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Saturday, 6 October 2012

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate

b. 6 August 1809
d. 6 October 1892

Tennyson's life and work present a direct challenge to the conventional thinking which places a clear dichotomy between "homo-" and "hetero-" sexuality (with a passing nod to bi-). He was noted for his undoubted attraction to women, and is not known to have had any physical relationships with men, so would not normally be described even as bisexual. Yet, his celebrated verse abounds in homoerotic and androgynous imagery, his long poem "In Memoriam", written upon the death of his close friend Arthur Hallam, has been described as "the most beautiful homoerotic elegy in the English language" (Donald Hall, glbtq encyclopedia)
The poem In Memoriam about a man’s love for another man includes sexual imagery; for example, the poet compares his sorrow to the sorrow of a loving widower who misses his late wife in bed.
Tears of the widower, when he sees A late-lost form that sleep reveals, And moves his doubtful arms, and feels Her place is empty, fall like these;This is not a unique example and material that can be interpreted as homoerotic is widespread in Tennyson’s work. There has been speculation that Tennyson may have experienced homosexual feelings for his friend, though there is no question that he was strongly attracted to women. If Tennyson had bisexual feelings there is no firm evidence that he acted on them.

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