Tears, Idle Tears
By: Alfred Lord Tennyson
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to 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.
==> This poem remembers me of my idle tears in departure of my beloved. I like this poem, because I find the melancholic tone of the persona and the monotonous routine of his life very close to my current life.
Tennyson has composed this poem in death of his mother who was very effective in his works. Also, Some critics believe that this poem refers to the period of his beloved death. The title of the poem is discussable. "Tears, Idle Tears", the word "Idle", very skillfuly, makes a great ambiguity. "Idle", homophonically can be both "Idle" and "Idol". In the case of "Idle", it's clear that the poet wants to show us the idleness of his tears in memory of his bygone days. But in the case of "Idol", it exactly, refers to the idols of Tennyson' life: His mother and his beloved. In this sense, the title can be "Tears For Idols" and "Tears of Idols".
Tennyson just talks about two periods: The fresh days of his first love in past and tha sad days of his current life. By a great metaphor, in the first line of second stanza, Tennyson compares the freshness of the first love brightening the human soul with the beam glittering the sail. In this way he signifies the fresh days of his past. Third stanza has a powerful image of death. Tennyson delays the meaning till the last stanza and then in this stanza he confesses that he is remembering his past and crying in death of his idols. He entitles these deaths as Death in Life.
Some critics believe that the image of “That brings our friends up from the underworld” refers to the Greek Mytology and Odysses and Homer. So, the tears refer to the tears that Homer’ death shared with others.
We can discuss on this poem very much. But I think that, for a blog, it’s enough.