« PrejšnjaNaprej »
Poet Laureate. ALFRED TENNYSON, the third of seven sons, was born August 5th, 1809, at Somersby, a small village near Horncastle, in Lincolnshire. His father, Dr. George Clayton Tennyson, was the rector of this parish, he was a man remarkable for his strength, stature, and varied attainments as poet, painter, musician and linguist. In 1827, Alfred Tennyson, with his elder brother Charles, both then being scholars at the Louth Grammar School, published a small volume entitled, “Poems by Two Brothers." Shortly after wards, these two young men removed to Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1829, Alfred Tennyson obtained the Chancellor's Gold Medal for his poem on “Timbuctoo.” His subsequent poetical works rapidly attracted attention, and, on the death of William Wordsworth, he was created Poet Laureate, the Warrant being dated the 19th November, 1850. As a poet he has achieved almost the highest fame, but in his numerous efforts as a dramatist he has been far less successful,
For the consideration of the Parodies of Tennyson's poems, they may conveniently be divided into three periods ; namely, his early Poems, poems in connection with his appoint. ment in 1850 to the office of Poet Laureate, and Poems since that date. Although Tennyson has suppressed many of his early works, yet he occasionally furbishes up, and re-issues as a new poem one or other of his youthful compositions.
Fastidious as he is known to be in his selection of what he thus re-publishes, it is still a matter of some surprise that he should have entirely suppressed his prize poem, Timbuctoo, which would always be of interest as a specimen of his early work, and is, besides, far removed above the average of Prize Poems. It is printed in full in the edition of his works, published by Harper and Brothers, New York, 1873.
The poems were sent in for competition in the month of April, 1829; and on June 12, 1829, the Cambridge Chronicle recorded that “On Saturday last, the Chancellor's Gold Medal for the best English poem by a resident under. graduate was adjudged to Alfred Tennyson, of Trinity College." Shortly afterwards the poem was published, and was favourably reviewed in The Athenceum, which in speaking of Prize poems generally, stated, “ These productions have “often been ingenious and elegant, but we have “ never before seen one of them which indicated
“really first-rate poetical genius, and which " would have done honour to any man that ever "wrote. Such, we do not hesitate to affirm, is the " little work before us.”
W. M. Thackeray was at Cambridge at the same time as Tennyson, and early in 1829 he commenced the publication of a small paper entitled “The SNOB, a Literary and Scientific Journal, not conducted by members of the University." This was published by W. H. Smith, of Rose Crescent, Cambridge, and ran for eleven weeks; its contents were humorous sketches in prose and verse, and the most remarkable paper amongst them is the following droll poem on Timbuctoo, which appeared on the 30th April, 1829. This has most unaccountably been omitted from recent editions of Thackeray's works, although it seems almost certain he must have written it :
To the Editor of the “SNOB." SIR, – Though your name be Snob, I trust you will not refuse this tiny "Poem of a Gownsman," which was unluckily not finished on the day appointed for delivery of the several copies of verses on Timbuctoo. I thought, Sir, it would be a pity that such a poem should be lost to the world ; and conceiving “THE SNOB” to be the most widely circulated periodical in Europe, I have taken the liberty of submitting it for insertion or approbation. - I am, Sir, yours, &c., &c.
IN Africa (a quarter of the world),
A mighty city lies, called Timbuctoo.
There stalks the tiger,—there the lion roars, 5
And then lies down 'neath trees called cocoa-nuts. 10 The lion hunt.
Quick issue out, with musket, torch, and brand,
The lion falls covered with horrid wounds.
At home their lives in pleasure always flow, 15
But many have a different lot to know ! Abroad.
They're often caught and sold as slaves, alas !
Thus men from highest joy to sorrow pass,
25 It shall not, must not, cannot, e'er be so.
Some better things I might have heard ;
From Fun, February 26th, 1873. Oriana,” a romantic legend in three acts, by James Albery, music by F. Clay, was first performed at the Globe Theatre, on Saturday, February 15th, 1873. The lessee and manager, Mr. H. J. Montague, performed the part of King Raymond, that of Oriana being represented by Miss Rose Massey. The plot was founded on a fairy tale, slightly resembling Mr. Gilbert's “ Palace of Truth, but, beyond the name, the play had nothing in common with Tennyson's poem of " Oriana.”
