3/06/2019

Tennyson as a nature poet with reference to "Oenone".


Nature plays a vital role in poetry. William Wordsworth, Tennyson's predecessor saw in Nature the presence of God. Shelley and Byron found their apt symbol of revolution in nature. Coleridge treated nature as a medium for supernatural communion. Arnold's nature reflects deep human sadness. But Tennyson has not symbolized nature for any deep meaning. In his poems, however, there are descriptions of beautiful scenes of nature which are as concrete as paintings.

The word pictures available in the poems of Tennyson result from his accuracy of observation placed above the faculty of
imagination. The scientific and materialistic spirit of his age in the backdrop has always influenced his treatment of nature. He is endowed with the flowery exuberance and the sensuous colour of his composition. The following lines and the opening lines of the poem “Oenone" are among the best of Tennyson's blank verse lines with superior pictorial quality. The description owes some of its beauty to Homer.

“It was the deep midnoon: one silvery cloud
Had lost his way between the piney sides
Of this long glen. Then to the bower they came,
Naked they came to that smooth-swarded bower,
And at their feet the crocus brake like fire,
Violet, amaracus, and asphodel
Lotos and lilies: and a wind arose,”

Here Tennyson's illustration of nature is not of mystic, but that of a rationalist. For this reason Wordsworthian joy and ecstasy as the mystics discover is absent.

"Oenone" is 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. "But fine landscape and fine figure re-drawing are not enough to make a fine poem. Human interest, human passion, must be greater than Nature, and dominate the subject. Indeed, all this lovely scenery is nothing in comparison with the sorrow and love of Oenone, recalling her lost love in the places where once she lived in joy. This is the main humanity of the poem.

"Oenone", like other poems of Tennyson, lacks any serious or philosophical attitude towards nature. But still it is the much quoted lines
of a poet's perspective who had pursued the external world both from the wide scenic conception and in the finest detail. It, thus, is
the record of the exquisite and picturesque nature of Tennyson. It delineates vivid and lively natural scenery:

...and far below them roars
The long brook falling thro' the clov'n ravine
In cataract after cataract to the sea”

Tennyson elevates the sorrows of Oenone to the proportion of a Greek tragedy through the use of these poignant natural images.

The word-pictures found in Tennyson's poetry give a view of rural England. With a Keatsian sensuousness he delineates and glorifies the English moorland, holy rocks and "the chirping cry of summer doves'. Influenced by the Victorian realism Tennyson, unlike
Wordsworth, is not infatuated by the scenic beauty of nature; rather he visualizes in it an extension of human cruelty, decadence and
waste.

Tennyson was essentially a poet of the countryside, a man whose being was conditioned by the recurring rhythms of rural rather than urban life. The special power of producing that rather vapid species of composition usually termed descriptive poetry. Power of creating scenery, in keeping with some state of human feeling so fitted to it as to be the embodied symbol of it and to summon up the state of itself, with a force not to be surpassed by anything but reality.

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