The Poetry Archive have recorded a selection of classic poems exclusively for the Writing Places project and we will be releasing them to the website on a regular basis over the duration of the project. Our first recording is read by Sir Andrew Motion and is In Memoriam CXV by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
In Memoriam CXV by Tennyson read by Sir Andrew Motion
Tennyson was considered to be one of the most famous living people during his lifetime, alongside Queen Victoria and Gladstone, and the most famous living poet of his day.
Tennyson had his first volume of poetry published in 1827 at the tender age of 17, entitled Poems by Two Brothers, and he went on to become the poetic voice of much of the Victorian era, becoming the poet laureate in 1850 after Wordsworth and holding the position until his own death in 1892.
In Memoriam, in its entirety, is a vast piece – nearly 3,000 lines long and divided into 131 sections with a prologue and an epilogue. It tackles a wide range of issues including, grief, loss, consolation, religion, immortality, geology, evolution, the relationships between intellect and the unconscious, art in the workday world, the individual versus society, the relationship of man to nature and much more.
The poem clearly came out of the personal grief that Tennyson had experienced but it was clearly an attempt to give a voice to all rather than just himself. Do you think he succeeded? Contact us and let us know.