Tennyson's Poems

Tennyson’s Representations of the Artist Figure

Discuss Tennyson’s representations of the artist figure and his conceptions of art, think about issues of esoteric isolation versus political or emotional connection.

In his poem The Palace of Art, Tennyson portrays an artist attempting to build an existence, surrounding herself with only the beauty of art in a grand dwelling place. Ultimately the artist realizes that art alone, despite its beauty and worth, cannot sustain an individual; the solitude finally negates any joy that she had found in the palace. Here Tennyson suggests that art, though valuable, is most effective when shared with, or on behalf of, others. The progression of this story is one piece of Tennyson’s view concerning the nature of art. Through In Memoriam, the poet exemplifies the power of art when used as an outlet through which to grieve and also a method by which to share that grief with others. In quite a different fashion, Tennyson depicts an artist as a voice for societal reform in his poem The Princess. In each of these three pieces, Tennyson expresses a characteristic of true art as he sees it – beautiful and communal.

The Palace of Art is allegedly the embodiment of the idea of a certain R.C. Trench, who claims to have once said to the poet, “...

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