Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Tennyson time!

Radios 3 and 4 are obsessed with Tennyson at present - last Thursday (August 6) was the 200th anniversary of his birth. I have what I thought was a fair working knowledge of 19th century English poetry, and I tended to lump him in with Wordsworth as Poets Who Irritate Me. However, as there are so many of them around - anniversary programmes, not PWIM - I listened in to some of them.

I discovered one thing pretty quickly:

Tennyson Is Not Wordsworth.

In fact, what I have heard so far sounds quite modern, and surprisingly full of tags of lines which I recognise - but not of clich├ęs. There's a lot of Tennyson on line, and I wholeheartedly recommend you try a little.

If all you know of Maud is, 'Come into the garden, Maud', and you think it sounds like a trite drawing-room ballad, think again. It is weird and creepy and very disturbing.

Or try In Memoriam, a massive work written after the death of his best friend, which considers not only love and grief, but also scientific ideas such as evolution.

And if you want an example of a poet having huge fun with words and sounds, try The Eagle. I had to learn this for a drama exam, and to my shame I had never realised it was by Tennyson...

I'm all for people reading more poetry, but I never thought I'd find myself championing Tennyson!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Having grown up in Lincoln I seemed to have a vast amount of Tennyson shoved at me when I was younger, which I've ignored until now!