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    Tears, idle tears

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    Mr. Mag
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    Tears, idle tears

    مُساهمة  Mr. Mag في السبت مايو 08, 2010 8:14 am

    Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
    Tears from the depth of some divine despair
    Rise in the heart, and gather in the eyes,
    In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
    And thinking of the days that are no more.

    Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
    That brings our friends up from the underworld,
    Sad as the last which reddens over one
    That sinks with all we love below the verge;
    So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

    Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
    The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
    To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
    The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
    So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

    Dear as remembered kisses after death,
    And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
    On lips that are for others; deep as love,
    Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
    O Death in Life, the days that are no more!

    Summary
    The speaker sings of the baseless and inexplicable tears that rise in his heart and pour forth from his eyes when he looks out on the fields in autumn and thinks of the past.

    This past, (“the days that are no more”) is described as fresh and strange. It is as fresh as the first beam of sunlight that sparkles on the sail of a boat bringing the dead back from the underworld, and it is sad as the last red beam of sunlight that shines on a boat that carries the dead down to this underworld.

    The speaker then refers to the past as not “fresh,” but “sad” and strange. As such, it resembles the song of the birds on early summer mornings as it sounds to a dead person, who lies watching the “glimmering square” of sunlight as it appears through a square window.

    In the final stanza, the speaker declares the past to be dear, sweet, deep, and wild. It is as dear as the memory of the kisses of one who is now dead, and it is as sweet as those kisses that we imagine ourselves bestowing on lovers who actually have loyalties to others. So, too, is the past as deep as “first love” and as wild as the regret that usually follows this experience. The speaker concludes that the past is a “Death in Life.”

    Form
    This poem is written in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter. It consists of four five-line stanzas, each of which closes with the words “the days that are no more.”

    Commentary
    “Tears, Idle Tears” is part of a larger poem called “The Princess,” published in 1847. Tennyson wrote “The Princess” to discuss the relationship between the sexes and to provide an argument for women’s rights in higher education. However, the work as a whole does not present a single argument or tell a coherent story. Rather, like so much of Tennyson’s poetry, it evokes complex emotions and moods through a mastery of language. “Tears, Idle Tears,” a particularly evocative section, is one of several interludes of song in the midst of the poem.

    In the opening stanza, the poet describes his tears as “idle,” suggesting that they are caused by no immediate, identifiable grief. However, his tears are simultaneously the product of a “divine despair,” suggesting that they do indeed have a source: they “rise in the heart” and stem from a profoundly deep and universal cause. This paradox is complicated by the difficulty of understanding the phrase “divine despair”: Is it God who is despairing, or is the despair itself divine? And how can despair be divine if Christian doctrine considers it a sin?

    The speaker states that he cries these tears while “looking on the happy autumn-fields.” At first, it seems strange that looking at something happy would elicit tears, but the fact that these are fields of autumn suggests that they bear the memories of a spring and summer that have vanished, leaving the poet with nothing to look forward to except the dark and cold of winter. Tennyson explained that the idea for this poem came to him when he was at Tintern Abbey, not far from Hallam’s burial place. “Tintern Abbey” is also the title and subject of a famous poem by William Wordsworth. (See the “Tintern Abbey” section in the SparkNote on Wordsworth’s Poetry.) Wordsworth’s poem, too, reflects on the passage of time and the loss of the joys of youth. However, whereas Tennyson laments “the days that are no more” and describes the past as a “Death in Life,” Wordsworth explicitly states that although the past is no more, he has been compensated for its loss with “other gifts”:

    That time is past,
    And all its aching joys are now no more
    And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
    Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
    Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
    Abundant recompense.

    Thus, although both Wordsworth and Tennyson write poems set at Tintern Abbey about the passage of time, Wordsworth’s poem takes on a tone of contentment, whereas Tennyson’s languishes in a tone of lament.

    “Tears, Idle Tears” is structured by a pattern of unusual adjectives used to describe the memory of the past. In the second stanza, these adjectives are a chiastic “fresh...sad...sad...fresh”; the memory of the birth of friendship is “fresh,” whereas the loss of these friends is “sad”; thus when the “days that are no more” are described as both “sad” and “fresh,” these words have been preemptively loaded with meaning and connotation: our sense of the “sad” and “fresh” past evokes these blossomed and withered friendships. This stanza’s image of the boat sailing to and from the underworld recalls Virgil’s image of the boatman Charon, who ferries the dead to Hades.

    In the third stanza, the memory of the past is described as “sad...strange...sad...strange.” The “sad” adjective is introduced in the image of a man on his deathbed who is awake for his very last morning. However, “strangeness” enters in, too, for it is strange to the dying man that as his life is ending, a new day is beginning. To a person hearing the birds’ song and knowing he will never hear it again, the twittering will be imbued with an unprecedented significance—the dying man will hear certain melancholy tones for the first time, although, strangely and paradoxically, it is his last.

    The final stanza contains a wave of adjectives that rush over us—now no longer confined within a neat chiasmic structure—as the poem reaches its last, climactic lament: “dear...sweet...deep...deep...wild.” The repetition of the word “deep” recalls the “depth of some divine despair,” which is the source of the tears in the first stanza. However, the speaker is also “wild with all regret” in thinking of the irreclaimable days gone by. The image of a “Death in Life” recalls the dead friends of the second stanza who are like submerged memories that rise to the surface only to sink down once again. This “Death in Life” also recalls the experience of dying in the midst of the rebirth of life in the morning, described in the third stanza. The poet’s climactic exclamation in the final line thus represents a culmination of the images developed in the previous stanzas.

    Mr. Mag
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    another summary

    مُساهمة  Mr. Mag في السبت مايو 08, 2010 8:16 am

    Poem Summary

    Lines 1-5

    The poem begins by referring to tears that are “idle,” not in the physical sense of “motionlessness” that we usually use the word for (they do have motion, moving from the heart to the eyes), but in the broader sense. Idle here means useless, creating nothing, causing nothing to happen. This could be what gives the poem its especially tragic mood: the speaker feels tears, and is very observant and clear in describing them, but there is nothing to be done about them. The speaker says that, though their meaning is unknown, the tears originate from a divine despair (“divine” here implies a connection to godliness, to forces beyond our physical world) and travel through the heart into the eyes. The last two lines of this stanza describe the circumstances under which these tears rise. There is a contradiction in line 4 that helps support the idea of idleness in the tears: the reference to “autumn fields” is clear enough, as autumn is a time when plants die and animals begin to migrate or hibernate, and this by itself would be appropriate for a discussion of despair and tears, but Tennyson adds the word “happy,” which cancels out that gloomy effect. Throughout this poem he balances images of hope against images of depression. And so line 5’s reference to “the days that are no more” is not so obviously a negative reference as it may seem upon first reading. If the author had meant to portray these memories as being awful to the poem’s speaker, he could have strengthened the sense of hopelessness by using the description “days past” or “days gone by,” which would emphasize the fact that they are lost, instead of their simple lack of existence.

    Lines 6-10

    The “beam” referred to in line 6 is a sunbeam, the first one of the sunrise, an image of newness and beginning that has the opposite implication as the autumn field mentioned in line 4. That this dawn sunbeam is hitting a ship’s sail offers a sense of newness, especially when we find out in the next line that the ship is bringing friends. But then, in line 7, the poem shows its contradictory nature again by saying that these friends are arriving from “the underworld.” Literally, this reference would have referred to the Southern Hemisphere, notated on Victorian era maps with upside down type, as the bottom of the globe: however, there is no way to deny that, going back to Greek mythology and beyond, “the underworld” has referred to the realm of the dead. The only way these friends could return from the underworld would be through memory, but the poet infuses these memories with life by connecting them to freshness and daybreak.

    Line 8 follows the mention of the underworld with sadness, reversing the sunrise imagery with the last beam of sunset, that reddens the sky and then sinks, like the same ship departing, below the horizon. While the “underworld” reference in line 7 brought up the idea of memories of loved ones, line 9 implies that the speaker is actually facing death (what else could take away, not just specific loved ones, but “all we love”?). With no future, this speaker talks of exploring the present and the past equally as the same sort of sensations, using “fresh” and “sad” to describe both everyday occurrences of the sun’s motion and also the days that are no more.

