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British Romanticism and Victorian Poetry
Terms in this set (80)
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Amazing and vital to the exam. Almost too much to study in his work.
"Ulysses" is a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, written in 1833 but not published until 1842. It is narrated by an aged Ulysses who has become dissatisfied with his life as king of Ithaca. Ulysses has spent years fighting the Trojans (as described in the Iliad) and trying to return home (which is the subject of The Odyssey), but now that his journey is complete he feels restless and yearns to get back out into the world. He is an "idle king" who is not satisfied with his duties in Ithaca. He declares his intent to leave the throne to Telemachus ("He works his work, I mine") and gather up all of his old sailors for one final voyage:
Tennyson questions what becomes of the hero after the quest. The man who could outwit the Fates could not grow old. Although many readers have accepted the last lines of the poem as inspirational, it is not clear that Tennyson intended them as such. Ulysses's call to action is suicidal and proud. He intends to die contending, rather than in peace.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
*In Memoriam A.H.H.
Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.
Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
In Memoriam A.H.H. is a long poem by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It is a requiem for the poet's Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of a stroke in Vienna in 1833, but it is also much more. Written over a period of 17 years, it can be seen as reflective of Victorian society at the time, and the poem dicusses many of the issues that were beginning to be questioned. It is the work in which Tennyson reaches his highest musical peaks and his poetic experience comes full circle. It is generally regarded as one of the great poetic works of the British 19th century.
"The Lady of Shalott"
The poem (of which Tennyson wrote two versions: one in 1833, of twenty verses, the other in 1842 of nineteen verses) is based loosely upon a story from Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur concerning Elaine of Astolat, a maiden who falls in love with Lancelot, but dies of grief when he cannot return her love. Tennyson returned to the story in "Lancelot and Elaine" (in his 1859 Idylls of the King). However the original story of Elaine is quite different from that of the Lady, who is never named and who is, it seems, not quite human. It begins:
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veil'd
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
A long poem that begins:
'Courage!' he said, and pointed toward the land,
'This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.'
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.
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.
The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, 'My life is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!'
Her tears fell with the dews at even;
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.
After the flitting of the bats,
When thickest dark did trance the sky,
She drew her casement-curtain by,
And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
She only said, 'The night is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!'
"Mariana of the Moated Grange" first appears in Shakespeare's dark comedy Measure for Measure and is the inspiration for the poem. In Shakespeare's work, Mariana waits in a grange for her lover, who has deserted her. At the end of Shakespeare's work, Mariana is re-united with her lover. However, there is no happy ending in Tennyson's work.
Mariana follows a common theme in much of Tennyson's work: that of despondent isolation. The subject of Mariana is a woman who continuously laments her lack of connection with society. The isolation defines her existence, and her longing for a connection leaves her wishing for death at the end of every stanza. In order to properly portray her horrible plight, Tennyson uses strong imagery to express a parallel between the woman's dilapidated environment and her inner mental/social state. Tennyson's greatest strength may possibly be his ability to create scenery and use this scenery to embody a human's emotional state.
Different stanzas in the poem reflect on either day, night, or her life as a whole. The end result is obvious, that in her current state, hours, days, weeks, months all blend into nothing. They merely create a dull smear of despondency that is her life.
*"Break, Break, Break"
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill:
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
This is another GRE moneymaker. Another elegy to his friend, TH who died.
"Break, Break, Break"
The Idylls of the King
The Idylls of the King
The Idylls of the King is a sequence of poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson which portrays the Coming of Arthur, the knights of the Round Table, Guinevere, the decline of Camelot and finally "The Passing of Arthur", the poem Tennyson wrote first, and which inspired the sequence. The episodic poems, are not an epic either in structure or tone, but take their elegaic sadness from the idylls of Theocritus: like the Alexandrian poems an idealized, distant, pastoral review of a lost time. When the poems were published as a set there was a dedication to one, unidentified at first,
And indeed He seems to me
Scarce other than my king's ideal knight,
whom in the course of its development, the reader finds is the late Prince Albert: the Idylls of the King are often read as an allegory of the social conflicts and malaises of mid-Victorian England. There are twelve poems in the suite. For the first poem written, "Morte d'Arthur" Tennyson adapted the well-known title of Sir Thomas Malory's prose romance, which had fixed the imagery of Arthur in the English imagination. The downfall of Arthur lies, not in himself nor in his act of incest with his faery sister, but in the faithless Guinevere.
