Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Birthday Benison from Baron Tennyson

"I shall raise a quiet glass of wine to the memory of the poet on August 6," says David Tennyson, sixth Baron Tennyson and great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria's favorite poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose 200th birthday will be celebrated around the globe on Thursday.

David, who rarely uses his title, lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Three months ago, he visited Alfred's stamping ground, Lincolnshire, England, arriving the day after his own 49th birthday.

The UK daily literary web magazine Open Writing posted a story about the six Barons Tennyson http://www.openwriting.com/archives/2009/08/ay_be_merry_all_1.php on August 1.

While scouring the internet for that article, Open Writing's Australian correspondent asked David about the Tennyson Society. Here is his reply:

I have taken an active interest in the Tennyson Society, based in Lincoln
in England, over the last two years. They have initiated several
to mark the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth.

Over the weekend of 5th-7th June 2009 at Lincoln I attended a "Tennyson in Poetry & Music"
concert at St. Nicholas' Church http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/127152
in Newport Lincoln.

I attended a special display at the Lincoln
museum (called "the Collection") on Tennyson's inspiration of the visual arts, and finally attended a bicentennial dinner where my cousin Rosalind was guest speaker.

Prior to that I attended the Tennyson Society "social weekend" in the Lake District in May. While there I opened a new
"poetry walk" http://www.visitcumbria.com/julian/mirehouse-n6290.jpg featuring Tennyson at The Mirehouse.

This old English country house on the shores of Lake Bassenthwaite used to be the home of James Spedding, a great
friend and contemporary of the poet. The poet Tennyson
spent part of his honeymoon at Mirehouse. http://www.visitcumbria.com/kes/mirehse.htm

Asked what he thought of his great-great-grandfather's poetry, David replied: "It's the best, of course! (alhough I would say that). Mind you, the nice thing about poetry is that in the end you don't have to choose. You are allowed to appreciate different contributors to the world of the arts without having to pick one winner."

Then he was asked whether he or his younger brother, author Alan Tennyson (the Heir Presumptive) had written any poetry. He replied:

Basically the answer to your question is no.... I do remember
studying 'The Lady of Shalott" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lady_of_Shalott
at school in what was then form 3...

Speaking for myself, I have always shied away from writing poetry and have taken a different path from the field of literature.

I was trained in mechanical engineering at Canterbury University. I now work for myself in a role I would best describe
as a 'Project Engineer.' This gives me the flexibility to take large
blocks of time off, like my five week trip to Europe earlier in

Living in Canterbury, I do try to get in touch with nature
ovr the weekends, whether that be strolling on the beaches, climbing over the hillsides or exploring the farming flatlands.

To some extent this gives me some appreciation of what the poet's early life must have been like. (Alfred grew up in a principal farming district of England) and I share
the poet's appreciation of the natural world.

Well over a century ago, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote this poem

To Alfred Tennyson, My Grandson

Golden-hair'd Ally whose name is one with mine,
Crazy with laughter and babble and earth's new wine,
Now that the flower of a year and a half is thine,
O little blossom , O mine, and mine of mine,
Glorious poet who never hast written a line,
Laugh, for the name at the head of my verse is thine.
May'st thou never be wrong'd by the name that is mine!

That poem might well have been addressed to his great-great-grandson.


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