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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lady Clare
by Alfred Tennyson
The Lady Clare.jpg
The Lady Clare by J. W. Waterhouse (1900)
MeterIambic tetrameter
Rhyme schemeABAB
Publication date
  • 1842
  • 1851
Read onlineLady Clare at Wikisource
Lady Clare (watercolour) by Elizabeth Siddal (c. 1854–7)
Lady Clare (watercolour) by Elizabeth Siddal (c. 1854–7)

Lady Clare is a narrative poem by Alfred Tennyson, first published in 1842.

Textual history

Lady Clare was first published in 1842. After 1851 no alterations were made.[1]

This poem was suggested by Susan Ferrier's 1824 historical novel The Inheritance. A comparison with the plot of Ferrier's novel will show how Tennyson adapted the tale to his ballad:

Thomas St. Clair, youngest son of the Earl of Rossville, marries a Miss Sarah Black, a girl of humble and obscure birth. He dies, leaving a widow and as is supposed a daughter, Gertrude, who claim the protection of Lord Rossville, as the child is heiress presumptive to the earldom. On Lord Rossville's death she accordingly becomes Countess of Rossville. She has two lovers, both distant connections, Colonel Delmour and Edward Lyndsay. At last it is discovered that she was not the daughter of Thomas St. Clair and her supposed mother, but of one Marion La Motte and Jacob Leviston, and that Mrs. St. Clair had adopted her when a baby and passed her off as her own child, that she might succeed to the title. Meanwhile Delmour by the death of his elder brother succeeds to the title and estates forfeited by the detected foundling, but instead of acting as Tennyson's Lord Ronald does, he repudiates her and marries a duchess. But her other lover Lyndsay is true to her and marries her. Delmour not long afterwards dies without issue, and Lyndsay succeeds to the title, Gertrude then becoming after all Countess of Rossville.[1]

In details Tennyson follows the novel sometimes very closely. Thus the "single rose", the poor dress, and the bitter exclamation about her being "a beggar born", are drawn from the novel.[1]

The 1842 and all editions up to and including 1850 begin with the following stanza and omit stanza 2:—

Lord Ronald courted Lady Clare,
  I trow they did not part in scorn;
Lord Ronald, her cousin, courted her
  And they will wed the morrow morn.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Collins 1900, p. 253.


Further reading

This page was last edited on 12 May 2022, at 09:12
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