The first stanza begins to set the mood. The first line uses the adjective idle to describe his tears. The common usage of the word can often mean inactive, but more fittingly, they seem to describe the nature of the tears as futile or frivolous. The verse continues to state that the narrator doesn’t know what the tears mean. This makes sense in the context for a person attempting to logically identify why he would shed a tear over a meaningless foray.
“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,” (Tennyson, 427)
Tennyson continues to color the emotions that drive these tears. He states that they come from a deep place of despair. The word divine paints the image that the place of origin couldn’t have been helped by man, seeing as divine is typically viewed as emanating from a higher power. Tennyson clarifies that the...
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...ir to say that it may have been only a one sided affection judging by how plainly he spoke of this person as being meant for someone else. His use of the words divine, and lack of regret for losing this person would lead one to believe that it wasn’t a normal relationship by any means. There was no written mention of “should have, would have, or could have”, which would have been common for a lost but unrequited adoration. This combination begs to question with whom may this person been so heartbroken over. At this point the only possibility is speculation, but it may have been a case of rival families, class or social standing, gender, or even for an inanimate object or animal. The narrator of these verses used numerous vices to enable a reader to illicit an emotion that would be produced by the loss of love and the melancholy of reminiscing of those days past.
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