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Flashcards in Tennyson Deck (50):

When did Tennyson live?



How many siblings did Tennyson have?



What was the occupation of Tennyson's father?



Where did Tennyson attend University? What influential person in his life did he meet there?

Cambridge; Arthur Henry Hallam


When was "In Memoriam" published? Who is it about, and why is it significant to his career?

1850; it is about his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died in 1833. This poem won him fame and critical recognition - and he never looked back.


What Victorian scientific discovery influenced Tennyson's work?

The discovery of the earth's crust and a better understanding of geologic time. He was also interested in inventors and engineers of the period; some of his works dipped into the future.


The Lady of Shalott: During which part of his career does Tennyson write this poem?

Early. Though he would revisit Arthurian legends in "The Idylls of the King," he wrote this poem in the 1830s and revised it in the 1840s - before "In Memoriam" was published and he'd made his reputation.


The Lady of Shalott: What is life like for the Lady of Shalott?

She sits alone in a castle, unnoticed by the outside world. She is cursed - she must spend all her time weaving a magic web, and she cannot look outside. Instead, she can only look at the world through a magic mirror.


The Lady of Shalott: What do passersby sometimes hear the Lady of Shalott doing?

Singing. They assume it is a faerie lady.


The Lady of Shalott: What is "Shalott"?

The name of an island in a river. It is where the Lady's castle is.


The Lady of Shalott: Where does the road that runs by Shalott go?



The Lady of Shalott: How does the Lady feel about her situation?

She is lonely, especially watching lovers in the magic mirror. She wants to see the real world, not just shadows.

"I am half sick of shadows," said / The Lady of Shalott


The Lady of Shalott: What makes the Lady get up from her weaving and look out of the tower windows?

Sir Lancelot passing on the road to Camelot, singing. He is extremely chivalrous and well-decked out.


The Lady of Shalott: What happens when the Lady gets up to look out the window?

Her magic mirror cracks and her web blows out the window.


The Lady of Shalott: What does the Lady do after she realizes the curse has come on?

She finds a boat which she names "The Lady of Shalott." She lies down in the boat, and sets it to float toward Camelot. She sings as she drifts towards the city, and she dies.


The Lady of Shalott: What song does Lancelot sing as he's passing by the Lady's window?

"Tirra lirra" (from A Winter's Tale)


The Lady of Shalott: What happens when the Lady's boat arrives in Camelot?

People crowd around in wonder at this unknown woman. When Lancelot sees her, he thinks she has a lovely face, and hopes that God lends her grace.


Tears, Idle Tears: From what larger work is this taken?

The Princess


Tears, Idle Tears: What was "The Princess"?

A narrative poem that gave Tennyson's 2 cents on "the woman question" in his day.


Tears, Idle Tears: When was this poem published?



Tears, Idle Tears: What role was this poem in "The Princess"?

It is not actually a part of the narrative, but instead one of the "songs" featured in the poem.


Tears, Idle Tears: In what type of verse is this poem written?

Blank Verse


Tears, Idle Tears: What happens in this poem?

The speaker unexpectedly finds tears in his eyes when looking out at a happy autumn field; he realizes that this is because he is thinking of the past.

Even though these memories are past, they still seem fresh to the speaker, as well as sad and strange. To the poet, the past is bittersweet - like unrequited love, or remembering a loved one after death. These feelings are also "deep" and "wild" In this way, the past is like a "death in life."


Tears, Idle Tears: With what two adjectives does this poem repeatedly describe the past?

"Sad" and "Strange"

The poet uses the image of an old man on his deathbed just as morning is dawning; the contrast is both sad and strange.


Tears, Idle Tears: What does the poet conclude the past is like?

Death in life


Tears, Idle Tears: What does the "idle" of the title mean?

That the grief the poet is feeling is not brought on by an immediate, specific cause.


Tears, Idle Tears: Where does Tennyson claim to have written this poem, and what significance might that have?

Near Tinturn Abbey; Like Wordworth's famous poem composed in the same area, "Tears, Idle Tears" deals with the past.


In Memoriam: Summarize the prologue.

The Prologue muses on man's relationship with God. Man doesn't understand why he was created, but he must trust there is a reason and try to do God's will. Even though he knows he shouldn't, he still mourns his friend's death. He hopes God will forgive him for his grief.


In Memoriam: What is the Prologue's attitude towards man's attempts to understand the world?

