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To-----: I send you here a sort of allegory


I have not been able to ascertain to whom this dedication was addressed. Sir Franklin Lushington tells me that he thinks it was an imaginary person. The dedication explains the allegory intended. The poem appears to have been suggested, as we learn from 'Tennyson's Life' (vol. i., p. 150), by a remark of Trench to Tennyson when they were undergraduates at Trinity: "We cannot live in art". It was the embodiment Tennyson added of his belief "that the God-like life is with man and for man". 'Cf.' his own lines in 'Love and Duty':--

For a man is not as God, But then most God-like being most a man.

It is a companion poem to the 'Vision of Sin'; in that poem is traced the effect of indulgence in the grosser pleasures of sense, in this the effect of the indulgence in the more refined pleasures of sense.

I send you here a sort of allegory, (For you will understand it) of a soul, [1] A sinful soul possess'd of many gifts, A spacious garden full of flowering weeds, A glorious Devil, large in heart and brain, That did love Beauty only, (Beauty seen In all varieties of mould and mind) And Knowledge for its beauty; or if Good, Good only for its beauty, seeing not That beauty, Good, and Knowledge, are three sisters That doat upon each other, friends to man, Living together under the same roof, And never can be sunder'd without tears. And he that shuts Love out, in turn shall be Shut out from Love, and on her threshold lie Howling in outer darkness. Not for this Was common clay ta'en from the common earth, Moulded by God, and temper'd with the tears Of angels to the perfect shape of man.

[Footnote 1: 1833.

I send you, Friend, a sort of allegory, (You are an artist and will understand Its many lesser meanings) of a soul.]

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Early Poems

Suppressed Poems

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