I need a critical analysis of the poem "Come into the Garden Maude" by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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"Come into the Garden Maude" by Alfred Lord Tennyson is an exquisitely composed and crafted love poem. The story is that after a long ball, the poetic speaker (possibly Tennyson) is devotedly waiting in the garden for his wearied beauty. The theme is his undying devotion to always await her with longing heart, even in death:

Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.

The overall metaphor of the poem is a comparison of his beloved to the monarch of the garden, the Queen of the flowers:

Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls
In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,
Queen lily and rose in one;

A prominent trope with a non-literal meaning that Tennyson uses is syn├Žsthesia. This is a technique of imagery that mixes sensory categories producing images like velvet that hums or songs that skip. Tennyson writes about a "daffodil sky" and hair "sunning over with curls." The first joins tactile "daffodils" with ethereal, visible "sky." The second joins visible light of "sunning" with tactile "curls."

Tennyson makes use of pathetic fallacy, where "pathetic" means "empathetic" and able to "feel." Pathetic fallacy assigns human qualities of thought and feeling to nature, inanimate objects, and concepts (anthropomorphic fallacy assigns these to animals). Pathetic fallacy is related to personification because they are both subcategories of rhetoric reification. Though related, they have some differences: personification is not a rhetorical fallacy; it is an explicitly direct attribution of life qualities; pathetic fallacy is broader and more subtle than personification. An example of Tennyson's pathetic fallacy is:

The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
And the lily whispers, "I wait."

The meter and rhyme scheme have interesting variations. The base meter is anapestic trimeter (a pattern of ^ ^ / unstressed unstressed stressed for three repetitions ^ ^ / ^ ^ / ^ ^ /). However, since variation on the meter greets the reader at verse one, the first verse with pure anapestic trimeter is: "And^ the^ pla' / -net^ of^ Love' / is^ on^ high',". The opening line starts with an anapest but then has two varied feet of iambs: "For^ the^ black' / bat,^ Night,' / has^ flown',".

An alternate scansion call this three feet of anapests with comma pauses filling unstressed beats: "For^ the^ black' / bat^ ,^ Night' / ,^ has^ flown',". The pause is recognized as an integral part of rhythm in English poetics dating as back as the first use of the caesura as in Beowulf. Tennyson also varies the meter with anapestic tetrameter ("Be^ -ginn' / -ing^ to^ faint' / in^ the^ light' / that^ she^ loves'") and iambs (as in the above): "My^ heart' / would^ hear' / her^ and^ beat',".

The rhyme scheme is also varied. The lines in the stanzas are in this pattern for ten stanzas: 5 / 6 / 6 / 8 / 6 / 6 / 8 / 6 / 8 / 8. The first stanza has a rhyme scheme abaca. The remaining rhyme scheme is alternating rhymes expanding progressively from a six line scheme of dedede at stanza 2, with variations for eight lines at stanzas 4, 7, 9, and 10 (e.g., stanza 4: hihihihi).

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