‘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
On Arnold’s little-known meditation on growing older
‘Growing old’s like being increasingly penalised for a crime you haven’t committed.’ So said the great novelist Anthony Powell, summing up the sense of injustice that accompanies the onset of old age. There’s even a word for a fear of growing old: gerascophobia. In one of his less famous poems, the Victorian poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822-88) wondered what it means to grow old.
What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forgo her wreath?
—Yes, but not this alone.
Is it to feel our strength—
Not our bloom only, but our strength—decay? Read the rest of this entry
A summary of a Hardy poem
Thomas Hardy wrote hundreds of poems over a period spanning more than 50 years; he supposedly wrote his last poem as he lay on his death bed in 1928. Although some of his poems are anthology favourites and well-known, there are many less widely-known poems in his Collected Poems which are worth reading and, indeed, analysing. With that in mind, here is Thomas Hardy’s wonderful poem ‘The Ivy-Wife’, with a brief summary and analysis of it.
I longed to love a full-boughed beech
And be as high as he:
I stretched an arm within his reach,
And signalled unity.
But with his drip he forced a breach,
And tried to poison me. Read the rest of this entry