Tears, Idle Tears is from the The Princess published in 1847. The poem was set in a fairy tale realm discussing women’s rights in education. The poem has interludes of songs or lyrics that were so acclaimed that they were seen as independent from the original Princess. Tears is one of those songs. The song begins with someone crying but not knowing ‘what they mean’ by crying. The person is crying from somewhere deep inside, a ‘divine despair.’ Emotionally charged tears that are yet to have a cause. Throughout the song Tennyson speaks of ‘days that are no more’ speaking of a time that was happy and now all that is left is a depressed reflection. He begins with ‘happy Autumn fields’ reminiscing on the memories that were once of spring and growth and now all that is left in the field is emptiness. The song was written while Tennyson was in Titern Abbey in autumn, where the area held the burial place of his friend, Hallem. So perhaps the tears are from some underlying emotion for the death of his friend. This can be proven in the next line “Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, that brings our friends up from the underworld,” the line referring to the underworld in which the boatman ferries the dead to Hades. The third stanza refers to a man dying in the ‘earliest pipe of half-awaken’d birds.’ It is an interesting contrast that as a new day dawns an old life ends, even more so that the last thing the man hears is the soft hymn of the morning birds. A gentle way to approach death as Tennyson would have wanted for his friends. In the final stanza Tennyson continues his somber teary remarks as in the first stanza where he now mentions: Dear as remember’d kisses after death
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign’d
On lips that are for other; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, that days that are no more.
The speaker is wild with regret in concern for the days lost with his friends that were the ‘Death in Life’ as...
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