    Lines 11-15

    This stanza expands upon the imagery of the stanza which came before it, but the relationship is brought out more clearly. Since the dawn has already been mentioned in line 6, and the speaker’s approaching death is implied in line 9, this stanza takes the time to consider in detail what sadness the coming dawn would create in a dying person, and in the end relates that sadness to memory. Line 11 repeats the contradiction of line 4’s “happy autumn-fields” with “dark summer dawns,” since both summer and dawn are associated with brightness, not dark. The song (or “pipe”) of birds before sunrise, so early that the birds themselves are only half awake, is a sound that is seldom heard, but we can infer that dying ears are aware of this sound precisely because they are dying, and are absorbing worldly experiences while they can. This is clearly the case with the dying eyes that focus on the window frame (casement) in the dark and stay on it until the sunrise slowly makes it “glimmer,” or glow. There is a sense of desperation, of hunger, implied in the way the dying person seeks out even the slightest physical experience, and in the last line of this stanza the memories of the dying person are given equal importance with the current experiences.

    Lines 16-20

    In line 16, the three ideas that Tears, Idle Tears is concerned with — memory, death, and, as implied by “kisses,” life — are brought together. The next three lines use the imagery of romantic love, which has not played a part earlier in the poem. Even hopeless love, symbolized by the imaginary kisses given to someone who belongs to another and is thus unobtainable, is introduced in the poem as sweet. The poem goes on to demonstrate just how deeply the “days that are no more” extend into a dying person’s existence by comparing those days to first love, which is presented as the deepest experience life has to offer. Tennyson attempts, too, to convey how the loss of the past can evoke wild regret, even as love remembered can. Line 20 compares the days irretrievably lost to “Death in Life,” rendering the poem’s images of idle tears and dying hours relevant to those who have not experienced either.

    Mr. Mag
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    Posts : 503
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    another easier summary

    مُساهمة  Mr. Mag في السبت مايو 08, 2010 8:17 am

    Summary



    The speaker sings of the baseless and inexplicable tears that rise in his heart and pour forth from his eyes when he looks out on the fields in autumn and thinks of the past.

    This past, (“the days that are no more”) is described as fresh and strange. It is as fresh as the first beam of sunlight that sparkles on the sail of a boat bringing the dead back from the underworld, and it is sad as the last red beam of sunlight that shines on a boat that carries the dead down to this underworld.
    The speaker then refers to the past as not “fresh,” but “sad” and strange. As such, it resembles the song of the birds on early summer mornings as it sounds to a dead person, who lies watching the “glimmering square” of sunlight as it appears through a square ********
    In the final stanza, the speaker declares the past to be dear, sweet, deep, and wild. It is as dear as the memory of the kisses of one who is now dead, and it is as sweet as those kisses that we imagine ourselves bestowing on lovers who actually have loyalties to others. So, too, is the past as deep as “first love” and as wild as the regret that usually follows this experience. The speaker concludes that the past is a “Death in Life

    Mr. Mag
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    Posts : 503
    Join date : 08/04/2010
    Age : 39
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    رد: Tears, idle tears

    مُساهمة  Mr. Mag في الثلاثاء مايو 17, 2011 9:36 am


    Background about the poem
    “Tears, Idle Tears” is part of a larger lyric poem called “The Princess". In it the poet feels sad over “the days that are no more” (the happy days of youth). He is unhappy as he knows well that all things pass away.

    (Paraphrase)
    The poet sings of the useless tears that rise in his heart and come into his eyes when he looks at the golden fields of autumn and remembers the past.
    This past (the days that are no more) is fresh and sad. "Fresh" as the first beam of sunlight shining on the sail of a ship bringing our friend back from death. The past is also "sad" as the last red beam of sunlight that shines on the ship that carries all our beloved people down to death again.
    The past is not only fresh, sad but also strange. It is strange as the song of the birds on early summer mornings to people who are dying and can only see the last rays of life.
    In the final stanza, the poet describes the past as dear, sweet, deep, and wild. *It is as precious غالى as the kisses we get from a person who is now dead. *It is as sweet as kisses that we imagine ourselves giving to a lover who is out of reach. *The past is as deep as “first love” and *as wild as the sorrow that usually follows this love. Finally the poet says that the past is a “Death in Life.”

    To think of the past is to feel the pain of death

      الوقت/التاريخ الآن هو الإثنين ديسمبر 05, 2016 4:21 am