Tennyson as a pictorial artist

As a poet Tennyson's greatness lies in his skill as a poetic artist. For musical quality and descriptive vividness he has hardly any equal. He has been acclaimed as a painter in words. What a painter can do with his brush and colour, Tennyson can do with words. He observes a thing minutely and tries to give an exact idea of it. A thing or an object of nature appears in his poetry with its exact shape and colour. Such description imparts reality to a scene or a narrative and gives it a unique suggestiveness. If we examine his major poetry we will notice this aspect of Tennyson's poetic fame.

"The Lotos Eaters"
“The Lotos Eaters” is a noted poem by Tennyson. In this poem poet tries to convey the mood of lethargy and drowsiness. The poem is about the feelings of a group of soldiers who are returning home with their leader Ulysses after the war of Troy. They come to a land where its inhabitants eat a fruit called lotos and lead a life of melancholy.  The soldiers eat this fruit. As a result they become as "mild- eyed” and melancholy as the Lotos-eaters. In this poem the poet shows his skill in describing nature. He marks every detail of a wood, its trees fruits, flowers and the colour they assume in different parts of the day-at noon, at night, and in different parts of the year. Such description provides setting of the poem, adorns the piece and helps
to reflect the feelings.

"The Locksley Hall"
In "Locksley Hall" Tennyson's skill in describing objects of nature and the surroundings is also marked. In this poem the poet creates striking imagery in which he compares love to a musician and the life of lovers to a cup. To convey the satisfaction and the feeling of joy in the initial period of his love-making the speaker says that love played on their lives and produced a sweet and harmonious music. As a result all discordant and jarring notes in their minds disappeared. In their mind there was no conflict. It was free from any doubt or selfishness. It was completely pure. To convey the idea that it was a time of rare happiness the poet compares it to a scene of
revelry where time takes a glass full of joy and gives it to the lovers. This description is suggestive of the intensity of the speaker's passion.

"Tithonus"The word-pictures available in the poem, "Tithonus. In the poem as a “soft air fans the clouds apart". Tithonus sees the "dark world" to which he belongs. Similarly, Tithonus uses many images of nature as he recalls those days of youth when he "felt my blood/Glow with the glow that slowly crimson's all," experienced "kisses balmier than half-opening buds/Of April," and Aurora's "rosy shadows bathe[d]" him. At once he wishes to be one of those "happy men with the power to die." He asks Aurora to release him and let him die so that he could forget the emptíness of his days of long life. The state of feeling to which Tennyson was most intensely drawn was melancholy isolation.

"Oenone"“Oenone" is also admired for the sketch of natural scenery which was influenced by the poet's experience of the Pyrenees Mountains. In it, he deals first with the imaginative treatment of the landscape which is characteristic of all Tennyson's classical poems.

Thus, we see that in all of his poetry Tennyson displays his descriptive skill. He describes human figures, passion, emotion, natural sights and objects. Everywhere his keenness of observation is marked. They provide setting to his poetry and reinforce the idea and feelings. In some of his poems descriptive elements predominate. But they do not appear unnecessary. They are in conformity to the theme of the poem.

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