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be trusted) of an Italian romance con
The narrative element of the poem cerning the Donna di Scalotta. This may goes back to Homer's Odyssey, IX, 83-97 have suggested "Shalott” in place of (see Butcher and Lang's or any other “Astolat," the form used in Sir Thomas translation), beginning "On the tenth day Malory's version of the story of Elaine set foot on the land of the lotos(Morte d'Arthur, Book XVIII, chapters eaters. Revising the poem for the edition 9-20) and later by Tennyson in his Idylls of 1842 (it first appeared in 1833), Tennyof the King. The reader will find it profit son introduced a passage
stanza VI of able to study the present poem in conjunc the Choric Song - in which the Greeks tion with Malory's version and Tennyson's surmise the troubled state of affairs in "Lancelot and Elaine.” Here the treat their island-home Ithaca, the "confusion in ment is pictorial and mystical. The key the little isle,” to which they have now to the allegory, according to Tennyson's grown languidly indifferent. He thus son, is to be found in lines 69-72. Canon heightened the contrast between the sweet Ainger reported the following explanation seductions of the sense-life and the human by Tennyson himself: “The new-born love responsibilities of a life lived among men, for something, for some one, in the wide and so deepened the spiritual undercurworld from which she has been so long rent of the theme. But the poem as a secluded, takes her out of the region of
whole is a chant of delight in a rich and shadows into that of realities.”
indolent life of the senses. Brooding on (301.) 3. wold: a tract of open, rolling Homer's plain account of what happened land.
to the followers of Ulysses, Tennyson 5. Camelot: the legendary capital sought to make real, through his finely city of King Arthur, commonly placed in selective imagination, the heavy contentCornwall, southwestern England.
ment of the lotos-eaters and the dreamy 76. brazen greaves: the knight's beauty of the land to which they have armor below the knee.
come. Toward the attainment of this pur(302.) 80. yellow field: Cf. lines 2-3.
pose, he derived valuable suggestions from 84. the golden Galaxy: the Milky Spenser's Faerie Queene (the description Way.
of the Idle Lake, in particular, Book II, 87. blazoned baldric: a belt worn
Canto Sixth) and from Thomson's "Castle over the shoulder and across the body and
of Indolence.” bearing heraldic emblems:
A comparison of this poem with Keats's 143. They song: Cf. line 30. chief odes and “The Eve of St. Agnes,"
written a dozen years earlier and at about
the same age, will bring out the relationTHE LOTOS-EATERS
ship and also the marked difference be
tween Tennyson's style and that of his A mood of languorous and sensuous de predecessor. light, retiring from the energetic and com (303.) 35. deep-asleep he seemed, yet all plex life of the time in which he found awake: in a deep languor, yet with senses himself, was a tendency of the young alive to beauty. - Contrast "the wakeful Tennyson. He set himself to control it, in anguish” of Keats's “Ode on Melancholy the service of a high moral and artistic (page 252). purpose; see his “Palace of Art," and the
38. Between the sun and moon: comments upon it in the Memoir by his The phrase recalls the whole picture of son, Vol. I, pages 118-121. But the mood the three opening stanzas, since the tone provides much of the charm of his early of that picture was largely given by these poetry: e.g., “The Lady of Shalott” (page opposite lights; see lines 7, 12, 14, 17, 19, 301), “CEnone" (page 306), “Mariana," 26. "A Dream of Fair Women,” and above all, (305.) 133. amaranth and moly: Amathe present poem. Here the mood is most ranth means in Greek “unfading.” Moly fully grasped and puí into
The is a plant described in the Odyssey as being poet's choice of subject matter was felici black at the root but having a flower like
milk: “moly the gods call it, but it is hard
51. Simois: a stream rising in Mt. for mortal men to dig."
Ida. (305.) 142. acanthus-wreath divine : Acan (307.) 72. oread: a mountain-nymph, such tha was a nymph loved by Apollo, and as (Enone. changed into the flower acanthus.
