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ALFRED LORD TENNYSON


The poet of Englishness and Britishness in the Victorian Age.
He wrote about the past, the Middle Ages, the legends of King Arthur and the round table, the tradition of chivalry (as a set of values such as generosity, self-abnegation, courage that can also be improved in the present). He also wrote about the present: the principles of contemporary England and Britain. So he was not only nostalgic, but he also celebrated the institutions of England and their missions (defending Christianity, expanding the Empire and bringing civilization to primitive people).
The poem “To the Queen” is dedicated to Queen Victoria, published in 1851 to celebrate the Queen, who is glorified. The Queen is the kingdom, the nation, the mother of the English. He also uses the figure of the Queen as a symbol of condensation of the values of Britain. He speaks about the concept of LOYALTY: the Queen is loyal to her own royalty but also to the land: crown + nation. Also the nation is loyal to the Queen. Then this concept is projected outside on an imperial scale. He’s presenting Imperialism as a possible development for the nation and the rest of the world. NB: “our” vast Orient – idea of possession. By this time Tennyson was the poet laureate in succession to W. Wordsworth. He was the official poet in the British Empire.
Very often in his poetry he acted like a sage = wise interpreter of the meaning of life. This is visible in “In Memoriam (1850): it’s a long elegy in rimes. It was dedicated to his friend Hallam, died young. Tennyson was devastated and began to write poems mourning this death and celebrating his life. This book became a kind of vademecum (how to live life and how to face death). This was true for Queen Victoria too because her husband died young and she found consolation in Tennyson’s book. “It’s better to have blood and loss than never to have loved at all”.
di Valentina Ligabue
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