I stood on a tower in the wet,
And New Year and Old Year met,
And winds were roaring and blowing;
And I said, “O years, that meet in tears,
Have you all that is worth the knowing?
Science enough and exploring,
Wanderers coming and going,
Matter enough for deploring,
But aught that is worth the knowing?”
Seas at my feet were flowing,
Waves on the shingle pouring,
Old year roaring and blowing,
And New Year blowing and roaring.
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)
Written on this day in 1865….Tennyson wrote to his lifelong friend Francis Turner Palgrave, editor of the famous Victorian poetry anthology The Golden Treasury:
” What a season! The wind is roaring here like thunder, and all my ilexes rolling and whitening. Indeed, we have had whole weeks of wind!”
It would be fascinating to research the weather of 1865 and see if other similarities to 2013 can be traced; the roaring wind he describes could have been written over the last week or so….today the waves were far out but strong, the churned-up water looked muddy and thick.
Tennyson’s holly trees (ilexes) suffered; here we have dead trees fallen, barely held up by the lingering presence of other semi-dead specimens, all victim to Dutch Elm Disease. Even the Holm Oak which hangs from the bank suffered the loss of a living limb.
Christmas needs calm weather to enjoy the build-up and preparation; shopping should be a special event set amid festive scenes without the fear of a flying missile being launched from a rooftop. Gale-force winds that drag one’s body across the pavement and into the road make the thought of venturing out a somewhat uninviting prospect; find a good day to stock up the larder, then stay indoors to listen to the wind.
The sea must accept the unkindness of the weather….it will be pulled and stretched as the giant demands; the New Year will roar in as the Old is lost under a final wave, crushing it into the shingle.