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“By Night We Linger’d on the Lawn”: Critical Detailed Analysis And Summary


The poetry By Night We Linger’d on the Lawn by Tennyson transports the reader through a serene, pleasant, and tranquil natural setting. The speaker is singing with his friends while sitting outside on a hill on a sunny night. He is left alone with the sounds of the night and the bats flying over his head when they all go.

The past, his loss, and his affection for his friend are all on his mind. Their souls unite at that precise instant, and he is able to feel connected to Arthur in a way he hasn’t in a very long time.

Tennyson reflects on a year that has passed. He finds it written on the ground among the “fall’n leaves.” He had already witnessed scenes similar to these when he was happier.

At the conclusion, their spirits re-separate, and the scenery points Tennyson in the direction of a fresh day. It offers him a release from the pain of the past and is brighter and more optimistic.


The sixteen-stanza poem “By night we lingered on the lawn” by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a portion of the considerably lengthier “In Memoriam: A.H.H.” There are 133 cantos in this work, which is generally regarded as Tennyson’s finest work.

The number of stanzas in each canto varies. Canto 95 of the poem has this particular portion. It has fifteen quatrains, or stanzas, each of which has four lines.

The lines rhyme in the ABBA pattern. Accordingly, there are four sets of two beats in each line, the first of which is unstressed and the second of which is stressed.

The poem’s exceptional structure and the number of stanzas in which this pattern is maintained are two factors in its enduring impact. The stanza style is now referred to as “In Memory Stanzas.”

Literary Devices

In ‘By night we lingered on the grass,’ Tennyson employs several poetic devices. When words that start with the same letter are used consecutively or at least near together, Alliteration occurs. For instance, the opening line of the poem has the words “linger’d” and “lawn,” and the eighth stanza has the words “dwell,” “doubt,” and “drive”.

When a line is cut in two, sometimes with punctuation and other times without, this is known as a Caesura. Punctuation in these places causes a highly deliberate stop in the text.

A reader should take into account how the pause affects their reading rhythm and how it may signal an essential turn or transition in the text. The eleventh verse contains an excellent illustration. The line reads: “The blows of Death. At length my trance”.

Enjambment is a significant method frequently used in poetry. It happens when a line is terminated before it would naturally cease. A reader must swiftly go on to the next line and the following one because of enjambment. To easily resolve a phrase or sentence, one must proceed.

In “By night we lingered on the grass,” there are multiple instances of this style, such as the transitions between lines two and three of the third stanza and lines three and four of the tenth stanza.

The components of a poem that appeal to the reader’s senses are referred to as imagery. The term “image” has historically been used to refer to visual scenes that a reader may envision seeing, but it actually refers to much more.

Anything a person can perceive using their five senses or can conceive a body doing is considered imagery. The imagery in this poem is strong, with the strongest instances being in stanzas three and four.

Detailed analysis

The speaker opens the first verse of “By night we linger’d on the grass” with a line that is famous from this extract. “By night we lingered on the lawn,” it says. The time of day and more landscape information comes after this. Tennyson, the speaker, looks to be with a partner or companions.

It’s a serene scenario that aims to bring the reader’s memories and a sense of tranquillity. Around them, there is a “genial” or benevolent “warmth.” A “silvery haze of summer drawn” blankets the sky. The place, the speaker’s feelings, and how he is transforming those emotions into the landscape may all be inferred from these lines by the reader.

In “By night we linger’d on the grass,” the “peaceful” mood from the first verse continues into the second. The “calm” is allowing the taper, or candles, to burn as if it could do so.

Neither wind nor the sound of “crickets” can be heard to put them out of commission. Right now, the “brook” or little river is the only sound the speaker can hear. It is “alone” and making noises out in the distance.

In the third stanza, the environment is not silent, though. The narrator is aware of the flying bats. They are swooping in among its aroma. This is an effective use of imagery that appeals to the reader’s senses simultaneously. The speaker may see a bunch of bats from where he or she is standing.

The bats spin and make geometric forms in the sky. The speaker continues to reflect, seeing these animals’ “ermine capes” and “beaded eyes.” In the final sentence, in the words “breasts” and “beaded” alliteration can be seen.

