Thursday, November 12, 2015

{From My Commonplace}

Last term's poet for my Big Kids was Tennyson, and this poem was one of Vincent's memory selections.

I've been reading lately about the Way of the Will in Charlotte Mason's volumes, and this poem keeps coming back to me again and again.  I have always appreciated the distinction Miss Mason draws between strong and weak wills (and her thought that those we call "strong-willed children" actually have very weak wills when the concept of the will is properly understood), and this poem illustrates that distinction nicely.

It also addresses the weakening of the will through repeated sin.  We have been reading Mother Mary Loyola's First Confession during our Morning Basket time and she reminds often how our ability to resist temptation "ever weaker grows thro' acted crime, or seeming-genial venial fault."  Such a good reminder.

And oh, the language.  The images are so beautifully drawn, and the rhyme scheme, alliteration, and diction make this one a joy to read aloud.

The kids and I often quote those first few lines to one another (in a friendly way, of course) when I ask them to do something they don't want to do.  Gianna will call out to me with a smirk as she heads to finish up the dishes, "He suffers but he will not suffer long!" Ha!


Will by Alfred Lord Tennyson

O well for him whose will is strong!
He suffers, but he will not suffer long;
He suffers, but he cannot suffer wrong:
For him nor moves the loud world's random mock,
Nor all Calamity's hugest waves confound,
Who seems a promontory of rock,
That, compass'd round with turbulent sound,
In middle ocean meets the surging shock,
Tempest-buffeted, citadel-crown'd.

But ill for him who, bettering not with time,
Corrupts the strength of heaven-descended Will,
And ever weaker grows thro' acted crime,
Or seeming-genial venial fault,
Recurring and suggesting still!
He seems as one whose footsteps halt,
Toiling in immeasurable sand,
And o'er a weary sultry land,
Far beneath a blazing vault,
Sown in a wrinkle of the monstrous hill,
The city sparkles like a grain of salt.


  1. Can't wait to hear about the baby!!!!

    1. Baby arrived on Monday morning! I will have a post up soon to introduce him. :)

  2. Congratulations on the baby boy!

    I love Tennyson's works...his use of imagery is incomparable. I'm also impressed by the handwriting in the first pic - is that yours? Mine looks like chicken scratch.....where did you learn to write like that?!

  3. I haven't come across this Tennyson poem yet. Thanks for sharing it. So far we've memorized The Kraken (love the language in that one!) and Charge of the Light Brigade.