Tennyson Illustrations and Music


Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Illustrated by Edward Lear. London and New York: Boussod, Valadon & Co., 1889.

Edward Lear’s Tennyson. With and Introduction and commentary by Ruth Pitman. Manchester-New York, Carcanet, 1988.


Beside the music for two of his own Laughable Lyrics, “The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò” and “The Pelican Chorus,” Lear published two books of arrangements of Alfred Tennyson’s poems. Since he was not a trained musician, Lear engaged Edward Francis Rimbault to notate his performance of the songs:

Poems and Songs by Alfred Tennyson, set to music and inscribed to Mrs Alfred Tennyson by Edward Lear. London: Cramer, Beale & Co., 1853.
Includes four settings: “Edward Gray,” “A Farewell,” “Tears, Idle Tears,” and “Sweet and Low.”

Poems and Songs by Alfred Tennyson, set to music and inscribed to Mrs Alfred Tennyson by Edward Lear. London: Cramer, Beale & Co., 1859.
Reprints the first four settings and adds five new ones: “Home They Brought her Warrior Dead,” “As through the Land at Eve We Went,” “Come Not When I am Dead,” “O Let the Solid Ground not Fail,” and “The Time Draws Near.”

This book is now available in facsimile from Houghton Library.

Robert Tear’s performance of these, was published in a 1984 album entitled Tears, Idle Tears; the cassette version, published by Cabaletta Recording the same year (TCDN 5004) includes all Lear’s arrangements.


One Response to Tennyson Illustrations and Music

  1. Kareen King says:

    I am lucky to have discovered your site today while perusing the internet for activity ideas to support Lewis Carroll Day on January 27. I am a Registered Drama Therapist, a singer/songwriter/storyteller, and a lover of learning new things! I work as an Activities Consultant at long-term care facilities and enjoy engaging the hearts and minds of elders with new ideas, forms of creative expression, quotable quotes, etc.

    I was wondering if you can recommend some famous nonsensical folk songs to add to my list for a singalong. So far I have a list including Puff the Magic Dragon
    Banana Boat Song, Turkey in the Straw, Blue Tail Fly, Polly Wolly Doodle, and Blue Tail Fly.

    Also, I’m curious – what drives your passion for this site? What is your “sense” behind the “nonsense?” I am impressed with what you have to offer.

    Thank you. I will include a link to your site on my weblog, http://www.thegoldenexperience.com.

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