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The works in this volume trace nearly sixty years in the literary career of one of the nineteenth century's greatest poets, and show the wide variety of poetic forms he mastered. It gives some of Tennyson's most famous works in full, including Maud, depicting a tragic love affair, and In Memoriam, a profound tribute to his dearest friend. Excerpts from Idylls of the King show a lifelong passion for Arthurian legend, also seen in the dream-like Lady of Shalott and in Morte d'Arthur. Other works respond to contemporary events, such as Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington, written in Tennyson's official role as Poet Laureate, or the patriotic Charge of the Light Brigade, while Locksley Hall provides a Utopian vision of the future, and the late poem Crossing the Bar is a haunting meditation on his own mortality.
Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in 1809 at Somersby, Lincolnshire, the sixth of eleven children of a clergyman. His first important book, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, was published in 1830, and was not a critical success, but his two volumes of Poems, 1842, which contain some of his finest work, established him as the leading poet of his generation. T. S. Eliot wrote of Tennyson: `He has three qualities which are seldom found together except in the greatest poets: abundance, variety and complete competence. He had the finest ear of any English poet since Milton.' After a short illness Tennyson died in 1892 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Christopher Ricks is Warren Professor of the Humanities, and Co-director of the Editorial Institute, at Boston University. He is the author of Milton's Grand Style (1963), Tennyson (second edition, 1989). He is also the editor of The Poems of Tennyson (second edition, 1987), The New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse (1987), A. E. Housman: Collected Poems and Selected Prose (1988), Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917 by T. S. Eliot (1996), The Oxford Book of English Verse (1999), and Selected Poems of James Henry (2002).