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Alfred Lord Tennyson

Biography of well-known Victorian poet

Early years

The motherland of this famous Victorian poet is Somersby, Lincolnshire. He grew up in the family of the church rector. It was a large family with twelve children where Alfred was fourth. At the very early age, he already has shown his skills for writing. When he was twelve, he wrote an epic poem for six thousand lines. Tennyson family was big, and it was difficult to maintain it. That’s why Tennyson attended Louth Grammar School just for a couple of years. The rest he was taught by his well-read and educated father. He taught little Alfred languages of different epochs. However, later father started to drink and then suffered from mental breakdowns. They started to quarrel with each other.

In 1827 Alfred entered the Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied there with his two older brothers. But in 1831 his father died. Because of their limited budget, he wasn’t able to finish his education and gain a diploma. But he loved poetry, and it was an impetus to focus on it.

During the study, he found Arthur Hallam who became his best friend. They met at a literary club called “Apostles”, Arthur arranged this club. They travelled a lot. They went to Europe together two times. Suddenly in 1833 Hallam died. It was a tremendous lost for Alfred. Later many literary pieces written by him will be dedicated to Hallam.


Writer’s first poetry called “Poems by Two Brothers” was published in 1827. In two years he won a chancellor’s medal for the “Timbuctoo” poem. At the end of 1832, another edition of poetry was published named “Poems by Alfred Tennyson”, there was “The Lotos-Eaters”, “The Palace of Art” and “The Lady of Shalott”. Unfortunately, this volume was critically reviewed. It was a great hit for Alfred, and he stopped writing for some time.

In 1829 he won the chancellor’s gold medal with a work called “Timbuctoo”. In 1830 he wrote “Poems, Chiefly Lyrical”.

The next publication was “Poems” (1842). It includes two volumes. First one was dedicated to previously edited poems (“The lady Shalott” etc.). The second volume includes such poems as: “Locksley Hall”, “Morte d’Arthur”, “The Two Voices”, “The Vision of Sin”, “Ulysses”, “The May Queen”, “Lady Clara Vere de Vere”, and “The Lord of Burleigh”. This edition was great to step forward, and it gained many positive and warm comments.

In 1847 the next famous work was printed “The Princess” – the first long narration that clarifies his anti-feminism. Then in 1850 “In Memoriam”, dedicated to Arthur Hallam, went to print and brought great success for a writer. These two writings brought Tennyson more followers as for the English poet.  This writing reflects many problems of the Victorian age.

This poet became a well-known author of the Victorian period when he turned 41. At this time he could purchase a house on earned money from his poetry.

In 1859 Alfred Tennyson published “Idylls of the Kings”. More than ten thousand copies were sold in a month.

Later Years

His later year life also has interesting facts. Alfred had very good relations with Queen Victoria. She found consolation in Alfred’s literary works after her husband died.

Tennyson was proposed baronetcy several times, but he refused this proposal. Later, in 1883, he was suggested peerage and he, of course, accepted it. After this, he became Baron Tennyson of Aldworth and Freshwater or simply Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Alfred had a family: wife (Emily Sellwood who he married in 1850) and two sons Hallam and Lionel.


Mr. Tennyson was ill for several years. He had gout, and it progressed. In 1892, at the age of 83, Alfred Tennyson died and was buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner.

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The Snowdrop

Many, many welcomes,February fair-maid!Ever as of old time,Solitary firstling,Coming in the cold time,Prophet of the gay time,Prophet of the May time,Prophet of the roses,Many, many welcomes,February fair-maid!

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: Part 130

Thy voice is on the rolling air;  I hear thee where the waters run;  Thou standest in the rising sun,And in the setting thou art fair. What art thou then? I cannot guess;  But tho’ I seem in star and flower;;To feel thee some diffusive power,I do not therefore love thee less: My love involves the love before;;;My…

The Owl

When cats run home and light is come,  And dew is cold upon the ground,And the far-off stream is dumb,  And the whirring sail goes round,  And the whirring sail goes round,    Alone and warming his five wits,    The white owl in the belfry sits. When merry milkmaids click the latch,  And rarely smells the new-mown hay,And the cock hath sung…



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Northern Farmer: New Style

Dosn’t thou ‘ear my ‘erse’s legs, as they canters awaay?Proputty, proputty, proputty–that’s what I ‘ears ’em saay.Proputty, proputty, proputty–Sam, thou’s an ass for thy paains:Theer’s moor sense i’ one o’ ‘is legs, nor in all thy braains. Woa–theer’s a craw to pluck wi’ tha, Sam; yon ‘s parson’s ‘ouse–Dosn’t thou knaw that a man mun…

A Farewell

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,     Thy tribute wave deliver:No more by thee my steps shall be,     For ever and for ever. Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,     A rivulet then a river:Nowhere by thee my steps shall be     For ever and for ever. But here will sigh thine alder tree     And here…

Northern Farmer: Old Style

Wheer ‘asta bean saw long and mea liggin’ ‘ere aloan?Noorse? thoort nowt o’ a noorse: whoy, Doctor’s abean an’ agoan;Says that I moant ‘a naw moor aale; but I beant a fool;Git ma my aale, fur I beant a-gawin’ to break my rule. Doctors, they knaws nowt, fur a says what ‘s nawways true;Naw soort…

