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his busy life he spent in retirement on the Isle of Wight, and more recently at Petersfield in Hampshire. He was greatly beloved by the circle of friends he admitted into his intimacy: but the greater portion of his time was spent among his books and flowers. In 1855 appeared "Maud, and Other Poems." The principal poem in this volume has much divided critical opinion, but it is safe to say that it falls below his usual high achievement. The meaning of the poem, as explained by the poet himself, is the reclaiming power of love: "It is the story of a man who has a morbid nature, with a touch of inherited insanity, and very selfish. The poem is to show what love does for him. The war is only an episode. You must remember that it is not I myself speaking. It is this man with the strain of madness in his blood, and the memory of a great trouble and wrong that has put him out with the world.” 1
"The Brook" is a charming idyl, containing a delicious, rippling inter-lyric:
"I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
Whatever doubts touching the poet's genius may have been started by "Maud," they were forever cleared away in 1859 by the appearance of the "Idyls of the King." These poems were received with enthusiasm. Consisting at first of only fourEnid, Vivien, Elaine, and Guinevere- the poet afterwards wrought in the same field, until his ten idyls constitute a great epic poem. "Nave and transept, aisle after aisle," to use the language of Stedman, "the Gothic minster has extended, until, with the addition of a cloister here and a chapel yonder, the structure stands complete." These "Idyls" embody the highest poetic achievement of Tennyson's genius, and belong to the mountain summits of song. Brave knights, lovely women, medieval splendor, undying devotion, and heart-breaking tragedies, are all portrayed with the richest poetic art 1 Century Magazine, February, 1893.
and feeling. Unlike the "Iliad" or "Paradise Lost," which appeal to us largely through their grandeur, the "Idyls of the King" possess a deep human interest. They arouse our sympathies. We weep for Elaine, "the lily maid of Astolat," the victim of a hopeless love for Lancelot. How worthy of his praise!
"Fair she was, my King,
Pure, as you ever wish your knights to be.
To doubt her fairness were to want an eye,
To doubt her pureness were to want a heart
Yea, to be loved, if what is worthy love
Could bind him, but free love will not be bound."
The agonies of Arthur and Guinevere at Almesbury go to the heart: :
"Lo! I forgive thee, as Eternal God
Forgives; do thou for thine own soul the rest.
My love thro' flesh hath wrought into my life
Nor Lancelot, nor another. Leave me that,
I charge thee, my last hope."
How beautiful the words of Arthur, as he seeks in his last moments to comfort the lonely and grief-stricken Sir Bedi
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
I am going a long way
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)—
To the island valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard lawns
In 1864 appeared "Enoch Arden," a work of great beauty. It depicts with deep pathos the heroism to be found in humble life. Beauty, pathos, heroism - these are qualities that give it high rank, and have made it perhaps the most popular of all Tennyson's writings. Human nature is portrayed at its best; and like all our author's poetry, "Enoch Arden "unconsciously begets faith in man, and makes us hopeful of the future of our
Of Tennyson's other works we cannot speak. It is enough to say that they add nothing to his fame.
The quiet beauty of his death formed a fitting close to his long and uneventful career. On the evening of the 6th of October, 1892, the soul of the great poet passed away. The prayer he had breathed two years before in the little poem Crossing the Bar," was answered:
"Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
For tho' from out our bourn of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar."
He was entombed by the side of Chaucer in Westminster Abbey, while two continents were lamenting his death.
Whatever changes of taste or fashion may hereafter come in poetry, surely we are justified in believing that Tennyson will continue to hold a high rank. There is nothing in his character to detract from his reputation as a poet. Though we know comparatively little of his life, we clearly read his character in his works. He commands our confidence and reverent regard. Without exhibiting heroic traits, for which there was no special occasion, he appears to us as a man of exquisite and healthful culture. While tenderly sensitive to all that is beautiful in nature and humanity, he possessed profound ethical feeling and spiritual insight. Keenly sympathetic with the eager and restless search after truth characteristic of our time, he avoided its dangers, and continued a strong and trustworthy teacher, inspiring confidence in man, hope in the future, and faith in God.
ELAINE the fair, Elaine the lovable,
Elaine, the lily maid of Astolat,
High in her chamber up a tower to the east
Which first she placed where morning's earliest ray
Leaving her household and good father, climb'd
Of every dint a sword had beaten in it,
And ah, God's mercy, what a stroke was there!
How came the lily maid by that good shield
For Arthur, long before they crown'd him king,