With regal melancholy and superb craftsmanship, Tennyson's poems evoke Past and Present—the Isle of the Lotus-eaters, Camelot, and his own twilit English gardens—seeking to reconcile the Victorian zeal for public progress with private despair. He juxtaposes opposites—not only Past and Present, but also Beauty and Squalor, High Class and Low—and then entwines them. The closeness of these opposites lets Tennyson's poems "transcend their own achievements and their own intentions." (George Barker)
Praised over all other poets for his unerring portraits of the gentleman and the beggar alike, Tennyson still favored neither. And just as these portraits hang together, his poems are accessible to both "intellectual potentates [and] the common or sensible man." (George Barker) Using eloquence, melancholy, and myths, Alfred Lord Tennyson proved to be the stylist most imitated by poets of his day.