The Poetry Foundation describes Alfred Lord Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) as “the embodiment of his age, both to his contemporaries and to modern readers.” Alfred Tennyson was in step with a culture developing around him, and his writings held far greater importance than that of a simple English poet.
Born to a family of twelve children, Alfred Tennyson and his siblings were subjected to abuse and neglect at the hands of a father who held puritan views of religion, and who suffered from regular mental breakdowns. Several of Tennyson’s siblings were committed to mental health institutions at the father’s request.
Following the publication of a two-volume collection of poetry, Alfred Tennyson lost his remaining fortune due to poor investments. Tennyson then suffered a nervous breakdown. Upon his recovery, the British government provided him a pension, offering him some level of detachment from worldly concerns.Eventually, Tennyson’s life began to stabilize. He married (Emily Sellwood, the woman he had intended to marry before the loss of his fortune, and his nervous breakdown), he had children, and he continued to write poetry.
Alfred Lord Tennyson is described as the most widely read of the English poets.
From ‘In Memoriam’, (Arthur Henry Hallam, MDCCCXXIII)
Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
And only thro’ the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground :
Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold :
Calm and still light on yon great plain
That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main :
Calm and deep peace in this side air,
These leaves that redden to the fall ;
And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair :
Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
And waves that sway themselves in rest,
And dead calm in that noble breast,
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.
Bibliography: Tennyson, Lord (837-838). The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250 – 1900. 1st ed. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1924. Print.