Forever and Forever
Beautiful Words by J.L. Carr
“Ah, those days... for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and, at day-break, the murmur of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest."
“Deep red hollyhocks pressed against the limestone wall and velvet butterflies flopped lazily from flower to flower. It was Tennyson weather, drowsy, warm, unnaturally still.”
1. The Long White Cloud
After a lifetime of making work in the South West of England, Jem Southam made his first overseas trip in 2018 to New Zealand to produce a body of work called ‘The Long White Cloud’. In this video, the artist discusses the images he took while on the six-week journey to document the landscapes of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
The photographs show his continued fascination with the subtleties of colour, reflection and transience, and with the effects of the shifting seasons and weather on the landscape.
2. Beauty in Destruction
Am I the only one who can see beauty in destruction and decay?
Recently, I spent some magical time with family in Lincolnshire and came across this building...
The building is almost mystical; I felt the building had something to say... an unheard voice.
What story does this building have to tell?
Often thought of as opposites, beauty and destruction can take on a unique relationship in the arts. As early as the 14th century, I’ve seen beautiful works created from the pain of troubled times. Even when looking at some of the most celebrated works of Van Gogh, Picasso, or Munch, you can see beauty in desolation.
A state of complete emptiness or destruction. Of great unhappiness or loneliness. There is beauty in everything if you care to see it.
Great sadness and beauty can go hand-in-hand, like in the loving arrangement of flowers on a child’s grave.
"The process of beauty and decay eternally repeats itself over and over again; as mankind continuously dictates what is beautiful and what is not, yet we find flaws in the beautiful, and beauty in the flaws." - Rahul Mitesh Khimji
3. Alfred Tennyson and the Lincolnshire Wolds
While in Lincolnshire, I visited St Margaret's Church, nestled in a quiet corner of the Wolds in the tiny hamlet of Somersby. Built of green sandstone and patched with brick, this is a 15th century, early perpendicular, grade II listed church. George Clayton Tennyson - the father of Victorian poet Alfred Tennyson - was rector here from 1806 until his death in 1831.
It's a quiet and peaceful spot, an otherworldly place, like stepping back in time.
Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) spent the first 28 years of his life at Somersby, and many of his poems reference the villages and landscapes around there.
The third surviving child, he had six brothers and four sisters. The Tennyson children went to the village school and were also taught by their father, using the 2,500 books in his library.
Alfred wanted to be a famous poet from an early age. Before he could read, he used to go out in stormy weather, spread his arms out wide and say, "I hear a voice that's speaking in the wind..."!
His affectionate mother brought her children up as free spirits, and Alfred was known in the area for wandering around - book in hand - at almost any hour of the day and night. He would walk the leafy lanes and stroll through Holywell Wood, composing poems.
One favourite place was half a mile from Somersby at Bag Enderby, 'The Poet's Tree', an old wych-elm tree at the fork of the road. It had a long low branch that stretched out and had to be supported by a stake.
Alfred was well known as an inveterate walker all his life. When he was young, it was a way to escape the crowded and sometimes fractious rectory full of siblings, and a father with violent mood swings.
Despite his failings, Alfred’s father provided his son with a stimulating environment, encouragement and freedom to pursue his dream of becoming a poet.
In 1827, Jacksons, Booksellers and Printers at Louth, produced Alfred's first book of poetry in print. A small volume, Poems by Two Brothers. Jacksons paid Alfred and his older brother Charles £20 for copyright.
With their passion for the sea, the brothers spent the money hiring a carriage to ride to Mablethorpe (on the Lincolnshire coast), a favourite holiday spot, and they shouted their poetry joyously to the sea.
The same year, Alfred (aged 18) joined his two older brothers at Trinity College, Cambridge. The brothers, all tall, powerfully built and unconventional looking, stood out from the other students. Alfred, who was shy and had led a fairly sheltered upbringing, found it difficult to mix.
Also, the death of a close friend overshadowed his early manhood and inspired a collection of short poems, In Memoriam.
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
In 1850, he became Poet Laureate for 17 years.
Deemed the most successful poet of the Victorian age, this gentle, thoughtful man leaves a legacy of words that still inspire people today.
In this beautiful poem, Alfred compares the short life span of man to the eternal lifespan of nature.
Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea, Thy tribute wave deliver; No more by thee my steps shall be, Forever and forever. Flow, softly flow by lawn and lea, A rivulet then a river; Nowhere by thee my steps shall be, Forever and forever. But here will sigh thine alder tree And here thine aspen shiver; And here by thee will hum the bee, Forever and forever. A thousand suns will stream on thee, A thousand moons will quiver; But not by thee my steps shall be, Forever and forever.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this letter, I’d love you to share it with a friend or two. And should you come across anything beautiful this week, send it my way! I always love finding new things to read or watch.
Have a blissful and beautiful forever and forever,
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