Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Vision of Sin - A Different Tennyson

Most people think of Tennyson in terms of poems such as -

'The Lady of Shallot', 'Mariana', 'The Eagle', 'Break, Break, Break', 'Ulysses'  and 'In Memoriam'... however he did pen a much different type of work in poems such as - 'A Vision of Sin' and 'The Palace of Art'

This links to a Website containing much of Tennyson's work including the above mentioned poems.

Below are a just few stanzas from 'A Vision of Sin' ...

"Wrinkled ostler, grim and thin!
Here is custom come your way;
Take my brute, and lead him in,
Stuff his ribs with mouldy hay.

"Bitter barmaid, waning fast!
See that sheets are on my bed;
What! the flower of life is past:
It is long before you wed.

"Slip-shod waiter, lank and sour,
At the Dragon on the heath!
Let us have a quiet hour,
Let us hob-and-nob with Death.

"I am old, but let me drink;
Bring me spices, bring me wine;
I remember, when I think,
That my youth was half divine.

"Wine is good for shrivell'd lips,
When a blanket wraps the day,
When the rotten woodland drips,
And the leaf is stamp'd in clay.

"Sit thee down, and have no shame,
Cheek by jowl, and knee by knee:
What care I for any name?
What for order or degree?

This poem gave me the impression of a bawdy pub song dripping with escape into the pleasure of the moment and ignoring all else in the enjoyment of the company of a friend integrated with drink.

Compare this with the intensity of his most noted work - 'In Memoriam'  - a lamentation and search for meaning created over 17 years in tribute to the loss of his friend Arthur Hallam.

Perhaps the most known lines from this work are -

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

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