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‘The Northern Farmer’: Language and Homeland

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Abstract

Tennyson’s dialect poems, though composed in the later part of his career, represent an instinctive and symptomatic return to his Lincolnshire roots. As Sir Charles Tennyson remarks, the poet ‘used dialect in dramatic monologue to recreate the life and character of the countryside in which he spent his youth’.2 Edward Campion has suggested that there is ‘plenty of evidence to suggest that all through his long life [Tennyson] continued to speak with a Lincolnshire accent’, and he further notes that ‘Alfred had a sympathetic and retentive ear for the dialect of his neighbours and his memory was remarkable’.3 The Laureate himself considered what he termed his ‘Lincolnshire sketches’ some of his ‘best things’, but, he warned, ‘it needs humour to understand them’.4 Tennyson’s series of dialect poems, published from the early 1860s onwards,5 testifies to, and is marked by, the beginnings of systematic dialect study in England. Indeed, he was alert to the new models of classification, accuracy and mapping, remarking for instance of ‘The Northern Farmer’,

When I first wrote ‘The Northern Farmer’ I sent it to a solicitor of ours in Lincolnshire. I was afraid I had forgotten the tongue and he altered all my mid-Lincolnshire into North Lincolnshire and I had to put it all back.6

Keywords

  • Linguistic Practice
  • Standard Speech
  • Symptomatic Return
  • Dialect Speaker
  • Dramatic Monologue

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

There is no longer any homeland.

T. W. Adorno1

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Notes

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© 2013 Roger Ebbatson

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Ebbatson, R. (2013). ‘The Northern Farmer’: Language and Homeland. In: Landscape and Literature 1830–1914. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137330444_5

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