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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 young ones of a priest. After a youth marked through trauma, he went as much as Cambridge in 1828, the place he met Arthur Hallam, whose untimely demise had an enduring impression on Tennyson's existence and writing. His volumes of Poems (1842) validated him because the best poet of his new release, and of the Victorian interval. He was once created Poet Laureate in 1850 and in 1883 permitted a peerage. In T. S. Eliot's phrases, 'He has 3 characteristics that are seldom chanced on jointly other than within the maximum poets: abundance, style and whole competence. He had the best ear of any English poet for the reason that Milton.'

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Dies mirabilis! —Lewis Carroll, Diary, September 22, 1857 Personal 15 Nathaniel Hawthorne () Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the best-known American short story writers and novelists of the nineteenth century. In this extract, Hawthorne begins by describing Tennyson, a wildish, somewhat poetic figure, as sensitive, not entirely careful about his appearance, sporting a poet’s floppy hat, and seemingly uninterested in, if not unaware of, those around him. Having spotted the poet in an exhibition of paintings, he hurries off to find his wife, who he knows would be excited to see the Englishman.

Tennyson delights in a garden. Its groups, and walks, and mingled bloom intoxicate him, and us through him. So high is his organization, and so powerfully stimulated by color and perfume, that it heightens all our senses too, and the rose is glorious, not from detecting its ideal beauty, but from a perfection of hue and scent, we never felt before. ” The song, A spirit haunts the year’s last hours, is not to be surpassed for its picture of the autumnal garden. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Dial, April 1843 Edwin P.

The latter part of Emerson’s journal entry describes what seems to have been a potentially dangerous situation. Tennyson’s confrontation of a drunk, threatening Irish youth in an Irish public house—offering him his pocket knife and essentially daring the youngster to stab him—is a remarkable story. The young man appears to attempt to save face without resorting to violence by claiming Tennyson is not really English and thus not the target of his threats. Tennyson refuses to disengage from the confrontation and insists upon his nationality.

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