Lay for the Day 12th October
1892: six days after his death, the Poet Laureate, Lord Tennyson, is buried in Westminster Abbey.
A musical setting of his lyric Crossing the Bar was sung at the service. He had written the poem a few years before, on the boat from Lymington to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. It was the last poem in the last book to be published in his lifetime, Demeter and Other Poems (1889), and he requested that it should always appear at the end of his collected works, as a swansong.
The poem below was inspired by a visit to the White Hart in Tetford, Lincolnshire, which was Tennysons local when he was a young man. He was living then at Somersby, his birthplace. He first met Emily Sellwood, the woman he waited many years to marry, on the road between Somersby and Tetford.
You can still sit on the huge curved settle beside the fire at the White Hart which was Alfreds favoured seat. The poem below intends no disrespect to the present modest and charming staff of that inn.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar