A crucial criterion of In Memoriam is the status of the senses in the quest for faith. Consider, in this regard, his account of Lazarus's sister Mary:
Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,
Nor other thought her mind admits
But, he was dead, and there he sits,
And he that brought him back is there.
In concert with Mary's reason, her eyes put her in the presence of her brother and Jesus, the ground of her knowing. Although her senses take on spiritual power, and although the "doors" of her "perception" are thus "cleansed,"1 her spiritual vision retains natural sight. According to John Dixon Hunt, the symbolism of In Memoriam is as much this-worldly as otherworldly,2 and the poem's as much empirical as evangelical religious methodology resembles the spiritual sense shared by Wesley and Edwards .3 Tennyson is far from regarding the physical senses as merely analogous to spiritual vision; he also conceives of them as underlying it.
The only "sensationalist" methodology to which the poet at first lays any claim is not so much the spiritual sense as the "awful sense / Of one mute Shadow watching all" (30.7-8; my italics). Death can fill and dominate all perception, as though it were the only reality. Tennyson's depiction of even the first Christmas after Hallam's death, however, entertains the possibility that the physical senses are fully, albeit subtly, efficacious. Tennyson's hearing tends to validate both the faith of his father and his own spiritual experience in youth, for the bells that "controll'd" him "when a boy" con-