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Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Alfred Tennyson, portrait by P. Krämer (Wikipedia)

Tennyson in middle age (Wikipedia)

Lord Tennyson was a British poet and the Poet Laureate during Queen Victoria’s reign. He was born in Lincolnshire, the son of a vicar and went to school in Louth. He had his first publishing successes as a poet whilst at Cambridge University.

Tennyson returned to Louth after his father died and wrote another book of poems which included The Lady of Shalott. In 1842 he moved to London and continued to write poems including Ulysses, The Charge of the Light Brigade and In Memoriam A.H.H. a tribute to his great friend Arthur Hallam.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were great admirers of his work and it was Albert who put forward the nomination for Tennyson to be Poet Laureate.

Tennyson first rented, then bought Farringford House in Freshwater, here on the Isle of Wight in 1856. He was, however not too keen on the large numbers of tourists who flocked there hoping to see him. Queen Victoria offered him a Baronry several times but in each case, he turned it down.

The two met twice, firstly on 14th April 1862, when Victoria wrote in her diary, “I went down to see Tennyson who is very peculiar looking, tall, dark, with a fine head, long black flowing hair and a beard—oddly dressed, but there is no affectation about him. I told him how much I admired his glorious lines to my precious Albert and how much comfort I found in his In Memoriam.He was full of unbounded appreciation of beloved Albert. When he spoke of my own loss, of that to the Nation, his eyes quite filled with tears.”

Tennyson met her a second time, on 7 August 1883, at Osborne, “After luncheon, saw the great Poet Tennyson, who remained nearly an hour, and most interesting it was. He is grown very old, his eyesight, much impaired, and he is very shaky on his legs. But he was very kind, and his conversation was most agreeable…I told him what a comfort “In memoriam” had always been to me, which seemed to please him…When I took leave of him, I thanked him for his kindness…”

The Charge of the Light Brigade


Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

Forward, the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!he said.

Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

In Memoriam A.H.H. (Part 27)


I envy not in any moods

The captive void of noble rage,

The linnet born within the cage,

That never knew the summer woods:


I envy not the beast that takes

His license in the field of time,

Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,

To whom a conscience never wakes;


Nor, what may count itself as blest,

The heart that never plighted troth

But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;

Nor any want-begotten rest.


I hold it true, whate’er befall;

I feel it, when I sorrow most;

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

Downhill to next

   Uphill to next

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