"Tears, Idle Tears"
Blank verse, unrhymed.
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!
"The Charge of the Light Brigade,"
"Crossing the Bar"
"Tithonus" --another elegy
An English poet and the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Their father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a political asylum seeker from Naples, and their mother, Frances Polidori, was the sister of Lord Byron's friend and physician, John William Polidori.
Born in London and educated privately, she suffered ill-health in her youth, but was already writing poetry in her teens. Her engagement to a painter, James Collinson, was broken off because of religious differences (she was High Church Anglican). This experience is credited with inspiring her most popular poem 'Remember'. She refused to marry Charles Cayley, whom she was deeply in love with, because of religious reasons.
Many of her poems were written for children. "Goblin Market" seemed like a children's nursery rhyme with its talk of goblins. However, it was really an allegory for temptation. It is similar to the story of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve.
Christina rejected the social world of her brother's "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood", preferring "my shady crevice — which crevice enjoys the unique advantage of being to my certain knowledge the place assigned me."
Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck'd cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Goblin Market deals implicitly with the ambiguous nature of the female role in Victorian society and is highly allusive to Biblical imagery (notably the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden and The Fall).
The main characters are two girls, Laura and Lizzie, who hear the goblins hawk their merchandise of exotic fruit each day. Laura is tempted by the fruit, while Lizzie warns her away, then runs from the goblins with her ears covered to avoid hearing their voices.
Laura purchases fruit from the goblins with a lock of her hair, then eats a great deal. The next day, she longs to buy more, and spends the afternoon in depressed anticipation. At evening, however, only Lizzie can hear the goblins. Laura grows sick and weak with longing for the goblin-fruit, until finally Lizzie takes pity on her and goes to buy more fruit from the goblins, bringing a silver penny to pay them.
When the goblins discover Lizzie refuses to eat any of the fruit and wants to bring it to someone else, they grow very angry and try to persuade her to eat. She resists them and returns home with the juice of the goblin fruits in her mouth and on her lips, though she does not dare swallow. She allows Laura to kiss her and taste the juice from her skin; Laura is eager to do so, but soon finds that the juice burns like a fire in her blood. After Lizzie cares for her through a long night of sickness, however, Laura recovers and is her old self again.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti is most notable as the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood,an avart guarde group that believed in the primacy of mimetic and detailed art (painting in particular). His role on the GRE is mostly an historic one since as a poet his was a rather minor figure.
an English poet, painter and translator. The son of émigré Italian scholar Gabriele Rossetti, D. G. Rossetti was born in London, England and originally named Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti. His family and friends called him "Gabriel", but in publications he put the name Dante first, because of its literary associations. He was the brother of poet Christina Rossetti and the critic William Michael Rossetti and a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt
Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell;
Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
Cast up thy Life's foam-fretted feet between;
Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
Which had Life's form and Love's, but by my spell
Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.
Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart
One moment through thy soul the soft surprise
Of that winged peace which lulls the breath of sighs, -
Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.
"THE BALLAD OF DEAD LADIES"
"THE BALLAD OF DEAD LADIES"
Tell me now in what hidden is
Lady Flora the lovely Roman? Flora
Where's Hipparchia, and where is Thais,
Neither of them the fairer woman?
Where is Echo, beheld of no man, Echo
Only heard on river and mere,-
She whose beauty was more than human?...
But where are the snows of yester-year?
Where's Heloise, the learned nun,
For whose sake Abeillard, I ween,
Lost manhood and put priesthood on?
(From Love he won such dule and teen!)
And where, I pray you, is the Queen
Who willed that Buridan should steer
Sewed in a sack's mouth down the Seine?...
But where are the snows of yester-year?
by D.G. Rossetti and several Victorian painters
Rossetti especially, but Victorian artists generally, celebrated beautiful women as the expression of the highest beauty in art or nature. In this poem, a translation of Francois Villon's "Ou sont les neiges d'antan," Rossetti catalogs women in history who were worthy of such celebration. Although it is unlikely that the painters were responding to this poem specifically, they certainly chose subjects for their paintings according to the same impulse.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
In the 1830s Barrett's cousin John Kenyon introduced her to prominent literary figures of the day such as William Wordsworth, Mary Russell Mitford, Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Thomas Carlyle.
