The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
THE MASTER OF ALDWORTH

THE sudden death of Sir John Simeon, in May 1870, struck Tennyson hard. The funeral took place on May 31st, and 'dreadful was the day,' wrote Emily to Hallam: 'Nightingales were singing, beautiful roses were all about the house and garden and lilacs were in full bloom and the contrast only added to the sadness.'

Nightingales warbled without,
Within was weeping for thee:
Shadows of three dead men
Walk'd in the walks with me,
Shadows of three dead men and thou
wast one of the three.

Nightingales sang in his woods:
The Master was far away:
Nightingales warbled and sang
Of a passion that lasts but a day;
Still in the house in his coffin the Prince
of courtesy lay.

Two dead men have I known
In courtesy like to thee:
Two dead men have I loved
With a love that ever will be:
Three dead men have I loved and thou
art last of the three.

Smoking one of his old friend's pipes among the profusion of roses at Swainston, Tennyson wrote his words of committal.

The loss weighed on him throughout the summer, and he suffered from poor health and an acute attack of eczema; but he attended two meetings of the Metaphysical Society, and on June 14th he went to the funeral of Dickens at Westminster

-177-

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