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This song sets a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson was the son of a clergyman in Lincolnshire. His early literary attempts included a play, The Devil and the Lady, composed at 14, and poems written with his brothers Frederick and Charles but entitled Poems by Two Brothers (1827). Upon the death of his father in 1831, Tennyson became responsible for the family and its precarious finances. His volume Poems (1832) included some of his most famous pieces, such as The Lotus-Eaters, A Dream of Fair Women, and The Lady of Shalott. Tennyson's next published work, Poems (1842), expressed his philosophic doubts in a materialistic, increasingly scientific age and his longing for a sustaining faith. The new poems included Locksley Hall, Ulysses, Morte d'Arthur, and Break, Break, Break. With this book he was acclaimed a great poet, and in addition, he was granted an annual government pension of £200 in 1845.
The Princess (1847) from which Ask Me No More comes, was followed in 1850 by the masterful In Memoriam, an elegy sequence that records Tennyson's years of doubt and despair. The same year saw his appointment as poet laureate and his marriage to Emily Sellwood, whom he had courted since 1836 but had been unable to marry because of his precarious financial position. Occasional poems, such as the Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington (1852) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1855), were part of his duties as laureate. Tennyson passed his last years in comfort. In 1883 he was created a peer and occupied a seat in the House of Lords. Throughout much of his life he was a popular as well as critical success and was venerated by the general public. Unappreciated early in the 20th century, Tennyson has since been recognized as a great poet.
Composed for the Nuvovox competition (USA)
Text by Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Ask Me No More