Analysis of Song: Tears, Idle Tears

The poem, “Song: tears, Idle Tears” was part of a longer poem, and it was written as a song, as the title clearly states. Alfred lord Tennyson was British and was born in 1809 and he died in 1892.

Th title of the poem is the same as the fist few words of the poem and this suggests that it is a continuation from the title, perhaps like a narrative.

“Tears, idle ears, I know not what they mean”, this probably means that his tears have been flowing for so long tat he doesn’t even remember why he is crying. The repetition on tears emphasizes that he was crying a lot. “tears from the depth of some divine despair…”, despair was considered a sin, so ‘divine despair’ is an oxymoron as divine is something good and despair is not. This probably shows that Lord Tennyson; a) Didn’t believe in religion and its teachings or b) he considered despair as something great. He may have used the word divine to show the d=greatness of his despair.

“Rise in the heart and gathers to the eyes,” here, enjambment from the previous line helps in continuing the rhyme scheme as well as the narrative story. He describes his tears as rising in the ‘heart’, which tells us that his tears were genuine and thy were not fake as they came from his heart. He flashes back to the memories of ‘Autumn-Fields’ and laments on them, “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.” This creates imagery of a ‘sail’ first coming into view. This perhaps means that he is hoping his ‘friends’ come back from the dead. These two lines are a contrast as he says that the first beam was fresh, but the people from the underworld will not be fresh as they are buried underground. “Sad as the last which reddens over one…below the verge.” This creates reversed image of the first two lines of the stanza 2, as in the first two lines, it shows how they emerge while in this one it shows how it sinks. This probably shows the cycle of life and the dipping and rising of the sail creates a moving image int he readers mind. He says “sinks with all we love…”, this may probably mean that his love was also buried which shows that his lover also died. The word ‘all’ may suggest that he has lost a lot in life. “So sad, so fresh, the days that are more more…” this probably is a sort of lament and the reader can almost hear the ‘sigh’ in his voice. He says the sad days are still fresh which may mean that it was something recent, but this then contrasts wit the first statement, “Tears, Idle tears…” as this tells us that he has been crying for so long that he forgot what his tears were for but when he says ‘s fresh’, it means that the memory is still fresh in his head and that’s why he’s crying. This suggests that he is subconsciously revisiting the old memories and crying.

The third stanza of the poem is probably showing that last few moments of the dying person; “To dying ears, when unto dying eyes…grows a glimmering square,”. Dying ears and dying eyes suggests that it is the last few moments before death and his/her eyes are slowly closing. This contrasts with “Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns…the earliest pipe of half awakened birds…” as these lines describe the beginning of the day while the next two lines describes the last minutes before death. This may probably mean that the lover died at a young age as just when the world was about to start living, he/she was dying. Lord Tennyson, repeats the last line of the second stanza in the third stanza to re-emphasize.

The last stanza shows regret of loving his lover as he says, “…sweet as those by hopeless fancy feinged, on lips that are for others,” maybe his lover cheated on him and yet the narrator loved him/her and this makes it much more difficult for him. He says his love for his lover was ‘deep as first love’ and ‘wild with all regret’. which suggests that perhaps his lover had hurt him.

The last stanza may perhaps change the perspective of the reader as it might be that the poem was a metaphor for the ‘death of love’, not ‘death of lover’, for the narrator as his lover cheated on him as he says ‘O death in life’ which means that his emotions were dead even though he was alive.

There is no consistent rhyme scheme as it is a blank verse, yet the internal rhyme and the narrative pace of the poem helps give it a rhyme. The tone of the poem is filled with regret and lament, it is slow and steady and this probably means that the narrator is having a flashback to these memories quite often, A lot of descriptive imagery is used to create a picture in the reader’s mind to express the narrator’s despair more vividly.

The poem is written to describe the narrator’s love for his lover and how devastated he is and Lord Tennyson successfully achieves this by using a simplistic yet descriptive way of writing the poem which makes it very easy for the reader to understand and sympathize with the narrator.

 

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