A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850

By Paula R. Feldman; Daniel Robinson | Go to book overview
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Taking all dyes that sorrow can impart,
Or ever-shifting circumstance bestow—
The prey of present pangs or after-smart,
For ever feeling pain or missing bliss below.

(1830)


389. 'His was a chamber in the topmost tower'

His was a chamber in the topmost tower,
A small unsightly cell with grated bars;
And wearily went on each irksome hour
Of dim Captivity and moody cares!
Against such visitants he was not strong,
But sate with laden heart and brow of woe,
And every morn he heard the stir and song
Of birds in royal gardens fair below,
Telling of bowers and dewy lawns unseen,
Drenched with the silver steam that night had left—
Part blossom-white, part exquisitely green,
And ringing all with thrushes on the left,
And finches on the right, to greet the sheen
Of the May-dawn; while he was thus bereft!

(1830)


Alfred Tennyson
(1809–92)

Alfred Tennyson succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate in 1850.
Early in his career, during a period of lyrical experimentation, he wrote son-
nets; most were published in his 1833 volume Poems. He would go on to
write the poems for which he is most admired, including the elegy In
Memoriam
(1850), which expresses his grief over the early death of his friend
Arthur Henry Hallam (1811–33), and the Arthurian poems Idylls of the King
(1859–91).


390. 'Check every outflash, every ruder sally'

Check every outflash, every ruder sally
Of thought and speech; speak low, and give up wholly
Thy spirit to mild-minded melancholy;
This is the place. Through yonder poplar alley,
Below, the blue-green river windeth slowly;
But in the middle of the somber valley,
The crispèd waters whisper musically,
And all the haunted place is dark and holy.
The nightingale, with long and low preamble,

-192-

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