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Lord Tennyson

By Marcingee Jan 23, 2013 563 Words
Dark house, by which once more I stand

Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasp'd no more?
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.

Step One

Dark house, by which once more I stand here in the long unlovely street, doors, where my heart was used to beat so quickly, waiting for a hand, a hand that can be clasped no more?

Behold me, for I cannot sleep, and like a guilty thing I creep at earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away the noise of life begins again, and ghastly through the drizzling rain on the bald street breaks the blank day.

Step Two

Let’s try to make this a little clearer.

Dark house (by which once more I stand here in the long unlovely street); doors (where my heart was used to beat so quickly, waiting for a hand, a hand that can be clasped no more), behold me - for I cannot sleep, and like a guilty thing I creep at earliest morning to the door.

. I’ve altered the punctuation too, because the first sentence of the poem seems to have no clear verb. This way the poet is calling to the house (and its doors) to behold him. “Look at me – here I am in the street, skulking like a criminal, lonely and miserable!”

Then, if we separate the next clause completely, it makes the feelings more obvious:

He is not here.

But far away the noise of life begins again, and the blank day breaks, ghastly through the drizzling rain, on the bald street.

Extension one

Notice how Tennyson likes to qualify some of the important nouns in great detail, and then do the same again to the nouns which occur in his qualification. Thus, the house:

House
o dark
o by which he stands once more
o in the street
- long
- unlovely
Doors
o where his heart
- used to beat so quickly,
o where he waited for a hand,
- that can be clasped no more

Extension Two

Finally, although it seems to be from so long ago, just imagine the last verse written like this:

He is not here
but far away
the noise of life
begins again
and the blank day
breaks
ghastly
through the drizzling rain
on the bald street

And it could be written yesterday. Perhaps, with some repeats, it could be a song…

He is not here
But far away.
Far away,
The noise of life
Begins again;
Far away
The blank day
Breaks ghastly
Through the drizzling rain
On the bald street,
Far far away.

Students might like to try turning the first two verses into lyrics – a little judicious editing is permitted, of course.

Now ask students to have a go at some of the above techniques on other short poems, or parts of poems, ideally working in pairs.

* Try ‘I envy not in any moods’ – and don’t peek at my attempt until you / they have had a go! *

© Teachit 2008

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