TENNYSON, Alfred, LORD, English poet: b. Somersby, Lincolnshire, 6 Aug. 1809; d. Ald worth, near Haslemere, on the border of Sus sex and Surrey., 6 Oct. 1892. His boyhood was passed at his father's country rectory, in an at mosphere that was full of poetry and music; and at a very early age he began to try his wings in verse. Some of his youthful efforts werc published in partnership with his elder brother Charles, in 1827, in a volume entitled (Poems by Two Brothers.' Two years later he entered Trinity College, Cambridge., and be came a member of an intimate society called (The Apostles,' which included some of the most brilliant young men in England. Among them was Arthur Henry Hallam, the closest friend of Tennyson. In 1829 he won the Chancellor's Medal with a poem in blank-verse called
Soon after his father's death in 1831, he left college without taking his degree, and for 60 years that followed he gave himself to a poet's life with a clear resolution which never wavered.
His volume of poems published in 1832 marked a distinct growth in strength and skill. It was but a tiny book, but there was a quality in it which more than made good a lack of quantity. 'The Lady of Sha '(Enone,' 'The Lotos-Eaters,' 'The Palace of Art,' and 'A Dream of Fair Women,' revealed the presence of a true dreamer of dreams,. gifted with the magic which translates visions into music. 'The Miller's Daughter,' 'The May Queen,> and 'New Year's Eve,' ,'The the touch of one who felt the charm of English rural scenery and common life with a senti ment, so fresh and pure and deep that he might soon be able to lay his hand upon the very heart of the people.
But before this highest potency of the poet's gift could come to Tennyson, there was need of a baptism of conflict and sorrow, to purify him from the mere love of art for art's sake, to save him from becoming an over-dainty weaver of exquisite verse, and to consecrate his genius to the severe and noble service of humanity and truth. This liberating and up
lifting experience was enfolded in the pro found grief which fell upon him is Arthur Hal lain's sudden death at Vienna, in 1833. How deeply this irretrievable loss shook the poet's heart, how closely and how strenuously it forced him to face the mystery and the mean ing of life in lonely spiritual wrestling, was fully disclosed, after 17 years, in the famous elegy, 'In Memoriam.' But the traces of the conflict and sonic of its fine results were seen even earlier, in the two volumes of 'Poems' which appeared in 1842, as the fruitage of a decade of silence. (Ulysses,r 'Morte d'Arthur,) 'St. Simeon Stylites,' 'Locksley 'A Vision of Sin,> 'The Two Voices,' and that immortal lyric, 'Break, Break, Break,' were not the work of "An idle singer of an empty A new soul had entered into his poetry. His Muse had been born again, from above. He took his place with the master-minstrels who sing with a full voice out of a full heart, not for a coterie, but for the age and for the race.
It was the recognition that Tennyson really belonged to this higher class of poets —a recognition which at first . was confined to a clear-sighted circle, but spread by degrees to the wider reading public — that prepared an expectant audience for his first long poem, 'The Princess,' which appeared in 1847. The sin, ject was the eternal "woman treated in the form of an epic, half heroic and half humorous; the story of a king's daughter who sought to emancipate (and ;WOW to separate) her sex from man, by founding a wonderful woman's college, but was conquered at last (or at least modified), by the love of an amorous, chivalrous, dreamy who wooed and married her. The story is uo convineing. The blank verse in winch it is told has beauty, though it is often too onside. The conclusion of the poem is a superb tribute to 'the eternal wonlanly.) •But Iheclittle in terludes of song which are scattered through the epic shine as the •chief jewels in a setting which is not all of pure gold.