Living in the Lake District, alongside Coniston, I am sandwiched on one side by John Ruskin’s house, and immediately next door by the Tent Lodge ‘Cottage’ where Tennyson has his honeymoon.
Alfred Tennyson, the man from the flatlands of Lincolnshire, here.
The Poet Laureate, here.
Probably strolls down to the water’s edge, flamboyant white shirt and bouquet tie, hair blowing, bride on the arm. Where now I have ‘Almost Bluebird’, my rowing/motor boat (rowing-only, actually, as engine’s been nicked).
Tennyson’s one of the few people of this era, the mid 1800’s, for whom there is a photograph. He hangs out with photographers, innovators.
He is pop.
“Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all”, “Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die”, “My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure”, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, “Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers”, and “The old order changeth, yielding place to new”. All his lyrics.
He is No.9 in the charts for “most frequently quoted writer”.
Not bad going for someone from Lincolnshire where nothing much happens by the sea. He is at home in the house in the middle of nowhere (Somersby, Lincs with more than 10 brothers & sisters) for most of his life until 28 years old. His unhappy drinking vicar of a father has the church. Then dies. Tennyson has to help care for his clan.
“The Lady of Shalott,” “The Palace of Art,” “A Dream of Fair Women,” “The Hesperides,” “Oenone,” “The Lotos-Eaters,” and “Mariana in the South” all come out of his time here at Somersby.
By this little gate to the little church.
In 1850 he becomes Poet laureate, marries (late really at 41 many are dead by now) honeymoons in the house overshadowing my little barn in Coniston.
And now in 2021 (quite by coincidence) I am in Lincolnshire, near Somersby. Maybe I should honeymoon here.