Tennyson

6

The Opheliac archetype in classic art.

And there is no one who can save me.
She sits down to her coloured thread
She knows lovers waking up in their bed
She says, ‘How long can I live this way
Is there no one I can pay to let me go
'Cause I’m half sick of shadows
I wanna see the sky
Everyone else can watch as the sun goes down
So why can’t I?

My favorite thing I’ve ever learned from studying literature is that when Tennyson was fourteen, he found out that Lord Byron died in the Greek Revolution, so he ran away into the woods and carved “Byron is dead,” into a piece of sandstone, and it’s great bc like, that’s such a fourteen-year-old thing to do if your fave dies and he grew up to be so famous and??

idk I think the fourteen year old emo phase has existed throughout all of history pretty much and Tennyson is proof.

O mother, hear me yet before I die.
Hear me, O earth. I will not die alone,
Lest their shrill happy laughter come to me
Walking the cold and starless road of death
Uncomforted, leaving my ancient love
With the Greek woman. I will rise and go
Down into Troy, and ere the stars come forth
Talk with the wild Cassandra, for she says
A fire dances before her, and a sound
Rings ever in her ears of armed men.
What this may be I know not, but I know
That, wheresoe'er I am by night and day,
All earth and air seem only burning fire.
—  Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Oenone”
The Princess: Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal
Alfred Lord Tennyson | Read by Tom Hiddleston
The Princess: Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal


The Princess: Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal (Tennyson) | Tom Hiddleston

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

3

Cover of The May Queen and other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Rubricated and illuminated.
Colophon: “This manuscript, selected poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson, The May Queen, The sea fairies,The beggar maid, Hero to Leander, and Dora was designed, written out, and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski for Messrs. R. Rivière & Son bookbinders & booksellers to H.M. King George V. London. This manuscript will not be duplicated. This manuscript was executed by me [signed] Alberto Sangorski London A.D. 1912.”– P. [63]
“The miniature illustrating the poem of The beggar maid was taken from the painting done by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in the Tate Gallery London. The miniature illustrating the poem of Hero to Leanderwas taken from the painting done by Lord Leighton, P.R.A. The miniature in the title page of Lord Tennyson was taken from the painting by Sir Hubert Herkomer, R.A. (and is copyright)”– P. [65]
Miniature of Tennyson, three miniatures of the May Queen, miniature of the Beggar Maid, miniature of Hero, two miniatures of Dora are initial-signed by Sangorski, and some are dated 1912.
Full blue morocco, inlaid and gilt in an over-all design with semi-precious stones and seed pearls, mounted on upper cover. Beige morocco doublures, inlaid with red, white and green morocco and gilt. Silk protective guards interleaved between some pages. All edges gilt. Stamp-signed on upper doublure: “Bound by Riviere & Son”. In silk-lined green morocco folding case.

  • Courtesy of Rare Book Collection, Detroit Public Library
Mythological Throwback Thursday: Kraken

It’s Mythological Throwback Thursday! This week we’re cracking the case of one of the most fearsome sea monsters of all time. In the icy waters of the far north, we seek the Kraken!

The Kraken (from the Norwegian word krake, an approximate translation of which would be ‘twisted creature’) is a gargantuan and mysterious aquatic beast. The first clear record we have of this legendary creature is from Örvar-Oddr, a 13th-century Icelandic saga, in which it was referred to as the hafgufa. It is said to be large enough to swallow whales and ships; indeed it was claimed to be possible to sail through its mouth.

Early scientists speculated that the Kraken was incapable of reproduction, for their numbers were so small. Compared to an island in size, it was said that they lured in vast shoals of prey-fish by regurgitating part of their previous meal, and then swallowed them up. Eugh. This disgusting tendency was nevertheless also a lure for fishermen, who sought the bounteous hauls of such a swarming.

Tales of the Kraken may have been influenced by the story of the Greek sea monster, Charybdis. Both creatures are told to generate vicious whirlpools that could easily sink ships, and both have gigantic, monstrous forms and appetites.

