Category Archives: Tennyson (Alfred Lord)

Guinevere over the Centuries

In her senior project, my student is applying feminist political theory to understand why depictions of Guinevere evolved as they did, from Chrétien de Troyes to Tennyson to modern Arthurian novels.

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Federer, Unlike Ulysses, a Family Man Hero

Time and again with Roger Federer, thinking he is nearing his end, I have cited Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” He keeps proving me wrong. One reason may be because he has a different relationship with his family than Tennyson’s protagonist has.

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Great Pro-War Literature Doesn’t Exist

In which I argue that great pro-war literature doesn’t exist, including “The iliad” and “War and Peace.” (Both works are magnificent; I just don’t see them as pro-war.)

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Little Flower, If I Could Understand

In celebration of Earth Day and as scientists protest anti-science measures in Washington, Tennyson’s “Flower in the Crannied Wall” is a good poem to revisit. Tennyson holds the tiny flower as a scientist might but then honors its immense complexity.

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The Soldier Knew Someone Had Blundered

Donald Trump is refusing to take responsibility for the failed Yemen raid where a Navy Seal was killed, along with 30 civilians. The raid brings to mind the “Charge of the Light Brigade,” although more appropriate might be the Rudyard Kipling sequel, where the poet blasted England for failing to take care of the survivors.

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One Equal Temper of Heroic Hearts

Federer and Nadal resumed their legendary rivalry in the Australian Open finals and played a match for the ages. They are both old in tennis terms and by all rights should have been surpassed by the next generation. Therefore Tennyson’s “Ulysses” seems the proper poem to acknowledge them.

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Can Poetry Stop This Man?

Poetry may not have been able to stop Donald Trump, but it has its ways of mounting resistance. Poems by Tennyson, Auden, and Yeats explain how.

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Personal News: A 2018 Retirement

In June 2018, after 38 years of teaching college, I will retire. I don’t want to go out like Walter Savage Landor’s old man–“the fire is low

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My Great Grandmother Read for Courage

Reading over the memoirs of my great grandmother, I have been impressed by how reading literature helped her get through the hard times. The authors included Tennyson, George Eliot, Susan Warner, and Charlotte Yonge.

Also posted in Wilde (Oscar), Yonge (Charlotte) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Peyton: Old Age Hath Yet His Honor

Two narratives clash on Super Bowl Sunday: the return of the king vs. the aging king that must be overthrown. Is Peyton Manning Odysseus and the Panthers the suitors? Or is he the dragon who must yield to the next generation?

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Love & the Red Fool-Fury of the Seine

Tennyson, responding to Paris massacres in the 1840s, asserts his faith in love and in social truth. Our challenge is to continue to believe this in the wake of the recent terror attacks.

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Chaucer’s Squire Meets Tennyson’s May Queen

Love is in the May air. As I look at the College students hand in hand, I think of the men as Chaucerian squires, the women as Tennysonian May queens.

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Strong in Will vs. Time & Fate

Roger Feder, like Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” braved time and fate and came up just short.

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Expect No Second Charge in Ukraine

Battling Russian troops 110 years ago in the Crimea, the British light brigade inspired Tennyson. Expect no doomed charge from the West this time.

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Maybe the Gulfs Will Wash Us Down

Peyton Manning was not Homer’s Odysseus but Tennyson’s Ulysses.

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Eagles Prepare a Thunderbolt

The Philadelphia Eagles bring to mind Tennyson’s eagle, falling like a thunderbolt.

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When Hostage Taking Backfires

The GOP hostage takers resemble the Light Brigade, as well as the kidnappers in “Ransom of Red Chief,” “Fargo,” and “Ruthless People.”

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Nature Red in Tooth & Claw? Maybe Not

Carleton’s Ian Barbour turned to Tennyson in seeking to find connections between science and religion.

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The Zen of an Old Growth Forest

Biologist David Haskell approaches forests in a way that is both scientific and poetic.

Also posted in Blake (William), Emerson (Ralph Waldo), Thoreau (Henry David) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Prez Keeps Head While Others Lose Theirs

Obama, taking a cue from Kipling and maybe Edward Rowland Sill, bounced back in Tuesday’s debate.

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Fantasy, Because Reality Is Unsatisfactory

Fantasy is nothing in and of itself but takes its character in opposition to an unsatisfactory reality.

Also posted in Keats (John), Lewis (C. S.), Shakespeare (William), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Thought That Love Would Last Forever…

The death of a beloved cousin is throwing me into the primal pain described by Tennyson and Auden.

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Fed, Peyton: Made Weak by Time & Fate?

Peyton Manning and Roger Federer, in the twilight of their careers, bring to mind Tennyson’s Ulysses.

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Spanish Soccer as the Lady of Shalott

In “The Lady of Shalott,” beauty can’t stand up against the real world. By winning the European Cup, Spain showed us this doesn’t always have to be the case.

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Ulysses: Do Not Go Gently into Retirement

A discussion of Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” led a group of senior citizens to conclude that it’s about a man who is experiencing difficulties transitioning into retirement.

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Once We Memorized Poetry

Memorizing poetry used to be standard classroom practice and poetry was widely popular before the snobs came in.

Also posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Keats (John), Kilmer (Joyce), Kipling (Rudyard), Riley (James Whitcomb), Shelley (Percy), Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Twilight, Evening Bell, After That the Dark

I share Tennyson’s wonderful poem “Crossing the Bar” in memory of an old Navy friend who died this past week.

Also posted in Bates (Julia) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

College on a Boat

The Sea Voyager, temporary home to St. Mary’s students after we were hit with a bad mold problem, left campus on Sunday, bringing to mind an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem.

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This Is the Golden Morning of Love

A wedding poem seems appropriate for June. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s lovely “Marriage Morning” draws me, maybe because it captures some of the anxieties of the wedding day and not just the joys.

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Dear Son, Far Off, My Lost Desire

I understand more with each passing year what Tennyson means when he says his love “is vaster passion now” and how Hallam is thoroughly mixed with God and nature. Tennyson goes on to say that the moral will of humankind—the “living will” that is the best part of ourselves as a people—can finding footing on this spiritual rock. And that the living water that springs from this rock will “flow through our deeds and make them pure.”

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Rogers No Longer in Odysseus’ Shadow

Sports Saturday Something memorable occurred last Sunday in Dallas in addition to the Green Bay Packers bringing “Vince Lombardi home” in their Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Quarterback Aaron Rogers stepped out of the shadow of a legend. The literary equivalent that comes to mind is Homer’s Telemachus, but Rogers is Telemachus with […]

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