Notes on Tennyson’s Conversation
I believe that in the early days of our acquaintance the poet, seeing me with what appeared to be a notebook under my arm, suspected me of Boswellising,1 but I was duly warned and reassured him of my innocence. I simply recorded very briefly in my diary a few of his ‘dicta’ which I wished to have for the benefit of my children, one of whom was a frequent and delighted listener to the Laureate’s reading of his own poems. Mary Coleridge, at that time a shy, timid girl, was more than once asked to dictate the particular poems she wanted him to recite. I can hear him saying, ‘Give me my seven-and-sixpenny’ (meaning the single volume edition), and then we listened to the ‘high Orphic chant’, rather than the conventional reading of many of our favourite poems. I often asked for the ‘Ode on the Duke of Wellington’, and on one occasion, in the presence of Sir Charles Stanford2—then organist of Trinity College, Cambridge—the poet, lowering his voice at the words, ‘God accept him, Christ receive him’, added, ‘It’s a mighty anthem, that’s what it is.’ Stanford’s music to ‘The Voyage of Maeldune’ was written at Freshwater, and four of us visitors sang a lovely quartet in that work for the first time in the poet’s presence. It was rather nervous work, for the composer and ourselves were anxious to satisfy the poet in a work intended as a novelty for the Leeds Festival. The verdict was rather enigmatical: ‘I like the ripple of your music.’ …
KeywordsTrinity College Paradise Lost Romantic Poet Supreme Power Conventional Reading
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