Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson werd geboren op 6 augustus 1809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England. Toen Tennyson ging studeren aan de universiteit van Cambridge, kon hij zich met niemand identificeren. Hij was lang van gestalte en maakte fysiek indruk, maar ontbeerde het nodige zelfvertrouwen. Hij ontmoette een jongere student, Arthur Hallam, die hem verder begeleidde en zich verloofde met een van zijn zusters. In 1833 stierf Hallam onverwachts en stortte zijn wereld in. Hij schreef daarover verschillende werken, waaronder In Memoriam (1850). Dit gedicht toont de invloed van Charles Darwin. Een van de beroemde vragen die Tennyson stelt, is waarom de natuur zo voorzichtig omgaat met de soort, maar zo onzorgvuldig met het individu. Het gedicht was een enorm commercieel succes. Hierna waren zijn financiële problemen opgelost. Hij trouwde met Emily Sellwood, die hij 14 jaar eerder al had ontmoet. Hun zoon, die later zijn eerste biograaf zou worden, heette Hallam. Ook in 1850 werd hij benoemd tot Poet Laureate, als opvolger van William Wordsworth.


In Memoriam A.H.H.

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.



The Deserted House

Life and Thought have gone away
Side by side,
Leaving door and windows wide.
Careless tenants they!

All within is dark as night:
In the windows is no light;
And no murmur at the door,
So frequent on its hinge before.

Close the door; the shutters close;
Or through the windows we shall see
The nakedness and vacancy
Of the dark deserted house.

Come away: no more of mirth
Is here or merry-making sound.
The house was builded of the earth,
And shall fall again to ground.

Come away: for Life and Thought
Here no longer dwell;
But in a city glorious –
A great and distant city -have bought
A mansion incorruptible.
Would they could have stayed with us!

Alfred Tennyson (6 augustus 1809 – 6 oktober 1892)