Tennyson Seven Essays

Tennyson Seven Essays-58
At the same time, when speaking of the later Tennyson, Batchelor never falls prey to modish condescension, agreeing with Chesterton that it was “intensely typical of Tennyson’s philosophical temper that he was almost the only Poet Laureate who was not ludicrous.” And he could often strike back at critics (indirectly) with epigrammatical nicety, as in : “Never yet/Was noble man but made ignoble talk/He makes no friend who never made a foe.” Batchelor is also good at uncovering the many contradictions that animated his subject, showing how at once shrewd and gullible he could be in money matters.

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The smallness and emptiness of life sometimes overwhelmed me.” For anyone intent on making poetry his life’s work, this was useful misery. “The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him.

At that point, he’s in business…” After attending Louth Grammar School, Tennyson went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the Apostles and met the dazzling Etonian, Arthur Hallam, whose friendship and support would be crucial to his development as a poet.

Then, again, with loyal friends, Tennyson could be oddly cold and aloof—Edward Fitzgerald was made to endure this especially after fame made Tennyson more than usually grand—but in his favor it must be said that after Thackeray handed in his dinner pail, Tennyson took in his orphaned daughters.

Indeed, on walks along Hampstead Heath, he would often confide in Annie Thackeray about his early poverty, self-doubts, and loneliness, proof that the adulated Laureate never entirely outgrew the unhappy boy from Somersby.

Then, again, another brother would always introduce himself to guests by declaring, “Hello, I am Septimus: I am the morbid Tennyson.” As for Tennyson himself, he not only feared madness but longed for death.

As his wife told his son Hallam when engaged in writing his father’s biography, Tennyson, terrified of his father’s rages, often ‘went out through the black night, and threw himself on a grave in the churchyard, praying to be beneath the sod himself.” Then, again, the poet confessed that “In my youth I knew much greater unhappiness than I have known in later life.Apropos the poet’s rackety life in London in the 1830s and 40s with such footloose friends as Thackeray, Edward Fitzgerald, James Spedding, Edward Lear and Carlyle, Batchelor observes: “The nomadic, chaotic Alfred Tennyson of legend, a legend built up and lovingly transmitted for posterity by his many friends in these vagrant years, was in fact displaying an inner resolution.He was a , nothing else, and he claimed no other identity, role or mode of existence.” From early youth, Tennyson also looked the poet, especially after he adopted his signature Spanish cape and sombrero.Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.Later, as an older man, on the Isle of Wight, where he would live with his wife and two sons in his sequestered Farringford, he summoned the theme to honor his old friend and neighbor, Sir John Simeon, who was also a good friend of Cardinal Newman.Written with great learning and unusual grace, it will spur new interest in a poet who has much to say to our own contemporaries. George Clayton Tennyson, the eldest son, had been forced into the Church against his will after his father decided to make his youngest son, Charles his heir.Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was born at Somersby rectory, Lincolnshire into a rancorous, divided family. The resentment this bred in Tennyson’s father never went away.After the loss of Hallam, Tennyson became infatuated with Rosa Baring of Harrington Hall, a rich, haughty, trifling woman, whose rejection led him to write his great dramatic monologue (1855), than which there is no poem in the language more rich and strange.(That the monologue should have ended with his deranged hero speaking of “The blood-red blossom of war with a heart of fire” must have given the poets of the Great War an eerie shudder.) When he married Emily Sellwood, another Somersby woman, who would become his agent, muse, and secretary, he made an inspired choice, though one observer was convinced that she immured him in “the sultry, perfumed atmosphere of luxury and homage…” Drawing on Ann Thwaite’s marvelous biography of Emily, Batchelor paints a lively portrait of this devout, talented, enterprising woman.When I was about twenty, I used to feel moods of misery unutterable!I remember once in London the realization coming over me, of the of its inhabitants lying horizontal a hundred years hence.


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