Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn, a Season and an Harmonie

CROWN'D with the sickle and the wheaten sheaf,
While Autumn, nodding o'er the yellow plain,
Comes jovial on


broad and brown, below,
Extensive harvests hang the heavy head.


till the ruffled air
Falls from its poise, and gives the breeze to blow.
Rent is the fleecy mantle of the sky;
The clouds fly different; and the sudden sun
By its effulgent glide gilds the' illumined field,
And black by fits the shadows sweep along


[Illustration: Autumn (1573) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo,
In the Musée du Louvre; via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Falcon

A Play by Alfred Lord Tennyson,
originally performed in 1879

[Note: I am describing the whole plot, so beware of spoilers.] 
[Stylistically revised November 4th, 2013.]

Jagdwesen & Jagd & Greifvögel (1695)
Wolf Helmhardt von Hohberg [via Wikimedia Commons]


THE Falcon's hero is Count Federigo Degli Alberighi, a poor Italian nobleman whose family has been unoriginally feuding with a neighbouring family. Fisticuffs in Florence between the present generation's grandfathers had begun the entire hullabaloo, confirming the adage that violence isn't the solution. He has long begun to find the feud untoward, logistically; he is in love with Lady Giovanna, the sister of the Ghibellines'* leader, now widowed and the mother of a little son.

(* They are not, in fact, the Ghibelline family; but Tennyson does not give them a name in the play, so "Ghibellines" will have to do.)

Count Federigo's nurse and foster-brother Filippo are the customary, domestic voices of reason; they are not much impressed with the state of affairs. Impoverished by purchasing a diamond necklace which the Count anonymously sent to Lady Giovanna, they live in a cottage near the castle in which his beloved resides. There is nothing left to eat now except scraps of milk, cheese, bread and bird (the egg is "addled" so hopefully was not eaten), and famishedness breeds discomfort. The Count relinquishes the scraps to his nurse, noblesse obliged; with regard to Filippo he observes, in a line-and-a-half that deserves to be farfamed:
As for him and me,
There sprouts a salad in the garden still.