2/21/2019

Universality of Alfred Lord Tennyson



Tennyson lived in an age in which every conscious man was troubled by some social, political and spiritual problems. These things afflicted his mind also. In his poetry he tried to express his views on these contemporary problems. But contemporary problems lose their importance with the passing of time. So, poetry which deals mainly with these problems cannot attain universal appeal. To be of permanent literary value a poem has to touch the inner side __of a ' man's life-his feelings, his profound thoughts and his emotions. If Tennyson’ 3 poetry were simply a discussion in verse, it would not have made him a great poet. In his poetry there are something which

are of lasting interest to any reader of any time. They. are their pictorial, musical and lyrical quality. '

"Locksley Hall" is a notable poem by Tennyson. In it a lover
expresses frustration for his failure in love, In this poem he expresses
the depth of his feeling by narrating the days of his love making. He
says how he enjoyed the scenes of night. He describes the place
known as Locksley Hall and its surroundings. He tells us how he
roamed on the sea-cost with his mind full of dreams. He describes
how joyful the spring was to him. He also says how joyfully he spent
morning, evening and night. But these days are memory only. The
girl has betrayed him. Out of frustration he rails at woman in general.

He also accuses the society for its materialistic, commercial mentality
and disregard of genuine human passion. He tries to console his
mind by imagining her sufferings. He imagines that her husband will
not love her as much as he did. Her husband will treat her no more
than as a dog or horse. The speaker's scorn for woman and people of
England is so great that he thinks of leaving his country for ever. He
would like to go to live with savages. But his patriotic feelings will not
allow him to leave his country for ever.

Another famous poem by Tennyson is "Lotos-Eaters". In it the
poet makes a skilful fusion of the landscape and human mood. A
group of soldiers who fought in the war of Troy reaches an island. It
is a wonderful island. There it is always afternoon. People always feel
drowsy. The whole atmosphere is dreamy and full of lethargy. The
inhabitants of the island eats a kind of fruit called lotos. They offer
the sailors this fruit. The sailors eat the fruits and become as drowsy
and melancholic as the inhabitants.

They feel a desire to spend the
rest of their lives in this condition of dreamful ease. To them slumber
is more sweet than toil.
This poem abounds in pictures-p of the dark-blue sky,
flowers, fruits of "charmed sunset"a and the mild-eyed Lotos-eaters.
In it we notice such impressive lines as "the roof and crown of things"
"dark death or dreamful ease" "mild-minded melancholy" and such
other musical lines. This poem has attained popularity meanly
because of its descriptive and lyrical qualities.

Tennyson wrote a number of small poems like "Mariana", "Crossing
the Bar" "Break, Break, Break", etc. His longer poems like "Maud', "In
Memoriam", The "Princess contain short lyrics that are of lasting
interest. Thus we can easily affirm that Tennyson greatness rests not on
his longer poems but on smaller poems. It is their descriptive and lyrical qualities that have immortalized the poet and his poetry.

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