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A Short Analysis of Tennyson’s ‘The Lotos-Eaters’

‘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.

The Lotos-Eaters

‘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

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A Short Analysis of Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’

Notes towards a commentary on Tennyson’s allegory

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) wrote two versions of ‘The Lady of Shalott’. Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ exists as both a 20-stanza poem published in 1832, and the revised version of 19 stanzas – which is the one readers are most familiar with – which was published in 1842. The poem, partly inspired by Arthurian legend (hence the presence of the knight, Lancelot) and partly by the epic sixteenth-century poem The Faerie Queene written by Edmund Spenser, remains popular, although the precise meaning of the poem remains elusive. So, a few words of analysis about this enchanting poem may help to clarify things.

The Lady of Shalott

Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Tennyson’s ‘Mariana’

On Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s early triumph

‘Mariana’ was Tennyson’s first great poem. Published in his 1830 volume Poems, Chiefly Lyrical when Tennyson was still an undergraduate student at Cambridge, it has become one of his best-loved poems and a timeless poem about unrequited love and the abandoned lover. Here is ‘Mariana’, followed by a few words of analysis about it.

Mariana

‘Mariana in the Moated Grange’
(Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)

With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall.
The broken sheds look’d sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary, Read the rest of this entry