Monday, March 26, 2012

Last night's dream subjects: Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. I think I may have been playing the part of a young and callow Lancelot, but sometimes the three of us also seemed to be tapestries-in-progress under the omniscient eye of a Trollopian me. And whatever was going on involved a lot of pink.

His mood was often like a fiend, and rose
And drove him into wastes and solitudes
Of agony, who was yet a living soul.
[Tennyson, Idylls of the King]

Do any of you ever read Tennyson? Every once in a while I do, all the while feeling like the last Tennyson reader on earth. It makes me sad to consider how the Victorian poets have decayed in our collective imagination while the Victorian novelists continue to thrive.

And then there is Victoria herself.

When, two days previously, the news of the approaching end had been made public, astonished grief had swept over the country. It appeared as if some monstrous reversal of the course of nature was about to take place. The vast majority of her subjects had never known a time when Queen Victoria had not been reigning over them. She had become an indissoluble part of their whole scheme of things, and that they were about to lose her appeared a scarcely possible thought. She herself, as she lay bling and silent, seemed to those who watched her to be divested of all thinking--to have glided already, unawares, into oblivion. Yet, perhaps, in the secret chambers of consciousness, she had her thoughts, too. Perhaps her fading mind called up once more the shadows of the past to float before it, and retraced, for the last time, the vanished visions of that long history--passing back and back, through the cloud of years, to older and ever older memories--to the spring woods at Osborne, so full of primroses for Lord Beaconsfield--to Lord Palmerston's queer clothes and high demeanour, and Albert's face under the green lamp, and Albert's first stag at Balmoral, and Albert in his blue and silver uniform, and the Baron coming in through a doorway, and Lord M. dreaming at Windsor with the rooks cawing in the elm-trees, and the Archbishop of Canterbury on his knees in the dawn, and the old King's turkey-cock ejaculations, and Uncle Leopold's soft voice at Claremont, and Lehzen with the globes, and her mother's feathers sweeping down towards her, and a great old repeater-watch of her father's in its tortoise-shell case, and a yellow rug, and some friendly flounces of sprigged muslin, and the trees and the grass at Kensington.
[Lytton Strachey, Queen Victoria (1921)]


Carlene Gadapee said...

You are not alone in your reading and appreciation of Victorian novelists and poets. I read/teach Tennyson faithfully...

My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden. I read and re-read it so many times...

Dawn Potter said...

I still go back to "The Secret Garden." It's such a beautiful book.