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自考《英美文学选读》(英)维多利亚时期(3)

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  III. Alfred Tennyson

  1.一般识记 His Life & Literary Career

  Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) is certainly the most representative Victorian poet. His poetry voices the doubt & the faith, the grief & the joy of the English people in an age of fast social changes.

  He was born at Somersby, Linconshire, the fourth son of a rather learned clergyman. In 1827, he & his elder brother published Poems by Two Brothers. In this juvenile work the influence of Byron & an attraction to oriental themes were shown. He was educated at the Trinity College, Cambridge & published his first signed work Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830) there. In 1832, one year after he left Cambridge, he published Poems, which contained a variety of poems, beautiful in melody & rich in imagery. In 1842, his next issue of Poems came out, collected in the book are the dramatic monologue "Ulysses", the epic narrative " Morte d''Arthur," the exquisite idylls "Dora" & " The Gardener''s Daughter," etc. In 1847, The Princess was published. Written in blank verse, it deals with the theme of women''s rights & position. In 1850, Tennyson was appointed the Poet Laureate & he published his greatest work In Memoriam. The rest years of Tennyson''s life was comfortable & peaceful, but he never stopped writing. In 1855, Tennyson published a monodrama Maud, a collection of short lyrics. Among the other works of his later period, "Rizpah," "Enoch Arden," " Merlin & the Gleam" & " Crossing the Bar" are worthy of note.

  2.识记 His major poetic works & their theme

  1) In Memoriam

  Presumably it is an elegy on the death of Hallam, yet less than half of its l00 pieces are directly connected with him. The poet here does not merely dwell on the personal bereavement. As a poetic diary, the poem is also an elaborate & powerful expression of the poet''s philosophical & religious thoughts - his doubts about the meaning of life, the existence of the soul & the afterlife, & his faith in the power of love & the soul''s instinct & immortality. Such doubts & beliefs were shared by most people in an age when the old Christian belief was challenged by new scientific discoveries, though to most readers today, the real attraction of the poem lies more in its profound feeling & artistic beauty than in the philosophical & religious reflections. The familiar trance-like experience, mellifluous rhythm & pictorial descriptions make it one of the best elegies in English literature.

  2) Idylls of the Kin g (1842-1885)

  It is his most ambitious work which took him over 30 years to complete. It is made up of 12 books of narrative poems, based on the Celtic legends of King Arthur & his Knights of the Round Table. But it is not a mere reproduction of the old legend, though. It is a modern interpretation of the classic myth. For one thing, the moral standards & sentiments reflected in the poem belong to the Victorians rather than to the medieval royal people. For another, the story of the rise & fall of King Arthur is, in fact, meant to represent a cyclic history of western civilization, which , in Tennyson''s mind , is going on a spiritual decline & will end in destruction.

  3.领会Artistic Features of His Poetry

  Tennyson is a real artist. He has the natural power of linking visual pictures with musical expressions, & these two with the feelings. He has perfect control of the sound of English, & a sensitive ear, an excellent choice & taste of words. His poetry is rich in poetic images & melodious language, & noted for its lyrical beauty & metrical charm. His works are not only the products of the creative imagination of a poetic genius but also products of a long & rich English heritage. His wonderful works manifest all the qualities of England''s great poets. The dreaminess of Spenser, the majesty of Milton, the natural simplicity of Wordsworth, the fantasy of Blake & Coleridge, the melody of Keats & Shelley, & the narrative vigor of Scott & Byron, —— all these striking qualities are evident on successive pages of Tennyson''s poetry.

  4. 应用 Selected Readings

  (1) Break

  This short lyric is written in memory of Tennyson''s best friend, Arthur Hallam, whose death has a lifelong influence on the poet. Here, the poet''s own feelings of sadness are contrasted with the carefree, innocent joys of the children & the unfeeling movement of the ship & the sea waves. The beauty of the lyric is to be found in the musical language & in the association of sound & images with feelings & emotions. The poem contains 4 quatrains, with combined iambic & anapaestic feet. Most lines have three feet & some four. The rhyme scheme is a b c b.

  (2) Crossing the Bar

  This poem was written in the later years of Tennyson''s life. Although not the last poem written by Tennyson in his long creative career, this poem appears, at his request, as the final poem in all collections of his works. The scene is sketched with a few strokes: sunset & the evening star, the twilight and the evening bell, & then the dark. The ship is ready to go out of the harbor. It will cross the bar & reach the vast open sea for the long voyage that it is to make. The allegory of the poem is clear. Tennyson is in the evening of life, & the "clear call" of death will come soon. But when he has crossed the border between life & death to go on that voyage beyond the bound of Time & Place, he hopes then to see his "Pilot," God, face to face. From the moving imagery & the pleasant sound of the poem, we can feel his fearlessness towards death, his faith in God & an afterlife.

  (3) Ulysses


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