Monday, June 21, 2021


ASM826 put a new quote up on this blog's header:

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. 
- Alfred Lord Tennyson

This is from Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" and is one of his three most famous pieces.  Here is Sir John Gielgud reciting the prose that graces our header:

This was a great series of commercials by UBS, back in the late 1990s.  I very much doubt that anything like it would be funded by any current Marketing department, which explains the wretched state of modern marketing.

The poem is about the character Ulysses, from Homer's The Odyssey.  There's much to be said about this piece but I'll just leave it at if you like Kipling, this is a more refined Kipling.  Not for nothing was Tennyson Queen Victoria's favorite poet and the first writer ever to be raised to the peerage.

Interestingly, Tennyson was one of the first to have his voice recorded.  In the 1880s, Thomas Edison sent a crew to Europe to record the voices of the Great and the Good, (Tennyson among them) on wax cylinders.  I have a recording of the author reading his poem below.

One of his other two most famous works is "The Charge of the Light Brigade" which was brilliantly used in the film "The Blind Side":

I imagine that some of our readers could quote much of this from memory.  And here is Tennyson on Edison's wax cylinder reading the poem:

The third of his three most famous works is from an obscurely named poem, "In Memoriam A.H.H." which Tennyson wrote on the death of his best friend.  It became The Widow Of Windsor's favorite poem on the death of her beloved Prince Albert.  And while the name of the poem is obscure, I expect many of our readers could recite this verse from heart:

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

It also popularized the phrase "Nature, red in tooth and claw".  It is an extraordinary poem, and I say that as one who doesn't much care for poetry.  You don't get to be Poet Laureate for 40 years without writing some good stuff.


Old NFO said...

Very interesting, and the quote is appropriate as we age out...

Ritchie said...

"They finger death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires. " -Kipling

"Back to work!" -Patey

Ed Bonderenka said...

Jim: I prefer to think I'm aging on.
Not that it matters how I think about it. :)

Ken said...

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" is my favorite poem, and was instrumental in helping me get through my doctorate when everyone else in my cohort dropped out for one reason or another. "Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns, he said."

libertyman said...

Everyone should be able to recite a poem from memory, this would be a good one. An interesting exercise for the mind, I will bet that it would be too much to ask of today's kids. We had to recite a poem in front of the class in , I think, 5th or sixth grade.

Richard said...

More Kipling for today's world,

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Stuff like this is why our military tries so hard to leave no service members behind.