O let the solid ground by Alfred Lord Tennyson

O let the solid ground’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a two stanza excerpt from the longer work, ’Maud’. The poem was published in Maud and Other Poems in 1855. Within ‘Maud,’ a larger story is told of the speaker’s father’s suicide, the speaker’s relationship with his neighbour’s daughter, Maud, and the series of disturbing events that follow. 

 

Summary of O let the solid ground

‘O let the solid ground’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a short pronouncement of a speaker’s intention to find love before Heaven takes his life. 

The poem expresses a speaker’s desire to find someone who truly loves him before he loses his life or goes mad. He states that he’s willing to endure anything as long as he gets to have the “sweet” experience that others have before him. The tone throughout the poem is concise and determined, helping Tennyson craft a hopeful and at times desperate mood. 

‘O let the solid ground’ speaks on themes of love, the purpose of life, and loss. 

 

Structure and Poetic Techniques in O let the solid ground

O let the solid ground’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a two stanza excerpt from the poem ’Maud’. The stanzas contain seven lines each and follow the simple rhyme scheme of ABABCDC EFEFCDC. The lines are quite similar in length, containing between six and eight syllables each and no more than seven words. 

Tennyson utilizes several poetic techniques in ‘O let the solid ground’. These include alliteration, enjambment, epistrophe, and repetition. The latter, repetition, is the use and reuse of a specific technique, word, tone or phrase within a poem. In the first and second stanza of this excerpt the line “Then let come what come may” is repeated. This refrain emphasizes the speaker’s willingness to accept any outcome if only he achieves love first. There is also an impactful use of repetition in the third line of the second stanza where “quite” is used two times in a row. 

Epistrophe is the repetition of the same word, or a phrase, at the end of multiple lines or sentences. The last three lines of both stanzas use the same rhyme scheme. The fifth and sixth lines of both stanzas also use the same words, “may” and “day”. 

Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For example, “so sweet” in line four of the first stanza and “matter” and “mad” in line six of the first stanza. 

Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. For instance, the transition between lines three and four of the first stanza and five and six of the second stanza. 

 

Analysis of O let the solid ground

Stanza One 

O let the solid ground

Not fail beneath my feet

Before my life has found

What some have found so sweet!

Then let come what come may,

What matter if I go mad,

I shall have had my day.

In the first stanza of ‘O let the solid ground,’ the speaker begins by utilizing the line that later came to be used as the title. He asks that the “solid ground” that’s “beneath” his feet would not fail. There is something he has to do first before he dies, or his whole life metaphorically falls apart. That thing is the discovery of what others have had experience with, “What some have found so sweet!” The second stanza reveals that he is seeking out someone to love him. 

If he can accomplish this, then he doesn’t care if he goes mad or loses his life. Anything can happen and he’ll be content with what he has accomplished.

 

Stanza Two 

Let the sweet heavens endure,

Not close and darken above me

Before I am quite quite sure

That there is one to love me!

Then let come what come may

To a life that has been so sad,

I shall have had my day.

In the second stanza of ‘O let the solid ground’ the speaker reiterates his most important request of the world. He asks that the “heavens endure” and not “close” or “darken,” a symbol of his imminent death or loss, before “there is one to love [him]!”

The line “Then let come what come may” is reiterated as a refrain in the sixth line of this stanza. The speaker concludes by hinting at his long life and all the tragedy that he’s has to deal with, some of which is outlined in ‘Maud’. His life has been “so sad” but, he’ll be happy if he had someone to love him, even once. 

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