In the fourth stanza, the speaker diverts his attention from the surroundings to provide additional information about the people he is with. There is some sort of group, and they are singing together. They emphasize “ancient music.”

The sound of their singing carries across the many “knoll[s]” that surround them. The speaker can make out “white kine,” or cows, on those slopes. In the little light, there is, they shimmer. The “black arms” of the trees stand in stark contrast to the whiteness of the cows. It alludes to the shadows they “around the field” cast.

The group spent some time together, interacting in the light. But in the fifth stanza of “By night we linger’d on the lawn,” they ultimately went away. The night is left to itself and the speaker. The lights around him start to fade out as he becomes more and more alone. Despite being a sombre setting, it nonetheless reflects the tranquillity of the opening stanzas.

The houses’ lights are turned off, and everyone retires for the evening. He felt different when he was alone in the sixth stanza. His “ancient tunes” he had been singing had undoubtedly stoked a longing in his heart for the past. He reflects on the past, to a period when Arthur, the principal character for whom “In Memoriam A.H.H.” was written, was alive.

The seventh stanza emphasizes the “quiet” of the situation which only serves to heighten its impact when it is shattered. In the seventh and eighth stanzas, he draws on a range of feelings. In his heart, he considers both the loss and the love. Tennyson ruminates on the past, hoping for some form of reunion with the buddy he has lost.

In the ninth stanza, he may finally meet up with his deceased pal in a metaphorical sense. He was affected by this person’s spirit from the past, and he felt a sense of connection to them.

Their spirits line up, and their connection is as strong as it was before. This connection has brought him relief because it is what he had been yearning for in the previous stanzas.

Tennyson tries to find the perfect words in the tenth and eleventh stanzas of “By night we linger’d on the grass” to express his feelings. He feels a stronger connection to his cherished friend’s spirit or memories.

He has the impression that everything is whirling. His mind wanders as he thinks about “Time” and “Chance.” Doubt, fear, and death are all constant companions.

In the twelfth stanza of ‘By night, we linger’d on the grass,’ Tennyson acknowledges that he’s having problems making sense of what’s occurring to him. The concepts are “hard to frame” while the phrases are “vague.”

The human tongue is incapable of producing words that might accurately convey his feelings. His mind just cannot go there since it is beyond “intellect.”

The thirteenth stanza marks the end of the experience he has been having. The personification of “dusk,” which embodies a similar “doubt,” shows the world as it once was. Both the cows and the knolls are present. Tennyson employs these lines as a refrain, almost identically repeating the fourth stanza’s lyrics.

A “breeze began to tremble” in the distance as though inspired by his encounter. The speaker is reminded of the air’s aroma once more when the sycamore tree’s leaves sway. All of the senses are engaged by the scene in stanza fourteen.

Something seems to be developing in this area. In the fifteenth verse, the wind builds over the speaker’s head and sways the “full-foliaged elms.” The lilies sway “to and fro,” and the flowers in the scene shake their petals. Tennyson is directing the reader toward this section’s climax, which appears right at the conclusion.

At the stanza’s conclusion, personification is used quite effectively. The reader must scroll down to the sixteenth verse to learn what the world has to say.

In the sixteenth stanza, Tennyson is inspired to welcome morning by the air, the trees, and the flowers. It stands in for a new day and a fresh perspective on life. His day begins, bright and “boundless.”

These lines have a bounce to them thanks to the recurrence of the consonant “b” sound and the usage of alliteration. It reflects the speaker’s newly found optimism.


What is the message of the poem In Memoriam?

Tennyson urged us to maintain our confidence in a higher power despite our incapacity to demonstrate God’s presence in “In Memoriam,” writing, “Believing where we cannot show.” In his belief that man is evolving into something greater over millions of years, he mirrors early evolutionary notions.

What is the central paradox of In Memoriam?

Then, we get a sort of paradox from the poet: there’s more faith in someone who has honest doubt than in half the belief systems that are out there. And you can be “pure in deeds” but still have doubts, which appears to be worth something to Tennyson.

What’s the difference between Memoriam and Memorial?

Although both of these phrases denote the same item, they are frequently used synonymously on various websites. The same elements, such as pictures, the deceased’s name, and the date of birth or death, are frequently included on both memorial cards and in memoriam cards.

They often follow the same size guidelines and contain both short and long verses.

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