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;Close to the sun in lonely lands,Ring’d with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;He watches from his mountain walls,And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Demeter And Persephone

Faint as a climate-changing bird that fliesAll night across the darkness, and at dawnFalls on the threshold of her native land,And can no more, thou camest, O my child,Led upward by the God of ghosts and dreams,Who laid thee at Eleusis, dazed and dumb,With passing thro’ at once from state to state,Until I brought thee…

St. Agnes’ Eve

Deep on the convent-roof the snowsAre sparkling to the moon:My breath to heaven like vapour goes;May my soul follow soon!The shadows of the convent-towersSlant down the snowy sward,Still creeping with the creeping hoursThat lead me to my Lord:Make Thou my spirit pure and clearAs are the frosty skies,Or this first snowdrop of the yearThat in…

Locksley Hall

Locksley Hall by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet ‘t is early morn:Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn. ‘T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall; Locksley Hall, that…

Locksley Hall Sixty Years After

Late, my grandson! half the morning have I paced these sandy tracts,Watch’d again the hollow ridges roaring into cataracts, Wander’d back to living boyhood while I heard the curlews call,I myself so close on death, and death itself in Locksley Hall. So–your happy suit was blasted–she the faultless, the divine;And you liken–boyish babble–this boy-love of…

The Eagle (a fragment)

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;Close to the sun in lonely lands,Ring’d with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;He watches from his mountain walls,And like a thunderbolt he falls.

The Kraken

The Kraken by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Below the thunders of the upper deep;Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleepThe Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights fleeAbout his shadowy sides; above him swellHuge sponges of millennial growth and height;And far away into the sickly light,From many a wondrous grot and secret cellUnnumber’d and enormous…

The Mermaid

I Who would beA mermaid fair,Singing alone,Combing her hairUnder the sea,In a golden curlWith a comb of pearl,On a throne? II I would be a mermaid fair;I would sing to myself the whole of the day;With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;And still as I comb’d I would sing and say,‘Who is…

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 27

I envy not in any moodsThe captive void of noble rage,The linnet born within the cage,That never knew the summer woods: I envy not the beast that takesHis license in the field of time,Unfetter’d by the sense of crime, Nor, what may count itself as blest,The heart that never plighted trothBut stagnates in the weeds…

The Princess: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:The fire-fly wakens: waken thou with me. Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,And like a ghost she glimmers on to me. Now lies the earth all Danae to the stars,And all…


It little profits that an idle king,By this still hearth, among these barren crags,Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and doleUnequal laws unto a savage race,That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.I cannot rest from travel: I will drinkLife to the lees: All times I have enjoy’dGreatly, have suffer’d greatly, both…

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: Part 036

Tho’ truths in manhood darkly join,;;Deep-seated in our mystic frame,;;We yield all blessing to the nameOf Him that made them current coin; For Wisdom dealt with mortal powers,;;Where truth in closest words shall fail,;;When truth embodied in a taleShall enter in at lowly doors. And so the Word had breath, and wrought;;With human hands the…

Morte D’Arthur

So all day long the noise of battle roll’dAmong the mountains by the winter sea;Until King Arthur’s table, man by man,Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,A broken…

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: Part 129

Dear friend, far off, my lost desire,  So far, so near in woe and weal;  O loved the most, when most I feelThere is a lower and a higher; Known and unknown; human, divine;  Sweet human hand and lips and eye;  Dear heavenly friend that canst not die,Mine, mine, for ever, ever mine; Strange friend, past, present, and to…


Come into the garden, Maud,  For the black bat, Night, has flown,Come into the garden, Maud,  I am here at the gate alone;And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,  And the musk of the roses blown. For a breeze of morning moves,  And the planet of Love is on high,Beginning to faint in the light that she loves  On a…

Milton (Alcaics)

O mighty-mouth’d inventor of harmonies,O skill’d to sing of Time or Eternity,God-gifted organ-voice of England,Milton, a name to resound for ages;Whose Titan angels, Gabriel, Abdiel,Starr’d from Jehovah’s gorgeous armouries,Tower, as the deep-domed empyreanRings to the roar of an angel onset–Me rather all that bowery loneliness,The brooks of Eden mazily murmuring,And bloom profuse and cedar archesCharm,…

The Lady Of Shalott

Part I On either side the river lieLong fields of barley and of rye,That clothe the wold and meet the sky;And thro’ the field the road runs by;;;; To many-tower’d Camelot;And up and down the people go,Gazing where the lilies blowRound an island there below,The island of Shalott. Willows whiten, aspens quiver,Little breezes dusk and…

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 54

Oh, yet we trust that somehow goodWill be the final end of ill,To pangs of nature, sins of will,Defects of doubt, and taints of blood; That nothing walks with aimless feet;That not one life shall be destroy’d,Or cast as rubbish to the void,When God hath made the pile complete; That not a worm is cloven…


Dark house, by which once more I standHere in the long unlovely street,Doors, where my heart was used to beatSo quickly, waiting for a hand, A hand that can be clasp’d no more–Behold me, for I cannot sleep,And like a guilty thing I creepAt earliest morning to the door. He is not here; but far…

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