Alfred Lord Tennyson 7.6.13 Thought of the Day

“I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.” — Tennyson

Deutsch: Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809-1892 englis...

Deutsch: Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809-1892 englischer Poet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alfred Tennyson was born on this day in Somersby, Lincolnshire in 1809. Today is the 204th anniversary of his birth.

He was the fourth of 12 children born to the Reverend and Mrs. Tennyson. He began writing poetry as a child and by 12 he’d written a 6,000 line epic.  He and his brothers were home schooled by their father in the classics and modern languages. But Reverend Tennyson “suffered from depression and was notoriously absentminded” [] problems “that were exacerbated by alcoholism.” []  The family struggled under Rev. Tennyson’s influence;

One of Tennyson’s brothers had violent quarrels with his father, a second was later confined to an insane asylum, and another became an opium addict. []
But Alfred and his brother Charles escaped to Trinity College, Cambridge. There they published Poems by Two Brothers. (1827).  The book attracted the attention of one of the school’s most popular literary clubs, the “Apostles.”And  Alfred became close friends with the group’s leader Arthur Hallam.
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, by George...

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, by George Frederic Watts (died 1904), given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1895. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His next two books, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830), and Poems (1833), were dismissed by critics as “‘affected’ and ‘obscure.'” [Ibid]  Another tragedy hit in 1833 when Hallam died suddenly in Vienna. Tennyson did not publish again for 10 years.
The Lady of Shalott, based on The Lady of Shal...

The Lady of Shalott, based on The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1842 he finally released the two-volume Poems. It contained “The Lady of Shalott”, “The Lotus-eaters” “Morte d’Arthur” and “Ulysses” and “was a tremendous critical and popular success.” [] Seventeen years after Hallam’s untimely death he immortalized his friend in the epic In Memoriam. With it “Tennyson became one of Britain’s most popular poets” [Ibid]

I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.

But who shall so forecast the years
And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand thro’ time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?

Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with death, to beat the ground,

Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast,
`Behold the man that loved and lost,
But all he was is overworn.’

                        [exerpt from In Memorium A.H.H. , Click Here to read the whole poem]
Soon after he became Britain’s Poet Laureate.
At the age of 41, Tennyson had established himself as the most popular poet of the Victorian era. The money from his poetry (at times exceeding 10,000 pounds per year) allowed him to purchase a house in the country and to write in relative seclusion. … In 1859, Tennyson published the first poems of Idylls of the Kings, which sold more than 10,000 copies in one month. In 1884, he accepted a peerage, becoming Alfred Lord Tennyson. [Ibid]
Tennyson wrote into his 80’s penning plays as well as poems, “among them the poetic dramas Queen Mary (1875) and Harold (1876)”[]. He died at 83 in 1892. He is buried in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey
The monument to Alfred Lord Tennyson on the Is...

The monument to Alfred Lord Tennyson on the Isle of Wight (Photo credit: Anguskirk)


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: