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"So Careful Of The Type She Seems, So Careless Of The Single Life"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Tennyson started writing In Memoriam upon the death of his closest friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, in 1833. The death of Hallam caused the poet to begin a complete readjustment of his life. In the poem the author gropes to recover religious faith. He expresses the hope that "nothing walks with aimless feet"; yet he knows that with this dream of his he is "An infant crying in the night." Part LV is an attempt to reconcile science and religious faith. Already in the mind of the poet was the doctrine of natural selection, which Darwin later explained in his On the Origin of Species, published in 1859. The poet, considering Nature's way of eliminating many of a species and often bringing only "one to bear" out of fifty seeds, falters and stretches "lame hands of faith." He can now only "faintly trust the larger hope." Opening the subject of the doctrine of selection, the poet says:

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life, . . .