Tears, Idle Tears
Tears, Idle Tears is an extremely sad poem. The poem reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe without his rhyming and rhythm. I think of a line in Poe’s poem The Bells “The Melancholy menace of its tone”. This thought is brought on with just the idea of tears and the repetition of the closing line in each stanza, “the days that are no more”. The poem, Tears, Idle Tears, starts with an ambiguous thought. First, Tennyson writes that tears are “idle” and the very next line states that they come from some “divine despair”. There is a glimmer of happiness mentioned in the “happy autumn-fields” that he squashes in the next line with his repeating, stanza closing, line. This poem is stuck in the past. The poem relies on memories to experience life. Only being able to live once you have collected enough memories to think back on. Once you have memories you are stuck with the sadness of realizing they are gone. One point of this poem that is particularly interesting is that it is not a poem about thinking, but rather a poem about thinking about thinking. The narrator thinks about thinking of his memories and the tears, idle tears, which those thoughts bring.
This poem was written in the Victorian Poetry period. Victorian period is based on the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Victorian poets were heirs to the Romantic poets and inherited some of their themes; doubting religion, general skepticism, and curiosity in the unknown. Romantic poets believed that God did not exist. Victorian poets were more likely to have a scientific conviction of God’s absence. (Tim Morris uta.edu). Since this poem was written in a God doubting period the sadness of good times long gone at the end of one’s life is understandable. The melancholy is justified with the lack of an after-life.
Alfred Tennyson had a gloomy start at life. He was one of 12 children to an alcohol abusing father. Despite coming from great wealth Alfred led a life of worry. He...