Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809 to 1892

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Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Well I am really getting side-tracked now.

Learning about  Virginia has led me, via Virginia’s Great Aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron (the famous photographer), to Tennyson who was a friend of Julia’s and a fellow member of the ‘Freshwater Circle’.

The only things I knew about Tennyson before my research, was that he wrote ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’.

I now know that he was Poet Laureate after Wordsworth and accepted his peerage in 1884. So, he was only Lord Tennyson after the age of 75! He died at age 83.

A real surprising thing that I have learned (and please forgive my ignorance) is that he wrote the following:

‘Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all’

In Memoriam A.H.H.

I would  (almost) have bet my life that it was Shakespeare. Well well well. Every day is a school day, so they say.

In Memoriam A.H.H. is considered to be a masterpiece;  written after the very early death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, it is an account of the poet’s thoughts and feelings as he mourns and grieves for his friend.

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.

It is an epic poem  written in four line stanzas with an ABBA rhyming scheme. It is written in iambic tetrameter (da DUM, da DUM, da DUM, da DUM). Maybe the ‘heartbeat’ rhythm speaks louder than the words.

This is where he lived, on the Isle of Wight.

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Farringford House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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3 thoughts on “Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809 to 1892

  1. This quote is used most often to refer to a romantic relationship. If Tennyson wrote this in a poem to Arthur Henry Hallam, was he referring to platonic love or was there something more between them. I, too, enjoy reading about the Bloomsbury set and reading about one person leads to another. I have never been interested in Tennyson but that may be because I know so little about him.

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    1. Hi Brenda
      I wondered the same myself. It seems that they met at Cambridge when they were in their late teens and immediately started a life long friendship. Sadly, that was only to be four and a half years because Arthur died aged only 22. They wrote poetry together and for each other but that wasn’t so extraordinary in those times, many men had male best friends. Arthur was infatuated with an older woman and in 1830 he became engaged to Tennyson’s sister. Even so, Tennyson is reported as saying that he would rather die than live without him as he was quite devastated when he died. Like you, I was never that interested in him but the more I learn the more interested I become.

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