Tennyson Quick Facts Victorian era British writer, novelist, poet. Poet Laureate of the UK during much of Queen Victoria's reign. Remains one of the most popular poets in the English language. Works include, “Crossing The Bar,” “The Eagle,” and “In Memoriam.”
Early Life Born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England on August 5, 1809. Rev. George Clayton Tennyson and Elizabeth Fytche Tennyson. He had four sisters and seven brothers. Derived from a middle-class line of Tennyson's, with noble and royal ancestry.
Family History Father was a very melancholy man - He was very educated but very poor. He was a clergyman ( a church official). Father favored the youngest son. Mental Illness ran through the family Epilepsy ran through the family and it was looked down upon during this time
Life in Full The success of his 1842 Poems made Tennyson a popular poet, and in 1845 he received a Civil List (government) pension of £200 a year, which helped relieve his financial difficulties; the success of "The Princess" and In Memoriam and his appointment in 1850 as Poet Laureate finally established him as the most popular poet of the Victorian era.
Time Period United Kingdom Victoria Era Queen Victoria's reign from June 1837 until her death on the 22nd of January 1901. The reign was a long period of prosperity for the British people:
Profits gained from the overseas British Empire,
& from industrial improvements at home.
O:Time Period (cont.) The Victorian Age was a diverse and complex time period, it was the precursor of the modern era. If one wants to understand the society, culture, sciences, and ideas of the modern world it is imperative to study the Victorian Era. It was a tremendously exciting period when many artistic styles, literary schools, as well as, social, political and religious movements flourished. It was a time of prosperity, broad imperial expansion, and great political reform. It was also a time, which today we associate with "prudishness" and "repression". Without a doubt, it was an extraordinarily complex age, that has sometimes been called the Second English Renaissance. It is, however, also the beginning of Modern Times.
Arthur Hallam Tennyson’s best friend. They met at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829. Even when they had only known each other for a few weeks, they wrote sonnets to each other and visited each other’s homes for long periods. They were even more bonded together after they joined the Apostles ( an undergraduate club). After Arthur fell in love with Alfred’s sister Emily, their parents forbid them from seeing each other. After Arthur and his family traveled abroad he died on September 15.
Arthur Hallam (cont.) After Arthur died Alfred went into mourning. He was devastated and often wished that he could die instead of live without Arthur’s presence. Arthur’s death lead to Hallam questioning his religion. He often wondered why God would create someone so great and perfect like Arthur but then just take him away. His religious doubts soon became one of his most famous poems, In Memoriam. In Memoriamis a collection of poems that explore the concepts of God, nature, mourning, and most importantly Hallam.
Surrounding Deaths After his father came back after persuaded to go abroad, he died. - His father’s history of Epilepsy and mixture of excessive drinking was the cause of his death in 1831. Alfred left Cambridge without a degree after this death. The same year that Arthur had died was also the same year his brother Edward was confined to a mental institution. There he was left to die until 1890. The confinement of his own brother made Alfred question his own mental illness. His mother died in 1865.
Achievements of Alfred Lord Tennyson Poet Laureate in 1850 and served for 42 years. Queen Victoria compared his poems to the Bible. She used In Memoriam and the Bible after the death of her Husband.
Literary Contributions of Alfred Lord Tennyson Alfred’s poetry brought a new sense of metrical variety, rich descriptive imagery, and exquisite verbal melodies to literature. Not only did his writing reflect upon the Victorian Era, but they reflected upon himself. His poetry is easily understood by any generation.
Summary of Work His work explores the theories of science and modern progress and also portrays sympathy. Many of his poems are based off of his own emotions and past experiences, but he doesn’t allow those aspects to single out only one reader. He writes his poetry so that many people can relate. Alfred’s poems are written for more then one interpretation to be concluded.
“The Eagle” He clasps the crag with crooked hands;Close to the sun in lonely lands,Ring’d with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;He watches from his mountain walls,And like a thunderbolt he falls.
“The Eagle” — TPCASTT Title: “The Eagle” sounds as if it would literally be about an eagle; perhaps about nature and how powerful the eagle is. Paraphrase: The poem is also about death; the eagle falls. It doesn’t seem like the person was happy with the “azure world” and sees more positive things about death.
“The Eagle” — TPCASTT (CONT.) Connotations: Words like “clasps” describe the eagle’s tight hold. Also “lonely” describes the eagle’s isolation from the world. The words, “ Attitude: the attidude of the poem is admiration of the eagle’s elegance. Shifts: Tennyson starts off talking about a “lonely land” and “azure world” but then he goes on to say that the sea crawls under the eagle but then the eagle falls like a “thunderbolt”, glorifying death as he falls. Title (After Reading): The Elegance of the Eagle. Theme: The theme is empowering death to make it seem that leaving this sad world is a step to going somewhere better.
“Crossing The Bar” Sunset and evening star,And one clear call for me!And may there be no moaning of the bar,When I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep,Too full for sound and foam,When that which drew from out the boundless deepTurns again home. Twilight and evening bell,And after that the dark!And may there be no sadness of farewell,When I embark; For tho' from out our bourne of Time and PlaceThe flood may bear me far,I hope to see my Pilot face to faceWhen I have crossed the bar.
