In Memoriam Questions and Answers
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Please help me analyze sections 7 and 24 Of In Memoriam.

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Section 7 of this powerful poem is a very clear and evocative description of grief that identifies the kind of impact that loss is having on the speaker. He describes himself as being "like a guilty thing" that "creeps" to the door where Arthur Hallam used to live. The final stanza of this section is perhaps the most powerful:

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.

It can seem terrible and shocking to somebody experiencing grief the way that life carries on without stopping to mourn the loss of a life of one so dear. For the speaker, therefore, the new day, indicating that time does not stop, is "ghastly" and the final line, through its slow, halting meter and the alliteration of the harsh "b" sound emphasises his pain and loss as he has to watch life continue whilst he remains clinging on to the past, and wanting time to stop.

In section 24 the speaker debates why it is that his memories of the time he spent with Hallam when alive seem so perfect to him now. He asks himself whether this could really have been the case, and the final stanza summarises his conclusions:

Or that the past will always win
A glory from its being far;
And orb into the perfect star
We saw not, when we moved therein?

Past memories, he argues, will always be attractive by virtue of the distance that separates the actual reality from our present. However, he realises that humans are so often ignorant of the true value of reality as it happens, and that humans only realise how perfect such memories can be in retrospect.


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