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Saturday, May 1, 2010

To the Queen

Tennyson wrote this epilogue at the urging of his wife.  In it he address many social and political issues of the day.  Recalling the near death experience of the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) with typhoid, Tennyson opens by describing how the people of England celebrated the future king when he recovered.  These are the voices the Queen should remember, not those calling for an end to empire.  Referencing the "roar of Hougoumont," Tennyson alludes to the battle of Waterloo, which enhanced Great Britain as the most powerful nation in the world.  Those truly loyal to the throne will support British imperialism: 

                      The loyal to their crown
Are loyal to their own far sons, who love
Our ocean-empire with her boundless homes
For ever-broadening England, and her throne
In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle,
That knows not her own greatness: if she knows
And dreads it we are fallen.

Tennyson asks the Queen to accept his "old imperfect tale," which deals with "Sense at war with Soul."  He claims his tale is different from those written before his time in that his characterizes

Ideal manhood closed in real man,
Rather than that gray king, whose name, a ghost,
Streams like a cloud, man-shaped, from mountain peak,
And cleaves and cromlech still; or him 40
Of Geoffrey's book, or him of Malleor's one
Touch'd by the adulterous finger of a time
That hover'd between war and wantonness,
And crownings and dethronements.

Tennyson blesses the Queen and expresses hope that despite religious disputes, greed, laziness, and the corruption of art by the French, Britain will be saved by its "crowning common sense."

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