Browning's first adult collection The Seraphim and Other Poems was published in 1838. During this time she contracted a disease, possibly tuberculosis, which weakened her further.
Living at Wimpole Street, in London, Browning wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation and prose. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery and her work helped influence reform in child labour legislation.
Her prolific output made her a rival to Tennyson as a candidate for poet laureate on the death of Wordsworth.
Maried admirer of her work, the author Robert Browning against her family's wishes. Disowned, and moved to Italy with him, where she'd spend the rest of her life.
OF writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others' uses, will write now for mine,-
Will write my story for my better self,
As when you paint your portrait for a friend,
Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it
Long after he has ceased to love you, just
To hold together what he was and is.
"Aurora Leigh" - poem written in 9 books
Sonnets from Portuguese
Sonnets from the Portuguese, written ca. 1845-1846 and first published in 1850, is a collection of forty-four love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The poems largely chronicle the period leading up to her 1846 marriage to Robert Browning. The collection was acclaimed and popular even in the poet's lifetime and it remains so today.
Elizabeth was initially hesitant to publish the poems, feeling that they were too personal. However, Robert insisted that they were the best sequence of English-language sonnets since Shakespeare's time and urged her to publish them. To offer the couple some privacy, she decided that she might publish them under a title disguising the poems as translations of foreign sonnets. Therefore, the collection was first to be known as Sonnets from the Bosnian, until Robert suggested that she change their imaginary original language to Portuguese, probably after his nickname for her: "my little Portuguese."
By far the most famous poem from this collection, with one of the most famous opening lines in the English language, is number forty-three:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 - 1889)
Hopkins isn't properly a Romantic figure, but I have included him in the Romantic poetry section because he falls between the Romantics and the Modernists. A poem or two of his are very likely to appear on the exam, and fortunately, they are pretty easy to spot because of the unusual rhythm.
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a British Victorian poet and Jesuit priest Much of Hopkins' historical importance has to do with the changes he brought to the form of poetry. Prior to Hopkins most Middle English and Modern English poetry was based on a rhythmic structure inherited from the Norman side of English's literary heritage. This structure is based on repeating groups of two or three syllables, with the stressed syllable falling in the same place on each repetition. Hopkins called this structure running rhythm, and though he wrote some of his early verse in running rhythm he became fascinated with the older rhythmic structure of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, of which Beowulf is the most famous example. Hopkins called this rhythmic structure sprung rhythm. Sprung rhythm is structured around feet with a variable number of syllables, generally between one and four syllables per foot, with the stress always falling on the first syllable in a foot.
Hopkins saw sprung rhythm as a way to escape the constraints of running rhythm, which he said inevitably pushed poetry written in it to become "same and tame." Many contemporary poets have followed Hopkins' lead and abandoned running rhythm, though most have not adopted sprung rhythm but have instead abandoned traditional rhythmic structures all together, adopting free verse instead. Hopkins was also a practitioner of the sonnet. He also invented the "curtal sonnet" ("Pied Beauty" is an example).
To Christ our Lord
I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
NOT, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?
Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.
The poem opens with a rejection of Despair, that "carrion comfort." To "feast" on despair, Hopkins avers, would be like eating something dead and vile. Nor will the poet unravel his "last strands" of humanity by giving up hope, though he is close to hopelessness and the strands are already "slack." He makes the feeble but determined assertion "I can," and then goes on to explore what that assertion might mean, what basic action or spiritual gesture might serve to counteract despair: doing "something" that expresses hope, even if it is as minimal as wishing for morning or as negative as deciding not to kill himself.
Having skirted the pit of despair, the poet questions God about the suffering that has drawn him so close to hopelessness. He asks why God would, so roughly, with his powerful right foot, "rock" his world and send him writhing. Why would God swipe at him with the dull and indiscriminate blow of a "lionlimb"? Why, then, maliciously look at him lying there with "bruised bones" and further torment him with gales of "tempest," while he cowers, "heaped there," wanting to escape but exhausted and with nowhere to run?