“Crossing The Bar”— TPCASTT Title: Crossing The Bar: Entering into a new persona. Paraphrase: The ocean & tide with sunsets crossing spirits crossing over into heaven. Connotations: “Sunset & evening star”= transition. “Put out to sea” & “When I embark”= dying. “Flood”= Noah and the ark. “Pilot”= God. Attitude: Sadness but without mourning- pride in death, acceptance to meet God. [Not Afraid!] Shifts: 1st 3 Stanzas: Contemplating voyage. Last Stanza: Contemplating Destination. Title (After Reading): No new meaning. Theme: Death be not afraid, for the ocean brings new tides of life.
“In Memoriam” (selected text) Strong Son of God, immortal Love, Whom we, that have not seen thy face, By faith, and faith alone, embrace, Believing where we cannot prove;Thine are these orbs of light and shade; Thou madest Life in man and brute; Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot Is on the skull which thou hast made.Thou wilt not leave us in the dust: Thou madest man, he knows not why, He thinks he was not made to die; And thou hast made him: thou art just.
Thou seemest human and divine, The highest, holiest manhood, thou. Our wills are ours, we know not how; Our wills are ours, to make them thine.Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be: They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.We have but faith: we cannot know; For knowledge is of things we see And yet we trust it comes from thee, A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more, But more of reverence in us dwell; That mind and soul, according well, May make one music as before,But vaster. We are fools and slight; We mock thee when we do not fear: But help thy foolish ones to bear; Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.Forgive what seem’d my sin in me; What seem’d my worth since I began; For merit lives from man to man, And not from man, O Lord, to thee.
Forgive my grief for one removed, Thy creature, whom I found so fair. I trust he lives in thee, and there I find him worthier to be loved.Forgive these wild and wandering cries, Confusions of a wasted youth; Forgive them where they fail in truth, And in thy wisdom make me wise.
Part: XXVII Thou comest, much wept for: such a breeze Compell’d thy canvas, and my prayer Was as the whisper of an air To breathe thee over lonely seas.For I in spirit saw thee move Thro’ circles of the bounding sky, Week after week: the days go by: Come quick, thou bringest all I love.Henceforth, wherever thou may’st roam, My blessing, like a line of light, Is on the waters day and night, And like a beacon guards thee home.
So may whatever tempest mars Mid-ocean, spare thee, sacred bark; And balmy drops in summer dark Slide from the bosom of the stars.So kind an office hath been done, Such precious relics brought by thee; The dust of him I shall not see Till all my widow’d race be run.
Part: LVI ‘So careful of the type?’ but no. From scarped cliff and quarried stone She cries, `A thousand types are gone: I care for nothing, all shall go.‘Thou makestthine appeal to me: I bring to life, I bring to death: The spirit does but mean the breath: I know no more.’ And he, shall he,Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair, Such splendid purpose in his eyes, Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies, Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
Who trusted God was love indeed And love Creation’s final law- Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw With ravine, shriek’d against his creed-Who loved, who suffer’d countless ills, Who battled for the True, the Just, Be blown about the desert dust, Or seal’d within the iron hills?
No more? A monster then, a dream, A discord. Dragons of the prime, That tare each other in their slime, Were mellow music match’d with him.O life as futile, then, as frail! O for thy voice to soothe and bless! What hope of answer, or redress? Behind the veil, behind the veil.
“In Memoriam” — TPCASTT Title:Def-In memory of; as a memorial to. Paraphrase: Alfred Lord Tennyson employs the imagery of natural elements in order to portray his feelings and emotions after the death of his close friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. Connotations: In the line “Nature, red in tooth and claw”, Tennyson questions Man’s trust in God’s love even after witnessing the brutality of nature. “Be blown about the desert dust, Or sealed within the iron hills?” declares that life is useless and has no purpose. Attitude: The attitude of the poem is mourning and questioning about God Shifts: Throughout the poem Tennyson goes from questioning God to questioning nature and then to question Man. Title (After Reading): “In Loving Memory of Hallam” Theme: The theme is about nature, God, mourning and his best friend Arthur Hallam.
ComparisonThe Poet vs. Time Era The Victorian Era was a major time of change and up heal. Alfred’s poetry reflected more of his personal melancholy and included mixtures of social and religious doubts from the Victorian Era. Alfred was able to write poems in many different styles and genres. He allowed the breakthrough into modern/contemporary literature.
Last Years After his 83rd birthday Alfred started to experience symptoms for gout and neuralgia. He died on October 6, 1892 at 1:35 AM, surrounded by his wife and son. At his funeral Crossing the Bar was read just as it was placed at the end of all his work. He was buried in the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Remembering Alfred Lord Tennyson Even two hundred years after his death, Tennyson’s poems are still known and studied world wide. He is known as the chief representative for the Victorian Era. And most importantly he is known for being able to combine his personal melancholy with the common doubts of his time period to produce epic poems.