Study Guide

The Lotos-Eaters Calling Card

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Calling Card

Rhythmic, Traditional Poetry… With a Twisted Edge

Alfred, Lord Tennyson was a major public figure, a huge success, and a favorite of Queen Victoria. So, it's probably not surprising that his poems aren't too far "out there." His rhyme and meter tends to be fairly traditional, and his subjects (like in this case) are often pulled from history or literature. (For another example of that trend, see his beautiful poem about the days of King Arthur, "The Lady of Shalott.")

He also had a millionth-degree black belt in sound and rhythm, and his ability to manipulate and craft the sounds of words stands out across his poetry. His poem "Break, Break, Break," for example, uses sonic effects in a way that reminds us a lot of "The Lotos-Eaters."

At the same time, for all the beauty and tradition, there's something a little dark running through these poems too. Maybe it has to do with his famously awful childhood, but in poems like this one and "The Charge of the Light Brigade," you see a lot of the sad and horrifying side of life, all mixed in among the lovely images and happy sounds.

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