Then the poet attempts an answer. The "tempest" was actually a harvest wind, shucking the "chaff" from the wheat to expose the kernels of goodness concealed within. In patient acceptance of divine vengeance, the poet has "kissed the rod" of God's punishment—or rather, he corrects himself, he has kissed the hand that held that rod. S
GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
"Spring and Fall"
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow's spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
'Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend'
Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum: verumtamen justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners' ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,
Time's eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
"God's Grandeur" (1877)
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.
"As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame"
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
John KEATS 1795-1821
John Keats was one of the principal poets in the English Romantic movement. During his short life, his work was the subject of constant critical attacks, and it was not until much later that the significance of the cultural change which his work both presaged and helped to form was fully appreciated.
Keats's poetry is characterised by an exuberant love of the language and a rich, sensuous imagination; he often felt that he was working in the shadow of past poets, and only towards the end of his life was he able to produce his most original and most memorable poems.
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.
John Keats starts off the poem Endymion with the line "A thing of beauty is a joy forever". In this epic, Keats takes the tale of Endymion, the shepherd who falls in love with Selene, the moon goddess, and adds the details to their story. It starts by painting a rustic scene of trees, rivers, herders, and sheep. They gather around an alter and pray to Pan, god of shepherds and flocks. As the youths sing and dance, the elder men sit and talk about how life would be like in the shades of Elysium. However, Endymion is trancelike, participating in none of their discourse.
His sister takes him away and brings him to her resting place where he sleeps. After he wakes, he tells Peona of his encounter with Selene, and how much he loved her.
Book I gives an account of Endymion's dreams and experiences and give the background for the rest of the poem.
Book III reveals Endymion's enduring love, and he begs the Moon not to torment him any longer.
Book IV, "And so he groan'd, as one by beauty slain." He is miserable, till quite suddenly he comes upon her. She then tells him of how she tried to forget him, to move on, but that in the end, "'There is not one,/ No, no, not one/ But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;'"
"The Eve of St. Agnes"
ST. AGNES' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.
A long poem, "The Eve of Saint Agnes" was written immediately after Keats met Fanny Brawne, who would eventually become his fiancée in October 1819. The basis of the poem is the superstition that a woman would see her future husband if she performed a certain ritual on the eve of Saint Agnes. If she were to go to bed without looking behind her back, her future partner would appear in a dream, eat with her and kiss her. In his original version, Keats emphasised the sensuality but his publishers persuaded him to change the wording so as to avoid a controversy.
**The main characters are Madeline and Porphyro. Porphyro sings to her "La Belle Dame sans Merci."
"The Eve of St. Agnes"
"La Belle Dame sans Merci"
O what can ail thee Knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering ?
The sedge has withered from the Lake
And no birds sing!
O what can ail thee Knight at arms,
So haggard, and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full
And the harvest's done.
I see a lilly on the thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheek a fading rose
Fast withereth too
I met a Lady in the Meads
Full beautiful, a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild-
I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;
She look'd at me as she did love
And made sweet moan-
I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sidelong would she bend and sing
A faery's song-
She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew;
And sure in language strange she said
I love thee true-
She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.
And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream'd, Ah Woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.
I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried 'La belle Dame sans merci
Thee hath in thrall.'
I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke, and found me here
On the cold hill's side.
And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering
Though the sedge is withered from the Lake,
And no birds sing.
So yeah, she left him. The Woman without pity.
Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meals but feel how well 5
It soothed each to be the other by;
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.
Isabella', an adoption of the story of the 'Pot of Basil' in Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron
"Ode on a Grecian Urn"
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme :
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these ? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit ? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels ? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on :
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal-yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs ! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love ! more happy, happy love!
For every warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are those coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity : Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
In the first stanza, the speaker stands before an ancient Grecian urn and addresses it. He is preoccupied with its depiction of pictures frozen in time. It is the "still unravish'd bride of quietness," the "foster-child of silence and slow time." He also describes the urn as a "historian" that can tell a story. He wonders about the figures on the side of the urn and asks what legend they depict and from where they come. He looks at a picture that seems to depict a group of men pursuing a group of women and wonders what their story could be: "What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? / What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?"
In the second stanza, the speaker looks at another picture on the urn, this time of a young man playing a pipe, lying with his lover beneath a glade of trees. The speaker says that the piper's "unheard" melodies are sweeter than mortal melodies because they are unaffected by time. He tells the youth that, though he can never kiss his lover because he is frozen in time, he should not grieve, because her beauty will never fade.
