Thursday, July 19, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Tennyson

When I was in high school, one of the poets we studied was Tennyson. There were a number of poems that we read as a class, and then we were given an assignment to find another poem and write an essay on it. I wanted to find a poem that no one else in the class would choose, so I went to the library and borrowed a very fat volume - the poet's complete works. I eventually settled on "Locksley Hall" which as I recall was a rather political poem about his vision of the future. But the one that really struck me was a poem that was written when he was about seventeen, "The Skipping Rope". Not because it was good, but because it was apallingly bad. Or so I thought then, and I still can't see anything in it that would make it worth publishing. Or that wouldn't embarrass the h* out of any seventeen year old boy today.

Actually, there is one thing that I think makes it worth publishing - the sheer comfort of knowing that even a great poet can write bad poetry. So, for this Poetry Thursday, I am reproducing it here, and if anyone can see any merit in it, I'd be delighted for you to leave a comment to that effect, and explain why (I could always use a little more education).

The Skipping-Rope
Sure never yet was antelope
Could skip so lightly by.
Stand off, or else my skipping-rope
Will hit you in the eye.
How lightly Whirls the skipping-rope !
How fairy-like you fly !
Go, get you gone, you muse and mope --
I hate that silly sigh.
Nay, dearest, teach me how to hope,
Or tell me how to die.
There, take it, take my skipping-rope,
And hang yourself thereby.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

For some better poetry by Tennyson, you could try "Ulysses", "The Lady of Shalott", "The Eagle" for a start. A google search will reveal many others.

For more poetry posts, visit Poetry Thursday

And here is the photo for the day : "Winter Trees" (taken almost at dusk as I walked home from work)


Crafty Green Poet said...

Wonderful photo, Catherine!

I can see two points of merit in that poem - a) it made me smile, which is always good,
b) it has a very strong sense of rhythm.
But certainly one of his poorer attempts. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

ummm... I second Crafty there. the poem did make me smile. it is very strange though.

Julie said...

I'm know I've written equally bad poems. So, in addition to making me smile, it offers hope that I might yet have more worthy poems come from my pen just as he did.

paris parfait said...

I can appreciate a couple of merits in this poem - his longing for hope overcoming his natural cynicism and the dark humour of his reference to ropes.

Anonymous said...

That photo is too good. I like the poem you share. Tennyson knew what he was saying..!!

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

I think he wrote it tongue-in-cheek, being a natural cynic. I, too, like the dark humor of "ropes" and the "teach me how to die" reference....

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

The poem, of course, is directed toward a Muse that is not working well for him at the moment--he is suffering from Writer's Block!...(if you can give me no hope, no skipping words, then go and hang yourself!

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Anyway, that's what I think....

leonie said...

it's an awfully unfriendly poem isn't it?

Regina said...

I think any poem that can elicit feelings, whether good or bad, is a good poem! I liked the rhythm of this one and the last two lines did make me smirk a little...

Tumblewords: said...

He got better and that's a good thing! Actually, if you look long enough there is merit in this one but I don't know for sure what it is. :)

Deb said...

I loved the tree silhouette--one of my favorite images in every pose and instance. And I liked that you called out a poor poem.

Perhaps it just didn't age well. Maybe it was always meant as a trifle (it did make me smile), but I agree: It didn't seem Good.

Anonymous said...

Well, I do think this part is pretty funny:

Stand off, or else my skipping-rope
Will hit you in the eye.

I love your photo.

SzélsőFa said...

What a great photo, Catherine!
I love taking photos of trees as well.
Michele sent me:)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I LOVE Tennyson's Lady of Shalott. That's my favorite of all his works.

Glad you posted this, it's very nice.

Love the trees (funny, I take pics like that too... straight up. I've a great one like that from Versailles that I will always love).

Beautiful picture.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Kay Cooke said...

I think the poem may have been saved by the dark last line - if it wasn't for the clumsiness of what goes before it. Plus, as you refer to as well, the sheer embarrassment of a boy writing about a skipping rope ...