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“Tears, Idle Tears”

“Tears, Idle Tears”
by

Josh Alvarez

on 24 May 2010

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Transcript of “Tears, Idle Tears”

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! Tears Idle Tears Alfred Lord Tennyson Structure Blank Verse Made up of Cinquains Alliteration and Assonance As seen in the second line depth of some divine despair As seen in the use of the"i" sound "divine" "rise" and "Dying eyes." Idle -[ahyd-l] 1.having no basis or reason; baseless; groundless frivolous; vain 2.not spent or filled with activity; motionless OED The use of alliteration and approximate rhyme help bind it together musically The way you can tell is by the third line “Rise in heart and gather in the eyes” Tears Tears in this poem have a dual nature being both symbols for sadness and happiness. The poem says they rise from the heart. The heart is a symbol for love therefore this emotion that is manifesting itself as tears must stem from love. The very first line of the first stanza presents us with the fundamental paradox of the entire poem: how can tears, a bodily response to an emotional situation, a type of silent language charged with an abundance of unarticulated feelings, be described as "idle," a word that denotes a lack of direction or purpose, a lack of worth or value, a predisposition to be lazy and, even in a mechanistic sense, a wasted expenditure of energy, as when a machine moves while standing in place? Bloom also Says Bloom then goes to say "The speaker's dilemma is made all the more profound in the next line, when we are told that the tears emanate "from the depth of some divine despair," for here the cause is attributed to a type of god who no longer possesses the ability to change the world." the fact that the speaker uses the phrase "some Divine" might indicate feelings of spiritual loss and separation from god this presents the question of who is the person in despair god or the speaker? The "beam" referred to in line 6 is a sunbeam the first one of the sunrise which is an image of newness and beginning which also contradicts the "autumn fields" mentioned in line 4 "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 This is also an allusion to Charon the ferryman of Hades Alexander Litovchenko Autumn is a time when plants die and animals begin to migrate or hibernate though this is an appropriate image for sadness and tears this is juxtaposed with the word happy Tennyson is using a dying man to show how we try holding on to life idly by absorbing all the physical experience he can two examples are the bird singing and the reflection on the windowsill Themes in the last stanza are memory love and death blooms says that images of sunrise and sunset are symbols for birth and death first love is the most one can ever experience Unrequited love this type of love is hopless he says this love is for the dreamer the "fancy feigned" therefore death in life would be never having this love
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