Connect with us

Poetry

A poetic colossus and his stylish, striking and sonorous works

Published

on

Among the shortcomings of our education system is that literature, especially poetry, is mostly presented to impressionable minds as an exam subject, that too in a dry, formulaic rote with any attempt at personal interpretation unwelcome. Thus most of us never know its role in showcasing mankind’s aspirations and experiences, of language’s capabilities, and vivid accounts of the human and natural conditions. Like by this Victorian-era poet whose work still endures and inspires.

“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”, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new”, are some pearls from his works that will be familiar to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of English literature.

And their unique creator, Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92), stood tall both in height and achievement. Sporting a large beard and long hair, clad in cloak and broad-brimmed hat, he was popular with commoners and royalty alike, was Britain’s longest-tenured Poet Laureate (42 years), the first to be raised to the peerage for purely literary contributions — and among the top 10 sources for the Oxford Book of Quotations.

In addition, he penned one of the most moving homages ever in English, the best-known war poem (which both manages to extol its grandeur and lament its cost), penning tributes to his homeland’s most famous heroes (King Arthur, and the Duke of Wellington) and foreseeing aerial conflict and commerce and something like the UN (in “Locksley Hall”).

Born on August 6, 1809, to a middle-class cleric’s family in Lincolnshire, Tennyson, the fourth of 12 children, showed an early talent for writing, completing a 6,000-line epic poem at the age of 12.

After his father began to suffer frequent mental breakdowns, leading to growing tension in the family, he escaped to study at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he made some of his best friends (especially Arthur Hallam, whose untimely death inspired his “In Memoriam A.H.H”), and honed his poetry skill (winning the Chancellor’s Gold Medal at Cambridge for one of his first pieces).

His first solo collection of poetry was published in 1830 and though criticised in some quarters as too sentimental, brought him to the attention of top writers. However, the very next year, his father died and he had to abandon his studies to come home and take care of his family. Soon after a failed business venture wiped out most of the family’s wealth, he published a two-volume set of his poems, which brought him much fame and a means to live. The crowning moment came on his appointment as Poet Laureate in 1850, succeeding William Wordsworth.

Queen Victoria was an ardent admirer, writing in her diary that she was “much soothed & pleased” by reading “In Memoriam A.H.H”. Meeting the poet in 1862, she recorded he was “very peculiar looking, tall, dark, with a fine head, long black flowing hair & a beard, oddly dressed, but there is no affectation about him”.

This could also be said about his poetry, which spanned a wide gamut of myths and legends of all ages (even Akbar and Caliph Haroun Al-Raschid) to common-place (and not so common) situations to nature, and displayed a richness of imagery, a regularity of rhythm, and revision most careful, and though a rich seam of melancholy and loss runs through his work, it is robust (and satirical too at places).

This can be seen in that outstanding paean to brave but misguided heroism “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (Cannon to right of them/Cannon to left of them,/Cannon in front of them/Volley’d and thunder’d;/Storm’d at with shot and shell,/Boldly they rode and well,/Into the jaws of Death,/Into the mouth of Hell/Rode the six hundred….)” or in “Break, break, break,/At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!/But the tender grace of a day that is dead,/Will never come back to me” or even the epitaph-like “Crossing the Bar” (whose solemn words “came in a moment” on a short ferry ride), whose opening – “Sunset and evening star,/And one clear call for me!/And may there be no moaning of the bar,/When I put out to sea” — has been much used by some well-read judges on retirement or transfer.

But for me, his most influential was “Ulysses”, studied at St Francis College, Lucknow, for the Class 10 board and explained so masterfully and cogently by Mrs N. Narain that much of it remains fresh even two decades later, especially: “I am part of all that I have met;/Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’/ Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades/For ever and for ever when I move” or “How dull it is to pause, to make an end,/To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!….but every hour is saved/From that eternal silence, something more,/A bringer of new things”.

What could be better advice?

By : Vikas Datta

(The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Cities

Karnataka to waive farm loans worth Rs 10,000 cr

The proposed write-off will be in addition to a similar waiver the previous Congress government declared on June 21, 2017 for over 22 lakh farmers who borrowed crop loans up to Rs 50,000 each from the cooperative banks.

Published

on

kumaraswamy

Bengaluru, June (25) Karnataka’s JD-S-Congress government would waive farm loans amounting to Rs 10,000 crore, including interest, taken by farmers across the state, said an official on Monday.