In the third stanza, he looks at the trees surrounding the lovers and feels happy that they will never shed their leaves. He is happy for the piper because his songs will be "for ever new," and happy that the love of the boy and the girl will last forever, unlike mortal love, which lapses into "breathing human passion" and eventually vanishes, leaving behind only a "burning forehead, and a parching tongue."
In the fourth stanza, the speaker examines another picture on the urn, this one of a group of villagers leading a heifer to be sacrificed. He wonders where they are going ("To what green altar, O mysterious priest...") and from where they have come. He imagines their little town, empty of all its citizens, and tells it that its streets will "for evermore" be silent, for those who have left it, frozen on the urn, will never return.
In the final stanza, the speaker again addresses the urn itself, saying that it, like Eternity, "doth tease us out of thought." He thinks that when his generation is long dead, the urn will remain, telling future generations its enigmatic lesson: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." The speaker says that that is the only thing the urn knows and the only thing it needs to know.
"Ode on a Grecian Urn"
"Ode on Melancholy"
No, no go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu ; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
The three stanzas of the "Ode on Melancholy" address the subject of how to cope with sadness. The first stanza tells what not to do: The sufferer should not "go to Lethe," or forget their sadness (Lethe is the river of forgetfulness in Greek mythology. May represent drink); should not commit suicide (nightshade, "the ruby grape of Prosperpine," is a poison; Prosperpine is the mythological queen of the underworld); and should not become obsessed with objects of death and misery (the beetle, the death-moth, and the owl). For, the speaker says, that will make the anguish of the soul drowsy, and the sufferer should do everything he can to remain aware of and alert to the depths of his suffering.
In the second stanza, the speaker tells the sufferer what to do in place of the things he forbade in the first stanza. When afflicted with "the melancholy fit," the sufferer should instead overwhelm his sorrow with natural beauty, glutting it on the morning rose, "on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave," or in the eyes of his beloved. In the third stanza, the speaker explains these injunctions, saying that pleasure and pain are inextricably linked: Beauty must die, joy is fleeting, and the flower of pleasure is forever "turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips." The speaker says that the shrine of melancholy is inside the "temple of Delight," but that it is only visible if one can overwhelm oneself with joy until it reveals its center of sadness, by "burst[ing] Joy's grape against his palate fine." The man who can do this shall "taste the sadness" of melancholy's might and "be among her cloudy trophies hung."
"Ode on Melancholy"
"Ode to a Nightingale"
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk :
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness, -
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage ! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth !
O for a beaker full of the warm South !
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth ;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim :
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan ;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies ;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs ;
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond tomorrow.
Away ! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards :
Already with thee ! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays ;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown,
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild ;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine ;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves ;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen ; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath ;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy !
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain -
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down ;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown :
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn ;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn ! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self !
Adieu ! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu ! adieu ! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side ; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades :
Was it a vision, or a waking dream ?
Fled is that music : - do I wake or sleep?
The speaker opens with a declaration of his own heartache. He feels numb, as though he had taken a drug only a moment ago. He is addressing a nightingale he hears singing somewhere in the forest and says that his "drowsy numbness" is not from envy of the nightingale's happiness, but rather from sharing it too completely; he is "too happy" that the nightingale sings the music of summer from amid some unseen plot of green trees and shadows.
In the second stanza, the speaker longs for the oblivion of alcohol, expressing his wish for wine, "a draught of vintage," that would taste like the country and like peasant dances, and let him "leave the world unseen" and disappear into the dim forest with the nightingale. In the third stanza, he explains his desire to fade away, saying he would like to forget the troubles the nightingale has never known: "the weariness, the fever, and the fret" of human life, with its consciousness that everything is mortal and nothing lasts. Youth "grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies," and "beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes."
In the fourth stanza, the speaker tells the nightingale to fly away, and he will follow, not through alcohol ("Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards"), but through poetry, which will give him "viewless wings." He says he is already with the nightingale and describes the forest glade, where even the moonlight is hidden by the trees, except the light that breaks through when the breezes blow the branches. In the fifth stanza, the speaker says that he cannot see the flowers in the glade, but can guess them "in embalmed darkness": white hawthorne, eglantine, violets, and the musk-rose, "the murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves." In the sixth stanza, the speaker listens in the dark to the nightingale, saying that he has often been "half in love" with the idea of dying and called Death soft names in many rhymes. Surrounded by the nightingale's song, the speaker thinks that the idea of death seems richer than ever, and he longs to "cease upon the midnight with no pain" while the nightingale pours its soul ecstatically forth. If he were to die, the nightingale would continue to sing, he says, but he would "have ears in vain" and be no longer able to hear.
