Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Bloom's Classic Critical Views) by Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) was once born in Lincolnshire, the 6th of 11 little ones of a priest. After a formative years marked through trauma, he went as much as Cambridge in 1828, the place he met Arthur Hallam, whose untimely dying had an enduring impact on Tennyson's existence and writing. His volumes of Poems (1842) tested him because the major poet of his new release, and of the Victorian interval. He used to be created Poet Laureate in 1850 and in 1883 permitted a peerage. In T. S. Eliot's phrases, 'He has 3 characteristics that are seldom discovered jointly other than within the maximum poets: abundance, style and entire competence. He had the best ear of any English poet in view that Milton.'

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I heard his voice,—a bass voice, but not of a resounding depth,—a voice rather broken, as it were, and ragged about the edges, but pleasant to the ear. His manner, while conversing with these people, was not in the least that of an awkward man, unaccustomed to society; but he shook hands and parted with them, evidently, as soon as he conveniently could, and shuffled away quicker than before. He betrayed his shy and secluded habits more in this than in anything else that I observed; though, indeed, in his whole presence I was indescribably sensible of a morbid painfulness in him,—a something not to be meddled with.

Tis thus that dishonest Cockneys would fain pass off in their own vile slang, and for their own viler meaning, murdered and dismembered, the divine Homeric philosophy of the Isle of Circe. Was not Jupiter still Jove—aye, every inch the thunderous king of heaven, whose throne was Olympus—while to languishing Leda the godhead seemed a Swan? In the eyes of a grazier, who saw but Smithfield, he would have been but a bull in the Rape of Europa. Why, were the Cockney critic’s principle of thought injected by a strong volition into the skull of a donkey— has he vanity to imagine, for a moment, that he would be a more consummate ass than he now brays?

All nature calls upon him to rejoice, and to the eye of his heart, at least, the riddle is read. Nay, we put it to every heart if this do not, more than many elaborate argumentations, touch the core of the difficulty. ” And although the reply failed to convince the party addressed, who, looking aloft at the sparkling azure, after a deep pause, rejoined, with a sigh, and in tones we can well imagine, so melancholy and far withdrawn, “Oh! it’s a sad sight;” yet, apart from the divine discoveries, it was the true and only answer.

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