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Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, which were collected by Sir Thomas Malory in the fifteenth century. Tennyson closely follows Malory's footsteps in his incidents, but wholly changes the morals of his characters. This work greatly increased the laureate's fame, and those who do not esteem In Memoriam the loftiest expression of his genius give the palm to the Idyls.
Since the publication of Enoch Arden (1864), the writings of Tennyson have shown a falling-off in his poetic powers; and his dramas - Queen Mary (1875) and Harold (1876) — are considered failures.
But if Tennyson's laurels have shown signs of withering in later years, he has gained what our British friends regard as proud pre-eminence in worldly station. In the last month of 1883, Queen Victoria elevated Tennyson to the peerage, with the title of baron, and a seat in the House of Lords. This is a unique distinction; for, while there have been poet peers before Tennyson, no other poet has ever been made a peer solely as a recognition of his literary work.
About the time of his appointment to the laureateship, Tennyson married, and soon after fixed his residence at Farringford, in the Isle of Wight. Here he remained till 1869, when he removed to Petersfield, Hampshire.
Tennyson is a man of large stature, dark in complexion, with a full beard and abundant hair. His habits are simple and independent. Like many poets, he loves nature and books more than human nature, and shuns the eye of the public. Carlyle, writing to Emer
son, draws the following interesting and characteristic portrait of Tennyson when about forty years of age :
“Alfred is one of the few British or Foreign figures who are and remain beautiful to me, a true human soul, to whom your own soul can say brother! One of the finestlooking men in the world. A great shock of rough, dustydark hair, bright-laughing hazel eyes; massive aquiline face, most massive yet most delicate, of sallow-brown complexion, almost Indian-looking; clothes cynically loose, free and easy. His voice is musical metallic, - fit for loud laughter and piercing wail, and all that may lie between; speech and speculation free and plenteous. I do not meet, in these late decades, such company over a pipe."
In the subjects adapted to his genius, Tennyson shows himself as true a poet as ever lived. He is master of all the secrets of poetic art. In his intercourse with nature he has caught, as have few painters or musicians, its varied colors and its plaintive key. The words, thoughts, and music in which he clothes the softer passions of the heart have a delicacy and subtilty that have often been imitated but never equaled. The palaces framed in beauty, the picturesque landscapes, the portraits of fair women and gentle heroes, which stand out like cameos from his long canvas, are the flower of centuries of aristocratic English life, and breathe the luxury of an exquisite though artificial civilization.
Tennyson's place in the literature of the English language, whatever may be its relation to that of the acknowledged masters of song, is sure to be high and permanent.
1.- SONG-GEMS FROM THE PRINCESS.
[Tennyson's Princess is “a medley,” – but a medley in which is a rare mingling of philosophic thought with sweetest interludes of song. The following four lyrics are from this poem.)
1.- THE BUCLE-SONG.
The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story; The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.'
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going ! O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elf-land 2 faintly blowing ! Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying: Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying,
O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river; Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying ; And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
1 Blow ..
dying. Point out examples of iteration.
2 Elf-land, the land of the elves, or fairies.
2. – HOME THEY BROUCHT HER WARRIOR.
Home they brought her warrior dead:
She nor swooned, nor uttered cry;
“She must weep or she will die."
Then they praised him, soft and low,
Called him worthy to be loved,
Yet she neither spoke nor moved.
Stole a maiden from her place,
Lightly to the warrior stept,
Yet she neither moved nor wept.
Rose a nurse of ninety years,
Set his child upon her knee:
“Sweet my child, I live for thee."
3. – TEARS, IDLE TEARS,
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, In looking on the happy autumn-fields, And thinking of the days that are no more.
1 Stole . . . stept. Change to the is the figure of speech?
2 Like summer tempest. What prose arrangement of words,
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail That brings our friends up from the under-world, Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge ; So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah! sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe? of half-awakened birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
- A LULLABY.
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Wind of the western sea !
Blow him again to me;
up. under-world. Explain. 2 pipe, note.
3 Sweet and low, etc. Note the musical effect of the repetition.