‘Now fades the last long streak of snow’: this canto, Canto CXV from Alfred, Lord Tennyson‘s long elegy In Memoriam A. H. H. (1850) – written in memory of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam – offers a bittersweet take on the arrival of spring. What grows in the speaker’s breast as spring comes into blossom is regret – regret that his dear friend is gone, that spring is a reminder that the world continues to turn and life carries on, but Tennyson’s friend does not return. One of the best poems in a great long poetic sequence.
Now fades the last long streak of snow,
Now burgeons every maze of quick
About the flowering squares, and thick
By ashen roots the violets blow.
Now rings the woodland loud and long,
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
And drown’d in yonder living blue
The lark becomes a sightless song.
Now dance the lights on lawn and lea,
The flocks are whiter down the vale,
And milkier every milky sail
On winding stream or distant sea;
Where now the seamew pipes, or dives
In yonder greening gleam, and fly
The happy birds, that change their sky
To build and brood; that live their lives
From land to land; and in my breast
Spring wakens too; and my regret
Becomes an April violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.
If you enjoyed ‘Now fades the last long streak of snow’, you might also like our pick of Tennyson’s greatest poems.