Eric Shackle Writes: Birthday Benison From Baron Tennyson
David Tennyson, the sixth Baron Tennyson, will be raising a glass of wine to the memory of his great-great-grandfather, Alfred Lord Tennyson, on Thursday, the 200th anniversary of the poet's birthday, as Eric Shackle reports.
"I shall raise a quiet glass of wine to the memory of the poet on August 6,"
says David Tennyson, sixth Baron Tennyson and great-great-grandson of Queen
Victoria's favorite poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose 200th birthday will be
celebrated around the globe on Thursday.
David, who rarely uses his title, lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Three
months ago, he visited Alfred's stamping ground, Lincolnshire, England,
arriving the day after his own 49th birthday.
Open Writing posted a story about the six Barons Tennyson
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/2009/08/ay_be_merry_all_1.php on August 1st.
While scouring the internet for that article, the web magazine's Australian
correspondent asked David about the Tennyson Society. Here is his reply:
"I have taken an active interest in the Tennyson Society, based in Lincoln
in England, over the last two years. They have initiated several events
to mark the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth.
"Over the weekend of 5th-7th June 2009 at Lincoln I attended a 'Tennyson in
Poetry & Music' concert at St. Nicholas' Church
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/127152 in Newport Lincoln.
"I attended a special display at the Lincoln museum (called 'the
Collection') on Tennyson's inspiration of the visual arts, and finally
attended a bicentennial dinner where my cousin Rosalind was guest speaker.
"Prior to that I attended the Tennyson Society 'social weekend' in the Lake
District in May. While there I opened a new "'poetry walk'
http://www.visitcumbria.com/julian/mirehouse-n6290.jpg featuring Tennyson
at The Mirehouse. This old English country house on the shores of Lake
Bassenthwaite used to be the home of James Spedding, a great friend and
contemporary of the poet. The poet Tennyson spent part of his honeymoon at
Asked what he thought of his great-great-grandfather's poetry, David replied:
"It's the best, of course! (although I would say that). Mind you, the nice
thing about poetry is that in the end you don't have to choose. You are
allowed to appreciate different contributors to the world of the arts
without having to pick one winner."
Then he was asked whether he or his younger brother, author Alan Tennyson
(the Heir Presumptive) had written any poetry. He replied:
Basically the answer to your question is no.... I do remember
studying 'The Lady of Shalott" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lady_of_Shalott
at school in what was then form 3...
"Speaking for myself, I have always shied away from writing poetry and have
taken a different path from the field of literature.
"I was trained in mechanical engineering at Canterbury University. I now
work for myself in a role I would best describe as a 'Project Engineer.'
This gives me the flexibility to take large blocks of time off, like my five
week trip to Europe earlier in 2009.
"Living in Canterbury, I do try to get in touch with nature ovr the
weekends, whether that be strolling on the beaches, climbing over the
hillsides or exploring the farming flatlands.
"To some extent this gives me some appreciation of what the poet's early
life must have been like. (Alfred grew up in a principal farming district
of England) and I share the poet's appreciation of the natural world."
Well over a century ago, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote this poem
To Alfred Tennyson, My Grandson
Golden-hair'd Ally whose name is one with mine,
Crazy with laughter and babble and earth's new wine,
Now that the flower of a year and a half is thine,
O little blossom , O mine, and mine of mine,
Glorious poet who never hast written a line,
Laugh, for the name at the head of my verse is thine.
May'st thou never be wrong'd by the name that is mine!
That poem might well have been addressed to his great-great-grandson.