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The Representative Poem

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1260
  • Category: Poems

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The nineteenth century is known as the Victorian Era and it is famous for its improvement of information, growth of an empire and enlargement of the economy. The era had a vibrant spirit of events. During this era Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the well-known poem “Ulyssses” and it represented how he felt at the time. This poem reveals the determined spirit of everyone that lived in his culture. In the poem Tennyson says that Ulysses has been fighting and journeying for at least twenty years of his life on Earth. Along the way he has observed and learned a lot of things, but he is still not happy with his life. His desire for information is ravenous. In the poem Ulysses Tennyson says, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end,/ To rust unfurnished, not to shine in use!” The Victorian spirit that Tennyson has is also shown when he says that although his is old his goal is, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” (Ferguson, Salter, & Stallworthy, 2005).

The Victorian Era is also noticeable with a hint of distrust and aggravation. Everyone in that era seemed to be really tired with the unending rush against their time and they wanted a life of complete union, permanence, and tranquility. Tennyson shows this style of the era in his poem “The Lotos-Eaters”. In this poem Tennyson show that when the mariners reach the lotos island and consume the lotos fruits, they are astounded by the peace and hush environment of the island. Even though they still have quite a ways to go to get to their home, they desire to journey or work hard anymore and intend to reside on the island in a situation of lasting break, calm, and harmony.

They state their hatred at the tremendously hard labor filled life they have had to live all their lives by saying, “Hateful is the dark-blue sky,/ Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea,/ Death is the end of life; ah, why/ Should life al labour be?” The Victorian Era was an era of huge problems and disagreements which were very hard to solve. However as they desired to live in tranquility, they attacked these problems indirectly and from the calmer angle of negotiation to try and evade any serious danger to their meaning of self-control. And since Tennyson is the representative poet of this era, he personified the spirit of negotiation in his poetry more than any of his colleagues (Motion, 2010).

Tennyson had an interesting opinion about politics. He shared his view with a lot of people at the time who believed in the golden rule, cooperation between the democratic system and upper classes. He believed in gradual development and rejected rebellion. He stated the need of conversion in his poem “Morte D. Arthur”; “The old order changeth, yielding place to new/ And God fulfils Himself in many ways/ Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” (Review of English Studies, 2009).

In the Victorian Era sex was thought about a little differently. The Victorians wanted cooperation between unrestrained extravagance of previous eras and the whole reversal of the purposes of nature. The Victorians allowed luxury in sex but limited its area to connubial felicity and happy married life. Tennyson shows this spirit of the era in his love poems by insisting that true love is only found within a marriage. In Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot” he presents a young couple strolling together under the moon, but he goes on to assure the readers that the young couple is indeed married (Yelsibursa A., 2012).

In the Victorian Era there was immense progression of science. However, the influence off science did not agitate the faith of the Victorians in religion, God and soul. They tried to bring together science and religion. Tennyson is a great example on a poet who tried to bring together science and religion.

In “The Higher Pantheism” he states his approval of the justifiable conclusion of science, but determinedly discards its further conclusion: “God in law, say the wise; O Soul, and let us rejoice,/ For if He thunder by law the thunder is yet his voice/ Law is God, say some; no God at all, say the fool:/ For all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool.” (Cervo, 2005) In “In Memoriam,” he claims that everyone must keep their belief even though the most recent breakthroughs in science: he says, “Strong Son of God, immortal Love/ Whom we, that have not seen they face,/ By faith, and faith alone, embrace/ Believing where we cannot prove.” (O’Gorman, 2004).

Tennyson also talked to his Victorian colleagues about matters of vital social and political worry. In the Victorian era women were mediocre when compared to men. This belief of the Victorians in the minor position of women is spoken by Tennyson in “Locksley Hall”: “Weakness to be worth with weakness! woman’s pleasure, woman’s pain-/ Nature made them blinder motions bounded in a shallower brain:/ Woman is the lesser man and all the passions, match’d with mine/ Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine-“ (New York Times, 1857-1922). In “Locksley Hall” Tennyson ridicules the current society of pride, greed, or dishonesty.

The aggravation of the speaker over the social gatherings is obvious. He started falling in love with his younger cousin Amy who also loved him. But her parents remained in the way of the love they shared and made her marry a man that was rich because the speaker himself was not rich and did not have a high social status. Consequently, he now hates this social arrogance which holds back the wanting of everyone’s heart: “Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth!/ Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!/ Cursed be the sickly form that err from honest Nature’s rule!/ Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten’d forehead of the fool!” (New York Times, 1857-1922).

In “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” he claims out in support of a contensious diplomatic plan, the catastrophic charge on the Russian military by the British military in the Crimean War. Tennyson upheld a energetic interest in the developments of the era, keeping intensely dedicated to restructuring the society that he lived in and gave a voice to (Ferguson, Salter, & Stallworthy, 2005).

Tennyson was therefore not, like any of his colleagues, representative of the song, knowledge, fervor, or other incomplete saying of the Victorian era, but of the era itself, with its varied elements in sweet conjunction. In the verse he is as truly “the glass of fashion and the mould of form” of the territory and Pope of the rule of Queen Anne. This is why Tennyson is truly the representation of the nineteenth century (Ferguson, Salter, & Stallworthy, 2005).

Cervo, Nathan A. The Explicator63. 2 (Winter 2005): 76-78. Ferguson, M., Salter, M. J., & Stallworthy, J. (Eds.). (2005). The Norton anthology of poetry (5th ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. Motion, A. (2010, Spring). The Poem and The Path1. The Hudson Review, 63(1), 37. New York Times (1857-1922) [New York, N.Y] 01 Aug 1886: 6.

O’Gorman, F. (2004, Spring). Tennyson’s “in Memoriam” and tangle. ANQ, 17(2), 41-42. Review of English Studies (2009)60 (245): 460-474.doi: 10.1093/res/hgn147First published online: October 3, 2008 Yelsibursa, A. (2012, October). Teaching Poetry With Multimedia Materials: Tennyson’s “Lady of Shallot”. Novitas-Royal, 6(2).

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