‘The Flower’ is a little gem of a poem from Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92), who remains the longest-serving UK Poet Laureate (from 1850 until his death in 1892). During the six decades of his career as a poet, Tennyson had to endure criticism as well as enjoy praise and awards, and ‘The Flower’ seems to address the less pleasing side of being a public poet.
Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed.
Up there came a flower,
The people said, a weed.
To and fro they went
Thro’ my garden-bower,
And muttering discontent
Curs’d me and my flower.
Then it grew so tall
It wore a crown of light,
But thieves from o’er the wall
Stole the seed by night. Read the rest of this entry
A poem about growing old, but written when Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) was a young man in his early twenties, ‘Ulysses’ has been analysed as a response to the death of Tennyson’s close friend, Arthur Henry Hallam.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. Read the rest of this entry
‘The Lotos-Eaters’ is quite a long poem, but we’ve included it below in its entirety before offering some words of analysis. ‘The Lotos-Eaters’ was published in Tennyson’s 1832 collection, which appeared when he was still in his early twenties.
‘Courage!’ he said, and pointed toward the land,
‘This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.’
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.
A land of streams! some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some thro’ wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
From the inner land: far off, three mountain-tops,
Three silent pinnacles of aged snow,
Stood sunset-flush’d: and, dew’d with showery drops,
Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse. Read the rest of this entry