When the gales stopped raging and the wind dropped down to a more reasonable level, the mist dropped down again too – of course! – and the world was drenched once more… But Algy refused to be daunted, so, borrowing an umbrella from his assistant, he settled down on the soggy grass to spend a pleasant if damp afternoon catching up on his reading. When his assistant happened to pass by, Algy had reached this point in his book of verse:

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Outside the isle a shallow boat
Beneath a willow lay afloat,
Below the carven stern she wrote,
The Lady of Shalott.

Algy hopes you will all enjoy a happy and peaceful weekend, and a chance to catch up on your favourite reading 🙂

[Algy is engrossed in the famous narrative poem The Lady of Shalott by the English 19th century poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

Some very nasty weather was on its way, bringing the first of the winter gales, so Algy made the most of one final opportunity to enjoy the colours – and some autumn sunshine – before the storm swept in to blow all the leaves off the trees and turn the world to grey.

As he perched on a mossy stump beneath an old oak tree, he thought of the famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Then; and then
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall’n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

[Algy is quoting the poem The Oak by the 19th century English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

The wind had veered round to the north, bringing colder but very much brighter weather. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon for reading quietly in a sheltered spot out of the wind, so Algy decided to take a book to one of his favourite places.

As Algy had explained to the Gecko yesterday, all the water in the burns runs away constantly into the sea, but what he had omitted to mention is that in some cases this creates a very special environment. Algy particularly loves the place where the blue burn meets the incoming tide. The water always plays merrily on the boulders in mid-stream at that point, and – best of all – there is a miniature beach on the side of the burn when the tide is low, exactly the right size for Algy. He loves this spot, and the low bank sheltering the tiny beach makes it perfect for reading. So Algy settled himself happily on the smooth sand, opened his book, and read:

                  The winds, as at their hour of birth,
                      Leaning upon the ridgèd sea,
                  Breathed low around the rolling earth
                      With mellow preludes, ‘We are free.’

                  The streams through many a lilied row
                      Down-carolling to the crispèd sea,
                  Low-tinkled with a bell-like flow
                      Atween the blossoms, ‘We are free.’

Algy hopes that you will have a wonderful first week of spring ahead, and will be able to find yourself a sunny, sheltered spot out of the wind 🙂

[Algy is reading We Are Free, an early poetry fragment by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

Unlike in the southern parts of the UK and mainland Europe, it was not a lovely, warm and sunny spring day in the West Highlands, but a dismal, cold, damp and depressing sort of day. But at least the wind had died down, and Algy was determined to make the best of it, so he found a spot among the snowdrops in his friends’ garden, beside the very first daffodils of the year, and settled down to read.

This is especially for Algy’s friend Anna annaaslund in Sweden, who has been “looking forward to a picture of Algy in the middle of some snödroppar very soon”, and for his friend Guido guisch73, who told Algy “they are called Schneeglöckchen” in Germany: little snow bells – what a lovely name 🙂

And it is also for all Algy’s friends in the frozen north of America and Canada – he hopes very much that you will see your own spring flowers very soon, and although it is no longer February, he is sure you will say:

          Many, many welcomes,
          February fair-maid,
          Ever as of old time,
          Solitary firstling,
          Coming in the cold time,
          Prophet of the gay time,
          Prophet of the May time,
          Prophet of the roses,
          Many, many welcomes,
          February fair-maid!

[Algy is reading the poem The Snowdrop by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

Algy read on, and in the dying light of a winter’s day near the very end of the year, he read this poem… for everyone who is hoping for a better future, and especially for his friend Erika in Germany who loves Tennyson:

          Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
              The flying cloud, the frosty light:
              The year is dying in the night;
          Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

          Ring out the old, ring in the new,
              Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
              The year is going, let him go;
          Ring out the false, ring in the true.

          Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
              For those that here we see no more;
              Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
          Ring in redress to all mankind.

          Ring out a slowly dying cause,
              And ancient forms of party strife;
              Ring in the nobler modes of life,
          With sweeter manners, purer laws.

          Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
              The faithless coldness of the times;
              Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
          But ring the fuller minstrel in.

          Ring out false pride in place and blood,
              The civic slander and the spite;
              Ring in the love of truth and right;
          Ring in the common love of good.

[Algy is reading part of the poem In Memoriam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

This is part of Algy’s series of contributions to Ned’s challenge, to post images of people reading.

Algy was delighted to receive some new books of verse for Christmas, but the days were overcast and dark, which made it difficult to see the text. So he carried a small volume down to the sea, where even on the gloomiest days there is always some extra light reflected from the water. Picking out a rock surrounded by water, Algy found a reasonably comfortable perch, and spent a happy afternoon absorbed in reading a collection of lullabies and poems for children. As the waves washed softly against the rocks in the low afternoon light, Algy read:

          Sweet and low, sweet and low,
             Wind of the western sea,
          Low, low, breathe and blow,
             Wind of the western sea!
          Over the rolling waters go,
          Come from the dying moon, and blow,
             Blow him again to me;
          While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

[Algy is quoting the first verse of the poem The Princess: Sweet and Low by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

This post, and the ones which follow, are particularly dedicated to Ned, who invited us to post images of people reading 🙂

And so Algy paddled away into the sunset, in search of a gently sloping sandy beach which would provide a soft, safe landing place. As he paddled, he thought of some lines from a famous poem by Tennyson:

          The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
          The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
          Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
          ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
          Push off, and sitting well in order smite
          the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
          To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
          Of all the western stars, until I die.
          It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
          It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles

[Algy is quoting part of the poem Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

Break, Break, Break


Algy sat on a rock with the Atlantic waves crashing around him, and thought of the neighbour who had just died in mid-life, of Lindsey’s young friend Connor who had died in mid-childhood, and of all those friends and strangers whose lives ended much too soon. Inevitably he was reminded of Tennyson’s famous elegy:

          Break, break, break,
              On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
          And I would that my tongue could utter
              The thoughts that arise in me.

          O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
              That he shouts with his sister at play!
          O, well for the sailor lad,
               That he sings in his boat on the bay!

          And the stately ships go on
              To their haven under the hill;
          But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
              And the sound of a voice that is still!

[Algy is reciting the first three stanzas of Break, Break, Break by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

Algy Contemplates the Sunset and Evening Star

          Sunset and evening star,
                And one clear call for me!
          And may there be no moaning of the bar,
                When I put out to sea

Of course Algy is still much too young to think about crossing the bar or putting out to sea in Tennyson’s sense, but he appreciates the poem, and he loves to sit at the top of his tree as the sun sets, and gaze at the evening star.

[From Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]