Now fades the last long streak of snow

Alfred Lord Tennyson

‘Now fades the last long streak of snow’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a moving poem that explores spring and rebirth. The poet penned this piece in memory of a friend who died.


Alfred Lord Tennyson

Nationality: English

Alfred Lord Tennyson is an influential poet of Romanticism.

Notable works include 'Break, Break, Breakand 'Tears, Idle Tears.' 

Key Poem Information

Unlock more with Poetry+

Central Message: Emotions change as do the seasons

Themes: Death, Love, Nature

Speaker: Tennyson

Emotions Evoked: Faith, Hope

Poetic Form: Quatrain

Time Period: 19th Century

This moving poem is an important excerpt from Tennyson's longer piece, 'In Memoriam A.H.H.,' commonly regarded as his most important contribution to literature.

This excerpt is part of the long poem, ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.,’ and is specifically labeled as Section CXV. This section of the piece explores spring and renewal, likely alluding to Tennyson’s growing feelings of acceptance as he comes to terms with Arthur Henry Hallam’s death. 

Now fades the last long streak of snow
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Now fades the last long streak of snow, Now burgeons every maze of quick About the flowering squares, and thickBy ashen roots the violets blow.

Now rings the woodland loud and long, The distance takes a lovelier hue, And drown'd in yonder living blueThe lark becomes a sightless song.

Now dance the lights on lawn and lea, The flocks are whiter down the vale, And milkier every milky sailOn winding stream or distant sea;

Where now the seamew pipes, or dives In yonder greening gleam, and fly The happy birds, that change their skyTo 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.


Now fades the last long streak of snow’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a reflection of the changing seasons. It focuses on the transition from winter to spring. 

It begins with the last remnants of snow fading and new life burgeoning in the form of flowers and greenery. Through the poet’s imagery, he describes how the sounds and sights of nature transform. This includes the song of the lark. Each stanza is devoted to different aspects of this transformation, weaving together a rich tapestry of renewal.

In the final stanza, Tennyson introduces a personal element, linking the rebirth of nature with his own emotional rejuvenation.

Structure and Form 

Now fades the last long streak of snow’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a six-stanza poem that is divided into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. These quatrains follow a rhyme scheme of ABBA and use iambic tetrameter. This is a rhyme scheme known as the “In Memoriam” stanza, named for this specific poem. 

The stanzas of this piece are structured to describe different aspects of this transformation. The first speaks about the melting snow and the flowers beginning to bloom. The second goes on to describe the woods, and the third the landscape. 

Literary Devices 

In this poem, the poet uses a few different literary devices. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Imagery: occurs when the poet uses sense-related images. For example, “Now fades the last long streak of snow.” 
  • Metaphor: Tennyson uses metaphor to connect the natural world to human emotions, these are comparisons that don’t use “like” or “as.” His own feelings of regret are likened to an April violet, suggesting a transformation and rebirth.
  • Personification: This can be seen when the poet uses human-specific descriptions to depict something non-human. For example, spring is given human characteristics as it “wakens” in the poet’s breast.

Detailed Analysis 

Stanza One 

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.

In the first stanza, the poet describes the fading of the last streak of snow. This signifies the end of winter as well as the possibility of the passing of sorrow/hardship. 

This gives way to the burgeoning of mazes of quick, or the sprouting of hedges and shrubs, and the blowing of violets by ashen roots. This helps readers to imagine new growth emerging from the winter. The musical quality of the stanza is heightened by the alliteration in phrases like “streak of snow.” 

Stanza Two 

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.

The next stanza builds on the theme of renewal and transformation. The auditory imagery of the woodland ringing “loud and long” gives the clear impression of life exploding with sound. The world is changing around the speaker, with the “distance” taking a “lovelier hue.” 

The poet is even inspired to describe the bird’s melody merging with the sky, becoming something ethereal.

Stanza Three 

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;

The next stanza shifts to a dance of lights on the lawn, where everything appears to be in motion. The world is full of energy in these lines. The poet also notes the whiteness of the flocks and the milkiness of the sails/ This is likely meant to emphasize purity and freshness. 

These images symbolize a world reborn and renewed. The words “winding” and “distant” add a touch of depth and perspective, allowing readers to imagine a vast, open landscape.

Stanza Four 

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

In the next few lines, the poet describes the “seamew” (a type of seabird). The description of the seamew diving “in yonder greening gleam” connects to the image of life renewed from the previous lines. The image of the sky and sea is continued with the poet describing the birds as “happy” to build their nests and have babies. They live their lives simply. 

The constant change and adaptability of the birds reflect a universal truth about life’s cyclical nature.

Stanza Five 

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.

In this stand, the poet continues similarly to the previous lines. He describes the lands stretching off across the earth awakening with the spring season, and the season is also flourishing in his breast or his chest. 

The stanza ends with an interesting image of the poet’s regret. He uses a metaphor to describe how his regret “becomes an April violet.” The poet’s regret transforms into something beautiful and alive. This metaphor encapsulates the essence of growth. It suggests that something that was once a negative feeling can be turned into something more beautiful.


