September 3 ~  Sovereign Power Tennyson's Poetry

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,
These three alone lead life to sovereign power."
~ Lord Alfred Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson

Born at Somersby, Lincolnshire, English Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was the most famous poet of the Victorian age. Known for expressing the ideas of his time, Queen Victoria said next to the Bible, she valued his poetry because of its morality and faith in humanity.

"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," he said, with oft-quoted wisdom.

Named Great Britain's poet laureate in 1850, Tennyson was known for his craftsmanship and creativity. As a child, he was fascinated by Sir Thomas Malory's Malory's Le Morte D' Arthur (Death of King Arthur) and inspired to write the 12 connected poems of Idylls of the King (1859-1885), where he recounted the rise and fall of Camelot.

"I tried in my Idylls to teach men the need of an ideal," he said about his life-long project. A master of rhythm, mood and imagery, he once observed, "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."

The great poet also wrote the epic Ulysses (1842), inspired by Dante's Inferno; In Memoriam (1850), the religious lament to friendship; and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854), a look at the heroism of those "six hundred" who fought in this famous charge of the Crimean War.

"My strength is as the strength of ten, Because my heart is pure," Tennyson wrote.

Lord Alfred's biographer Henry van Dyke wrote, "In the future, when men call the role of poets who have given splendor to the name of England, they will begin with Shakespeare and Milton-- and who shall have the third place, if it be not Tennyson?"

More TENNYSON Quotations

Victorian PoetryCelebrate your reverent self: knowledge...and control.