Romantic Poetry In the second half of the 18 century a new generation of poets established new trends. The Romantic trends were characterized by: the emphasis on imagination, subjectivity and autobiografical material a simple style the subjects were chosen from the ordinary life of commoners an intimate and reflective tone triggered by imagination nature is seen as a real and living force and as the expression of God in the universe On the other hand the Enlighted trends were characterized by: the emphasis on impersonal material and objectivety an elevated style and loud and noble eloquence the subjects were mostly science and technology nature is seen as an abstract concept that men are capable of controlling thanks to the power of reason Romantic trends changed the way of doing poetry and this change took place mostly because the noisy activity of the industrial city was seen in a negative way compared to the serenity of the country side. This is why Romantic poetry emphasizes the simple life of common people. Romantic poets are usually divided in two groups: The first generation of poets: they chose their subjects from ordinary people they valued the importance of the individual as a man they valued the importance of nature the most important poets were Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake (who uses the figure of...
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the child as a pure being) The second generation of poets: they valued moral revolts over the values of the first generation of poets they criticize the new society, their innovation and their progress the most important poets are Shelley, Byron, Keats (who is also the first one to use the iambic pentameter) For Romantic poets imagination had a very important role in poem's composition because it was seen as a tool to discover a truth that could not be discovered with the sole power of reason. Imagination also allowed the poet to re-create the external world of experience and, because of that, the poet was seen as a visionary prophet and he became a mediator between nature and man. For Romantic poets the figure of the child was considered pure because it's not corrupted by civilisation and that meant that children were closer to God. Previously childhood was just a temporary state that lead the child to adulthood. William Blake William Blake was born in London in 1757. He wasn't born a poet, he came from an humble family and he remained poor all his life, indeed he was an engraver and a painter from low-class. He felt deep feelings toward all the revolution, he believed in the revolutionary ideals of the French revolution. William Blake had a strong sense of religion so the Bible was for him one of the most important literary influence, because it presented the complete vision of the world and its history. He was considered a writer of early romantic poetry and he was part of the first generation of poets, so he emphasized the importance of imagination over reason, because he considered imagination as the only tool for men to know the world. His most important works were: Songs of Innocence: this collection was written before the French Revolution (1789), so his enthusiasm for revolutionary ideals was high. In this collection the poems deal with childhood, which is a symbol of innocence, because the soul of a child is more connected with freedom and imagination Songs of Experience: this collection was written during the period of the Terror in France with Robespierre (1794), so he wasn't enthusiastic for revolutionary ideals anymore, instead he was in a state of disillusion. This collection is the counter part of the previous, so it deals with adulthood The two collections are supposed to be read together since "Experience", which is identified with adulthood, completes "Innocence", which is identified with childhood, so they provide different points of view of life and reality. William Blake was concerned about the political and social problems of his time, he supported the abolition of slavery and the revolutionary ideals of French Revolution, but then he was disillusioned because of the way French Revolution ended, so he chose to focus on the Industrial Revolution and its negative effects, such as the commercial exploitation of human beings, therefore he sympathized with the victims of industrial society, such as children and prostitutes, and with the victims of oppression by institutions, such as orphans and soldiers. He was also against the enlighted values and he didn't believe in rationality, but in faith and intuition. He rejected all the values of the age of reason. As for the style of Blake's poems we can say that they have a simple structure and an original use of symbols, such as the child and the soldier. The verses that he uses are linear and are characterized by the use of repetition. London London is a poem of the collection "Songs of Experience". It has a pessimistic tone and a gloomy atmosphere. In this poem he criticizes the innovation, the progess and the commercial exploitation of the street. He also criticizes the King because he gave commercial privilage to private groups, and the Church because it put restrictions just like in workhouses. I wander thro'¹ each charter'd street Near where the charter'd Thames does flow², And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe. 15 In every cry of every Man, In every Infant's cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear. How the Chimney-sweeper's cry 10 Every black'ning Church appalls, And the hapless Soldier's sigh³ Runs in blood down Palace walls. But most thro' midnight streets I hear How the youthful Harlot's curse¹ Blasts the new born Infant's tear, And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse. lo vago lungo ogni strada a noleggio Vicino dove il Tamigi scorre E noto in ogni viso che incontro Segni di debolezza, segni di dolore In ogni lamento di ogni uomo In ogni lamento di paura di ogni bambino In ogni voce, in ogni divieto Sento le manette forgiate dalla mente Come lo spazzacamino grida Ogni scura chiesa terrorizza E il sospiro di un soldato sfortunato Corre in sangue lungo le pareti dei palazzi Ma attraverso molte strade a mezzanotte io sento Come la maledizione della giovane prostituta Distrugge le lacrime del neonato E rovina con piaghe (o infezioni, come la sifilide, malattia sessualmente trasmittibile) il carro funebre del matrimonio (carro funebre e non nuziale perché il matrimonio era visto come un evento triste perché erano matrimoni combinati, fatti per degli interessi e non per amore) N. B. hapless soldier = the soldier is unlucky because he is forced to fight menacles = the menacles symbolize the lack of freedom and it's a metaphor of the condition of man during the industrial revolution charted = hired for a private use woe sorrow ban = prohibition by law forg'd made, created appal = shocks, upsets hapless = unlucky harlot = prostitute curse damns hearse a carriage that is used to carry a dead body to a funeral ANSWERS The poem is set in London at night. The two senses used to perceive the scene are sight and hearing. The people the poet sees are tired and suffering. Rhyme scheme is ABAB. The child is industrialized by the Church. The soldier is industrialized by political power. The harlot is industrialized by the false respectability of marrige. Summary The poet wanders through the streets of London at night and sees sorrow and weariness in the faces of the poeple he meets. He also hears the sound of fear and oppression in their cries and voices. The cry of the chimney sweeper denounces the corruption of the Church, while the blood of the soldier flows down the walls of the palaces of the institutions. The curse of the prostitutes spoil the institution of marriage for convenience. The sexually trasmitted diseases, which the young prostitutes contract and pass on to married man, give the "curse" a real destructive power and kill the institution of marrige. William Wordsworth William Wordsworth was born in Cumberland, in the Lake District, in 1770. In 1790 he went to France, where he came in contact with the revolutionary ideals that characterized France during that period and was fascinated by the Republican movement. In 1791 he went back to France and fell in love with Annette Vallon, who gave him a daughter, Caroline. In 1793 England declared war against France and that caused him to return to England due to a nervous breakdown, so he leaves his family and moves to Dorset with his sister Dorothy. In 1795 he became a friend of Coleridge and with him he wrote "Lyrical Ballads". In 1799 William moved back to the Lake District with his sister Dorothy. In 1802 he married Mary Hutchinson, who was a childhood friend of his, and they had five children together. In 1843 he became the Poet Laureate. He died in 1850. His main works were: the Lyrical Ballads written with Coleridge, of which there are two editions. The first one was published anonymously in 1798 and the second one was published in 1800 and it contains the Preface, which is regarded as the Manifesto of English Romanticism. In the Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth took care of nature, man and everyday things, making them seem interesting to the reader, while Coleridge wrote about the supernatural and the mystery, making them seem real. In the Preface Wordsworth underlined the fact that the subject of poetry should be taken from everyday situations and ordinary people and the language should be simple because he thought that only in humble rural life man is closer to his true self and he is able to express his true passions. the Prelude, published in 1805 the Excursion, published in 1814 According to Wordsworth poetry was a solitary act that originated in the ordinary rather than in the extraordinary. He was part of the first generation of poets, so he values the importance of nature and he believes that man and nature are inseparable, since nature is a source of joy and pleasure that is able to comfort man when he is in sorrow and is able to teach man how to love and how to act in a moral way. Wordsworth had a pantheistic view of nature so he saw nature as the seat of the spirit of the universe. Wordsworth thought that in order to be able to perceive the beauty of nature it was necessary to use the sensibility of the eye and ear. He was influenced by the philosopher David Hartley who lead Wordsworth to believe that the moral character of men develops during childhood as a result of our physical experiences and that the sensations caused by physical experience lead to simple thoughts. Simple thoughts combined form organized ideas. Therefore for Wordsworth memory is seen as a major force in the process of growth of the poet's mind that allows him to give poetry its life and power. According to Wordsworth the poet has to become a sort of a teacher to men that, thanks to the power of imagination, is able to share his knowledge on how to understand their feelings and improve their moral being. His job is also that of drawing attention to the ordinary things of life because it's there that the deepest emotions lie. For Wordsworth the word "imagination" could be used as a substitute of the word "intuition". He also believed that all genuine poetry takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. The emotion is recollected using the re-creative power of memory and is re-produced in the form of poetry so that the first emotion generates a new one, a kindred emotion. The poetic process was: object - poet - sensory experience - emotion - recollection in tranquillity - kindred emotion - poem - reader - emotion. Wordsworth abandoned the poetic diction used during the 18 century and started using the blank verse even though he was skillful at verse forms such as sonnets, odes, ballads and lyrics with short lines and simple rhymes. A certain colouring of imagination "A certain colouring of imagination" is an extract taken from the "Preface" of the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads that Wordsworth wrote with Coleridge and it's regarded as the Manifesto of English Romanticism, in which Wordsworth expresses a new concept of poetry, which emphasizes the authenticity of rustical life, the use of simple language and the importance of emotions and imagination. N. B. colpito affected esprimono = convey principalmente = chiefly assomigliano = resemble controllo, costrizione = restraint avvenimenti incidents rievocata, ricordata = recollected dotato = endued uniformità = sameness completamente = throughout = 15 = 20 Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky ways, They stretched in never-ending line 10 Along the margin of a bay: ANSWERS Rustic life as a subject because in this condition men's passions are in contact with nature. Summary Wordsworth states that the object of Romantic poetry should be events from everyday life, particularly the life of humble rustic people, because in that condition the passions of men are more spontaneous and durable, and they are expressed in a simple and direct way. Furthermore, they are linked to aspects of nature and beauty. Wordsworth also refers to the language to be used, that is, the language of low and rustic people, purified from vulgar expressions thanks to the imagination of the poet. Wordsworth thinks that good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings and the poet is a man who has more than usual organic sensibility and has also thought long and deeply. He claims that poetry has its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. In a state of calm the poet is able to re-live a past emotion giving life to a similar emotion through the inner eye of imagination. Daffodils The poet has a greater sensibility and he can be affected by little things as if they were big. By "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" Wordsworth means to say that the source of poetry is the heart. The vocabulary is simple, informal, concrete, specific and didactic. The aim of the poet is to say what Romantic poetry is about. Relation between man, nature and poetry: I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats¹ on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils²: Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Outdid the sparkling waves in glee; A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company; I gazed - and gazed - but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought: man and nature are closely connected nature has a permanence in itself and it inspires simple and spontaneous passions and elementary feelings the poet should aspire to such essentiality, because it's free from the influence of social conventions For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant¹⁰ or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward¹¹ eye Which is the bliss ¹2 of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. lo vagavo solo come una nuvola Che galleggia alta sopra valli e colline Quando tutto ad un tratto vidi una schiera Una moltituine di narcisi dorati Accanto al lago, al di sotto degli alberi Ondeggianti e danzanti nella brezza. Continue come le stelle che splendono E scintillano nella via lattea Si tendevano in una linea senza fine Lungo i margini di una baia Diecimila ne vidi a colpo d'occhio Che scuotevano le loro teste in una danza briosa. (allegra) Le onde vicino a loro danzavano, ma loro Superavano spumeggianti in allegria Un poeta non poteva che essere felice In tale gioconda compagnia lo fissavo e fissavo ma poco pensai Quale ricchezza lo spettacolo mi portò Perché spesso, quando mi distendo sul mio divano In maniera oziosa o pensierosa Loro compaiono improvvisamente sulla memoria (occhio interiore) Che è la beatitudine della solitudine E quindi il mio cuore si riempe di piacere E danza con i narcisi. In this poem Wordsworth remembers about a walk he went for with his sister Dorothy, near their home in the Lake District, where he saw a bunch of daffodils and he describes them in this poem, allowing the reader to understand all his love for nature. N. B. moved around without purpose = wander a great number = crowd, host under = beneath light wind= breeze extended stretched looking quickly = glance joy = glee looked = gazed abundance = wealth sofa = couch The Rainbow My heart leaps up when I behold² A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound³ each to each by natural piety¹. Samuel Coleridge ANSWERS First stanza: the poet was wandering in loneliness and he suddenly saw a field of daffodils by the lake. There is a sensory experience. Second stanza: he associated the flowers with the stars in the milky way and even though it's not possible he said he saw ten thousand daffodils. The daffodils are a part of the universal order linking the tree and the lake. Third stanza: the nature is joyful and the poet, who is a mediator between nature and men, feels joyful and wealthy. In the 15 line the emotion stops. Fourth stanza: the poet describes a state of bliss and solitude, which differs from the loneliness of the first stanza because in this case the poet has a nostalgic feeling since he is recollecting in tranquillity, and the result of this experience is pleasure. After recollecting in tranquillity there's another emotion (kindred emotion). Il mio cuore sobbalza quando vedo Un arcobaleno nel cielo Così fu quando la mia vita cominciò Così è adesso che sono un uomo Così sarà quando diventerò vecchio O fatemi morire! Il bambino è padre dell'uomo (paradosso) E io potrei desiderare che i miei giorni fossero Legati l'un l'altro dalla fede della natura. The poet is the protagonist of the scene as well as the speaking voice in the poem The emotion described is one of excitement Personal experience passes through the sensory perception of sight Nature as a main source of inspiration, of comfort and joy; use of familiar words Importance of childhood The relationship between man and nature is what gives joy and meaning to the life of man He was born in Devonshire in 1772. He failed to graduate at Cambridge University. He was influenced by the revolutionary ideals of the French revolution. After he was disillusioned with the French revolution he planned to move to America and to establish a utopian community in Pennsylvania, called Pantisocracy, but this project came to an end. In 1795 he became a friend of Wordsworth, with whom he wrote the Lyrical Ballads and then he moved to the Lake district. He died in 1834. His main works are: The Rime of the Mariner: it was published in 1798 and it's the first poem of the collection Lyrical Ballads Christabel: it was published in 1816 and it's an unfinished narrative poem and the subject was a young girl who was under a witch spell Kubla Khan: another unfinished work, which was probably written under the effect of opium, where Coleridge described a dream-like poem as a psychological curiosity Biographia Literaria: it was published in 1817 and it was a classic text of literary criticism and autobiography in which he explained how he and Wordsworth had divided the task in order to write the Lyrical Ballads, saying that, while Wordsworth focused on the ordinary life of common people, he focused on writing about extraordinary events in a credible way Coleridge poetry was characterized by: the use of supernatural characters as subjects the aim of making the story seem truthful even if it had supernatural elements the use of an archaic language that was rich in sound devices the creative power of imagination According to Coleridge that were two types of imagination: primary imagination: it can be experienced by every human being, it's linked to perceptions, it's an unconscious process and it manifests itself through images that recall relevant past sensorial experiences secondary imagination: it can be experienced by the poet only, it dissolves the images linked to past sensorial experiences in order to recreate and the result would be the "new world" of the poem Coleridge thought that memories weren't really creative and that they were inferior to imagination. Unlike Wordsworth, Coleridge didn't view nature as a moral guide or as a sorce of consolation, and for him it wasn't either an expression of God in the universe. For Coleridge nature represented the awereness of the presence of the ideal in the real and it had an essential role for the creativity of the poet, since it stimulated him to find natural symbols that could reflect his emotions and his feelings. The colors and the shapes that nature took symbolized the emotional and mental states of the poet. The Rime of the Mariner The Rime of the mariner has many features of the traditional ballads, such as: the combination of dialogue and narration four-line stanzas archaic language many alliterations, repetitions and onomatopoeias the theme of travel and wandering the presence of supernatural elements The only thing that makes the Rime of the Mariner a romantic ballad is the presence of a moral at the end of the poem. This poem tells us the story of a mariner who commits an act against nature by killing an albatross. At the beginning of the poem the mariner stops a wedding guest, who cannot choose but hear a sad and mysterious story about the burden of the mariner's guilt. The mariner expiates his sin by travelling around and telling the people he meets his story to teach them love and respect for nature's creatures. Characters the mariner: he is unnaturally old with skinny hands and glittering eyes the sailors: they are ill-fated members of the ship carrying the mariner the wedding guest: he is one of the three people on their way to a wedding reception, that becomes a sadder and wiser man after hearing the mariner's story death: he is on the ghost ship and he plays dice with Life-in- Death and wins the lives of the sailors life-in-death: she is a ghostly woman and she wins the mariner's soul and condems him to a limbo-like living death Interpretations description of a dream an allegory of the life of the soul a metaphor of man's original sin in Eden the poetic journey of Romanticism, so the mariner is the poet and his guilt is what originated poetry and he feels regret about a state of innocence caused by the Industrial Revolution The atmosphere of the poem is full of mystery due to the combination of the supernatural and the real. The mariner and his fellows shipmates are stereotypes and their agonies are universally human. The mariner is passive in guilt and he acts blindly, as if he was under compulsion. Coleridge made his character both a spectator and an actor in the poem, so that he can tell even his worst terrors while still being lucid and calm. Summary In the first part the ancient mariner stops a wedding guest to tell him his dreadful tale. He narrates how he and his fellow mariners reached the equator and the polar regions after a violent storm. After several days an albatross appeared through the fog and was killed by the mariner. The shooting of a bird may seem a matter of little moment, but Coleridge makes it significant in two ways. First of all, he does not say why the mariner kills the albatross and what matters is precisely the uncertainty of the mariner's motives, which suggest the essential irrationality of the crime. Secondly, this action is against nature and breaks a sacred law of life. In the second part the mariner begins to suffer punishments for what he has done, and Coleridge transfers the corruption and the helpleness which are the common attributes of guilt to the physical world. The world which faces the mariner after his crime is dead and terrible, the ship has ceased to move and the sailors are tortured by thirst, and the only moving things are slimy creatures in the sea at night. The third part shows how the mariner's guilty soul becomes conscious of what he has done and his isolation in the world. A phantom ship comes closer to the crew and is identified as a skeleton ship. On board Death and Life-in-Death cast dice, the former wins the mariner's fellows, who all die, and the latter wins the mariner's life. In the fourth part this sense of solitude is stressed. Then the mariner, unaware, blesses the water's snakes and begins to re- establish a relationship with the world of nature. The fifth part continues the process of the soul's revival. The ship begins to move and celestial spirits stand by the corpses of the dead mariners. In the sixt part the process of purification seems to be impeded. In the last stanzas of the seventh part the mariner gains the wedding guest's sympathy. Coleridge does not tell us the end of the story, but lets the reader suppose that the mariner's sense of guilt will end only with his death. The killing of the Albatross In this extract of the Rime of the Mariner there's a lot of christian symbols such as: the albatross, that represented Jesus Christ because it was an innocent victim of irrational actions made by men the crew, which represented mankind the voyage, that is a symbol of the interior journey that is necessary to achieve redemption after a sin the sun, which is something benevolent because with his warmth and light it represents life the ice, which represents the power of nature Summary While walking along the street, an old seaman stops one of the three guests going to a wedding feast. The Wedding Guest tries to restist but he is stopped by the old man who starts to tell him his story. The wedding guest has no choice but to sit down on a rock and listen. The old man explains that on one clear, bright day, he set out on a ship full of happy crew. When they reached the equator, a terrible storm forced the ship southwards. Then the sailors reached a calm sea that was full of snow and glistening green icebergs as tall as the ship's mast. The sailors were the only living things in this frightening world where the ice made terrible sounds. Finally an albatross appeared from the mist and the mariners' hollo to the bird replaced the cracking, growling, roaring and howling of the ice. All of a sudden the South wind started blowing and the ship moved northworth again, leaving the Polar region. At this point the wedding guest notices that the old man looks grave and he asks why. The old man exclaims that he shot the albatross with his crossbow. N. B. calpesta treads luccicante = glittering immobile = still saluto = hollo urlo = yell scuotendo = nodding scarna = skinny inseguì = chased lascia andar = unhand demoni = fiends gemeva = howled folata di vento = blow = ANSWERS The setting is the wedding party (time). The ancient mariner is an old and lonely man. His beard is long and grey, his eyes are bright and glittering and his hands are skinny. He turns out to be a magical character since he hypnotizes the wedding guest. After the ship sailed form the harbour is directed southward and it reaches the equator line, but during the storm the ship goes further southward and it reaches the south pole and after the appearence of the albatross it goes northward and it reaches the mariner's country. The voyage is interrupted two times, at line 31 to 40 and from line 69 to 80. A sadder and wiser man With this four stanzas the story ends, the mariner greets the wedding guest, who is sad because he couldn't attend the wedding feast and because he has been listening to a very sad story. The next day though the wedding guest wakes up feeling wiser because he understood the moral aim of the mariner's story, which is that men have to respect nature in all its manifestations. The wedding guest understood that the consequences of the evil fall on the others, making not just the mariner suffer the punishment, but his mariners too. The mariner has gone through a change of attidute, indeed he realised he committed a crime and by telling the story to the wedding guest he expiated his sins and he's going through redemption. 5 Farewell, farewell! but this I tell To thee, thou Wedding-Guest! He prayeth well, who loveth well Both man and bird and beast. He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. The Mariner, whose eye is bright, 10 Whose beard with age is hoar, Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest Turned from the bridegroom's door. He went like one that hath been stunned', And is of sense forlorn². 15 A sadder and a wiser man, He rose the morrow morn. Addio, addio! Ma questo io dico A te, o invitato! Prega bene solo chi ama bene Sia uomini che uccelli che bestie. Prega bene colui che ama meglio Tutte le cose, sia grandi che piccole Perché il buon Dio che ci ama Ha fatto e ama tutti. Il marinaio, il cui occhio è brillante La cui barba è bianca per l'età È sparito e adesso l'invitato Si svolto dalla porta dello sposo. Egli se ne andò, come stordito E disperato. Un uomo più triste e più saggio Si svegliò la mattina dopo.