That the "systems" of religion and philosophy that men create "have their day and cease to be" - they are just warped versions of God's truth, which only he knows.


In Memoriam: Besides the death of A.H.H., what contemporary issues prompted Tennyson's existential reflections?

The rise of industrialism and new scientific discoveries, like Darwin's theory of Evolution


In Memoriam: What is the "conclusion" of the poem?

The speaker realizes that the point of everything is to gain knowledge, and that this is the higher purpose of humans. He also is comforted by the idea of the immortality of the Soul.


Who preceded Tennyson as England's Poet Laureate?



In Memoriam: Characterize Canto 1.

Though the speaker once believed that death was but the next stepping stone to "better things," he's having a hard time believing it in his grief. It is impossible to skip beyond the time of grief to the time of acceptance, so the poet advises giving into it entirely, to be "drunk with loss." This, he says, is better than simply to worn out by sorrow.


In Memoriam: Characterize Canto 2.

The speaker addresses a Yew tree, comparing its long life of 1,000 years to the short lives of man. The poet is envious of the Yew's ability to endure, and imagines becoming a part of it in his grief.


In Memoriam: Characterize Canto 3.

The poet speaks to Sorrow, who tells him that there is no meaning or purpose in life; it is "hollow." The speaker struggles with himself - will he believe what Sorrow says or crush her "lying lip"?


In Memoriam: Characterize Canto 4.

The speaker goes to sleep to try and calm his feelings of grief. His heart (personified) doesn't know what's causing all this unhappiness. The speaker clarifies that it is a loss from several years ago; his tears have frozen. In the morning, the poet is determined not to give into his grief anymore.


In Memoriam: What poetic techniques are Tennyson using in Canto 2 when he addresses the Yew tree?

Apostrophe and pathetic fallacy (describes the outside world in a way that reflects his/her own inner mood)


In Memoriam: What is personified in Canto 3?



Talk briefly about the parts of "In Memoriam" that you read.

"In Memoriam" is essentially a philosophical musing on the evolution and nature of grief. I read from the beginning of the poem, in which the speaker's grief is so great he questions if the afterlife is real and struggles not to succumb to sorrow's seductive embrace. By the end of the poem, the speaker will have a much more balanced (Christian) outlook on loss. We start to see this turn just a little in the stanzas I read -- Stanza 4 ends with the speaker determined to go to sleep, and he feels a little better in the morning.


What is an interest/concern Tennyson and Byron had in common?

An interest in Geological time.


What might have been some reasons Tennyson and other Victorian poets "retreated" into the past?

Technological advancements and the rise of industrialism (and its by-products -- slums, poverty, smoke, etc) suggested that society might be devolving rather than advancing. Certainly some of these advancements were scary. Retreating to ancient times was a way to stave off some of these concerns while simultaneously exploring some of these issues of change.


The Woman's Cause is Man's: From what work is this an excerpt?

The Princess


What is the general plot of "The Princess"?

A Princess founds a university and vows never to marry, but there is a Prince who really wants to marry her. His father invades the University, which is converted into a hospital. The Princess sees the error of her ways, and the Prince muses on how they can move forward, enacting gradual change together.


The Woman's Cause is Man's: What is the sentiment of this poem?

The speaker asserts that men have to be on the side of women's advancement for society to move forward. They should be partners in her betterment. A woman expresses doubt that most men will follow this path, so the speaker suggests they set a model with their union. The woman praises his insight and suggests he must have been taught his outlook by a woman.


The Woman's Cause is Man's: Where does this fit into "The woman question"?

- The speaker asserts differences, but not inferiority

- still suggesting that women should adhere to traditional social roles

- participation in public dialogue


The Charge of the Light Brigade: What inspired this poem?

A report in the London Times of a cavalry charge at Balaclava during the Crimean War


The Charge of the Light Brigade: What sets this poem apart from Tennyson's other works?

By the time Tennyson wrote this poem, he was poet laureate, and this poem is more directly engaged with issues of the day than his other works. He called it a "newspaper poem."

Rather than personal grief or medieval/mythical subjects, this poem deals with an event of national importance and mourning, as suited to Tennyson's public role.


The Charge of the Light Brigade: Famous line?

Theirs is not to reason why
Theirs is but to do or die


The Charge of the Light Brigade: What is an interesting technological fact about this poem?

Tennyson made a recording of himself reading it


The Charge of the Light Brigade: What causes the death of the soldiers?

A blunder made by someone in high command