NauenThen

In Memoriam

June 3, 2018

Ah dear, but come thou back to me:
Whatever change the years have wrought,
I find not yet one lonely thought
That cries against my wish for thee.

In Memoriam is our summer book (along with Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey, which is currently on hold again). A lot is moving, a lot isn't. Despite the thumpy meter & rhyme, there's plenty of Tennyson gorgeousness.

Ford Madox Ford as a child was forced to listen to Tennyson's grandiloquent style & that's part of what led him into modern literature.

When Tennyson, Browning, & the Rossettis (his cousins) started to recite, Ford wrote, "the most horrible changes came over these normally nice people. They had, all, always, on these occasions the aspects and voices, not only of awful High Priests before Drawing Room altars—but they held their heads at unnatural angles and appeared to be suffering the tortures of agonising souls. It was their voices that did that. They were doing what Tennyson calls, with admiration: "Mouthing out their hollow O's and A's.'

"And it went on and on—and on! A long, rolling stream, of words no-one would ever use, to endless monotonous, polysyllabic, unchanging rhythms, in which rhymes went unmeaningly by like the telegraph posts, every fifty yards, of a railway journey."