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Lord Alfred Tennyson Research

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    Lord Alfred Tennyson was a famous writer during the Victorian Era. He is one of the well-loved poets. He was born on August 6, 1809. His birth place was Somersby, Lincolnshire, England. Tennyson was the fourth child out of twelve children. He displayed an early talent for writing. At twelve years old he wrote his 6,000 line poem. He was tutored by his father, Reverend George Tennyson, in classical and modern languages. However, in the 1820s, Alfred’s father began suffering mental breakdowns.

    They became very frequent and were believed to be from alcoholism. One brother of Tennyson’s got into violent altercations with his father, and another was later sent to an insane asylum, and one more became an opium addict. Lord Alfred Tennyson left home in 1827. He then attended Trinity College, Cambridge. He and his brother Charles published Poems by Two Brothers, in that same year. Even though the poem was a little mature for that era, it attracted attention of the disciples. The people delivered confidence to Tennyson as a poet. Tennyson became best friends with Hallam and the toured Europe together.

    The sudden death of his best friend in 1833, greatly depressed the young poet. He wrote many tribute poems to his best friend, including In memoriam. In 1830, he published poems, Chiefly Lyrical and a second volume of poems. With reviews saying the books were “affected” and “obscure”, Tennyson would not publish another book for the nine years to come. He became engaged to Emily Sellwood, in 1836. Her family called off the engagement when Tennyson lost his inheritance on a bad investment. In 1842, Tennyson’s Poems became a critical and popular success. In 1850, he became one of Britain’s most popular poets with the publication of In Memoriam.

    In that same year he married Emily Sellwood, and they had two sons, Hallam and Lionel. Tennyson had finally established himself as the most popular poet of the Victorian Era, at the age of 41. His pay from his poetry exceeded 10,000 pounds per year. His grandfather stated to Tennyson, “There, that is the first money you have ever earned by your poetry, and, take my word for it, it will be the last. ”(Longman) This allowed him to buy a home in the country, and he was able to write in relative seclusion. He was a large bearded man; he wore a cloak and broad brimmed hat regularly.

    It was known that this enhanced his notoriety. He read his poetry with a booming voice, and was often compared to Dylam Thomas. Tennyson published the first poems, Idylls of the Kings, in 1859. He sold more than 10,000 copies in one month. In 1884 he became Alfred Lord Tennyson. He later died in 1892 and he was buried in Westminster Abbey. In the Victorian era we’ve read some of Tennyson’s works. One of which caught my eye, The Lady of Shallot. The story of this poem comes from a version of “Elaine the Fair Maid of Astolat” by Thomas Malory. Elaine’s love for Lancelot was naive, and she later died from a broken heart.

    This apparently inspired Tennyson and he began to write a long poem based on it. Tennyson, however, said he did not know anything about the English version. He wrote the first version in 1832. He says he based the poem off of an old Italian romance and not Thomas Malory’s story. The final form of his poem was then published in 1842. This poem tells the story of a woman living in a tower in Shallot. Shallot is an island on a river, the river which runs along with the road, to Camelot. It has a similar setting as of the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

    The lady of Shallot is bounded by “…four grey walls, and four grey towers…” (Longman) She weaves a tapestry picture of the landscape including Camelot, from her window every day. She is however, cursed, and she cannot look directly out of the window. She does not know why she has this curse, but continues to subject her artwork through a mirror beside her. She is content with weaving, but is tired of living her life through a reflection. One day, as Sir Lancelot rides by, she gets up to look directly out of the window at him. In that moment she knows that the curse is upon her. She then leaves her tower and finds a boat at the river.

    She writes on the side “The Lady of Shallot. ” Then she leaves, floating off down the river towards Camelot. She drifts along the river, while singing and observing all of the sights that were always forbidden to her before. She then dies. As the boat floats past Camelot, all of the knights make the sign of a cross, when they see her body. All except Lancelot, as he is seeing her for the first time and states, “She has a lovely face. ” (Longman) The theme will depend on the reader, and how one interprets it. What I brought of the poem was seclusion, when the lady of Shalott is cursed to the tower and is isolated from all of social life.

    I believe Tennyson created this poem based on his own wants and needs. Tennyson chose to be secluded so that he could work and be in peace away from distraction and social involvement. He was afraid that the social involvement would destroy his inspiration for writing poetry. For he needs to be at a distance from life’s distractions to be able to successfully transform life into art. This is also the case for the lady of shalott. Tennyson has incorporated his life into the poem, and now we get a better understanding of life in the poet’s eyes and mind.

    Lord Alfred Tennyson was a born naturalist when it comes to writing poetry. Even more a Victorian era poet, because of his willingness and dedication to write for the people and what was popular. Tennyson was therefore, by far one of the most popular poets during the Victorian Era.

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