In Memoriam Questions and Answers
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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What are some notable literary elements in the poem, "In Memoriam" by Tennyson?

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Notable literary elements in Tennyson’s poem “In Memoriam” can be interpreted effectively relative to aspects of form and structure. The majority of poetry in the past was written to conform to sets of rules. Rather than constricting language, the rules lead readers to appreciate the poem. The form and structure of “In Memoriam”in terms of the rhyme scheme and the structure of the poem underscore the literary elements of tone and mood.

One formidable aspect of the form of the poem is the rhyme scheme, or the organization of words that rhyme. The first and fourth and second and third lines of the poem have words at the end that rhyme. This rhyme scheme is “ABBA.” The word choices of the end lines lend themselves to interpretation of the tone of the stanzas. For example, in the beginning of the poem, the end of the first line of the first stanza ends with the word “love” (A) and the last line of the last stanza ends with the word “prove.”  This sets up the reader for a tone throughout the poem that is inquisitive, curious and self reflective about one’s internal life, particularly relative to essential emotions, such as love, that can be unseen in manifestation.

The literary element of mood is observable within the structure of quatrains, or each stanza organized into four lines. Although of course it is useful and necessary to get an idea of the whole poem, a close reading of each quatrain is helpful. In so doing, one notices that the mood conveyed is one of existential suffering and grief relative to death. For example, as the poem continues, the narrator seems to vacillate between an acceptance of mortality and a questioning of it. For example the 6th...

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