Today is the 125th anniversary of the death of Alfred Lord Tennyson. It’s amazing how time flies, it doesn’t seem like 8 years since the 200th birth anniversary. The following are some links to blogs with very interesting descriptions of his passing away in that moonlit room at his Sussex house:
Also, here is a link to a poll where people can chose their favourite Tennyson poem (devised for the 200th birth anniversary in 2009)
The Lady of Shalott is featured in a programme on BBC Radio 4 Extra – Sunday 8th October 17:00
Also available on the BBC website is the Great Lives programme from 2009:
The hour long classic “Circle of the Hills” documentary
National Poetry Day seems to become lower and lower in status as the years go by. I remember when the BBC would organise polls with a special TV programme with Griff Rhys Jones. Now, it's relegated to a thrice repeated piece on BBC Radio 4 Extra i.e. not even on Radio 4!
This is a reading of Tennyson's beautiful and passionate poem Maud. The programme is on 3 times today. Unfortunately 2 have already been missed. It is on again at 3am Friday 4th October Radio 4 Extra and should be on BBC Iplayer for a week or so
Here are my favourite extracts from this poem:
O let the solid ground
Not fail beneath my feet
Before my life has found
What some have found so sweet;
Then let come what come may,
What matter if I go mad,
I shall have had my day.
Let the sweet heavens endure,
Not close and darken above me
Before I am quite sure
That there is one to love me;
Then let come what come may
To a life that has been so sad,
I shall have had my day.
I have led her home, my love, my only friend.
There is none like her, none.
And never yet so warmly ran my blood
And sweetly, on and on
Calming itself to the long-wish`d-for end,
Full to the banks, close on the promised good.
None like her, none.
Just now the dry-tongued laurels` pattering talk
Seem`d her light foot along the garden walk,
And shook my heart to think she comes once more,
But even then I heard her close the door,
The gates of Heaven are closed, and she is gone.
There is none like her, none.
Nor will be when our summers have deceased.
O, art thou sighing for Lebanon
In the long breeze that streams to thy delicious East,
Sighing for Lebanon,
Dark cedar, tho` thy limbs have here increased,
Upon a pastoral slope as fair,
And looking to the South, and fed
With honey`d rain and delicate air,
And haunted by the starry head
Of her whose gentle will has changed my fate,
And made my life a perfumed altar-flame;
And over whom thy darkness must have spread
With such delight as theirs of old, thy great
Forefathers of the thornless garden, there
Shadowing the snow-limb`d Eve from whom she came.
Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the roses blown.
For a breeze of morning moves,
And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
To faint in his light, and to die.
There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
And the white rose weeps, "She is late,"
The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
And the lily whispers, "I wait."
She is coming, my own, my sweet,
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.
O that `twere possible
After long grief and pain
To find the arms of my true love
Round me once again!
When I was wont to meet her
In the silent woody places
By the home that gave me birth,
We stood tranced in long embraces
Mixt with kisses sweeter sweeter
Than anything on earth.
A shadow flits before me,
Not thou, but like to thee;
Ah Christ, that it were possible
For one short hour to see
The souls we loved, that they might tell us
What and where they be.
It leads me forth at evening,
It lightly winds and steals
In a cold white robe before me,
When all my spirit reels
At the shouts, the leagues of lights,
And the roaring of the wheels.
Half the night I waste in sighs,
Half in dreams I sorrow after
The delight of early skies;
In a wakeful doze I sorrow
For the hand, the lips, the eyes,
For the meeting of the morrow
The delight of happy laughter,
The delight of low replies.
But the broad light glares and beats,
And the shadow flits and fleets
And will not let me be;
And I loathe the squares and streets,
And the faces that one meets,
Hearts with no love for me:
Always I long to creep
Into some still cavern deep,
There to weep, and weep, and weep
My whole soul out to thee.
