For all of its satirical qualities, however, "St. Simeon Stylites" participates as well in a much more serious discussion of how the past can and should shape the present.
In the same year that Tennyson published "St. Simeon Stylites" as part of the 1842 Poems, three prominent Victorians began work on their own lives of the saints: Charles Kingsley, Anna Brownell Jameson, and John Henry Newman.
Tennyson certainly had no inkling of any of these projects when he began to compose "St. Simeon Stylites" in 1833, shortly after Arthur Hallam's death.
Hone, in contrast, embraces the legendary quality of St. Simeon Stylites. He provides a synopsis of Alban Butler's telling of Simeon's life, a detailed account of what is presented as factual information about the saint's life: the height of his different styluses, the duration of the time he spent upon them, and his self-inflicted penances.
of martyrdom and saintliness did, indeed, become St. Simeon Stylites lends credence to the idea that John Henry Newman would later express in his "A Legend of St.
(23) In "St. Simeon Stylites," form and content are, as in Hallam's analysis of the saints, distinctly separated, allowing the poem to be simultaneously a serious poem about the possibility of inscribing oneself in the public memory and a satirical attack on both Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism.
Seen on its own and read only as satire, "St. Simeon Stylites" seems to be a relatively minor poem about content, about the excesses of Simeon's life.
(1) Larry Brunner, "'Let Them Take Example': Failed Asceticism in Tennyson's 'St. Simeon Stylites,'" Christianity and Literature 35 (1986): 30.
Tucker, Jr., "From Monomania to Monologue: 'St. Simeon Stylites' and the Rise of the Victorian Dramatic Monologue," VP 22 (1984): 121-137.
Platizky, who, like Hood, sees Simeon as simultaneously a caricature and "a Victorian in disguise in his anxieties about faith" ("'The Watcher on the Column': Religious Enthusiasm and Madness in Tennyson's 'St. Simeon Stylites,'" VP 25 : 181).
Bevis emphasizes the emergence of the first party platform (Peel's Tamworth Manifesto of 1834) in relation to the rise of the dramatic monologue and, rather than Edward Irving, cites the Saint-Simonians as most relevant to "St. Simeon Stylites
." Simeon's dismissal of the people while relying on their support obliquely comments on Saint-Simonian proselytizing, Bevis suggests, while Simeon's egotism, most audibly registered in repeated 'T' sounds, glances toward claims that Saint-Simon had suffered more on behalf of the poor than Jesus.