In the seventh stanza, the speaker tells the nightingale that it is immortal, that it was not "born for death." He says that the voice he hears singing has always been heard, by ancient emperors and clowns, by homesick Ruth; he even says the song has often charmed open magic windows looking out over "the foam / Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn." In the eighth stanza, the word forlorn tolls like a bell to restore the speaker from his preoccupation with the nightingale and back into himself. As the nightingale flies farther away from him, he laments that his imagination has failed him and says that he can no longer recall whether the nightingale's music was "a vision, or a waking dream." Now that the music is gone, the speaker cannot recall whether he himself is awake or asleep.
"On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer"
MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 5
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken; 10
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
"Ode to Autumn"
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Theory from the Letters
Keats has garnered some celebrity for ideas he expressed in his letters. They may come up on the GRE. "Negative Capability" is by far the more famous and important of the two concepts.
THE MANSION of Many Apartments is a theory of the poet John Keats, expressed in his letter to John Hamilton Reynolds dated Sunday, 3 May 1818.
I compare human life to a large Mansion of Many Apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors the rest being as yet shut upon me - The first we step into we call the infant or thoughtless Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think - We remain there a long while, and notwithstanding the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing a bright appearance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length imperceptibly impelled by awakening of the thinking principle - within us - we no sooner get into the second Chamber, which I shall call the Chamber of Maiden-Thought, than we become intoxicated with the light and the atmosphere, we see nothing but pleasant wonders, and think of delaying there for ever in delight.
Keats thought that people were capable of different levels of thought. People who did not consider the world around them (probably people who did not write poetry) remained in the thoughtless chamber. Even though the door to move on to the next "apartment" was open, they had no desire to think any deeper and to go into that next apartment.
When you did move on into the next chamber, you would for the first time have a choice of direction, as from this apartment there were several different park passages. Keats believed that he when he wrote the letter was at this point, as was William Wordsworth when he wrote Tintern Abbey.
*NEGATIVE Capability is a theory of the poet John Keats, expressed in his letter to George and Thomas Keats dated Sunday, 21 December 1817.
I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason
Keats believed that great people (especially poets, whom he considered to almost be on another level to the rest of humanity) had the ability to accept that not every thing can be resolved - being capable of remaining negative on something. Keats was a Romantic and believed that truth does not lie in science and philosophical reasoning, but in art. In art the aim is not, as in science, to solve problems, but rather to explore them. Hence, accepting that there may not be a solution to vexing problems is important to artists.
Byron is not as much of a player on the GRE as you might imagine, though the fact that Childe Harold's Pilgrimages is written in Spensarian stanzas is the kind of thing that those GRE people would love to quiz you over.
"She Walks in Beauty"
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
A 1817 poem by Lord Byron, and considered by some to be his response to the ghost story craze sweeping through England at the time, Manfred is a dramatic poem very much in the tradition of Goethe's Faust. It begins:
Manfred: The lamp must be replenish'd, but even then
It will not burn so long as I must watch.
My slumbers- if I slumber- are not sleep,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not: in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.
But grief should be the instructor of the wise;
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.
Philosophy and science, and the springs
Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world,
I have essay'd, and in my mind there is
A power to make these subject to itself-
But they avail not: I have done men good,
And I have met with good even among men-
But this avail'd not: I have had my foes,
And none have baffled, many fallen before me-
But this avail'd not: Good, or evil, life,
Powers, passions, all I see in other beings,
Have been to me as rain unto the sands,
Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread,
And feel the curse to have no natural fear
Nor fluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes
Or lurking love of something on the earth.
