In Tennyson's "The Palace of Art," the speaker is interested in art only for art's sake. In her "lordly pleasure-house," she devotes herself to every form of beauty, including knowledge. She has become so engrossed in aesthetic pleasures that she excludes the exterior world. The poem asserts that a soul which loves only beauty will fall into despair, self-loathing and hatred of both "death and life" (265). The poet expresses the bitter loneliness and helpless stagnation that the soul feels within the confines of its palace:

A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand,
Left on the shore, that hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land
Their moon-led waters white (249-252).

Questions

Compare Tennyson's representation of art in "The Palace of Art" and "The Lady of Shalott"

What is Tennyson saying about art as a mode of escape?

How does this poem relate to what would later be the French decadent movement?


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Last modified 7 September 2003