Picture of the Day: Poetry of a frozen morning

Tuesday 21 December 2010 01:00

It is usually sparkling, not to say enchanting, but here the transforming power of frost has taken on a sinister edge: instead of a sugar coating, we have the cobwebs of nightmares.

The face is of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the mid-Victorian Poet Laureate; it is his statue by the late Victorian painter and sculptor GF Watts on the green in the precincts of Lincoln Cathedral.

Although he spent much of his life in The Isle of Wight, and found his last resting place in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, Lord Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire, the son of a clergyman, and is one of the county's best-known sons.

The statue, of the poet with his dog, has stood in the shadow of the cathedral since 1903.

Yesterday it was transformed indeed, with the cobwebs on Lord Tennyson's face magnified many times over by their load of frosting until they looked like something out of a Hammer horror movie.

Although not as widely read as he once was, much of the poet lives on in many memorable phrases that have entered the language and are widely known, such as, "nature, red in tooth and claw" and "better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all".

He is the second most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after William Shakespeare.

But he also wrote a little-known short poem simply entitled "Winter" where he gives a strong sense of the power of frost, which he says "has bitten the heel of the going year".

He writes: "And the bees are still'd, and the flies are kill'd/ And you bite far into the heart of the house/ But not into mine."

Yet the frost on the Lincoln statue certainly has him in its grip.

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