Now to my task.-
A theme that pervades much of Byron's work is that of the Byronic hero, an idealised but flawed character whose attributes include:
* being a rebel
* having a distaste for social institutions
* being an exile
* expressing a lack of respect for rank and privilege
* having great talent
* hiding an unsavoury past
* being highly passionate
* ultimately, being self-destructive
Not only is the character a frequent part of his work, Byron's own life could cast him as a Byronic hero. The literary history of the Byronic hero in English can be traced from Milton, especially Milton's interpretation of Lucifer as having justified complaint against God. One of Byron's most popular works in his lifetime, the closet play "Manfred," was loosely modeled on Goethe's anti-hero, Faust. Byron's influence was manifested by many authors and artists of the Romantic movement during the 19th century and beyond. An example of such a hero is Heathcliff from Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
Childe Harold's Pilgrimages
A long narrative poem about masculinity. In Byron's poem, the main character is portrayed as a dark brooding man, who doesn't like society and wants to escape from the world because of his discontent with it. It deals with the underdog and Military might. Byron uses gothic literature imagery to get sublime nature, representing adventure, such as climbing mountains for sport. Previous to this, mountain climbing had been thought of as being associated with evil. Instead this poem deals with engaging and conquering the dark side of nature. The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands.
(Note: The term childe was a medieval title for a young man who was a candidate for knighthood.)
**It has four cantos written in Spenserian stanzas, which consist of eight iambic pentameter lines followed by a one alexandrine (a twelve syllable iambic line), and rhyme ababbcbcc.
Matthew Arnold 1822 - 1888)
Matthew Arnold has been characterized as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues.
Wrote literary, Theological, and educational criticism Explores the question of how a full and enjoyable life can be lived in an increasingly modern world.
Work portrays individuals that feel the loss of traditional faith (then under attack by science) Poetry reflects loneliness and a desperate search for meaning in life Essays in Criticism
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;—on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night
I know this pretty and diff interpretations well enough.
YES! in the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.
The islands feel the enclasping flow,
And then their endless bounds they know.
But when the moon their hollows lights,
And they are swept by balms of spring,
And in their glens, on starry nights,
The nightingales divinely sing;
And lovely notes, from shore to shore,
Across the sounds and channels pour-
Oh! then a longing like despair
Is to their farthest caverns sent;
For surely once, they feel, we were
Parts of a single continent!
Now round us spreads the watery plain-
Oh might our marges meet again!
Who order'd, that their longing's fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd?
Who renters vain their deep desire?-
A God, a God their severance ruled!
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea.
Culture and Anarchy
The whole scope of the essay is to recommend culture as the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically.
The book contains most of the terms - culture, sweetness and light, Barbarian, Philistine, Hebraism, and many others - which are more associated with Arnold's work influence.
GRE WILL PROB HAVE ONE OF THE ABOVE TERMS OR PHRASES FOR IDENTIFICATION
, "Culture [...] is a study of perfection". He further wrote that: "[Culture] seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere; to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light [...]".
His often quoted phrase "[culture is] the best which has been thought and said" comes from the Preface to Culture and Anarchy:
The husband and wife team of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning conducted their love affair through verse and produced many tender and passionate poems.
Both Matthew Arnold and Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote poems which sit somewhere in between the exultation of nature of the romantic Poetry and the Georgian Poetry of the early 20th century.
However Hopkins's poetry was not published until 1918. Arnold's works anticipate some of the themes of these later poets, while Hopkins drew inspiration from verse forms of Old English poetry such as Beowulf.
The reclaiming of the past was a major part of Victorian literature with an interest in both classical literature but also the medieval literature of England. The Victorians loved the heroic, chivalrous stories of knights of old and they hoped to regain some of that noble, courtly behaviour and impress it upon the people both at home and in the wider empire. The best example of this is Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King, which blended the stories of King Arthur, particularly those by Thomas Malory, with contemporary concerns and ideas. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood also drew on myth and folklore for their art, with Dante Gabriel Rossetti contemporaneously regarded as the chief poet amongst them, although his sister Christina is now held by scholars to be a stronger poet.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
You definitely want to familiarzie yourself with "Ozymandias" and "To a Skylark" as well as Prometheus Unbound.
(1792 - 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is regarded by critics as amongst the finest lyric poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry as well as his political and social views, Shelley did not achieve fame during his lifetime, but recognition for his poetry grew steadily following his death.
Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy. His other major works include long, visionary poems such as Queen Mab (later reworked as The Daemon of the World), Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs, the unfinished work The Triumph of Life; and the visionary verse dramas The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820).
