1 December 2023 Susannah

Book Addict Admires a Literary Statue – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In the grounds of glorious Lincoln Cathedral (surely one of the very finest of English cathedrals?) stands a statue of a Lincolnshire-born poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It’s a fabulous statue, showing him with his dog Karenina. In his hand, the poet holds a small flower and on the statue are words from his 1869 poem Flower in the Crannied Wall.

Tennyson died in 1892 and a few years later his friend George Frederick Watts started designing a memorial statue. The artist was 86 years old when he finished the work and sadly did not live to see it erected in 1905. He was inspired by these lines from Tennyson’s poem:

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

In the poem, Tennyson meditates on how he can understand God by understanding nature. The dog looks up at him expectantly, as if interested in what he is doing. It’s an informal pose and it captures Tennyson’s humanity and roots in the county of Lincolnshire. Tennyson adored nature and did much of his composing of poetry while out of doors. Although he left Lincolnshire as a young man, he always felt close to his native county and sometimes wrote poems in the Lincolnshire dialect, such as Northern Farmer: Old Style.

This will be my last literary statue – next year I will introduce a new theme, so watch this space …

What do you think of this statue? Tell me by leaving a comment here.

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Header image- Statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, by Tanya Dedyukhina, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84269926
Body image- Alfred Tennyson, portrait by P. Krämer. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6907381

Comments (2)

  1. Dominic Lehane

    This is a sobering statue and the quote reminds me much of Robert Burns’ “The best laid plans of mice and men”. We have a statue of Robert Burns at Centenary Place in Brisbane where I live.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Hi Susannah,

    Jacinta and I loved your England tour in September/October this year and I must say Lincoln was the surprise packet.The Cathedral was amazing as was the statue of Tennyson which was all the more special having visited his house on the Isle of Wight earlier in the tour.
    Kind regards,
    Michael Taylor

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