Reading Back to Tennyson in These Quarantined Days

Published : 27 Aug 2020, 16:51

Life these days has severely become colorless due to the outspreading of “COVID-19” across the earth. And so, I prefer Tennyson to restudy, who retains something flamboyant, graphic and colourful in his poetry. 

His rhymes offspring an environment of vivid colours and images. It is one of his composing ingenuities as a poet which proliferates a novel dimension to his works.You may effortlessly unearth such accredits in his verses as his versified sketches are sharp, graphic and full of vibrant colors and images.

He may appeal to you as a painter of landscape. By words, phrases and subtle strokes of his pen, he enlivens paintings in his poetry. Romantic poetry stimulates him and as a result, surveillance of nature is envisaged in his rhymes. He has painted flowers, trees, herbs and woods with the magic and color of imagination, myths and music. 

Very few English poets could incorporate such visibly and concisely essential features of scene and landscape as Tennyson did in his verses. When he works on any object, he seems to be smelling it. It can easily be perceived when you read his poems. His usage of the musical qualities of words to emphasize picture-making rhythms is certainly admirable and a class apart.

Tennyson observes the peripheral aspects of nature and its beauty and just paints its landscape. He delicately harmonizes nature with the moods of human, and most artistically decorates nature’s mutable and multifaceted temperaments. In exposing the various humors and sensations of human, he ingeniously picks such scenes and aspects of nature that may intensify the upshot of those vibes and sensations. 

The steering sensation in “The Lotos Eaters” is that of lethargy and drowsiness. He employs such aspects of nature to intensify the atmosphere of indolence, e.g; “And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.” He is occupied with a rare power of painting and can generate an excellent pictorial effect for the atmosphere. His credential is exceedingly evocative by which the picture may upsurge in your mind. 

He is blessed with the power of shaping the external nature with poetic beauty in scenic effects that he sees. His observation is so accurate that it becomes almost photographic. The secret of his popularity lies in his painting of simple emotions with words as such emotions are common to all and easily comprehensible.

The scenes of “Ulysses” such as the rocky island of Ithaca, the sea, and the palace are assembled in scattered phrases that may evoke a picture in your mind. The king seems to soliloquize from the portico of his palace, as he is about to step down to the anchorage where the vessel that is to take him and his fellow-mariners on a perilous expedition once again is ready to put off.

The rocky ledges may take you to the hamlets of the island. When the dusk deepens, you may see their lamps beginning to twinkle. The gloomy darkseas, the slow moon, and the crowded canvas of Ulysses’ eventful life may spellbind you to march down to the boat with the king and, shortly, be seated with him. The monologue “sit in order and smite the sounding furrows” may give you a sensation of moving landscape.

“In Memoriam”, Tennyson’s expertise of employing pictorial quality is also foreshadowed, e.g., “the flying cloud”, “the frosty light”, etc. As a poet of nature painter, he is unique and differs even from Keats, with whom he has something in common in the portrayals of nature. Besides, Tennyson, unlike the romantic poets, is not primarily a poet of nature, yet he loves nature and loves to paint its beauties through words. 

For minute observation and vibrant painting of the details of a natural setting, Tennyson is without an equivalent. You may feel that he has seen all that he describes. He contemplates that it is required to make his sketch on the spot, to weave the landscape into words before he forgets its features. The result is that Tennyson’s descriptions are accurate in details: they are, at times, almost photographic. 

And so, you cannot forget his hypnotizing lyrics, his gaudy illustration of country life, his loving description of floras and faunas, hills and streams and the over all landscape that brand him a poet-painter and can serve as a source of your ultimate pleasure even in these quarantined days. 

Sheikh Saifullah Ahmed is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages at IUBAT-International University of Business Agriculture and Technology

  • Latest
  • Most viewed