Cold And Clear-cut Lace: Maud Part I, III - Summary & Analysis

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Cold and clear-cut lace, why come you so cruelly meek,
Breaking a slum her in which all spleenful folly was drown'd,
Pale with the golden beam of an eyelash dead on the
cheek,
Passionless, pale, cold face, star-sweet on a gloom profound; Womanlike, taking revenge too deep for a transient
wrong
Done but in thought to your beauty, and ever as pale as
before
Growing and fading and growing upon me without a
sound,
Luminous, gemlike, ghostlike, deathlike, half the night long
Growing and fading and growing, till I could bear it no
more,
But arose, and all by myself in my own dark garden
ground,
Listening now to the tide in its broad-flung ship-wrecking
roar,
Now to the scream of a madden'd beach dragg'd down by
the wave,
Walk'd in a wintry wind by a ghastly glimmer, and found
The shining daffodil dead, and Orion low in his grave. 

Summary

      The hero and narrator of the monodrama Maud speaks of the beauty of the young girl Maud, whom he knew as a child. She is the daughter of the man who helped ruin his father, and may have caused his death, probably by suicide. When Maud and her brother return to the neighbouring Hall, he is thinking of leaving his lonely home on the moor, and going abroad. Seeing her as her carriage passed, he found fault with her beauty. Now he realises that she fascinates him.

Analysis

      The poem is perhaps Tennyson's finest sonnet. The effect of the single period and long lines is that of a fascination he has fought against, and which he suddenly realises has overcome him. There is no division between octave and sestet, and the rhyme scheme (ababcdbcdbdebe) is a skilful variation on more traditional sonnet rhymes, the dominant 'b' rhyme, with its deep 'sound' note, invades the second quatrain, recurs just after it, in L. 10., and in L. 13. intrudes between 'wave' and 'grave' in such a way as to modify the effect of a closing couplet. Like much of Tennyson's poetry, this has to do with a passive subject, which is the speaker; the repeated participles of growing and fading and growing are stronger than the verbs 'arose', 'walked', and even 'found' in spite of the strength of its rhyme.

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