Norwegian Erik Pontoppidan, 18th-century bishop of Bergen, said that the Kraken could pull down even the largest warship with its tentacles. The consensus among 18th-century investigators was that it was a type of gigantic cephalopod, a colossal octopus or squid, but earlier descriptions pitched it as more of a crab-like or whale-like being.

Tales of gigantic sea monsters have petered out as we have learned more about the ocean depths and the areas in which they might hide from us have shrunk. This hasn’t diminished their presence in fiction though: the Kraken had a prominent role in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and features in works by Tennyson, Melville, Jules Verne and China Miéville. As a mysterious, powerful and deadly being of alien intelligence and shape, it seems the appeal of the Kraken will not soon disappear to the depths…

Thanks for taking the plunge with us! We look forward to seeing you again next week for another Mythological Throwback Thursday!

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.
—  – “The Lady of Shalott” by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1842)
Mythological Throwback Thursday: Kraken

It’s Mythological Throwback Thursday! This week we’re cracking the case of one of the most fearsome sea monsters of all time. In the icy waters of the far north, we seek the Kraken!

The Kraken (from the Norwegian word krake, an approximate translation of which would be ‘twisted creature’) is a gargantuan and mysterious aquatic beast. The first clear record we have of this legendary creature is from Örvar-Oddr, a 13th-century Icelandic saga, in which it was referred to as the hafgufa. It is said to be large enough to swallow whales and ships; indeed it was claimed to be possible to sail through its mouth.

Early scientists speculated that the Kraken was incapable of reproduction, for their numbers were so small. Compared to an island in size, it was said that they lured in vast shoals of prey-fish by regurgitating part of their previous meal, then swallowing them up. Eugh. This disgusting tendency was nevertheless also a lure for fishermen, who sought the bounteous hauls of such a swarming.

Tales of the Kraken may have been influenced by the story of the Greek sea monster, Charybdis. Both creatures are told to generate vicious whirlpools that could easily sink ships, and both have gigantic, monstrous forms and appetites.

Norwegian Erik Pontoppidan, 18th-century bishop of Bergen, said that the Kraken could pull down even the largest warship with its tentacles. The consensus among 18th-century investigators was that it was a type of gigantic cephalopod, a colossal octopus or squid, but earlier descriptions pitched it as more of a crab-like or whale-like being.

Tales of gigantic sea monsters have petered out as we have learned more about the ocean depths and the areas in which they might hide from us have shrunk. This hasn’t diminished their presence in fiction though: the Kraken had a prominent role in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and features in works by Tennyson, Melville, Jules Verne and China Miéville. As a mysterious, powerful and deadly being, it seems the appeal of the Kraken will not soon disappear to the depths…

Thanks for taking the plunge with us! We look forward to seeing you again next week for another Mythological Throwback Thursday!

Crossing the Bar

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
   Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
   Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crost the bar.

8

William Holman Hunt’s threads and The Lady of Shalott

As some of you might know, Tennyson was not pleased with Hunt’s illustration for the illustrated edition of his poems, known as the Moxon Tennyson. Hunt’s free interpretation of Tennyson’s verse made the poet cry out that the hair “wildly tossed about as if by a tornado” and the treads wound round the lady like the threads of a cocoon had no basis in the poem.

However, throughout the Victorian age artists looked at Hunt’s engraving for inspiration and the by Tennyson so disliked threads reappeared in several other Ladies of Shalott

William Holman Hunt, sketch for The Lady of Shalott, 1850.

William Holman Hunt, The Lady of Shalott, 1857.

John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott, 1894.

Florence M. Rutland, The Lady of Shalott, 1896.

William Henry Margetson, The Lady of Shalott, 1905.

Florence Harrison, The Lady of Shalott, 1912.

Florence Harrison, The Lady of Shalott (title), 1912.

Charles Robinson, The Lady of Shalott, s.d.


note: this was part of my thesis on Hunt’s influence on the iconographic tradition of Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott. For several reasons, I’ve decided not to publish all of my results on my blog. I’d appreciate if my research isn’t just copy-pasted to another platform without credit.

For more information on the artworks, feel free to ask me!

Come, my friends,
’T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

From Ulysses - Alfred, Lord Tennyson