November 19, 1850, Alfred Tennyson was named Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. I understand that he accepted this honour on the condition that birthday odes would not be required of him.
In the same year, Tennyson published In Memoriam, a tribute to his dear friend, Arthur Hallam, whose sudden death in Vienna of a brain hemorrhage in 1833 influenced Tennyson’s creative efforts throughout his lifetime.
Tennyson and Hallam met at Trinity College in 1829. That same year, Tennyson introduced his sister, Emily to Hallam, which led to their engagement. Imagine the grief that came to Tennyson and his sister at the loss of one so precious to them.
Tennyson began to work on In Memoriam immediately after the death of his friend. Seventeen years later, it was finished – 131 individual poems that form an emotional narrative, a progress from grief to hope.
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.