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A Day with the Poet Tennyson by Anonymous

[Illustration: A Day with Tennyson]

"I murmur under moon and stars In brambly wildernesses; I linger by my shingly bars; I loiter round my cresses;

"And out again I curve and flow To join the brimming river, For men may come and men may go. But I go on for ever."

[Illustration: _Painting by E. W. Haslehust._THE BROOK.]


_In the same Series._

_Longfellow._ _Keats._ _Browning._ _Wordsworth._ _Burns._ _Scott._ _Byron._ _Shelley._


Tennyson was no recluse. He shunned society in the ordinary London sense, but he welcomed kindred spirits to his beautiful home, with large-hearted cordiality. To be acquainted with Farringford was in itself a liberal education. Farringford was an ideal home for a great poet. To begin with, it was somewhat secluded and remote from the world's ways, especially in the early 'fifties, when the Isle of Wight was much more of a _terra incognita_ than traffic now permits. One had to travel down some hundred miles from town, cross from the quaint little New Forest port of Lymington to the still quainter little old-world Yarmouth--"a mediaeval Venice," the poet called it--and then drive some miles to Freshwater, before one attained the stately loveliness of Farringford embowered in trees.

"Where, far from noise and smoke of town, I watch the twilight falling brown All around a careless-ordered garden, Close to the ridge of a noble down."

* * * * *

"Groves of pine on either hand, To break the blast of winter, stand; And further on, the hoary Channel Tumbles a billow on chalk and sand."

_Lines to the Rev. F. D. Maurice._

The interior of the house--a very ancient one--was no less ideal than its outward aspect, "it was like a charmed palace, with green walks without and speaking walls within." And its occupants crowned all--the ethereally lovely mistress with her "tender spiritual face," and the master, tall, broad-shouldered, and massive, dark-eyed and dark-browed, his voice full of deep organ-tones and delicate inflections, his mind shaped to all fine issues. "The wisest man," said Thackeray, "that ever I knew."

* * * * *

Farringford was the ideal home of the great poet. "A charmed palace with green walks without,"

"Where, far from noise and smoke of town, I watch the twilight falling brown All around a careless-ordered garden, Close to the ridge of a noble down."

[Illustration: _Painting by E. W. Haslehust._ FARRINGFORD. ]

Subject to slight inevitable variations, a certain method and routine governed the day of Tennyson. He had definite working-times, indoors and out, and accustomed habits of family life. The morning brought him letters from all parts of England: there was hardly any great man who did not desire to exchange salutations and discuss world-subjects with a thinker so far above the rest. The poet, with the prophetic soul of genius, had always been well in advance of his times.

"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be; Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails, Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales; Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly dew From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue; Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm, With the standards of the peoples plunging through the thunderstorm; Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

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