Thursday, 5 July 2012

Depression and Tennyson's Mariana

Here's the link to my commentary on the Tennyson poem mentioned in Skyfall!

It's a lovely day outside today, but I've decided to write about one of the most depressing poems I've ever read. However, it is my favourite, and it's by Lord Alfred Tennyson (a bit of a legend).

It's called Mariana, and I studied it for an English exam a while back. Whenever it was mentioned I got just that little bit too excited, which looking back is slightly embarrassing. To be honest, I still get excited by it. It sounds amazing read aloud, and so here is a YouTube reading by a guy with a rather scary voice if you fancy it. Alternatively, you can just click here to read the poem.


Anyway, the poem is about an incredibly isolated woman named Mariana, who is suffering from lost love. She spends her days lamenting her lost connection with society, and in the end can only foresee consolation in death. It's interesting for me to read, as I've had trouble with what may or may not have been agoraphobia, and also social anxiety. Mariana is a bit of an extreme case, but still.

The poem is set in a landscape of decay, beginning as so:

With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:

The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall. 

It's intentionally very dreary, but written with such pathos and linguistic beauty. Mariana lives surrounded by complete ruin and desolation, which makes any difficult situation that I've been through seem considerably better. Tennyson wrote this poem at the age of only twenty-one, shortly after the death of his good friend Hallam, which explains his preoccupation with death at the end of each stanza:

She only said, ‘My life is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
Tennyson had his amazing hair to be
positive about, for instance. 
I would that I were dead!’

I imagine that a lot of people have felt like this before -that nothing will ever improve or change, and so death would be the simple answer. I'm hoping that this thought only lasts a second, as it really is just the voice of utmost depression talking. Hope does exist, but in this poem only the narrator, and not Mariana, notices it:

She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.

If you're feeling down, try and look for the positive things around you (they are there). Here are some ideas: your family, friends, health, home, possessions (to an extent), memories, ambitions and dreams. Perhaps if Mariana had been awake during the day and left the "lonely moated grange" once in a while, her life wouldn't be so rubbish. I need to listen to my own advice and leave the house more. Also, that guy that Mariana pines over clearly wasn't worth the trouble. She's a bit of a Miss Havisham, really, and that can never be a good thing.

No comments: