was very dear to the poet. Indeed, Tennyson has lost someone very close to him and spent seventeen years making this poem in his memory. Well, that’s devotion for you. His poetry is a real pleasure to read because of this, and structurally speaking it’s wonderful. The rhymes and metre are superb. Each verse in itself is a feat of poetic form. Howeve ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grief often becomes immovable. No matter how hard one tries, it gets difficult to not let it diffuse with time. Tennyson's In Memoriam is something similar. With Arthur Hallam's death, Tennyson is neck-deep in loss and his sadness and melancholy made him question all sort of changes. Although I want to say that this poem is too lengthy with the same thought repeating itself time and again, I won't. Who am I to question someone's words if the grief is as personal as Tennyson's? It is extremely di ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read a free version of the poem. My rating is for the poem alone.

When looking at reviews of this poem, one of the first things you'll notice is that there are a lot of 3 star and 1 star reviews. I think many of the 3 star reviews are from people who hated reading the poem, but feared scorn from their academic peers if they were totally honest. The other group hated the poem, and didn't care what others thought. I'm sure there are plenty of high school students in the latter group.

I love the po
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
Part of me swears Terrence Malick was Tennyson in another life....except I don't believe in that sort of thing. How else can I explain the similarities between their work? It turns out that being ultra personal with what you share in your work (film or poetry) is most universal. Tennyson wrote In Memoriam for his best friend, Hallam, who passed away suddenly at a young age; Malick made Tree of Life for his two brothers who passed away.

I've always loved Malick's films because they're the physica
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I plunged into the gooey morass of this incredible - incredible in the impact of its richly dense despair - long verse cycle in the spring of 1970. At the exhausted end of it I finally realized that the meaning of life could never be entangled by mere logic.


Reason had failed Tennyson. It could not go any deeper into the justification for a beloved friend's senseless death at such a young age.

So, I resolved, it had failed me as well.

To see my point, you have to enter into the full savage int
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm really not a huge fan of poetry, but I have determined over the years that if I was to have a favorite poet, Tennyson would probably be the most worthy candidate for the position. That being said, this one was just so long that after I got through about half of it, I was getting impatient for it to conclude already. (and I've also realized that my version, which is in an anthology, actually doesn't include the entire poem, which I'm a little annoyed about because it didn't say it was abridge ...more
A very long poem lamenting the loss of a friend and brother-in-law. I don't give ratings based on quality only enjoyment. And overall i thought this was pretty meh.
There are times when it sparkles but the quality seems very uneven. I like poetry best when its telling a story or painting a picture.
I understand this was written over 17 years but it feels like there was a significant gap before the final 5th, as suddenly it becomes more philosophical and the grief seems severely reduced from the
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mina by: Penny Dreadful
Shelves: poetry
Esthetic and declarative, In Memoriam A.H.H. is vaguely reminiscent of Shakespeare's Sonnets (one seldom grows tired of a good "thou" and "dost"). It is more compact, not as accessible for the casual reader, which lessens the impact. It is much more extensive in its exploration of one theme.

While Tennyson ocassionally makes use of the more conspicuous elements of style, some repetition and even the occassional parallelism, there is not denying that this elegy stands mainly on the raw streng
Amy Ahn
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shortly following his close Cambridge friend Arthur Hallam’s death in 1833, Afred Lord Tennyson began composing a long series of short poems that would later constitute the collection of poems in this book. As a whole this published piece served two functions--1) to fashion an elegy through which Tennyson could express his mourning for the loss of his friend, and 2) to commemorate the figure of Arthur Hallam by recalling him in the past.

Not light reading for sure. The lines maintain a dirge-lik
Derek Mong
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the finest, most moving elegy ever written.
Nidhi Singh
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Touching. Till it got tiresome.
Nina Kristin (TheFeatherLibrary)
I am not a big fan of poetry, but I did like some of the pieces of this poem.
"It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all"
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
The stories behind two of the greatest and most influential poetic elegies ever published in English.

Part 2. Tennyson's In Memoriam- starring Holliday Grainger and James Cooney.

Although written centuries apart, in 1637 and 1833, the making and circumstances of these great elegies are full of interconnections, centred on the poetic response to grief and loss. Both Milton's Lycidas and Tennyson's In Memoriam were written in response to the sudden unexpected death of a youn
Hanna W.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eng-lit
Great, masterful poem of mourning. Perhaps ran on a bit too long, but, overall it was enjoyable.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had found this poem when I was grieving the loss of my grandma. How brilliant and hopeful and beautiful in its surrow 🧡
My review is for the poem only.

