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Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose 1832–1890$
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Paul Turner

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198122395

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122395.001.0001

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(p.18) 2. Tennyson
Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose 1832–1890

Paul Turner

Oxford University Press

Gerard Manley Hopkins, after reading Enoch Arden, had begun to doubt Alfred Tennyson. He had previously thought of Tennyson as always new, touching, beyond other poets, not pressed with human ailments, never using Parnassian. However, it appeared, he did use Parnassian. That same year Tennyson commented in ‘The Flower’ on the reception of his poetry: despised at first, it had then been so widely imitated, that his ‘flower’ had come to seem as commonplace as a weed. Both Hopkins and Tennyson were right. Tennyson’s later work does suffer from self-plagiarism, and other plagiarists have damaged his reputation; but the original flowering of his poetry was indeed a marvellous phenomenon. Though its special power is more easily felt than analysed, it clearly springs from a rare gift for verbal music, and for suggesting, by imagery, sound-effects and word-connotations, the flavour of subjective experience.

Keywords:   Gerard Manley Hopkins, Enoch Arden, Alfred Tennyson, Parnassian, poetry, The Flower, self-plagiarism, verbal music, imagery

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