‘Alfred, Lawn Tennyson’ - Tennyson’s Love for his Lawn

 If you have visited Farringford House you will have seen that the lawns at the front of the house which are as extensive now as they were during Tennyson’s time here.

James Joyce’s famous joke about Tennyson’s gentlemanlike and repressed poetry, in Ulysses, nicknaming him ‘Alfred, Lawn Tennyson’, becomes even more humorous if you have visited Farringford. The lawns at the front of the house are as extensive now as they were during Tennyson’s time here, and are inevitably on my mind whenever I picture the house.

Reading about Tennyson later the joke becomes more piquant as I learn that he was obsessed with his lawn at Farringford, even covering it in seaweed to fertilise it. Michael Thorne narrates in his biography Tennyson:

‘The lawns at Farringford became something of an obsession. He spent hours rolling them, picking up leaves, and even digging them up. When he went away he left instructions about which activities were, and which were not, permitted on the grass’.

Yet although there is something very amusing about the relationship between Tennyson and his lawn the setting of the lawn around Farringford is very idyllic. The association between the lawn and a holiday feeling which was present for Tennyson at Farringford is prefigured in In Memoriam A.H.H.

‘By night we linger'd on the lawn,

         For underfoot the herb was dry;

         And genial warmth; and o'er the sky

The silvery haze of summer drawn;’

Recent Posts

Tennyson and Opium

If opium-eating be a sensual pleasure, and if I am bound to confess that I have indulged in it to an excess ...…

Read More
Tennyson and OpiumPosted: 17 Sep 2020

Tennyson and Kate Bush

The second part of Kate Bush’s ‘The Hounds of Love’ album takes its title from the first poem of Tennyson’s ‘The Idylls of the King’,…

Read More
Tennyson and Kate BushPosted: 19 Aug 2020

Reading Aloud

Every evening Alfred, Lord Tennyson, read the poetry that he was working on to his wife Emily…

Read More
Reading AloudPosted: 27 Jul 2020

Pre-Raphaelite Women

Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites created characters so real that their images are familiar to us over 150 years later.…

Read More
Pre-Raphaelite WomenPosted: 27 Jul 2020
© 2020 Farringford