81. light-foot Iris: messenger of
102. peacock: the bird sacred to
Hera (Juno) who is introduced in the Deriving his materials from various ensuing lines. sources, Tennyson in this poem retells a
(308.) 162-164. the full-grown will famous Greek myth in his modern way,
perfect freedom: until the will, full-grown putting into it his own thought and pro and rounded out by experience, shall, as viding a setting elaborated with his usual
pure law, coincide with the perfect kind meticulous art. The myth is the story of
of freedom. — Pallas' speech is a noble the judgment of Paris, here narrated from
expression of Tennyson's sense of the inner the point of view of (Enone.
law; cf. lines 145-146. A son of Priam, king of Troy, the in
170-171. Idalian Aphrodite fant Paris was exposed on Mount Ida, Paphian wells: Aphrodite (Venus) was but was brought up by a shepherd. He
said to have sprung from the foam of the married (Enone, daughter of a river-god. She was worshipped especially at Their fates, however,
Idalium and Paphos in Cyprus. through the part that he played in the
175-178. From the violets etc.: quarrel concerning the golden apple. The
Observe how the poet here recalls, for the myth tells that, when Peleus and Thetis
sake of Venus, the noontide lights, flowers, were wedded, all the gods were invited and vines of the “bower” (see lines 90with the exception of Eris, or Strife; who,
100). enraged, cast among the guests a golden (309.) 204. They came
tallest apple (Tennyson's "fruit of pure Hesper-pines: apparently the ship-builders, cutting ian gold,” the Hesperides being the guar the timber for the ship in which Paris dians of the apples) which bore the in sailed to Sparta. scription "For the fairest.” Hera, Pallas
220. The Abominable: Eris. Athena, and Aphrodite each claimed it. To
(310.) 259. Cassandra: Priam's daughter, settle the dispute, Zeus bade the contest who foretold the fall of Troy. ants betake themselves to Mount Ida and assert their claims before Paris. Hera offers the shepherd vast power; Pallas, wis
LOVE THOU THY LAND dom and law ("Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control"); Aphrodite, the fairest See the note on Disraeli's “Wellington,” of women to be his wife. Accepting the page 716, above.
This poem gives the last bribe, the shepherd in consequence de political and social aspect of the type of serts the nymph Enone, who, filled with character described in the preceding poem,
woe, senses prophetically the lines 142-164. dread events that will issue from the de
11-12. wild hearts
can lime: cision of Paris, the long war and the The people are extravagant in desire and doom of great Troy. — In a later poem, feeble in accomplishment, easily led and be"The Death of Enone,” Tennyson con trayed by the sophist, like birds .ensnared cludes her story.
with lime. (306.) 10. Gargarus: the loftiest peak of 20-24. Watch what main-currents Ida, whence, according to Homer, the gods etc.: When you have clearly discerned a watched the battles in the plains of Troy. movement that is soundly progressive, try
39-40. yonder walls slowly to stop the growth of prejudices that opbreathed: Apollo, it is said, raised the
But use no bitter words, rememwalls of Troy with the music of his lyre. 1 bering that gentleness itself is an advance
of civilization; and that those who are of Dante's Ulysses: "Consider
your weaker in discernment than you, may be, origin; ye were not formed to live like as persons, equally valuable (with "thy brutes, but to follow virtue and knowlpeers” compare line 8).
edge.” At the end of the quest is the (310.) 34. With life that, working "eternal silence" to which the pagan mind strongly, binds: The law that has been looked forward stoically; or, it may be long and fully discussed, by many persons (though the hope never rises to faith), a of different minds and interests (lines 35 new life in the Happy Isles fabled to lie 36), will have won a vitality that will en beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the strait sure its being obeyed.
of Gibraltar), the dwelling-place of great (311.) 67-68. Regard gradation
departed spirits like Achilles. rising wind: Consider the many and suc
3. mete: measure out. cessive “changes” (line 65) necessary be
4. unequal: above their capacity, fore there can arise a new social state and therefore to be "doled out to them; ("the second whole”) that will be har cf. lines 35-38. monious. Otherwise, the “rising wind” of
10. rainy Hyades: a group of stars progress will be ridden by the fury Dis anciently associated with wet weather. cord.
. I am become a
man: I 69. idol-fires: the various schemes nothing, now, except the honor that came of progress worshipped in the nineteenth me in travel (line 15) and battle century; cf. lines 59-64.
a part of all etc.:
Ulysses has entered so keenly (lines 7-8) ULYSSES
into all his varied experiences that he still
lives and moves in them; yet not as in a The substance of this poem was pri- | dwelling where he could happily “make an marily suggested by a passage in Dante's end” (line 22): for they all converge into Inferno, XXVI, 90-142, which the reader
a single, endless archway stretching ahead. should consult (translations by Carey, C.
