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Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth$
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Jayne Thomas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474436878

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474436878.001.0001

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‘The dead man touched me from the past’:1 Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Wordsworth

‘The dead man touched me from the past’:1 Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Wordsworth

(p.80) Chapter 3 ‘The dead man touched me from the past’:1 Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Wordsworth
Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth

Jayne Thomas

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines Tennyson’s In Memoriam (1850). Tennyson was open about the difficulties he sustained in writing the poem, and this chapter argues that the Wordsworthian borrowings in the poem help the later poet to work toward finding a form of consolation, however tenuous this consolation subsequently proves to be, and therefore to make his accommodations with his faith, with the claims of nineteenth-century science and religion, but also with the loss of Arthur Henry Hallam, the direct subject of the poem. It also examines how the Wordsworthian language in In Memoriam helps Tennyson both to stabilise his ‘public’ voice and to develop the pastoral elements of elegy. The borrowings from Wordsworth form a chamber of echoes that Tennyson harnesses, reworks, reconfigures, replays in a different context and in a different time. At times the later poet is unable fully to transfigure and rework Wordsworth’s language, but is constrained, limited, inhibited by it, and these effects make themselves manifest in the poem too.

Keywords:   Tennyson, Wordsworth, Hallam, Faith, Science, Religion, Elegy, Pastoral, Public voice

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