In Memoriam "An Infant Crying In The Night"
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Start Your Free Trial

Download In Memoriam Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"An Infant Crying In The Night"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The poet is plagued with fears that the tribute he is writing for his dead friend, Arthur Hallam, who was so close to him, is not worthy, and that the very love he bore for Hallam was not worthy of him. He is then reassured that humanity, though imperfect, must pursue the good, which is itself on earth mixed with evil; and that all the evil that is found on earth must finally serve the cause of the good. But, when he has been given this reassurance, he immediately doubts its truth: there is no real basis for believing anything. Humanity knows nothing of ultimate truths; what it believes is on faith alone, and men are no more than helpless babies crying for comfort in the empty night.

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last–far off–at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.
So runs my dream; but what am I?
An infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry.