Enoch Arden is a narrative poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, published in 1864 during his stint as England’s longest-serving Poet Laureate. Tennyson borrowed the story from poet, sculptor, and founder-member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Thomas Woolner.
As I read this poem, I wondered: exactly how did this excessively-melancholy tale crop up in conversation between these two excessively-bearded fellows?
‘Oi Alfie bruv I heard LITERALLY the saddest ever story the other day, like saddest ever, ever. You know when Odysseus goes away for twenty years during the Trojan War, and comes back, and his missus is all like ‘I waited for you boo, you knew I always would’ and he’s like ‘yeah thanks for that, you are so loyal, I am totally treating you to Nandos now’?
‘Well like imagine the complete ACTUAL opposite of that…bruv, I’m talking a pained love triangle between childhood friends, the clash between the burden of masculine familial responsibility and our emotions, a Robinson Crusoe-esque desert island castaway ordeal, accidental bigamy, and death from a broken heart. Oh my days I forgot about the dead infant children too! BLEAK AS, MATE, BLEAK AS…‘
‘Tom blud that is like the ACTUAL best story ever, I am totally going to write a poem about that.’
‘Alfie bruv are you sure? It’s like totally bleak.com. Ladies might cry longtime.’
‘Nah it’s gonna go DOWN when I put my banging rhyme to paper. I swear, they’ll be making music and weird moving pictures about this story in years to come. We won’t be around to see it though, shame.’
‘Maybe the legend of our beards will endure beyond our years bruv.’
‘Yeah maybe…why do you keep calling me ‘bruv’ though, mate?’
‘I just founded this Pre-Raphaelite Bruvverhood thing with some other bruvs.’
‘You sound like a twat.’
There ain’t nothing quite as queer as folk, eh…