Introduction to the Poet:
Alfred Tennyson, son of Reverend George Tennyson and Elizabeth Fetcher was born on 6th August, 1809 at Lincolnshire, England. From childhood, he exhibited a knack for writing. At the age of twelve, he wrote a poem of 6000 lines and at the tender age of fourteen, he wrote a drama of blank verse.
At seventeen ,Tennyson collaborated with his elder brother Charles and published a youthful collection of poems known as “Poems by two brothers”, which got much recognition. Tennyson attained Grammar school of Louth, and further moved to Trinity College at Cambridge and won the Chancellor’s Medal for a poem on Timbuctoo. Then he lived with his parents for twenty years, writing poems in serenity.
In 1850, he was appointed as Poet Laureate succeeding Wordsworth. He moved to Isle of Wright and eventually was regarded as the best poet of the era. He died at Aldworth, in Surrey and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Among Tennyson’s major poetic achievements are the elegy mourning the death of his friend Arthur Hallam, “In Memoriam” (1850), “Charge of the Light Brigade”, Enoch Arden (1864), Idylls Of The King (1859-1885) ,so on.
The poem is closely associated with the beauty of nature, the birds, their merry making, the love that exists between them. Comparing the love of men with that of the birds, the poet makes the poem lyrical and wonderfully melodious. Such splendor of music and lyrical imagery are characteristics of Tennyson. The title is also very much relevant as during the season of Spring, this heavenly melodious songs of the birds, the play of blissful passion are prevalent.
Setting of Spring :
The poem is set during the season of spring. The birds were singing the Bird’s song in beautiful melody and flying in merriment. The golden birds are overjoyed with the love that exists between them. The merriment and happiness is very much prevalent in the season of Spring. With the passing season the love of bird changes and so does their song but men’s love are supposed to remain throughout.
It is only during the spring time that the nature synchronises with the love and romanticism, the spark of intimacy among men and women: bound in a strong bonding of love.
The presence of wren suggests that the poem might have taken place in United Kingdom. These wrens are most active during the spring and thus completely fit into the sense of the merry poem.
Poetic devices in Spring:
The rhyme scheme is abcbcbcb cbxbbdbd
The poem is made of magnificent imagery making our moods delight.
“Birds’ love and birds’ sing
Flying here and there,”
A charming imagery is vividly sketched in our mind when the poet speaks about the birds flying from one branch to another, singing songs and showing their affectionate love.
Late on the juxtaposing of the birds’ love that changes with the passing of seasons during various weather with that of men’s love that remains throughout all the season, as if eternal, yet again creates imagery. We can almost see through the eye of our heart the greatness of men’s love.
Throughout the poem, the poet uses imagery. The King and Queen of the wrens also create a beautiful image in our mind.
The poet personified ‘Birds’ love’ and ‘Birds’ song’. These are abstract object or feelings that are given living attributes in the poem. The song of the birds flies from one boughs to another as the birds sing and move from branches to branches, in merrymaking. Through their moving and singing, the birds display love, fondness and affection; hence the ‘Birds’ love’ is personified.
The phrase “Birds’ song and birds’ love’ has been repeated twice to bring out the beauty and sense in the poem and this, is an alliteration. The first time, these are said to be flying and given human attributes and then the second time, they are said to change with the weather, thus defining their characteristics.
The song of wren is a symbolism of passion and the ‘crown of gold’ is a symbol of grandeur. Also, “We’ll be birds of a feather” is a symbolism that the poet and his lady love would be having each other’s company, sharing the same ideas and living in joy. This comes from the proverbial saying “Birds of a feather flock together”.
Summary of Spring:
The poem signifies the freedom of the birds. Enjoying the view of the spring where the birds are singing overjoyed by their love which is free as the wind – the poet describes this beautiful scenery by superb imagery.
He personified Birds’ song and talks about the love among them. He further goes on to bring out the image of birds with golden feathers. This can also be taken as the physical characteristics of the golden wrens which are later referred to in the poem. The colour gold is itself associated with love and passion. That is why, he says:
“Birds’ song and birds’ love
And you with gold for hair!”
The poet again talks about the song and love of birds by personifying ” Birds’ song”. He further goes on to bring out the image of birds with golden feathers. This can be also taken as the physical characteristics of the golden wrens which are later referred to in the poem. The colour gold is also associated with love and passion.
“Birds’ song and birds’ love
Passing with the weather”
Here the poet yet again compares the song and love of the birds as ” Passing with the weather”. Here Tennyson tells that ‘Birds’ love’ and birds’ song depend on weather. This is basically Tennyson staying true to yet another nature of birds’ i. e. Their behavior changes along with the weather. The poet brings out the transient nature of ‘Birds’ love and birds’ song’.
“Men’s song and men’s love,
To love once and forever.”
Here the poet conveys that a man’s love and song are meant to happen once and last forever. This brings in a direct comparison with a bird’s love and song which is transient and passes with the weather. Men’s love and song is supposed to be permanent.
“Men’s love ……. of the wrens!”
Here we get to know the different types of love talked about in the poem namely ‘Men’s love, birds’ love, women’s love. The song of wren are very pleasant to here and is symbolic of passion. Crown of gold can also be taken as a symbol of passion and grandeur. Lastly the poet exclaims addressing to the Queen of wrens.
“You the queen ……..nest together”
In the last four lines of the poem the poet addressing the queen of reign suggest that he too along with her will become birds of a feather meaning they will become birds of the same flock or type which comes from the proverbial saying” Birds of a feather flock together” and directly corresponds to the last line “And all in a nest together”. He also wants to ” King of the Queen of wren” meaning he wants to be the King of the wrens being filled with passion and freedom.
Central theme of Spring:
The central theme deals with the celebration of nature in the season of spring in its purest form. The birds singing, moving through the boughs, the men and women love and the addressing of the beloved by the poet is all the creations of nature.
Tennyson’s Spring is an appreciation for mother Nature.
Critical Analysis of Spring:
Tennyson’s famous style is evident in the poem. The poem deals with the celebration of nature in utmost form. The poem deals with the season of spring, its beauty and charms. The poet effectively compares the love of birds and that of men. With the literary devices of alliteration, symbolism, imagery and the melodious sound, associated with the great diction, this poem provides us with warmth and delightfulness.
Most importantly, the comparison of man’s eternal love, that happen once and stays forever, gives an utmost feeling of bliss and satisfaction to the human species. The paradise of romanticism is achieved with great heights by Tennyson’s beautiful comparison. The ever so transient nature of bird has its own beauty too. The transcending of non-amorous love into something so heavenly is a characteristic of the poem.
The Queen and King of the wren is yet a beautiful imagery that almost creates an image of happy couple, flying from one bough to another. This poem thus stands supreme for the right reason.
Tone of Spring:
The tone of the poem continues to remain merry throughout the poem. In the beautiful description of songbirds, comparison of men’s love to that of the birds and the poet calling out his lady love to be birds of the same feather, the tone of the poem does not change drastically and the merriment inflicts in us a sense of joy and happiness.
On the conclusion, it is evident that Spring by Tennyson stands supreme in the history of literature as a poem celebrating nature , its’ creature, mankind and the celebration of love, altogether.
Contributor: Bidisha Das