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As shines

A field of charlock in the sudden sun

Between two showers.

Another dress was

in colour like the satin-shining palm

On sallows in the windy gleams of March.

We saw that he was versed in the buds of trees,

but he is equally at home in flower buds. The Prince's feminine attire, having been badly treated,

was

and

more crumpled than a poppy from the sheath,

like a blossom, vermeil-white

That lightly breaks a faded flower sheath
Moved the fair Enid, all in faded silk.

Lynette's little retroussé nose was

Tip-tilted like the petal of a flower.

Enoch Arden's wife's shop was

order'd all

Almost as neat and close as Nature packs
Her blossom or her seedling.

The aestivation of flower buds and the placentation of carpels are outside the ordinary man's knowledge, and seldom form part of a poet's equipment, but here our poet shows that they are familiar subjects to him,

Even the diseases of plants, the parasites that attack them, are part of his vocabulary. Sir Kay

was a man

wan-sallow as the plant that feels itself Root-bitten by the white lichen.

And again—

No heart have you or such

As fancies like the vermin in a nut

Have fretted all to dust and bitterness.

He knows too the struggle for existence that rages among plants as among animals; this he would naturally pick up from Darwin, to whom it was of the greatest import.

And knowing that of fifty seeds

She often brings but one to bear.

Moreover, he notes how Nature, abhorring a vacuum, will in time occupy every unoccupied corner with growth of some kind.

Even bones are bleached

And lichened into colour with the crags.

And Nature

Fills out the homely quick-set screens

And makes the purple lilac ripe ;

Steps from her airy hill and greens

The swamp, where hums the dropping snipe
With moss and braided marish-pipe.

This is just the poet's way of saying that the spring will revive vegetation again, but mark how fresh is the selection of particulars. The hedges will fill out, the lilac will ripen its fruit, the marsh will grow green, and the equisetum, with its "braided " stems, will rise once more. Freshness, novelty, and the avoidance of the usual and the commonplace are here at their highest.

Here is another variant of the same theme :

Now fades the last long streak of snow,

Now burgeons every maze of quick

About the flowering squares and thick

By ashen roots the violets blow.

Note too how when he wishes to fix a colour in the eye he chooses distinctive flowers to bring it home. All "Lent-lily in hue"; "in colour like an April daffodilly"; "as clean and white as privet when it flowers"; "a clear germander eye".

How well he catches the sound of leaves or their characteristic appearance in sunlight! "The dry-tongued laurels' pattering talk"; "momently the twinkling laurel scattered silver lights". The Portugal laurel has a hard, glossy, holly-like leaf, and both of these descriptions are happy and

correct.

These passages by no means exhaust Tennyson's

profusion of botanic references, but they are enough to indicate what a genuinely sound botanist he is, and how he is able to bend the hard facts of science to the softer uses of poetry. How much charm is thereby added to his poems only those can fully understand who are themselves more or less versed in the study of plant life. He is always accurate, always pat, always fresh and suggestive; moreover, he has the artist's power of selecting skilfully, and never wearies us with too much. He does not empty his wallet, he merely chooses a few typical striking cases, the rest being thrown aside. same qualities will be discernible when we deal with him as a zoologist and geologist.

The

CHAPTER II

TENNYSON AS ENTOMOLOGIST

WE have seen how closely Tennyson applies his observation to every phase of plant life-bud, leaf, flower and fruit and how he knows not merely the commonplaces but recondite facts which only the student of botany is familiar with. As a last example we may cite from The Ring :

I am not surely one of those

Caught by the flower that closes on the fly;

which proves that he is not unacquainted with insectivorous plants like the sun-dew (Drosera), the Venus fly-trap (Dionaea) and the butterwort (Pinguicula), and can turn them to his own purposes. It remains to indicate how he is equally at home among lower animal forms and insects, and especially birds. He would seem to have set himself to amass new material for his art by delving deep down into strata of knowledge hitherto not systematically explored by the poetic

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