Still awake, not sure…

Still awake, not sure why. So working. Finished Cooper, finally, started Tennyson. I just have a few poems here -- well, except that Idylls of the King is rather long. But Break, Break, Break and Ulysses aren't bad. I'm having some trouble with Break... -- it's a lament for the death of his friend, Arthur Hallam -- I know that much, but I'm having trouble coming up with anything else to say about it. Poetry drives me crazy; I just don't know how to analyze it properly. I could maybe make an argument that the happiness of the sailor kids is class-based...but I'm just not buying it. There must be something more substantial worth saying...help?

(In other news, Tim Pratt is doing Excalibur, and Karen is doing Morgause as well :-).

4 thoughts on “Still awake, not sure…”

  1. perhaps you are trying to hard. often times a poem is much less complicated that we try to force it to be. After reading over “Break, Break, Break” a few times, I think the poem is merely evocative of Tennyson’s profound depression that followed Arthur’s death. The ships and harbor which once brought him delight, no longer can. He is wrecked for simple pleasures.

  2. Yah, I think it’s perhaps best to go with that, unless someone can point out something I’ve missed. It’s interesting, contrasting this poem and his “Ulysses”, both inspired by Hallam’s death. Just speaking as a poet, for now — this is much more of a simple, straightforward expression of emotion, with a certain setting. Whereas “Ulysses”, written nine years later, is much more shaped — Tennyson channelling his grief into a larger statement about the value of life, despite the presence of pain.

  3. You probably know this, but his “In Memoriam” is his masterpiece and is completely about his grief and the death of Hallam. It is 130 poems long and covers several years of the waves of grieving and loss. I doubt there is a greater creation on the topic. And it is filled with famous and wonderful poems. A professor once said to a class I was in that Number Seven was the first modern poem in English literature. Break, Break is just a finger exercise for Tennyson. I think Ericka sums it up nicely.

  4. I am actually astonishingly ignorant about poetry of this period. You may assume I know nothing, and you’ll be right. David mentioned “In Memoriam” in e-mail earlier today, but that was the first I’d heard of it. And of course, I don’t have time to read it now. But good to know about it, nonetheless…

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