In Memoriam A.H.H. – Why is it so touching

“In Memoriam A.H.H.” was an incredibly touching poem. It had a very personal feel that made the authors emotions come through very clearly. Why I felt that this was an interesting poem this week was that I wanted to determine what exactly about this poem made it seem so touching.

The poem followed the author through the death of his close friend and his ensuing grief, until he eventually found peace. I believe that this progression of events as the poem went on made it seem more real to me than “Lycidas”, which was just more of the same Greek allusions and romanticizing of a death that I have seen so much of with other poets. The language shift was particularly interesting, especially because some of the lines really caught my eye. First in section 2, there is a stanza:

The seasons bring the flowers again,

            And bring the firstling to the flock

            And in the dusk of thee, the clock

            Beats out the little lives of men.”

This stanza is both depressing and incredibly interesting. I think the rhyme scheme adds a lot to the morbid and almost cynical feel of the poem here, which is awesome, because that same rhyme scheme adds to the more uplifting feeling towards the end. I liked how consistent it was. Then towards the end, the last stanza goes:

“Far off thou art, but never nigh;

 I have thee still and I rejoice;

             I prosper, circled with thy voice;

             I shall not lose thee though I die.”

This is probably him becoming at peace with his friend’s death, but that rhyme scheme works to keep the poem hopeful and uplifting here as opposed to morbid and cynical. Word choice was clearly the determining factor, but it is interesting how different the stanzas are because of it.

Overall this poem seemed like it brought grief to a level that I could empathize with, which is something that I appreciated and what made this poem so much easier to connect with.

One comment

  • Very nice post, Ash! I’m glad you like the poem. I also think it’s incredibly moving, and I think you’re very astute to point out that it seems more affecting and personal that Milton’s elegy, and that it charts a kind of progression toward peace with death.

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