18 February 2016

Tennyson

A general view of Somersby
I enjoyed a lovely walk in the southern Lincolnshire Wolds on Tuesday. The weather was gorgeous. A bright, clear winter's day with frost on the ground when the sun rose up above that rolling chalkland. 

Somersby Church where Tennyson was
christened in 1809
The walk brought me to two tiny villages where, in the early years of the nineteenth century, The Reverend George Tennyson was the local vicar. In one of these villages - Somersby - he and his wife Elizabeth had twelve children. Their fourth child was named Alfred, later Alfred Lord Tennyson who was to become England's Poet Laureate, an office he held for forty years spanning most of the Victorian era.

In the other village, the curiously named Bag Enderby, there was a little display inside the church  in honour of Tennyson. It included the following poem, in which the poet imagines himself as a stream. The lines were undoubtedly embroidered with memories from his rural childhood - the same landscape through which I was walking.

In St Margaret's Church, where the Reverend Tennyson often preached, I read the poem through and contemplated its loveliness, like The River Lymm babbling its narrow way to the sea. I leave it here for you to enjoy too....

The Brook

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

37 comments:

  1. That is indeed a lovely poem, many thanks for sharing!

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    1. Glad you appreciated it Blogoratti.

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  2. As you know, I'm not a great one for poetry, but I did enjoy this one. Interesting use of the word 'bicker' which I didn't know also had the meaning '(of water) flow or fall with a gentle repetitive noise; patter.'

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    1. I knew a man called Shooting Parrots
      On Sundays he ate roasted carrots
      With beef and Yorkshire puddings too
      And fine green beans from Timbuktu

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  3. I like poetry, and that one is beautiful. It made me think of all of your rambling walks, YP, so it was most appropriate for one if your posts!

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    1. Thank you for that nice thought Jennifer.

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    1. It was like shelling peas Steve.

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  5. Beautiful, and so descriptive. I wonder if future poets will write with such feeling?

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    1. I believe they will CG. Tennyson was of his time just as Bob Dylan is of our time.

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  6. Lovely little poem, Mr. Tennyson. By the third stanza I was, myself, as a small rock flowing and winding. And at the end of the ditty, I thought about all the words in that poem that are no longer used at all or have been replaced by another, less noble, word.

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    1. That poem is probably 150 years old Mama Thyme. You are right - words change with the passage of time.

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  7. I love this poem. My uncle and Aunt farmed at Tetford, just a few miles from Somersby and as a child I often visited the church with my father. If i remember there used to be a small cabinet filled with mementoes of him.
    My father and I used to recite this poem as we walked there - I still know it off by heart. Thanks for the photograph and also the reminder.

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    1. I was going to stay the night in Tetford Mrs Weaver - at The White Hart but instead I stayed in a guesthouse at Woodhall Spa but I parked in Tetford before my long walk. What was the farm called?

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  8. Sommersby was also a rather sweet film with jodi foster

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  9. A beautiful, descriptive poem, one I don't remember reading before. I floated in the cool, playful waters of the stream; effortlessly the words carried me along.

    I wouldn't mind resting lazily in the cool water of such a babbling creek right now - letting the water and the world flow by..it's very hot and humid here still.

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    1. In colder countries we dream of the heat but in hot countries we dream of chilly weather.

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  10. You get a good walk in fine weather and then you find some very interesting history. good post!

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    1. We have piles of history in England Red. So much history it squeezes up through the gaps between the flagstones.

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  11. I'd forgotten all about it until I came to the third verse and realised that I once took a photo of a stream in the Clocaenog Forest and wrote the last two lines of the verse (and poem) underneath it.

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    1. Well I am glad the poem rang a bell for you Graham. I thought that the Clocaenog Forest was in "Lord of the Rings"! Sounds like it should be.

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  12. Lovely poem - I remember it from school, especially the repeated lines 'For men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever.' and the idea of the impermanence of people compared to landscapes.
    I recall another of Tennyson's - The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls; also a favourite.

    Ms Soup

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    1. I will look up the other poem Alphie. Thanks for that.

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  13. This was a lovely read along with my morning coffee, and beautiful pictures of what really was a gorgeous day. Glad you were able to make the most of it and be out there!
    I do miss walking for more than a few minutes to the train station and the office building, but it's been too wet and cold for my liking to spend more time than necessary outdoors.

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    1. Just wait till I show you my pictures of Torksey Castle Meike. You will love that abandoned place.

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  14. A truly lovely poem to greet the morning with.

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    1. Thank you TC. The world that poem reveals is a world without war or telephones or politicians playing to the cameras. A better, simpler world I think.

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  15. Inspired by this post, I dashed off a little something. As Madame Somebody-or-other once almost said, if I had had more time I would have written you a better poem:

    In England's fields doth Pudding go
    And little babbling brooks he ponders,
    The ancient churches seem to know
    That lonely as a cloud he wanders.

    And here and there the pretty flowers
    Do beckon from their rock-walled crannies,
    But Pudding walks and walks for hours
    And dreams instead of nymphs and grannies.

    In fettle fine, in red-cheeked health
    He sees the hills, the homes, the hawks,
    The sheep, the cows, all England's wealth
    When through its fields our Pudding walks.

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    1. I salute you Bard of Canton who useth language as a skilled woodcarver manipulates a chisel or as a masseuse moveth her fingers over aching muscular knots.

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  16. High praise coming from you -- am I dreaming? I do have roots in Victorian England. My mother's maternal grandfather, Solomon Aarons, was born in Whitechapel, London, in 1847. Never fear, he emigrated during his teen years with his parents to Philadelphia in the U.S., long before Jack the Ripper set up shop.

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    1. You have crushed my Ripper theory!

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  17. I enjoy Tennyson. I used to be able to recite Crossing the Bar. That's about Salcombe or the approach to it.
    He also wrote one about cavalry charging canons which made sense if you were the one with the canon. Daft buggers they were in the cavalry. I think Lord Lucan was in charge of the charge but then he killed someone and disappeared somewhere.
    I bet you thought I was ignorant but I know stuff.

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    1. I know you to be a cultured and civilised gentleman Adrian. You are as far from ignorance as Salcombe is from Salt Lake City.... Could you post a video clip of you reciting "Crossing the Bar"?

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  18. Sunset and evening star
    And one clear call for me,
    And may there be no moaning of the bar
    When I put out to sea.

    ...and so forth.

    Adrian, you are talking about The Charge of the Light Brigade which Tennyson wrote to commemorate the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Who needs Wikipedia when you have a mind like mine? (he said modestly)

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    1. Your nickname should be changed from RWP to Wicked Pedia.

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  19. Re your comments on my blog YP(!) yes - I certainly always refer to Kirby Lonsdale as KL. Easier to write.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.