As Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s spellbinding poetry epitomized the Victorian age. The works in this volume trace nearly sixty years of his literary career and show the wide variety of poetic forms he mastered.
This selection gives some of Tennyson’s most famous works in full, including Maud, depicting a tragic love affair, and In Memoriam, a profound tribute to his dearest friend.
Reviewed by Christopher Rush in Slightly Foxed Issue 63.
’ Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost?
Tennyson’s In Memoriam (1850) is a poem about love and death, the two things which change all things – which is a powerful reason for reading what happens to be a powerful piece of writing, one of the key works of the nineteenth century, and one which has been described antithetically as the epitome of Victorian scepticism and of Christian faith. And there you have it: a great work of art precisely because it contains no single clear moral, despite its many pronouncements, but teaches us instead that life is a complex business which can’t be diluted to the simplicity of a didactic dictum. The poem partakes rather of that suspension of decision which is the exact opposite of what we expect and get from propaganda, an art form best left to the politicians. Great writers never attempt to reduce human existence to a formula; there are no rights and wrongs, no clear-cut messages in any work of art, and that is why In Memoriam is an artistic triumph . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 63, Autumn 2019
’Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost?
Tennyson’s In Memoriam (1850) is a poem about love and death, the two things which change all things – which is a powerful reason for reading what happens to be a powerful piece of writing, one...Read more