Alfred Lord Tennyson and Matthew Arnold

  • John Powell Ward


In 1850, exactly halfway through the century, Wordsworth died. In the autumn of that year Tennyson succeeded as Poet Laureate, and when in the following February he went to the queen to receive this honour formally, he wore the court dress overcoat which had been Wordsworth’s1. This is often seen as a ritual handing-on to the successor Wordsworth himself had more than once implied he would himself have chosen. We can also see Tennyson putting on the outer garment of Wordsworths copious and seamless language, without letting on how far he had the body inside to wear it.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    The standard biography is R. B. Martin, Tennyson: The Unquiet Heart (Oxford, Clarendon Press, Faber & Faber, 1980).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Martin, op. cit., p. 291.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Langbaum op, cit., ch. 2; Carol T. Christ, Victorian And Modern Poetics (University of Chicago Press, 1984), chs 1 and 2.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tennyson: In Memoriam, eds Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1982), Preface, esp. pp. 7–20.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Princeton Encyclopedia Of Poetry And Poetics, ed. Alex Preminger (Princeton University Press and Macmillan, 1975), p. 215.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    W. David Shaw, op. cit., p. 277.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hallam Lord Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir (Macmillan, 1897), 2 vols, Vol II, p. 288.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shatto & Shaw, op. cit., p. 15; Hallam Lord Tennyson, op. cit., Vol I, p. 294.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    De Man, op,. cit., p. 11.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Marion Shaw, Alfred Lord Tennyson (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1988), pp. 144-58.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Alan Sinfield for example notices the ‘babe-faced lord’ (Part II, section i, stanza 1, line 13) but sees him as epitomizing effeminacy. A. Sinfield, Alfred Tennyson (Basil Blackwell, 1986), p. 175. Cf. also Robert E. Longy, ‘The Sounds and Silence of Madness: Language as Theme in Tennyson’s Maud’ in Victorian Poetry (USA) Vol. 22 (1984), pp. 407–26.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Langbaum, op. cit.; Carol T. Christ, op. cit., p. 17.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Standard biography is Park Honan, Matthew Arnold: A Life (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1981); cf. also W. F. Connell, The Educational Thought And Influence Of Matthew Arnold (Greenwood Press, Connecticut, 1971).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    J. Hillis Miller The Linguistic Moment Princeton University Press 1985 p. 17.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    In a letter to John Duke Coleridge, quoted in Lionel Trilling, Matthew Arnold (George Allen & Unwin, 1939), p. 142. ‘Tennyson is another thing; but one has him so in one’s head, one cannot help imitating him sometimes.’Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lacan, op. cit., p. xi; discussed by Elizabeth Wright, Psychoanalysis And Criticism: Theory In Practice (Methuen, 1984), p. 111.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hillis Miller, op. cit., p. 35; Frank Kermode, Romantic Image (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 18. Honan states that it was the suicide that first drew Arnold’s attention to the poetic potential of the Empedocles story; Honan, op. cit., p. 184.Google Scholar

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© John Powell Ward 1991

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  • John Powell Ward

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