The day shall come when Albion's self shall feel
32 Notes.—Lines i and 2.-See Guthrie's Geography. The site of Timbuctoo is doubtful; the author has neatly expressed this in the poem, at the same time giving us some slights hints relative to its situation.
Line 5.-So Horace : leonum arida nutrix,
Line 13.—" Pop goes the musketoons.” A learned friend suggested " Bang" as a stronger expression, but as African gunpowder is notoriously bad, the author thought “ Pop” the better word.
Lines 15-18.—A concise but affecting description is here given of the domestic habits of the people. The infamous manner in which they are entrapped and sold as slaves is described, and the whole ends with an appropriate moral sentiment. The enthusiasm the author feels is beautifully expressed in lines 25 and 26.
Although this poem is not actually a parody of Tennyson's Timbuctoo, it is a clever burlesque of Prize poems in general, and derives additional interest from being one of Thackeray's earliest writings.
The first independent volume of poems which Tennyson published in 1830, contaired Mariana; The Ballad of Oriana ; Adeline ; Lilian ; The Poet; The Merman ; and the Mermaid ; all of which are so well known that the following parodies require no introduction :
MARIANA. (At the Railway Station.) Her parcels, tied with many a knot,
Were thickly labelled, one and all ;
She waited for the train to call.
Closed was the booking-office latch !
She only said, “The night is dreary
It cometh not,” she said :
I would I were in bed."
The saucy barmaid long had slept ;
The shining beetles slowly crept.
Shot coloured beams into the dark.
“ The hour is late, the night is dreary
It cometh not,” she said;
I would I were in bed."
She heard the shrill steam-whistle blow, And saw the signals gleaming bright!
And from dark pens the oxen's low Came to her ; but she watched with pain
A train with many a cattle van
Sweep past her, and the signal man Reversed his lamps, and snoozed again.
She only said, “ The night is dreary
It cometh not," she said ;
Of lamps, green, white, and red !”
The telegraphic wires did sound Their notes Æolian on the roof,
And goods trains shunting did confound Her sense ; yet still she waited on,
Until the porter came in sight
“There is no other train to-night; The next will stop at early dawn,"
She only said, “I am aweary :
It seems to me,” she said, “ Your tables, like yourself, are beeryGo find me now a bed."
That she might the live-long day
Tickle still my hooked nose,
With her pretty persecution ;
Like a piercèd cushion ;
Cork me, cousin Caroline !"
THE WEDDING DRESS. In picturesque confusion lies
Her scattered finery on the floor, And here and there her handmaid flies
With parcels to increase the store. But dolefully she paced the room,
Although it was her wedding morn,
And often spoke in tones of scorp, And brow of ever-deepening gloom.
She only said, “The morn is dreary ;"
“ It cometh not,” she said.
Or stayed too late in bed."
And from the window looketh she,
The merry Teuton minstrelsy,
A member of the “force" stalks by,
And little urchins mocking cry, “Oh ! ain't he swallowed lots o' starch !"
She laughed not, for she heard a chime :
• Eleven o'clock !" she said. "I wonder if 'twill be in time?
I would that I were wed. How swiftly now the minutes pass,
With ribbons, laces, pins, and threadWith peeps into the looking-glass,
And tossings of the pretty head. Full half an hour of anxious strife :
But still no wedding dress is there
To decorate the form so fair
“ Three quarters !" cried she weeping--weary,
“ It cometh now," they said.
From Tunny Folks.
The Laureate bold,
To keep him merry,
Handsomely, handsomely ! Then I'd Aing them bunches of garden flowers, And hyacinths plucked from the castle bowers ; And I'd challenge them all to come down to me, And I'd kiss them all till they kissed me,
In the Bon Gaultier Ballads is a parody of Lilian, entitled :
Easy, breezy, Caroline !
Brightsome cousin mine!
Laughter-loving Carolire !
In my easy chair,
Pulling of my hair?
Tricksy cousin Caroline ?
Winsome, tinsome, Caroline,
Teazing, pleasing, cousin mine !
Oh, would not that be a merry life,
And no deductions at quarter-day !
Oh, that would be the post for me!