Dead, long dead,
And my heart is a handful of dust,
And the wheels go over my head,
And my bones are shaken with pain,
For into a shallow grave they are thrust,
Only a yard beneath the street,
And the hoofs of the horses beat, beat,
The hoofs of the horses beat,
Beat into my scalp and my brain,
With never an end to the stream of passing feet,
Driving, hurrying, marrying, burying,
Clamor and rumble, and ringing and clatter,
And here beneath it is all as bad
For I thought the dead had peace, but it is not so;
To have no peace in the grave, is that not sad?
But up and down and to and fro,
Ever about me the dead men go;
And then to hear a dead man chatter
Is enough to drive one mad.
The BBC is broadcasting a series of programmes to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Alfred Lord Tennyson (all on the Radio). Some of these programmes have already been broadcast but are still available on the BBC Iplayer:
Wednesday 5th August 23:00 Radio 3 - The Essay. Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis discusses the importance to her of Tennyson's poem The Kraken.
Thursday 6th August 23:00 Radio 3 - The Essay. Brian Patten discusses the importance to him of Tennyson's poem Come into the Garden, Maud
Friday 7th August 23:00 Radio 3 - The Essay. Kit Wright on the importance to him of Tennyson's lyric poem Tears, Idle Tears.
Friday 7th August 23:00 Radio 4 - Andrew Motion champions the life of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate for over 40 years and creator of In Memoriam and The Charge of the Light Brigade. Ann Thwaite provides further details of Tennyson's often-troubled life
Saturday 8th August 23:30 Radio 4 - Tennyson's Ulysses revisited. Poet Sean O'Brien explores Alfred, Lord Tennyson's great poem, Ulysses.
Sunday 9th August 16:30 Radio 4 - Tennyson: Poetry Please. Roger McGough presents a special edition devoted to the poetry of Tennyson, as part of the poet's bicentenary celebrations. Tennyson is one of the most frequently requested 19th-century poets on the programme.
Sunday 9th August 22:45 Radio 3 - To Strive, to Seek, to Find and Not to Yield. In a programme celebrating the work of Tennyson, Beth Goddard and Michael Pennington read poetry from Tennyson himself and others on the theme of destiny, alongside with music inspired by, and reflecting the texts. The poet is represented by excerpts from favourites such as The Lady of Shalott and Ulysses
Sunday 15th August 23:30 Radio 4 - Tennyson: Poetry Please. Roger McGough presents a special edition devoted to the poetry of Tennyson, as part of the poet's bicentenary celebrations. Tennyson is one of the most frequently requested 19th-century poets on the programme.
Some programmes now gone but on the iplayer for a few days only:
Andrew Motion discussing Tennyson at the Proms LIterary Festival:
Searching for Alfred in the Shadow of Tennyson. Poet and writer Ruth Padel goes in search of the real Alfred, Lord Tennyson, a poet who for many people today is an iconic image of the Victorian era. We know him as Queen Victorian's Poet Laureate, an imposing figure with a beard and cape and the author of long poems often based on myths and legends. But this image hides other facets of Tennyson and obscures the fact that many creative artists today are drawing on his work.
The Essay - Vicki Feaver on Ulysses. Vicki Feaver talks about Tennyson's long poem Ulysses, about the aged hero of Greek myth, driven to travel onwards even after reaching his home on Ithaca and his long-suffering wife Penelope.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Arthur Hallam, the BBC put on a reading of In Memoriam as the afternoon play today on Radio 4. Only listened to a short part of it so far but already heard my favourite
bits, "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" and "Be near me when my faith is dry..." David Bamber (Mr Collins from BBC Pride & Prejudice?) reads it superbly. If you missed it it'll be on the BBC Iplayer for a week:
One or two other Tennyson things on TV/radio: Tuesday 8th Feb at 20:00 BBC4 TV. Clare Balding cycling around the Isle of Wight. Includes some stuff on Tennyson (probably a visit to Farringford or Tennyson Down)
4AM Friday 4th February BBC2 looks to be worth recording