Alfred Tennyson

Tennyson, Alfred (Lord), the great English poet, and poet laureate, was born at Somersby, Lincolnshire, in August, 1809, and died at Aldworth, in October, 1892. He was unquestionably the greatest English poet of his time and one of the greatest poets of all time. He was the youngest of three brothers, all of whom were educated at Cambridge, and gave promise of marked intellectual gifts. Alfred Tennyson's first volume, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, was published in 1830, and met with a favourable reception, though its merits hardly warranted the expectation of his later masterpieces. Other volumes followed rapidly, exhibiting his powers as a poet. In 1850 Tennyson gave to the world a poem which instantly quieted all doubts, of which there had been some, as to his title to the highest rank among contemporary poets, and which was universally received as an ample warrant for his appointment to the poet-laureateship which was made in the same year. This was his famous poem, In Memoriam. Maud, published in 1855 added to the author's fame, and the same may be said of the many shorter poems from his pen which preceded the publication of the Idyls of the King, in 1859. The great charm of Tennyson's poetry lies in his unequalled felicity of diction; his choice and arrangement of words and adjustment of epithets almost seem to be the result of inspiration, so happy are they. The most striking characteristic of his verse is refinement,—a delicacy of sentiment and expression that has rarely, if ever, been attained by any poet. His influence upon the poetical spirit of the age has been very potent, and to the purity of his muse is due, in great degree, the comparative health of our poetical literature.