Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Knowledge Comes, But Wisdom Lingers

"Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He is the ninth most quoted writer in the Oxford Book of Quotations, and many of his quotations have entered the English Language. 

This presentation pack of stamps commemorates the centenary of the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson in March 1992. Tennyson was appointed Poet Laureate after Wordsworth’s death in 1850, and remained so until his own death, the longest tenure of any laureate.

The pack depicts a scene from The Charge of the Light Brigade, one of Tennyson’s most famous poems, written to commemorate the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. This was one of the first narrative poems I grew to love as a child, and even now a reading of it can bring chills.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

The pack also shows Westminster Abbey, where Tennyson was interred in Poet’s Corner.

Each of the stamps shows the poet at a different stage of his life and is beautifully illiustrated with scenes from paintings by well known Victorian artists.

The first stamp (24p) shows Tennyson in 1888, the painting is ‘The Beguiling of Merlin', by Edward Burne Jones, illustrating the poem ‘Merlin and Vivien’.

The second stamp (28p) is a portrait of Tennyson in 1856 and the painting is ‘April Love', by Arthur Hughes, illustrating 'The Miller’s Daughter’.

The third stamp (33p) is the poet in 1864 with a painting by John William Waterhouse illustrating the quote from Tennyson's wonderful poem 'The Lady of Shallot’ - “I am half sick of shadows, said the Lady of Shallot.”

Dave Hitchborne courtesy of Wikimedia
Commons share alike licence
The last stamp shows Tennyson in 1840 with the painting ‘Mariana’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Tennyson’s poem of the same name has a subject drawn from Shakespeare’s 'Measure for Measure’ - “Mariana in the moated grange.”

I lived in Lincoln for a few years, first during my teacher training, and then when I married and had a young family, so I was also re-aquainted with the great man through his statue which stands in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral.

I paid homage to Tennyson’s ‘Lady of Shallot’ with my own poem ‘Lost Cause’ which can be read here.

Thomas Eddison made a wax cylinder recording of Tennyson reading ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and this clip rather spookily re-animates still photographs of the poet to make it appear that he is reading the poem. It’s strange but haunting, and if you stick with it and listen to the end (even though some of the words are lost), you’ll hear a knocking noise which is presumed to be Tennyson making the sound of horses’ hooves. This post was inspired by Sunday Stamps by Viridian’s Postcard Blog, where this week’s prompt was poets and poems.


  1. What perfectly lovely stamps! Amazing...he is one who has given us many fine quotes, so that his memory may linger as well! "The happiness of a man in his life does not consist in the absence, but in the mastery, of his passions." Lord Alfred Tennyson

  2. I don't remember that set of stamps - what a shame! But of course I do remember the poems, The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Lady of Shallot, very clearly. At school I didn't particularly appreciate having to learn pieces poetry off by heart, but I do now, more so anyway.

  3. Great post - very interesting.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  4. I like the integration of the paintings and the pictures of Tennyson. A great set. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I'm ashamed to say, I'm not that familiar with the works of Tennyson. I should put that right, some day.

    I have to say that is one of the spookiest YouTube clips I've ever seen or heard.

  6. Great set of stamps. Those illustrations around him on the stamps are very well done.
    I think I like him better without the beard!

  7. Thank-you for another educational post! I re-read our poem, it's excellent - have you published a book of your poetry?

  8. That is such a beautiful set of stamps and one I missed. The youtube clip is really spooky, but very well done.

  9. I like the combination of poet and detail of a pre-Raphaelite paintings, both intrigued by Arthurian legend. I never associated him with Lincoln, how interesting.

  10. This stamp tribute is well deserved but I can't believe some of the dedications that have accompanied the Queen's bonce! Tennyson was a remarkable man though I must admit, the video did freak me out somewhat but the kids thought it was great!


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