Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 - 1892
Alfred, Lord Tennyson is considered the greatest poet of Victorian England. He wrote poetry as a child, penning a six-thousand-line epic poem when he was twelve. He was published by age 17. At Cambridge University, which he left before receiving his degree, his early success and moods both intimidated and impressed others. This was, in all likelihood, the time of onset for what many believe was bipolar disorder, the serious mental illness which presented itself in many members of his family.
Despite a 10-year period during which he did not write, Alfred produced numerous collections before being named Britain's Poet Laureate when he was only 41, succeeding William Wordsworth. A dedicated craftsman who meticulously honored form, diction, rhyme scheme and meter, he wrote poetry spanning the emotional spectrum, from uplifting buoyancy to deep despair. In Vivien's Song, he examines unfaithfulness and its effects on relationship, a topic that is lively and pertinent still.
‘IN Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne’er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.
‘It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
‘The little rift within the lover’s lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.
‘It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all’.