(312.) 50. Old age hath yet etc.: Contrast E. Norton, Henry Johnson). Tennyson
Tennyson "The Lotos-Eaters,” lines 51-53. follows the medieval legend quite closely; but his conception of the character of Ulysses is partly Dante's, partly Homer's,
TITHONUS partly his own. Much of the feeling that animates the words of Ulysses is unmis According to myth, Tithonus, a mortal, takably modern. It should be noted that beautiful in his youth, was beloved of Eos, the central idea embodied in the poem is goddess of the dawn, at whose request he quite the opposite of that in Tennyson's was made immortal, like herself. Eos, other Ulysses poem, “The Lotos-Eaters” however, had not besought the gods to (page 303).
endow him with perpetual youth and vigor; In the choice of scene, Tennyson departs accordingly, though immortal, he slowly from Dante and follows Homer, repre wasted away to a decrepit old age from senting Ulysses as having returned to the which death could not release him. (Even"barren crags” of his island-home Ithaca, tually, he was transformed into a grassafter the many long years of the Trojan hopper.) War and of his subsequent wanderings. The great though quiet power of the Here he .is “matched with an agèd wife," poem in which Tennyson has interpreted Penelope, and out of sympathy with the this myth, comes from his grasp of two old “savage race" over whom he reigns as “an aims of the heart: one of them youthful, idle king.” But to be idle is hateful: he mystic, and intense (lines 50-63), the other must respond to the active life within, more mature and more truly human (lines urging strength of will and a quest of 64-76). — Have any previous poems in fuller experience. Tennyson enlarges, with this book something of the same general something of romantic longing, the saying | idea?
(313.) 18. Hours: Horæ, goddesses of the
126. through the thunder-storm:
What relation does this bear to “in the 25. the silver star, thy guide: the central blue” (line 124) ? morning-star.
130. And the kindly univer49. “The gods” etc.: probably not a sal law: The earth will rest from battle, specific quotation, but an epigrammatic for men shall be bound ("lapt”) by human rendering of a prevalent Greek thought. law, as external nature is by hers. The 62-63. Like that strange song
word “kindly" has here its old meaning of rose into towers: See note to page 306, "natural,” i.e., in accord with the law of lines 39-40, above.
one's own kind; cf. line 29, and context, in (314.) 76. silver wheels: Eos is generally the preceding poem. represented as coming in a chariot.
135-136. Slowly comes a hungry people etc.: intended as a contrast to lines
127-128. - See the note, above, to Hood's LOCKSLEY HALL
"Song of the Shirt” (page 709), a poem
written soon after the present one. In Beneath the thin fiction, this poem ex 1843 also appeared Thomas Carlyle's Past presses much of Tennyson's own moods
and Present, attacking the doctrine of and of his reflection upon the activities of "laissez-faire," and urging active help and his age, sometimes with fine poetic power. guidance for the working-class; see par
3. curlews: game birds, of the snipe ticularly the powerful chapter on “Democfamily.
Carlyle and others were inveighing 4. Dreary gleams - flying: against the Corn Laws (finally abolished gleams of light among hurrying clouds or in 1846), which kept up the price of bread. mists; “Aying” is used absolutely. This Earlier, the so-called Corn-Law Rhymer, prepares for the storm at the close (line Ebenezer Elliott (1781-1849) had been 191).
producing verse a sample of which is the 9. the Pleiads: a group ("swarm”) following, entitled “Spenserian”. a grimly of stars, six of them plainly visible, hun ironic use of the Spenserian stanza, usually dreds of others not definitely distinguish-employed in the realms of romance: able (probably the "silver braid” of line 10).
“I saw a horrid thing of many names, 12. the fairy-tales of science: the And many shapes. Some called it wealth, wonderful discoveries and prospects of some power, science. Particulars mentioned in Some grandeur. From its heart it shot line 186.
black flames, (316.) 75. comfort scorned of devils: That scorched the souls of millions, hour alluding to “Paradise Lost," Books First by hour; and Second.
