Although Alfred Tennyson's 1850 elegy, In Memoriam, has long been regarded for the quality of its grief and its doubt, the deepened sense of struggle and doubt produced by his allusions to Horace in both the matter and the meter of the poem have not been considered. Attending to both syntactical/tonal allusions and metrical allusions to Horace's Odes in In Memoriam, I will examine Horace's role in creating meaning in Tennyson's poem. Drawing on various critics and Tennyson's own works, I argue that Tennyson was uncommonly familiar with Horace's Odes and Horatian Alcaic (the most common meter of the Odes). I explore the similarities between the In Memoriam stanza form and the Horatian Alcaic as well as their differences to demonstrate that, while he was certainly capable of more closely replicating the Alcaic in English, Tennyson suggests but ultimately resists Horace's meter. Resistance to Horace's meter mirrors Tennyson's resistance to Horace's paganism. I conclude that Tennyson's identification with Horace, but not too close an identification, serves to enhance the themes of the poem—struggle, tension, grief, and doubt—in a way that would go unnoticed without a close examination of Horace's influence upon In Memoriam.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Stewart, Ryan D., ""Who Would Keep an Ancient Form?": In Memoriam and the Metrical Ghost of Horace" (2010). Theses and Dissertations. 2440.
Horace, Horatian Alcaic, Tennyson, In Memoriam, In Memoriam stanza, prosody