Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cimmerian sighting: Alfred Tennyson at 200

I wish more readers appreciated poetry these days. In years past, verse was held as the highest expression of the written word, back in the days when John Milton wrote Paradise Lost and Shakespeare penned his great tragedies. When Homer composed his immortal Iliad, and an unnamed monk set quill to scroll to preserve the oral tradition of Beowulf, it was the unquestioned king.

Now, however, poetry is a shadow of its former self. This is primarily due to the ascendance of the novel, but also an anemic market for aspiring poets, which is why I give new fantasy fiction publication Heroic Fantasy Quarterly a hearty, resounding, “Hail and Kill” for having the fortitude to publish this out of fashion form of the written word.

All obstacles considered, I suspect poetry would have no problem carving out a sturdy foothold among today’s fantasy fiction readers were there more inspired, creative geniuses like Alfred Tennyson practicing the art. Last week (August 6, 1809) marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the former United Kingdom Poet Laureate, and while poetry does not hold anywhere near the public acclaim that it did in Tennyson’s day, heroic verse (and prose swords and sorcery fiction, I would argue) remains forever changed because of his marvelous works.

To read the rest of this post, visit The Cimmerian Web site.


Al Harron said...

You needn't worry abut the shame of not owning "Collected Poetry": through a mixture of financial and location problems, I have yet to own a copy myself. I'll definitely get around to it though.

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks Al, I was worried about losing my "Howard cred" for admitting that fact.

David J. West said...

I am taking a job in the pacific northwest for the next month and may not have an internet presence for that time-but I told my wife that is what she has to get me while I am gone. Gotta have Collected Poetry!

Eric D. Lehman said...

Tennyson's Idylls of the King is what reingnited interest in the Arthur legends, which by the 19th century had disappeared from the public imagination.

Some credit this resurgence with helping to birth the modern 'fantasy' genre itself.