Alfred Lord Tennyson, Arthur Hallam, George Gordon Lord Byron, Harold Bloom, Lyrical Ballads, Mariana, or the Madness, poems, Poet Laureate, Poetry, Romantic period, The Idylls of the King, Ulysses, Virginia Woolf, William Wordsworth, Wolcott Ballestier
The Romantic period of English poetry in effect ended with Byron’s death in 1824. Coleridge and Southey lived on for several years, the latter as Poet Laureate until 1843. He was succeeded by Wordsworth, who died in 1850 when he was 80. This was more than 50 years after he and Coleridge had revolutionized poetry with the Lyrical Ballads of 1798.
However hardly anything he wrote in the latter half of his life was memorable and by the 40s a new generation was emerging. They could not but acknowledge the achievements of the older Romantics but, as Robert Browning put it in the Lost Leader, they also registered their disappointment.
Browning however was not the dominant poet of his age. That position belongs emphatically to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who at the age of just over 40, succeeded Wordsworth as Poet Laureate. Though he was not the first choice, his selection was eminently suitable, for he seemed to capture both the spirit of the Victorian Age, and its emotional predilections. This was established, in fact in 1950, with In Memoriam, an elegy for his great friend Arthur Hallam, who died young, and it strikingly conveyed the angst of a period in which old certainties about religion were fading away. Darwin’s discoveries about evolution shed doubts on what had long been thought of as the Gospel Truths of the Bible (including the Old Testament), while textual analysis of even the New Testament suggested that Jesus was not necessarily a divine being who had provided clear and convincing revelations to Man about God.