An old favourite poem: new meaning

Many years ago at bedtime I used to read poetry aloud. We had many favourite poets and poems. This one has now taken on new meaning for me, especially the last verse.  At first glance the title seems puzzling but digging a bit deeper I discovered that Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote it “…for his  closest friend Arthur Henry Hallam, after Hallam’s sudden death at age 22. Scholars agree that this was the most important event in Tennyson’s life …..” The web site suggests that the poem “combines the expression of a deeply personal experience of intense male friendship and mourning with discussions of public concerns, including major debates of the day about science and religion”. The actual elegy is much, much longer. For now, this will suffice.

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 27

I envy not in any moods
         The captive void of noble rage,
         The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:
I envy not the beast that takes
         His license in the field of time,
         Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
Nor, what may count itself as blest,
         The heart that never plighted troth
         But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
         I feel it, when I sorrow most;
         ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
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