Chris Tejeda
ENG 350
Prof. Pan
5 December 2017
Alfred, Lord Tennyson: A Formalist Approach

An Introduction to Alfred, Lord Tennyson
For Victorians, death was a regular occurrence. The average lifespan was about half of what it is today and science and medicine was not yet refined and also was extremely experimental. Death surrounded the Victorians and thus the era produced many works on the subject. While I was always a fan of this subject in storytelling, it was not until I read Alfred, Lord Tennyson that I began to have an appreciation for the more "human" side of death, so to speak.
Alfred Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809 in Somersby, England. His father, George Clayton Tennyson, was a rector at Somersby, Benniworth and Bag Enderby, Lincolnshire, England. His mother is Elizabeth Fytche, daughter of Stephen Fytche - vicar of St. James Church, Louth. He also had three brothers: Charles, Frederick, and Edward Tennyson. Alfred, along with Charles and Edward, wrote and published a collection of poetry locally. Edward unfortunately was institutionalized at a private asylum. Since his parents were stable enough financially, it allowed them to provide Alfred, along with their other children, proper educations. His father died in 1831, thus urging him to return to Lincolnshire without attaining his degree. Tennyson took care of his family for the next six years. Tennyson and his family then moved to High Beach, Essex in 1837, and left in 1840. This was due to the family's mismanagement of their investments. Tennyson then moved to London, where he published his next to volumes of Poems. Alfred Tennyson reached high recognitions in 1850. After numerous successful publications, he then was appointed as Poet Laureate during the same year, succeeding William Wordsworth. He held the position until his death in 1892, granting him with the longest tenure of the position. During his years as the Poet Laureate, he declined an offer of baronetcy, which was an award given by the British Crown. It is the only hereditary award honor which is not a peerage - wherein was offered to him in 1883. He passed away on October 1892 at the age of 83 in Lurgashall, Sussex, England, United Kingdom.
Tennyson's poetic output covers a breadth difficult to comprehend in a single system of thematics: his various works treat issues of political and historical concern, as well as scientific matters, classical mythology, and deeply personal thoughts and feelings. He is both a poet of penetrating introspection and a poet of the people; he plumbs the depths of his own consciousness while also giving voice to the national consciousness of Victorian society. Tennyson‘s range of subject matter in his poetry covered medieval legends, to classical mythology, to domestic situations as well as observations of nature for his poetry. He handled poetic rhythm masterfully. Tennyson's use of the musical qualities of words to emphasize his rhythms and meanings is sensitive. He was a craftsman who polished and revised his manuscripts extensively. Very few poets have used such a variety of styles with such an exact understanding meter. Like many writers who write a great deal over a long time, his poetry is occasionally uninspired, but his personality rings throughout all his works - work that reflects a grand and special variability in its quality. A common thread of grief, melancholy, and loss connects much of his poetry (e.g., Mariana, The Lotos Eaters, Tears, Idle Tears, In Memoriam), likely reflecting Tennyson's own lifelong struggle with debilitating depression. T. S. Eliot famously described Tennyson as "the saddest of all English poets", whose technical mastery of verse and language provided a "surface" to his poetry's "depths, to the abyss of sorrow." 

The origin of formalism is deeply rooted in ancient thought, in the belief that the universe is governed by numerical relationships, or in the notion that form as the intelligible quality of things, imposed upon or inherent in matter. Even in antiquity, such ideas were applied to the arts: Aristotle understood art as a "shaping" process analogous to the process of nature, while Vitruvius distinguished the design of a building from its material existence. In the Enlightenment Era, with its concern for the psychological nature of knowledge, arose the notion that the experience of a piece or work of art was neither purely sensual nor purely rational and that an "aesthetic" could be distinguished from other kinds of experiences.
Modern formalism evolved during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An important impetus was given to this development by aestheticism, a broad-based cultural movement, in large part a reaction against the ills of modern industrial society. The literary and artistic movement known