Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Alfred Lord Tennyson 1909-1892

Background:

Background Born August 6, 1809. at Somersby Several men in his family had mental and physical problems: epilepsy, insanity, excessive drinking Tennyson’s father was abusive and violent

Cambridge:

Cambridge Tennyson attended Trinity College, Cambridge Invited to join The Apostles, an undergraduate club. This group included his lifelong friends. Most important friendship was with Arthur Hallam. He and Tennyson knew each other for only four years, but their intense friendship had a major influence on the poet. Hallam’s death in 1833 when he was only 22 lead to his best poetry, including In Memoriam.

1830 and 1832 Poems:

1830 and 1832 Poems In 1830, Tennyson published Poems, Chiefly Lyrical Poems (1832 and 1833) were attacked by critics as obscure and affected. Criticism kept Tennyson from publishing again for another nine years.

1842 Poems:

1842 Poems Established Tennyson’s career as a writer This volume includes “The Lady of Shalott,” “The Lotus Eaters,” and “Ulysses.”

In Memoriam:

In Memoriam Tennyson’s greatest poem Published in 1850 Represents his struggle with Hallam’s death and with the new developments in astronomy, biology, and geology that were diminishing man’s stature in the universe. After publication of this poem, Tennyson was named Poet Laureate.

Tennyson’s Later Poetry:

Tennyson’s Later Poetry Tennyson’s later poetry follows a narrative style Several poems dealt with national affairs By this time, Tennyson was established as the most popular poet of the Victorian period. The money from his poetry allowed him to purchase a house in the country and write in seclusion. His appearance enhanced his notoriety.

Idylls of the King:

Idylls of the King Large-scale epic poem that occupied the second half of his career. Uses the Arthurian legend to construct a vision of the rise and fall of civilization. Tennyson’s most extensive social vision.

Themes in Tennyson’s Poetry:

Themes in Tennyson’s Poetry The divided self Links external scenery to interior states of mind. The historical past The mythological past Tennyson’s personal past Geological time and evolutionary history Social and political concerns

Tennyson’s Reputation :

Tennyson’s Reputation Tennyson was the most popular poet in England in his own day He was the target of mockery by his immediate successors, the Edwardians and Georgians. Today, many critics consider Tennyson to be the greatest poet of the Victorian Age.

Images of Tennyson:

Images of Tennyson

Crossing the Bar:

Crossing the Bar Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea,

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But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home.

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Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark;

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For through from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar.

Analysis:

Analysis “Crossing the bar” was written in 1889, three years before Tennyson's death. It deals with the topic of “death”.

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The poem is composed by four quatrain stanzas. All of the quatrains have the same rhyme structure: ABAB, so the poem's structure would be: ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH. We can say, as well, the poem has true rhyme: “star”/ “bar”; “me”/ “sea”; “asleep”/ “deep”; “foam”/ “home”; “bell”/ “farewell”; “dark”/ “embark”; “place”/ “face”; “far”/ “bar”.

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The first stanza is linked with the third one, while the second is linked with the fourth one. As we can observe the first line of stanzas 1 and 3 deals with the image of the nightfall: “sunset and evening star” / “twilight and evening bell”. In both cases, the poet is talking about the end of his days, the closeness of the death. So, in the poem, “death” is the “night”.

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The second and third verses of these stanzas (1 and 3) begin with the conjunction “and”, that add information about the fact of the onset of night. Moreover, the second line of these stanzas have an exclamation point: “And one clear call for me!” / “And after that the dark!”. Here, the poet says that “Death” is calling for him, so he will die.

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The same happens in the last verse of stanzas 1 and 3, both say the same, both mean the same: “When I put out to sea” / “When I embark”. That is a metaphor of the way to “The Beyond”.

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The second and fourth stanzas are linked by their first verse, both begin with a conjunction: “But such a tide as moving seems asleep” / For though from out our bourne of Time and Place”. In the first one, the poet gives an explanation to the previous verse: “there may be no moaning of the bar, because the tide seems asleep”, so he wants to say that his people should not be sad, because he will be “sleeping”. In the other one, the author says he will go far, out of time and place. He refers to the Heaven.

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The other verses of stanzas 2 and 4 don't seem to be linked, so we will analyse them separately: “Too full for sound and foam,” complete the explanation of the preceding verse, “the tide seems asleep, because the sea is too full for any sound or foam”. So, in fact, in verses 3, 5 and 6 the poets hopes that no one will be sad, and explains why: he will be asleep and in a nice place, beyond the limits of time and place.

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Then, we can see: “When that which drew from out the boundless deep” / “Turns again home”. It is a clear reference to God. So, Tennyson says that God will come and go with him to Heaven.

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In the last verses of fourth stanza, the poet repeats he will go far, but he wishes to see God face to face when he dies: “The flood may bear me far, / I hope to see my Pilot face to face / When I have crossed the bar”. The poet is not afraid of death, but expectant.

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After that, the third verse of stanzas 1 and 3 say: “And may there be no moaning of the bar” / “And may there be no sadness of farewell”. Tennyson says the same in both lines, but he uses different words. Anyway, he wants to say that he doesn't want his family and friends to be sad or to cry, when he will die.

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In the last verses of fourth stanza, the poet repeats he will go far, but he wishes to see God face to face when he dies: “The flood may bear me far, / I hope to see my Pilot face to face / When I have crossed the bar”. The poet is not afraid of death, but expectant.

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All the poem is a metaphor. For the poet “life” is the “day”, so “death” is the “night”. The poet is talking about the twilight, the nightfall: “sunset”, “evening star”, “twilight”, “evening bell”, “after that the dark”; so he is talking about “death's door”. The rest of the metaphores deal with the seamanship. If we have a look at the title: “Crossing the bar” means crossing the sand bar. The sand bar separates the “land” from the “sea”, that is, it separates the “Life” from the “Death”.

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“The moaning of the bar” is another methapor : it is the sound of the waves when they crash against the sand bar, that moans refers to the moan of the poet's relatives, when he would die. “The Pilot” of the ship is God, because He has to guide his soul to the Heaven. “Pilot” it is also written in capital letter, that usually refers to the Creator. Tennyson wrote the poem while crossing from the Isle of Wight (where he lived) on a ferry. Therefore, the seamanship was familiar to him.

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The Victorian age took place between 1837 (with the coronation of Queen Victoria) and 1901 (her death). It was a period of social, technological, political and religious change. The writers had to take part in all these issues. So, despite the fact that the romantic forms were still there, some authors preferred to write about democracy, education, technological advances, industrial progress, or about the “new class”: the proletariat, the working class.

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Tennyson was one of the most important writers about these issues. He wrote about political and social themes: “The Princess” dealt with relations between men and women and the right of the last ones in society and education.

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In “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, Tennyson wrote about a charge on the Russian army by British troops in the Crimean War. He also spoke about historical and mythological issues in “Lady of Shallot”, “ Ulisses ”, “The Lotos -Eaters”.

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