Lord Alfred 1st Baron Tennyson|
(August 6, 1809 - October 6, 1892) U.K.
Born at Somersby, Lincolnshire, he was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he joined the "Apostles" and became acquainted with Arthur H. Hallam, with whom, in 1832 he traveled in the Continent.
Tis better to have loved and lost
He never was open about his homosexuality, but his friendship with Hallam seems to have been dyed with a strong homoeroticism. Hallam died abroad at age 22 - officially of a stroke, but possibly a suicide - in 1833, and in that year Tennyson began In Memoriam, a work that gives superb expression to his love for his lost friend he mourned for 20 years.
Than never to have loved at all.
Tennyson wrote these lines he was referring to his own lost love.
Reserved, dignified, in sustained meditation and tender sentiment, yet half revealing here and there a more passionate feeling; expressing in simplest words the most difficult and elusive thoughts (see Cantos 128 and 129), as well as the most intimate and sacred moods of the soul; it is indeed a great work of art. Naturally, being such, it was roundly abused by the critics on its first appearance.
The Times solemnly rebuked its language as unfitted for any but amatory tenderness, and because young Hallam was a barrister spent much wit upon the poet's "Amaryllis of the Chancery bar." Tennyson himself, speaking of In Memoriam, mentioned the number of shameful letters of abuse he had received about it.
Significantly, all the letters between Hallam and Tennyson were burned by Hallam's father immediately after his son's death, and Tennyson's eldest son destroyed many letters after his father's death. Therefore we cannot know if the love between Hallam and Tennyson was physically consummated or not. Anyway, this is irrelevant: love is Love!
Tennyson was a Poet Laureate (1850-92) and his work include Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) and Idylls of the King (1885).
See in our Book Famous Homoerotic Poems the page devoted to Tennyson