"I stand like some lone tower Of former days remaining" - Alfred Tennyson

6 August 1809, the poet Lord Alfred Tennyson was born in Somersby in Lincolnshire.




“Tennyson is not only a minor Virgil, he is also with Virgil as Dante saw him, a Virgil among the Shades, the saddest of all English poets, among the Great in Limbo, the most instinctive rebel against the society in which he was the most perfect conformist” (T.S. Eliot)


Archetypical, big bushy bearded, hat-wearing Victorian Poet Laureate: Lord Alfred Tennyson




Becoming Poet Laureate in 1850 in succession of Wordsworth, Tennyson broke quite a few records of the literary world, not only by holding said office for more than 40 years until his death, the longest tenure before and since, he was the first literary figure being made a noble. He is the ninth most frequently quoted poet writing in English according to the “Oxford Dictionary of Quotations” and being the author who influenced the Arts and Crafts movement of the second half of the 19th century credited with having created the arguably strongest image of the Middle Ages, the one he conjured with the creation of his Arthurian world of “The Idylls of the King” (1859 – 1885).





Edward Linley Sambourne (1844 - 1910): "Alfred the Great", appearing in "Punch" 1882




Born into a clerical family where the arts and a classical education were highly appreciated, Tennyson enjoyed a moderate success as a poet during the first half of his life, but far too less to live from his art. He managed his breakthrough in 1850, not sans grim irony, with the publication of the requiem on the dead of his best friend Arthur Hallam twenty years before, "In Memoriam A.H.H." – the appointment as Poet Laureate followed the same year and Tennyson had made it – what followed was a dutiful output of poetry, as dull as it was probably expected of him, as well as often quoted pieces about the death of Old Nosey, Lord Wellington, in 1852 and his narrative poem about the fiasco of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” during the Crimean War in 1854, that transported a couple of phrases into the English language, from the “Valley of Death”, to “Some one had blunder’d” and "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die".




John Everett Millais (1829 - 1896): "Portrait of Lord Alfred Tennyson" (1881)



Tennyson 
was a master of rhythmic and descriptive language and used stylistic devices perfectly, drawing his inspiration from legends and myths and nature as well as philosophical issues, raised by the contemporary scientific discussion, about religion, reason, life and death in a well-rounded oeuvre, without ever leaving the superficies of a highly polished surface. If the limits imposed on him by his office as well as his upbringing and personality hindered him to develop his art is still open to debate, but Tennyson remains with his poetry and his life the most accomplished manifestation of the Victorian Age.