Alfred, Lord Tennyson Quotes

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 – 1892

Born: 6 August 1809, Somersby, Lincolnshire, England, UK
Died: 6 October 1892, Haslemere, Surrey, England, UK

Tennyson was born to a church rector. Although George Tennyson was the oldest son, the estate went to his brother Charles, so although the family was comfortable, the contrast with his uncle’s castle left Alfred with a life-long fear of penury. He attended grammar school but was mostly home schooled before entering Trinity College, Cambridge. He was invited into a secret society there, the “Cambridge Apostles”, whose members were close friends for life, and won the Chancellor’s Gold Medal for one of his early pieces. He left Cambridge when his father died, the family was allowed to live in the rectory for six years. When his closest friend died, he wrote several significant poems, which were published but met heavy criticism which kept the shy Tennyson from publishing again for almost ten years. In 1942 he published two volumes of poetry which met with success, and in 1850 he was appointed Poet Laureate on the death of Wordsworth. Three years later, having just moved to the Isle of Wight, Prince Albert dropped in to express his admiration of the poet’s work, after Albert’s death Tennyson dedicated The Idylls of the King, his Arthurian epic, to Albert. Queen Victoria summoned him to court several times, in 1884 she created him Baron Tennyson, an honor that he had refused twice before when both Disraeli and Gladstone had made the attempt. Tennyson had been severely myopic throughout life, in later years he couldn’t see well enough to eat without a monocle and had difficulty reading and writing. As a result, he tended to write entirely in his head before committing works to paper, and some of his work is known only because his listeners transcribed it. For those who prefer his rhythmic efforts in larger doses, we recommend The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson quotes:

‘Tis better to have loved and lost,
than never to have loved at all.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

A day may sink or save a realm.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

A louse in the locks of literature.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – on critic Churton Collins

A second voice was at mine ear,
A little whisper silver-clear,
A murmur, “Be of better cheer”.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Two Voices (1834)

A young man will be wiser by and by;
An old man’s wit may wander ere he die.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “The Coming of Arthur” in Idylls of the King (1856 – 1885)

All the windy ways of men
Are but dust that rises up,
And is lightly laid again.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “The Vision of Sin” (1842)

And statesmen at her council met
  Who knew the seasons, when to take
  Occasion by the hand, and make
The bounds of freedom wider yet.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “To the Queen”, Idylls of the King (composed 1833-1874)

Are God and Nature then at strife,
  That Nature lends such evil dreams?
  So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

As Love, if Love is perfect, casts out fear,
So Hate, if Hate is perfect, casts out fear.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “Merlin and Vivien”, Idylls of the King (composed 1833-1874)

Better not be at all than not be noble.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854)

Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Ancient Sage, Tiresias, and Other Poems (1885)

Come friends, it’s not too late to seek a newer world.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Eternal process moving on,
  From state to state the spirit walks;
  And these are but the shatter’d stalks,
Or ruin’d chrysalis of one.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I marked Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “The Passing of Arthur”, Idylls of the King (composed 1833-1874)

I grow in worth, and wit, and sense,
  Unboding critic-pen,
Or that eternal want of pence,
  Which vexes public men,
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “Will Waterproof’s Lyrical Monologue” (1842)

I held it truth, with him who sings
  To one clear harp in divers tones,
  That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
  I feel it, when I sorrow most;
  ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

I know that age to age succeeds,
Blowing a noise of tongues and deeds,
A dust of systems and of creeds.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Two Voices (1834)

I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I toil beneath the curse,
But, knowing not the universe,
I fear to slide from bad to worse.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Two Voices (1834)

I will love thee to the death,
And out beyond into the dream to come.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “The Last Tournament”, Idylls of the King (composed 1833-1874)

If Nature put not forth her power
About the opening of the flower,
Who is it that could live an hour?
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Two Voices (1834)

In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

It is unconceivable that the whole Universe was merely created for us who live in this third-rate planet of a third-rate moon.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

King am I, whatsoever be their cry;
And one last act of kinghood shalt thou see
Yet, ere I pass.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “The Passing of Arthur”, Idylls of the King (composed 1833-1874)

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. (composed 1833 – 1849)

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