“The loans borrowed by the farmers from district cooperative banks and state cooperatives will be waived along with interest on them, costing the exchequer about Rs 10,000 crore,” a Chief Minister’s Office functionary told IANS here.

The decision on the loan waiver was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and attended by Co-operation Minister Bandeppa Khashempur, Agriculture Minister N.H. Shivashankara Reddy and officials of various departments.

“The Chief Minister (who holds the Finance Department) will announce the modalities of the waiver on July 5 when he presents the budget for 2018-19,” said the official.

The proposed write-off will be in addition to a similar waiver the previous Congress government declared on June 21, 2017 for over 22 lakh farmers who borrowed crop loans up to Rs 50,000 each from the cooperative banks.

The previous waiver had cost the state exchequer Rs 8,165 crore.

“The loan waiver is aimed at providing relief to lakhs of farmers and their families who have been reeling under debt and crop failure due to droughts across the state over the last couple of years,” said the official quoting Kumaraswamy’s remarks at the meeting in the state secretariat.

Allaying fears of officials and heads of the cooperative banks on the longevity of the coalition government, the Chief Minister said what the state would do for the people, especially farmers, was more important than how long it lasted.

“It is not how many days or months our government survives but what it does during its rule to the people, including farmers and the poor. All stakeholders, especially officials, leaders of the coalition partners, ministers and legislators should work for the state’s development than worry about the government’s fate,” said Kumaraswamy.

Defending his decision to present a full-fledged state budget than a supplementary one as suggested by former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the Chief Minister said as about 100 new legislators were elected in the May 12 Assembly poll, they could serve a privilege notice against him in the Assembly for implementing the budget of the previous Congress government, as the manifestos and promises made by both the coalition parties were different.

“I don’t want a privilege notice or motion against me from the new MLAs in all the parties, including the JD-S, Congress and BJP,” said Kumaraswamy.

Continue Reading

Poetry

HCL launches app dedicated to Indian classical music

Called “HCL Music”, the app is available for both Android and iOS users.

Published

on

HCL

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) There is some good news for Indian classical music lovers as HCL has launched a free music app dedicated to catering to their taste in music.

Called “HCL Music“, the app is available for both Android and iOS users, HCL said in a statement.

The app features recordings of live performances from legendary artists, high quality studio recordings featuring maestros, forgotten collections of legends and an assortment of crowd sourced music by young and aspiring artists.

The app houses a collection of Indian classical music across genres including Hindustani, Carnatic and fusion music, HCL said, ading that the aim is to make the app the largest ever repository of classical content and also give upcoming artists a platform to showcase their talent.

Continue Reading

Analysis

Rupa to Publish Spectrum Politics: by Salman Khurshid and Daksha Sharma

Spectrum Politics: Unveiling the Defence is a maiden attempt in the direction of removing avoidable confusion being piled up in the minds of the people of India.

Published

on

Salman Khurshid

In November 2010, a leaked CAG report on the 2G spectrum policy suggested that ₹1.76 lakh crores were lost (described as ‘presumptive loss’) to the government exchequer because of myopic, even legally questionable policies of the then UPA government in handing out valuable spectrum resource in 2007–08 at the price of 2001. Soon, the 2G episode was proclaimed to be the ‘Mother of all Scams’. Seven years later, in December 2017, a special CBI court pronounced the verdict in this case in just a single line: ‘The prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case, and all accused are acquitted.’

Spectrum Politics: Unveiling the Defence is a maiden attempt in the direction of removing avoidable confusion being piled up in the minds of the people of India. The book establishes the hard facts of the 2G case—from the origins of spectrum policy under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from 1998 to 2004 to the findings of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up to investigate the matter—and enlightens readers that this case was far from a scandal rather a corporate battle to scuttle the allocation of spectrum licences.

Rich in its detail and insight, Salman Khurshid channels his remarkable expertise in policy matters to highlight how deliberate distortion caused endless anguish to individuals, the Congress and indeed the country. Every citizen concerned about our polity should read and reflect upon the lucid and incisive narrative of this book, which is, in a sense, about the past, present and equally about the future.

About the authors: Salman Khurshid is a former Union Law Minister and External Affairs Minister, residing in Delhi. Daksha Sharma is an advocate and a professor of law, based in New Delhi.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular