In Memoriam Questions and Answers
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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How does Tennyson seek comfort from the spirit of his friend Hallam in Section L (50) of In Memoriam A. H. H.? L.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.

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Tennyson's dear friend Arthur Henry Hallam had died more than fifteen years before. Tennyson grieved long for his companion and wrote this poem to memorialize him. In this section, Tennyson reaches out to his friend's spirit to comfort him in the following four ways:

First, he asks for Hallam's spirit to be with him when he is feeling depressed and anxious, when the "nerves prick" and the "heart is sick."

Second, he wants Hallam's spirit steadying him when this "sensuous" (physical) self in the world feels distrust, experiences a sense of time rushing past too quickly, and is in pain from life's misfortunes.

Third, he wants Hallam's soul beside him when he feels a lack of faith and when the round of life seems to have no...

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The purpose of this poem is to offer the reader, as well as Tennyson, a peace about death. The spirit of his friend offers Tennyson hope in a poem full of despair. Tennyson finds hope in his dead friend because it allows him to contemplate the two ideas that he has been struggling with : the individual is immortal, in which case life makes sense and can be endured, or the individual is not immortal, in which case life would be seen as absurd and unbearable. The spirit of his friend allows him to sift through the despair and come out on the other side understanding that life is in fact bearable. Tennyson begins the "In Memoriam" with a funeral and ends with a wedding. Proving that the spirit of his dead friend pulls him out of the troubling despair of searching for a purpose for life.