Ch. 1, Pg. 5: Tennyson, indeed, my father liked

…But it was the Tennyson of In Memoriam and Locksley Hall. I never heard from him of the Lotus Eaters or the Morte D’Arthur.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

That is, the more realistic Tennyson rather than the Tennyson of fantasy and myth.

“In Memoriam A. H. H.” is an extended meditation on the death of Tennyson’s friend Arthur Henry Hallam; it addresses the very Victorian themes of conflict within religious faith and omnipresent death and grief. “Locksley Hall” is a bitter lament for a lost love who has chosen a less worthy man than the narrator; it includes casual sexism that hints at its Victorian origins. “Locksley Hall” contains disconnected dream imagery verging on the fantastic, but is far more grounded overall than the “The Lotus Eaters” or the Arthurian poems.

“The Lotus Eaters” is based on Odysseus’s encounter with an island of, unsurprsingly, lotus eaters. The poem resembles Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in its fantastic content, maritime themes, eerie tone and its firmly established place in the English canon. 

Lewis might have slightly misspoken with his reference to the “Morte D’Arthur.” Tennyson did write a poem titled “Morte D’Arthur,” but it was part of his larger collection of Arthurian poems titled Idylls of the King, based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. Lewis likely meant to refer to the larger work.


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