Mourning rituals and memorial aesthetics played an integral role in Victorian England. Queen Victoria's poet laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, confronted death on a literary level. His national elegiac poetry — addressed to Victoria — is illuminated when read as a funeral sermon. By drawing out the funeral sermon techniques Tennyson incorporates, we see that he assumes a role as religious mediator to counsel and comfort Victoria in her grief. Tennyson's funeral sermon message alters quite distinctively from Albert's death in 1861, to the death of the Duke of Clarence in 1892, where he makes a final effort to restore the Queen to an acceptance of her state and lead her to an active, healthy type of mourning. The corresponding poems, "Dedication" and "The Death of the Duke of Clarence and Avondale: to the Mourners," highlight Tennyson's unique role as spiritual guide for Queen Victoria, and can be read as a series of funeral sermons. Indeed, Tennyson incorporates various funeral sermon elements over decades in order to encourage the Queen to heal and cope with the trauma of death in the royal family.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Newton, Daniel W., "Death in the Royal Family: Victorian Funeral Sermon Techniques in Tennyson's National Poetry" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1498.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Queen Victoria, Victorian literature, Victorian funeral sermons