Tears, Idle Tears

Ranked #76 on the list Best Poem of All Time

6.50
Based on 4 votes

About Tears, Idle Tears

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"Tears, Idle Tears" is a lyric poem written in 1847 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), the Victorian-era English poet. Published as one of the "songs" in his The Princess (1847), it is regarded for the quality of its lyrics. A Tennyson anthology describes the poem as "one of the most Virgilian of Tennyson's poems and perhaps his most famous lyric". Readers often overlook the poem's blank verse—the poem does not rhyme. Tennyson was inspired to write "Tears, Idle Tears" upon a visit to Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, an abbey that was abandoned in 1536. He said the convent was "full for me of its bygone memories", and that the poem was about "the passion of the past, the abiding in the transient." William Wordsworth also wrote a poem inspired by this location in 1798, "Tintern Abbey", which develops a similar theme. "Tears, Idle Tears" is noted for its lyric richness, and for its tones of paradox and ambiguity—especially as Tennyson did not often bring his doubts into the grammar and symbolism of his works. The ambiguity occurs in the contrasting descriptions of the tears: they are "idle", yet come from deep within the narrator; the "happy autumn-fields" inspire sadness. Literary

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