'Tis I would be
The Laureate bold,
To keep me merry,
verses of four lines each ; it commenced thus ;
“The poet in a golden clime was born,
With golden stars above ;
The love of love,”
He saw thro' his own soul,
An open scroll,"
The secretest walks of fame :
And wing'd with flame."
THE MERMAID. (By a disgusted Tar with a vague recollection of Tennyson.)
A Mermaid dank
In a sort of tank,
At a shilling a head,
Alive or dead ?
Were a Mermaid merely a Manatee !
THE POET (OF THE PERIOD). With Punch's apologies for the application of noble Stanzas to
an ignoble subject. The Poet in a dismal clime was born,
With lurid stars above;
A scorn for love.
He glanced through his own soul ; And found all dead as a dishonoured bill,
Or emptied bowl.
The walks of coteric fame:
Erratic in their flight,
Filling with light
Which, albeit lacking wit,
In weak souls lit,
Where'er they dropt, behold,
A weed as bold,
Fresh mockeries of truth, And throng with poisonous blooms the verdant Spring
Of weak-kneed youth.
Of an unwholesome fire;
Of vague desire.
Like a Gehenna glowed,
Foul radiance flowed
Her bold and brazen brow; While Purity before her burning eyes
Melted like snow.
Lit by those lurid skies ;
Of her hot eyes,
Alfred Tennyson's “The Poet," was in fourteen
And on her robe's hem, “ FOLLY" showed in flames
With “ PHRENSY" names to shake Coherency and sense-misleading names
And when she spake, Her words did gather fury as they ran,
And as mock lightning and stage thunder, With firework flash and empty rataplan,
Make schoolboys wonder,
Of truth her right hand twirl'd,
She bored the world.
In 1832 Tennyson published another small volume of poems which contained Enone, The Sisters, The Palace of Art, Lady Clara Vere de Vere, The May Queen, The Lotus-Eaters, The Dream of Fair Women, and Margaret, all of which have been so frequently parodied that selection is difficult.
The following parody of Tennyson's The Sisters, concerning a division in the House of Commons, on the vexed question of marriage with a deceased wife's sister, appeared in The Tomahawk.
They were two daughters of one race ; One dead, the other took her place;
Brotherly love ? oh! fiddle-de-dee ! The Noes were but one forty-four; I'm backed by retrospective law;
Oh! the Ayes were two forty-three ! Who'd run a tilt 'gainst common sense ? I married for convenience;
Brotherly love ? oh! fiddle-de-dee! 'Tis wiser th' il!s we know to bear, Than run the chance of worse elsewhere
Oh! the Ayes were two forty-three ! Twice married—but I'm bound to state Th’ expediency of this is great ;
Brotherly love? oh! fiddle-de-dee!
And she's one too many for me !
Though uninclin'd to give offence,
The Lady Clara begs to hint
Deserts him utterly in print.
That always from the very first
The hopes that silly Alfred nurs'd.
From Lady Clara, when they met,
Or else “The weather's very wet.“
By penning scurrilous attacks,
Like stabbing folks behind their backs.
Is gone for good, since noble dames
Get pelted with improper names,
What kind of pleasure can accrue
On statements the reverse of true.
(Urged on by madness or by malt,)
The Lady Clara was in fault ?
How time and money should be spent,
The plan that Alfred T. has sent.
To let the “ foolish yeoman” go,
That he should move to fericho, The other, a reply to the well-known song, is scarcely so good, because it does not follow its original so closely :
Tho' it vexes me much to refuse;
With Lieutenant de Boots of the Blues.
That our ball has been quite a success.
In that old-fashion'd guy of a dress.
It is getting so dreadfully late.
If you linger so long at our gate,
For I know you're in want of repose.
And remember to tallow your nose.
For De Boots has implored me to sing.
You were always an obstinate thing.
About babble and revel and wine,"
Why, it's not the least business of mine,
A good many years ago a little volume, entitled “ Carols of Cockayne," written by the late Mr. Henry S. Leigh (who died in June, 1883), had considerable success. It contained a number of Ballads and Parodies, and amongst others two amusirg imitations of Tennyson (they can hardly be styled parodies), the first is in answer to the Laureate's somewhat bitter attack on a lady entitled “Lady Clara Vere de Vere :
The Lady Clara V. de V.
Presents her very best regards
(With one of her enamellid cards).