Tennyson’s Questioning of Faith

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Tennyson’s questioning of Faith I will not shut me from my kind,
And, lest I stiffen into stone,
I will not eat my heart alone,
Nor feed with sighs a passing wind:
What profit lies in barren faith,
And vacant yearning, tho’ with might
To scale the heaven’s highest height,
Or dive below the wells of Death?
What find I in the highest place,
But mine own phantom chanting hymns?
And on the depths of death there swims
The reflex of a human face.
I'll rather take what fruit may be
Of sorrow under human skies:
’Tis held that sorrow makes us wise,
Whatever wisdom sleep with thee. In In Memoriam, Lord Alfred Tennyson writes a series of poems that mourn the loss of his friend, Arthur Hallam. Tennyson presents the audience with a plethora of symbolic images and literary devices that display the mourning process which Tennyson undergoes. The mourning process is varied, since there are periods of despair or enlightenment of the world around him. In poem CVIII, Tennyson displays a moment of clarity that might lead to consolation. He denies faith and embraces the community around him. In poem CVIII, Tennyson suggests that he believes he must embrace community so that he may get over the death of Hallam. Tennyson states, “I will not shut me from my kind…I will not eat my heart alone” to conclude that he must turn to community to accept Hallam’s death (CVIII.1, 2). Tennyson suggests that he must not stray away from those around him, since he does not want to shut himself “from [his] kind.” Also by providing the image of not eating his heart alone Tennyson calls for an embrace of community. The thought of not being alone to “eat” his heart implies that Tennyson wants to achieve a greater sense of community. Tennyson uses the image of the “heart” as the main instrument in the mourning process, which a sense of community will lead to a conclusion. Along with embracing community, Tennyson openly denies faith, when he exclaims “what profit lies in barren faith”

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