What kind of poem is ‘Now fades the last long streak of snow’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson?

This poem is one of a series of lyric poems that together form an elegy, ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ Tennyson uses the same structure throughout these poems, something that’s come to be known as “In Memoriam” stanzas

What is ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ about? 

In Memoriam A.H.H.’ was written in memory of the poet’s friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly when both men were quite young. It was composed over 17 years and explores themes of loss, faith, despair, and eventual acceptance.

How is ‘Now fades the last long streak of snow’ relevant to the entire poem ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.?’

This section contributes to the overarching themes of grief, transformation, renewal, and acceptance found throughout ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ The shift from winter to spring symbolizes the movement from sorrow to consolation.

What is the tone of this poem? 

The tone is contemplative and hopeful. The poet spends the lines contemplating spring and what its arrival means for the world and for himself. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this poem might also want to read some other Alfred Lord Tennyson poems. For example: 

  • Tithonus‘ – describes the plight of Tithonus, who is cursed to an immortal life in which he continues to age. 
  • The Eagle’ – is a powerful poem that captures the majesty and strength of the majestic bird, inspiring readers to reach for the heights of their own potential.
  • The Kraken’ – describes the slumbering bulk of the Kraken, its eventual rise to the surface of the sea, and resulting death. 

Poetry+ Review Corner

Now fades the last long streak of snow

Enhance your understanding of the poem's key elements with our exclusive review and critical analysis. Join Poetry+ to unlock this valuable content.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tennyson's work often reflects a deep philosophical engagement with themes of loss, growth, and human emotion. This poem is no exception, with its elegant exploration of grief and recovery. His poetry is characterized by meticulous craftsmanship and lyrical beauty, which enhances the emotional resonance of the themes he explores.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+

19th Century

This poem is representative of the Victorian era's fascination with nature, spirituality, and personal introspection. It mirrors the period's tension between faith and doubt, reflecting societal changes during the 19th century, particularly in terms of scientific discoveries and shifting religious beliefs.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


This poem is a great example of 19th-century English verse but is not the best-known English poem of all time. Tennyson's exploration of grief, faith, and renewal speaks to the broader societal shifts and intellectual currents of his time. It not only contributes to the literary heritage of England but is highly relatable.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Death is the catalyst for this poem, provoking a deep exploration of grief, loss, and renewal. It's not just the physical death of a friend but also the metaphorical death of certain beliefs and the birth of new understanding.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Love in this poem is multifaceted, encompassing both friendship and spiritual affection. The love for his friend Arthur Henry Hallam drives the emotional depth of the poem, and Tennyson's affection for nature as a mirror of his inner state is also a form of love.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Nature plays a key role in illustrating the poem's themes, serving as a metaphor for life's cycles. The imagery of the seasons portrays the transformation from despair to consolation, emphasizing the natural flow of human emotions and the healing power of nature.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


The poem grapples with faith in the face of loss. Tennyson's questioning and exploration of spiritual belief are central to his recovery process, reflecting a broader Victorian struggle with faith during a time of scientific advancement.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Hope emerges through the symbolism of spring and the cycles of nature, signaling a transformation from sorrow to renewal. The seasonal changes serve as metaphors for hope, symbolizing the possibility of recovery and growth.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Change is depicted through the shifting seasons and the emotional journey of the poet. It's portrayed as a natural and essential part of life, mirroring both personal growth and the cyclical nature of existence.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+

Death of a Loved One

The death of Tennyson's close friend serves as the emotional core of the poem, launching an intimate exploration of grief, recovery, and philosophical reflection. It's only because of this loss of a loved one that the poem exists at all.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Mortality is explored as a fundamental part of human existence. The death of Tennyson's friend is not just a personal loss but a contemplation of life's fragility. It prompts profound reflections on the meaning of life, death, and the soul's existence, elevating the poem into a philosophical meditation on what it means to be human.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


Spring symbolizes renewal and hope in the poem. The transition from winter to spring parallels the poet's emotional journey from despair to rejuvenation. The imagery of blossoming flowers and melting snow correlates with a personal blossoming and the melting away of sorrow. It's an optimistic part of the poem that elevates the idea of continual growth and renewal in life.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+


'In Memoriam A.H.H.' is composed of quatrains, stanzas of four lines each. This structure lends itself to a rhythmic and flowing quality, enhancing the poem's musicality. It also provides a formal unity.
To unlock content, or join Poetry+
Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

Join the Poetry Chatter and Comment

Exclusive to Poetry+ Members

Join Conversations

Share your thoughts and be part of engaging discussions.

Expert Replies

Get personalized insights from our Qualified Poetry Experts.

Connect with Poetry Lovers

Build connections with like-minded individuals.

Sign up to Poetry+
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Got a question? Ask an expert.x

We're glad you like visiting Poem Analysis...

We've got everything you need to master poetry

But, are you ready to take your learning

to the next level?

Share to...