In our last seminar we looked at:
(1) the relationship of Hallam’s essay on Tennyson in relation to “Mariana”, and whether the poem meets Hallam’s definition of a “sensation” poem. I thought the discussion groups worked really well with this task, and the points were sharp and specific about “sensation” in the poem, in particular seeing “Mariana” as a kind of “mood poem”, and also seeing a tension between the emotions in the poem and Hallam’s attempt to graft an intellectualism onto Tennyson’s poetics. I’m wondering whether, after the class on poetess poetry, some of you will see Tennyson’s early writing as part of poetess poetics!
(2) the representation of the character in the poem compared to the painting by Millais.
We talked about the picture’s depiction of Mariana’s overt sexuality, her pose and dress, and those autumnal leaves scattered around her (and their relationship to kinds of “fallenness”). We also talked about Hallam’s description of Tennyson’s poetry as pictorial. How do you think the visual qualities in the poem relate to the poem’s sound?
(3) I challenged two groups to come up with a strategy for reciting the first stanza of “Mariana”, bearing in mind how much Hallam’s essay privileges the luxuriant sounds of the poem. We’ll hear the results at the next seminar, but for now I though you would enjoy the following links to different types of Tennysonian sounds:
The Victorianator iPhone app, which combines gesture with voice.
And here’s Tennyson himself reciting “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.