« PreviousContinue »
rial that London would have a very positive effect upon his spirit and this intellectual mould. "When he has felt life," said Fitzgerald, ose "you will see him acquire all that at present you miss; he will ver not die fruitless of instruction as he is." 1
London, and its pressure of life, and its strong determining the forces, acted on his poetic ambition and contemporary sense in u many ways. He tasted of its best; he met there the men who
were working for intellectual liberty and the humanities in its the midst-Carlyle, Landor, Dickens, Thackeray, John Stuart Mill th-and in meeting them, and realizing through them the spirit alse of the age, he realized himself. Then came the two volumes As of 1842, with their freight of poems old and new; and the rue probation, which had seemed hard, was virtually over. Among uce the new were the beginnings of the Arthurian poems, and many of those pieces which, like "Locksley Hall," caught the am very accent and spirit of English life sixty years ago.
With the "Idylls of the King," as they were first published dy in the earlier volumes, ends the term of his writings, so far as [or they are represented here in this volume and connected with on the earlier periods at Cambridge and London. And if his finest as poetry is to be had in his lyrics and early lyric-romances, in aft the "Idylls" we reach the verge of what was his most opulent on.contribution to English poetry. In these Arthurian idylls, he thefound a mode of expressing himself and his time under a noble lie pseudo-mediaeval mask, and he gave the old Celtic romanceed tradition, as it is found in Sir Thomas Malory and in the s Welsh "Mabinogion," a new vogue, a Victorian interpretation, thand confirmed English poetry in one of its most magical an regions.
de What we realize, as we look back on Tennyson's life and e work, is the large part he had in supplying the nineteenth stcentury with its emotional vocabulary. "He was," said one nerf our younger poets, on being asked by a sceptical French halady what particular quality he found in Tennyson, that was sa not better to be had in Byron-" he was a 'magnificent phraseee maker."" This is not enough, but so far as it goes it is true. ne He gave to his period, just as Pope stamped one currency
and Byron another, many of the phrases which carry the very blaccent of their day in them. Like Pope, he was an inspired 1 It was like Fitzgerald to discount his prediction just as freely afterwards. ad Tennyson, he said, never returned to the "champagne flavour of his earlier uslyrics," and 1842 was the year "when the press went to work with, I think, reathe last of old Alfred's best." As for "In Memoriam," it was, to his thinking, zecnonotonous-" evolved by a poetic machine of the highest order."
expressor of other men's moral and intellectual conclusions. But imaginatively he was more original than that. He translated and finely transmuted the mediaeval or the classic, or whatever subject he attempted, into choice nineteenth-century English verse. What the total merit of that performance may be, they will know best who live far enough away from his own century to estimate the lasting wear and value of his work. For the present, we are not in a state to measure him finally. We are rather in the lee now of his immense reputation, and our only chance of getting back our interest is to remember him not as a mid-Victorian but an early Victorian, and relate "The Lady of Shalott" to the days when he recited "Clerk Saunders" and "Oriana" to the Cambridge Apostles.
In the arrangement of the present volume, this relation of the poet who was a crowned head, removed and practically exempt from criticism, to the uncrowned and comparatively unknown poet of 1830 and 1833, is kept continually in view. Thus, numbers i. to v. in the succeeding pages reproduce some of the more or less unfamiliar poems, which did not find their way into the collected works, as we have usually known them. Numbers vi. to lxii. again give us the volume of 1830-the "Poems, chiefly Lyrical," in the order in which they appeared; and with only those revisions which are poetically indispensable. The date at the foot of each poem is that of the edition from which the text is printed. In certain poems, the earlier form has been preserved intact, as in "The Sea Fairies," and in this case the reader who prefers the later form has his remedy in the appendix. In the appendix are still some fragments and excerpts; and among these some memorable passages from the first drafts of "Maud" and the "Lady of Shalott," and also the curiously unrelated set of prelusive verses which originally stood at the head of the "Dream of Fair Women," where he likens the poet to the man "that sails in a balloon".
"So lifted high, the Poet at his will,
Lets the great world flit from him, seeing all,
If it is good to watch the poet while he is still crescent, and before he has sailed so high, then this volume is not without its special use and biographical effect.
The following table shows the order of Tennyson's works, ons omitting only occasional poems :—
"Poems, by Two Brothers," 1827; "Timbuctoo:" Cambridge Prize Poem, 1829; "Poems, chiefly Lyrical," 1830; "Poems," tu 1833 ; "The Lover's Tale," first printed in 1833 and magiven a small private circulation, appeared in sundry unauthorized editions in 1870 and 1875, and was finally published by the author in 1879; "Poems," 1842; "The Princess: a Medley," 1847; third edition, with songs added, 1850; “In Memoriam (A.H.H.),' all 1850; "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington," 1852; tion second edition, altered, 1853; "The Charge of the Light Brigade,' in Examiner, 1854; altered, 1855; a variant, "In Honorem," 1856; Maud, and other Poems," 1855; enlarged, 1856; Kelmscott edition, 1893; Enid and Nimue (first draft of "Vivien "): the True and the cite False," privately printed, 1857; "Idylls of the King"-"Enid," es. Vivien,' ," "Elaine," "Guinevere," 1859; new edition, 1862; the four dylls issued separately, 1867-8; "Helen's Tower. Clandeboye," 1861; f the "A Welcome [to Alexandra],” 1863; "Idylls of the Hearth, 1864; re-issued as "Enoch Arden," etc., 1864; "A Selection from the Works em of Alfred Tennyson, Poet Laureate," with five new poems, 1865; “The 10 Window, or the Loves of the Wrens," 1867; with music by A. Sullivan, hu 1871; "The Victim," 1867; "The Holy Grail, and other Poems," containing "The Coming of Arthur," "The Holy Grail," "Pelleas and Ettarre," ""The Passing of Arthur," and other poems, some of which wa were new, 1869; "Idylls of the King," 1869; "The Last Tournaemment," 1891 (altered in ensuing edition); "Gareth and Lynette," third series of "Idylls of the King," 1872; "Idylls of the King," complete edition, with "Epilogue to the Queen," 1872; 'Queen Mary: a Drama," 1875; "Harold: a Drama," 1877 ; "Ballads and abother Poems," 1880; "The Promise of May," 1882; "The Falcon and rothe Cup," 1884; "Becket," 1884; arranged for the stage by H. Irving, 1893; Tiresias, and other Poems," 1885; 'Locksley Hall Sixty Years After" [and other Poems], 1887; "Demeter, and other Poems," th1889; "The Foresters: Robin Hood, and Maid Marian," 1892; "The Death of Enone," "Akbar's Dream, and other Poems," 1892; works, complete in one volume, with last alterations, 1894.