Beards dipped in moonlight…

Tennyson was introduced to Persian and Arabic poetry by Edward Fitzgerald. ‘In the evenings’ wrote Hallam Tennyson, ‘Fitzgerald played Mozart, or translated Persian Odes for my father, who, as had been said in the letter to Forster, had hurt his eyes by poring over a small-printed Persian Grammar: after this, Hafiz and other books had to be hidden away, for he had seen “the Persian letters stalking like giants” round the walls of his room.’ Tennyson memorably described his friend Charles Hay Cameron (below) as a ‘philosopher with his beard dipped in moonlight’ – a delightfully Arabian description in its way.

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