It is something that all suffer through. It is something that many question. It is one of the hardest things to understand and bear. It is death. Death happens everyday and is one of the hardest concepts to grasp. Each person deals with death differently, grieving uniquely, and yet, everyone can relate in the commonality of loss. Lord Tennyson, for example, dealt with the death of his beloved friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, in various stages, which he expressed in his poem In Memoriam A.H.H.
When Hallam, Tennyson’s closest friend, died suddenly at the age of twenty-two, Tennyson felt as if his life had been crushed right before his eyes (Robson, Christ 1189). After his friend’s death, ...view middle of the document...
At this point in Tennyson’s grieving, he is vulnerable and does not think his feelings will ever subside. Tennyson understands that death is a common occurrence, but it does not lessen the grief he has for Hallam’s passing. After some time passes, Tennyson realizes that Hallam’s death is his inspiration. This realization can be seen in his lines,
“I sing to him that rests below
And, since the grasses round me wave,
I take the grasses of the grave,
And make them pipes whereon to blow” (21.1-4).
Tennyson, along with his grief, must face the misunderstanding of those around him. People begin to criticize him for being too depressing, “This fellow would make weakness weak,/ And melt the waxen hearts of men” (21.7-8). Others condemn Tennyson, complaining that he is glorifying Hallam’s death. They believe that Tennyson needs to move on and forget his friend.
The stages of his grief continue and can be seen in Tennyson’s lines about the first Christmas after Hallam’s passing. He cannot understand how people can be so happy and joyful when Hallum is not there to celebrate. He questions, “How dare we keep our Christmas eve?” (29.4). Tennyson is constantly trying to find hope and happiness in situations, looking to find reason behind Hallam’s passing.
Every person wants to believe that events, especially tragic ones, happen for a reason. They cling to the idea that God has a pre-determined plan for our lives. Tennyson believes in such a plan, but begins to question God in Cantos 54-56, introducing his theological ideas. He believes that God and nature are against us stating of Mother Nature, “And finding that of fifty seeds, She often brings but one to bear” (55.11-12). He is questioning everything at this stage of his grief. He asks whether people good enough? Do they not matter? How can they feel important and meaningful in life when their deaths are predetermined? Tennyson wants to believe, but it is too hard to have faith when he feels as if he, and the rest of mankind, is both purposeless and useless.