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Tennyson as a Victorian Poet

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Tennyson as a Victorian Poet

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  • August 2010
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Tennyson as a Victorian Poet

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) achieved, what so many poets and writers throughout the centuries were unable to achieve, fame and success during his lifetime. Indeed, in 1850, after the publication of “In Memoriam”, he was installed to the position of poet laureate. Tennyson not only distinguished himself by his work to date, but also honored with the responsibility of representing the state during its most solemn and celebratory occasions. As Poet Laureate, he represented the literary voice of the nation and, as such, he made occasional pronouncements on political affairs. For example, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854) described a disastrous battle in the Crimean War and praised the heroism of the British soldiers there. In 1859, Tennyson published the first four Idylls of the King, a group of twelve blank-verse narrative poems tracing the story of the legendary King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. This collection, dedicated to Prince Albert, enjoyed much popularity among the royal family, who saw Arthur's lengthy reign as a representation of Queen Victoria's 64-year rule (1837-1901). As a lyric and elegiac poet, he has very few rivals in the English language. He bespeaks the main movement of mind and morals of his era. He is, in fact, the representative poet of Victorian Age. He entered fully into the moods of his age. He molded and then satisfied the tastes of his contemporaries. He is triumphant to show us the restless spirit of his nation. His poetry demonstrates national spirit more than personal spirit and also, like mirror, reflects the social, political moral, and religious trends of the time.

Tennyson’s poetry reflects the general feelings of his age on the great things of the world- religion, morals and social life. “Ulysses”, for instance, represents the spirit of inquiry, intellectual ferment, quest for knowledge, and urgency of going ahead, carrying on, and the life full of earnestness. Now,...

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