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"A Haunt Of Ancient Peace"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: As a young man, Tennyson was torn between writing poetry that was merely beautiful and sensual and becoming a poet who was regarded as a profound ethical teacher. Under the influence of the Cambridge Apostles, a society of earnest and sincere college students, he came to see that the best poetry was moral and the best qualities in men become ignoble unless they are shared. In this poem, he describes the type of poetry that he had earlier written for his own pleasure and shows how the beauty becomes sterile and finally terrifying as the poet turns more and more from other men and from his social role; when the poet is compelled to leave his selfish world of art and to enter the world of men, he is able to purge his guilt and to discover the true nature of humble but morally sound poetry and beauty. The rich imagery of the poem is a description of art, the soul's "lordly pleasure-house," and is presented as a series of individual pictures of the different parts of the palace where the soul can wander in its selfish loneliness. The quotation comes from the description of the rooms, each fitted to create a particular mood.

Full of great rooms and small the palace stood,
All various, each a perfect whole
From living Nature, fit for every mood
And change of my still soul.
. . .
And one, an English home–gray twilight pour'd
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep–all things in order stored,
A haunt of ancient Peace.