Monday, May 29, 2017

Alfred Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809—1892) is the most celebrated poet of the nineteenth century. His father served as an Anglican rector, and took his children's education quite seriously. Tennyson was, on the surface, a conventional Anglican, although at times he ventured into unorthodox speculations. In 1849, Tennyson completed the poem "In Memoriam A.H.H." as a requiem for his closest friend Arthur Henry Hallum, who had been engaged to Alfred's sister, but died suddenly in 1833 while visiting Vienna.

"In Memorium" is primarily a collection of elegies that demonstrates the poet's grief and the questioning of his faith. One writer has concluded, "Although Tennyson is submerged in deep sorrow and confronted with questions and challenges to his spiritual beliefs, he becomes a stronger Christian who is filled with faith in a God of love who will reunite him with his departed friend." The poem begins:
------Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
---------Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
---------By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
------Believing where we cannot prove...

Queen Victoria was particularly drawn to this poem, which influenced her to appoint Tennyson as Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland in 1850; a post which he held until his death. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.

The following he saw as his farewell, and expressed that it should be the final poem in any edition of his poetry.

Crossing the Bar

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
------Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
------And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
------When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
------The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
------When I have crost the bar.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.