In Memoriam "The Red Fool Fury Of The Seine"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"The Red Fool Fury Of The Seine"

Context: This elegy was written as a monument to Arthur Henry Hallam, a young man of extraordinary promise and an intimate friend of Tennyson, who died suddenly in Vienna at the age of twenty-two. The poem records the slow, spiritual progress of Tennyson from his initial depth of personal sorrow to the gradual healing of grief through a sense of spiritual contact with Hallam in a wider love of God and humanity. This portion of the elegy confirms the survival of the spirit after death. The opening words of CXXVII–"And all is well"–link it with the preceding section which affirmed the reality of love. Love is the Lord whom Tennyson serves on earth and Hallam serves in the spiritual realm. The rule of love means "all is well" even though the forms in which faith has formerly embodied herself have been deserted by her and even though the present social order may perish in the convulsions which mark the end of one age and the beginning of a better one. This section thus unites the two main themes of the elegy: love and universal law, which assure immortality of spirit. All the upheavals are signs of human progress toward a great race of men of which Hallam is the archetype. In the poem Tennyson refers to a relatively recent social upheaval in France. In July of 1830, the republican elements in Paris staged a popular revolt against the anachronistic reforms of King Charles X. Charles, the last of the older Bourbon line, fled Paris and the kingship; and there was the second revolution of 1848, which deposed Louis Philippe.

And all is well, tho' faith and form
Be sunder'd in the night of fear;
Well roars the storm to those that hear
A deeper voice across the storm,
Proclaiming social truth shall spread,
And justice, even tho' thrice again
The red fool fury of the Seine
Should pile her barricades with dead.