This lengthy poem by Lord Tennyson was a required read for my Principles of Literary Study class, a course required for all English majors at my university. I normally would not have chosen to read this poem on my own, but it was an interesting read. Personally, I found it too dark in tone and mood - as it is a poem about the author's grief towards the death of his close friend - to enjoy reading, especially in a short amount of time (a week and a half of continuou
Trevor Lloyd
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Finally got round to finishing this! It confirmed that I don't much like long poems (apart from Wordsworth's). It may be that I am just a far too impatient reader for some poetry; I found myself just rushing to finish it, and overall read it to gut it of the occasional quotable line or phrase - a terrible way to read really. But it could be that it just dated or I am a child of my time!! There are some beautiful lines reflection on faith and doubt, and on love and life and death, and surprisingl ...more
Bryana Joy
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? Tennyson's grand and candid examination of faith in the face of loss does live up to the hype. This one has been on my list for 12 years now, but I'm so glad I didn't end up reading until this year, because Alex and I were able to read it together and that made it two or three times more beautiful (and wrenching). ...more
Akanksha Chattopadhyay
DNF-ed. Can't say aloud that I didn't like it, can I? Perhaps I could never attain the right mood! I promise to come back to you in future, and hopefully be able to appreciate then the greatness that has kept the world enthralled for 167 years now.
Until then!
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hands down one of the most phenomenal and moving pieces of poetry I have ever had the privilege of reading. Beautiful to read aloud and muse on. The fragmented style that this exceptionally lengthy elegy takes on has unique rhythm and movement that makes it difficult to put down.
Dhwani Shah
Mar 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Too much to talk about this poem. I will just bullet it so that even though all my thoughts are disjointed, they will look smart.

1. I thought this poem was 27 cantos and that felt long. This poem is actually 133 cantos and, a prologue and an epilogue. This poem is longer than all the poems I have read till now combined. This poem took me hours to read and I am kind of proud of myself for sticking it out.

2. Sahil, my dear friend said, "If they write one sonnet, they like you. If they write 300 s
Jacky Chan
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
What to say about one of the cornerstones of Victorian poetry and the elegy of its's not exactly bad, although it certainly would benefit from meticulous editing--it is far too long, and its syntax far too convoluted. Tennyson is at his best when he is on an upward trajectory, when he writes of grief and pain and sorrow mingled with healing and faith and hope, so the last few poems were a joy to read, and I can somewhat understand why In Memoriam is constantly said as having brought co ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I climb the hill: from end to end
Of all the landscape underneath,
I find no place that does not breathe
Some gracious memory of my friend.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Poet Laureate of the Victorian era) and Arthur Henry Hallam were great friends as undergraduates at Cambridge University, but Hallam died aged twenty-two. In Memoriam is the long eulogy which made Tennyson famous. Written near the time when Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, died, it was just the poem of love, loss and healing t
Stewart Lindstrom
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
An elegy for a dear friend of Tennyson's, but also a brilliant piece on the darkness of doubt when God seems far off. This is more than just an epitaph; it is a little peek into the crisis of faith and science confronting mid-19th century Victorians. Unlike the proto-Modernist Matthew Arnold, who also writes about this crisis, but chooses to end with doubt and struggle, leaving us "here as on a darkling plain / Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by n ...more
James Williamson
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this. There are so many memorable lines in Tennyson's long form poem. In Memoriam is a lament over his friend Arthur, who died when Tennyson was in his twenties.

This year, experiencing the loss of several dear people, it was timely and poignant. If you are grieving anyone, I highly recommend it. I'll share just one stanza from near the end to whet your appetite. These lines are about how, when we lose someone close to us, we don't lose our love for them. Rather, it grows and add
Alok Mishra
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Alfred Tennyson was better a poet than Arnold, it is known to all. However, his poetry seldom stood up to that contrast. In the present poetry book, In Memoriam, the poet tries to console himself and he could forge the length of his mourning into an elegy that does many things more than simply coaxing himself - death gives birth to another life. Many things are beautiful and many things are average about this one... Intellect is there and expression is sometimes there and sometimes not.
Andrew Lombardi
One of the most deeply personal yet relatable writings in the English language. I find it perhaps the most readable of the great long poems. Fun fact, Tennyson wrote it over the course of seventeen years...
Mar 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Read for English Poetry II: From Pope to today. This was sort of disappointing to read after Wordsworth but I still appreciate the raw emotions Tennyson is able to communicate.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Come, Time, and teach me, many years,
I do not suffer in a dream;
For now so strange do these things seem,
Mine eyes have leisure for their tears

What I’ve always appreciated the Romantics for is the sense of awe they inspire, the reverence they create for a force greater than the individual. For Blake, this was his anthropological Man, for Keats, the pure negation in Death, and for the early Goethe of Werther, the raw power of Love itself. For Tennyson, this force is the great all-encompassing fo
Nathan Huffstutler
This poem was Tennyson's way to deal with his grief after the death of his best friend, Arthur Hallam, when the two were young adults. I really enjoyed reading it all the way through. The poem has passages that are just lovely, and other passages that are powerful.

Although Tennyson wrote some beautiful poetry on his journey to "faith," it's disappointing to me that the faith he came to was completely blind, completely separated from rationality.

Although I hate paraphrasing poetry, he seems to
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Alfred Tennyson, invariably known as Alfred Lord Tennyson on all his books, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, the fourth of the twelve children of George Tennyson, clergyman, and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1816 Tennyson was sent to Louth Grammar School, which he disliked so intensely that from 1820 he was educated at home until at the age of 18 he joined his two brothers at Trinity College, Cambrid ...more

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“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
“Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.”
More quotes…