On this blog, some scribbles include the Gilded Age in America and Belle Époque in Europe, as they overlapped with the Victorian Era in England. Posts and photos on this site are copyrighted, except for icons or pictures that are in the public domain.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I DISCOVER TENNYSON: PART I
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Lady of Shalott -- Painted by John William Waterhouse in1888
I fell in love with poetry in my teens. But poems had to be short: Yeats’s wandering Aengus, searching for the spirit who had called his name so they could pluck the golden apples of the sun. Wordsworth’s golden daffodils dancing in the breeze . . . (I liked Victorian poets even then.)
The poems had to be short so I could copy them into my poetry notebook and draw butterflies and flowers around them. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Two Voices” inspired polite page flipping, as did “The Lotus-Eaters” and Idylls of the King. Early on I decided I didn’t like Tennyson—which has always amazed my husband: He read Morte d’Arthur in high school and still finds it wonderful. But back then, I thought Tennyson's poems were much too long.
It took a thirteen-year-old Victorian girl make me discover Tennyson—a character in the middle grade mystery series I’m writing. For some reason, she likes Alfred, LordTennyson. (Characters have a way of letting you know things like that.) I was surprised. I knew that L. M. Montgomery’s Anne in Anne of Green Gables liked Tennyson so much she and her friends acted out “The Lady of Shalott”. But my character? What was the poet's appeal for these young girls of yesteryear? I had to find out.
My husband recommended Morte d’Arthur, so I started with that. Was it only a week ago? I’m entranced: The soul-stirring lines. The sheer music in Tennyson’s poems, whether they rhyme or not. And when they do rhyme, the rhyme doesn’t feel forced. His verses flow so easily, and seem straight from the heart. And the stories they tell! I’ve been going through every poetry book on our shelves and online, finding more Tennyson, drowning in the beauty of his poetry. I’m hooked. I’m besotted!
I also have been reading biographical selections about Tennyson, and I’ll be going into his life a little in Part II. But for today, I leave you with an excerptfrom Tennyson’s four-part poem, “The Lady of Shalott". (The full poem can be read at The Poetry Foundation's site HERE.)
A big thank you, too, to Jayne Ferst at A Novice Novelistfor mentioning the Pre-Raphaelites art movement. The beautiful painting of The Lady of Shalott you see above was painted by John William Waterhouse in1888, a Pre-Raphaelite artist.
The excerpt, then: Enjoy! And, tell me: Has one of your characters ever made you discover a new author or artist? Who? What about a hobby or some other discovery?