From 1850 until his death in 1892, Alfred Lord Tennyson was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. This is an honorary position, appointed by the British monarch (in Tennyson’s case Queen Victoria). It is expected that the Poet Laureate will compose appropriate verses for significant national occasions.
Tennyson had already published several of his well-known poems by the time he was appointed to the post. “The Lady of Shalott” was one of his earliest poems, appearing in 1833 shortly before his decade-long retirement from publishing. In early 1850, Tennyson published “In Memoriam A.H.H.” about the death of his friend Arthur Hallam. Queen Victoria was apparently quite taken with the work and Tennyson was made Poet Laureate later that year following the death of William Wordsworth.
A number of Tennyson’s poems have entered into the poetical canon, including “Ulysses,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Tears, Idle Tears,” and “Crossing the Bar.” Tennyson also produced the blank verse epic “Idyllis of the King.” This work, published between 1859 and 1885 is a cycle of twelve narrative poems that retells the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
Some verses from Tennyson’s poems have become quite well known, including: “Tis better to have loved and lost/Then never to have loved at all.” Tennyson was the first Englishman elevated to a peerage because of his writing.