And its proud eyes rained everywhere a 75-76. the poet sings etc.: Dante, shower “Inferno,” V, 121-123: “There is Of hopeless life, and helpless misery; greater grief than to remember a happy For, spoused to fraud, destruction was its time in misery.”
dower! 79-80. Like a dog etc.: Cf. lines But its cold brightness could not hide from 49-50.
107. that earlier page: See lines The parent base of crime, the nurse of U-16.
poverty!” (317.) 121-124. Saw the heavens Long before Tennyson's time, the balloon
138. the process of the suns: the had suggested man's eventual conquest of
passage of time. the air. Shelley, in "Prometheus Un
141. Knowledge comes, but wisdom bound,” Act Fourth, line 421 (page 199), lingers: Cf. “Love Thou Thy Land,” lines is vaguely prophetic. Tennyson's predic 17-20 (page 131). tion is explicit and vivid.
- nothing: At least
in England, where nature is cold and deca Grail, whose story is told by Malory in dent, woman's passion is nothing as com Books XI-XVII and by Tennyson in one pared with mine (the completion of the of the finest of his Idylls, “The Holy idea comes in lines 167-168). — The ensu Grail," both of which (or at least the ing description of tropic scenery expresses latter) should be read in conjunction with that poetic yearning for a richer climate the present poem. The Holy Grail itself which entered into the mood of "The is the cup from which Christ drank at the Lotos-Eaters" (page 310).
Last Supper, and in which Joseph of Ari(318.) 173. again the dream: His vision
mathea was said to have caught His blood ary marriage with “some savage woman" at the crucifixion; it was afterwards con(line 168) reminds him of his former veyed, in one account, to Britain. The romantic fancies.
quest of the Grail became the ideal of 180. like Joshua's moon in Ajalon: many knights, but it was visible only to the See Joshua, X, 12-13.
pure in heart — only, in fact, to the “virgin 182. Let the great world heart” of the knight Galahad. In the idyl grooves of change: Tennyson explained of “The Holy Grail" Tennyson represents that when he went by the first train from King Arthur as deploring the quest: "ye Liverpool to Manchester, in 1830, he sup follow wandering fires." "But I,” cries posed “that the wheels ran in a groove."
Galahad in high rapture, Hence the image in this line. - Throughout the nineteenth century the idea of
“But I, Sir Arthur, saw the Holy Grail, change pervades men's thoughts, impul
I saw the Holy Grail and heard a cry sively in the era inaugurated by the French
O Galahad,' and 'O Galahad, follow Revolution, more soberly in the Victorian age. In Tennyson's "Locksley Hall"
This ringing ecstasy reveals a mystic reach period, the enthusiasm for "progress” was
in Tennyson himself far exceeding that of feeding optimistically upon the doctrine of
his own early work, and the work of his evolution as set forth by Darwin's prede
early master Keats. cessors.
Galahad's temper is conveyed partly in 182. great world: Tennyson origin
the persistent beat of the tetrameter. But, ally wrote "peoples.”
for variety, in each stanza lines 2, 4, and 8 183. Through the shadow etc.: Our
are shortened; and line 11 has an internal Western civilization is moving from the old instead of an end rhyme. darkness to the new light.
(319.) 1. casques: helmets. 184. Europe Cathay: Europe
18. crypt: here, the basement of a stands for change or progress, Cathay church, or other ecclesiastical building, (China) for a static or stagnant condition.
used as a chapel. 185. Mother-Age etc.: "mine" refers to his own dead mother (see line 156).
25. the stormy crescent: the cloudy Instead of her, he addresses the Time
51. The cock crows etc.: An old Spirit (Zeitgeist), which has fostered him
belief was that on Christmas Eve "the like a mother.
bird of dawning singeth all night long" 186. weigh the sun: alluding, doubt
(Hamlet, I, 1, 160). less, to experiments conducted by Francis
53. the leads: lead-covered roofs. Baily about this time.
70-72. This mortal etc.: For an
account of Tennyson's own trance experiSIR GALAHAD
ences, see the Memoir by his son, I, 320,
and II, 473. This poem has a graver, deeper note than may be found in Tennyson's early BREAK, BREAK, BREAK Arthurian poem “The Lady of Shalott" (page 301). It is a character portrait of A sorrower
may feel in life a cold, the valiant, chaste, saintly hero of the Holy | throbbing force -- beyond life's simple joy's