Most publishers and journals declined to publish his work for fear of being arrested themselves for blasphemy or sedition. Shelley did not live to see success and influence, although these reach down to the present day not only in literature, but in major movements in social and political thought.
Shelley became an idol of the next three or four generations of poets, including important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets such as Robert Browning and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He was admired by Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, W. B. Yeats, Karl Marx, Upton Sinclair and Isadora Duncan. Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience was apparently influenced by Shelley's non-violence in protest and political action.
"Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats"
I weep for Adonais-he is dead!
Oh, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!"
Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay,
When thy Son lay, pierc'd by the shaft which flies
In darkness? where was lorn Urania
When Adonais died? With veiled eyes,
'Mid listening Echoes, in her Paradise
She sate, while one, with soft enamour'd breath,
Rekindled all the fading melodies,
With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,
He had adorn'd and hid the coming bulk of Death.
"Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats"
This is a long work written in Spensarian stanzas. It begins:
"Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni"
a long poem with irregular stanzas, it begins:
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark-now glittering-now reflecting gloom-
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters-with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume,
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
"Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni"
"Ode to the West Wind"
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear!
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lull'd by the coil of his crystàlline streams,
Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be
The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seem'd a vision; I would ne'er have striven
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABA BCB CDC DED FF, and it is written in iambic pentameter.
Ode to the West Wind is an ode written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819 near Florence, Italy. It was published in 1820 by Charles and James Ollier in London as part of the collection Prometheus Unbound, A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts, With Other Poems. Some have interpreted the poem as the speaker lamenting his inability to directly help those in England owing to his being in Italy. At the same time, the poem expresses the hope that its words will inspire and influence those who read or hear it. Perhaps more than anything else, Shelley wanted his message of reform and revolution spread, and the wind becomes the trope for spreading the word of change through the poet-prophet figure. Some also believe that the poem is due to the loss of his son, William (to Mary Shelley) in 1819. His son Charles (to Harriet Shelley) died in 1826, after "Ode to the West Wind" was written and published. The ensuing pain influenced Shelley. The poem allegorises the role of the poet as the voice of change and revolution. At the time of composing this poem, Shelley without doubt had the Peterloo Massacre of August 1819 in mind.
Ozymandias is a famous 1818 sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This short poem, probably Shelley's most famous due to its frequent appearance in anthologies, combines a number of great themes — the arrogance and transience of power, the permanence of real art and emotional truth, the contradictory and critical character of the relationship between artist and subject — with striking imagery, a setting that merges exotic distance (Egypt, Ozymandias, the desert) with the more familiar and topical (Napoleon I of France and a European, presumably English, traveller/commentator — an echo of the viator of classical epitaphs), and virtuoso diction.
OZYMANDIAS of EGYPT
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
To a Skylark
HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert—
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art. 5
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest. 10
In the golden light'ning
Of the sunken sun, |
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun. 15
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight— 20
Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there. 25
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflow'd. 30
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody:— 35
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not: 40
Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower: 45
Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Its aërial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it from the view: 50
Like a rose embower'd
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflower'd,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-wingèd thieves. 55
Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
All that ever was
Joyous and clear and fresh—thy music doth surpass. 60
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine. 65
Or triumphal chant,
Match'd with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt—
A thin wherein we feel there is some hidden want. 70
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain? 75
With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but ne'er knew love's sad satiety. 80
Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream? 85
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. 90
Yet, if we could scorn
Hate and pride and fear,
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near. 95
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground! 100
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know;
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.
To a Skylark is a poem completed by Percy Bysshe Shelley in late June 1820 and published accompanying his lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound by Charles and James Collier in London.
It was inspired by an evening walk in the country near Livorno, Italy, with his wife Mary Shelley, and describes the appearance and song of a skylark they come upon. Mary Shelley described the event that inspired Shelley to write "To a Skylark": "In the Spring we spent a week or two near Leghorn (Livorno) ... It was on a beautiful summer evening while wandering among the lanes whose myrtle hedges were the bowers of the fire-flies, that we heard the carolling of the skylark."
The work consists of five-line stanzas, all twenty-one following the same pattern. The first four lines are in the meter of trochaic trimeter. The fifth is in iambic hexameter, also known as an Alexandrine. The rhyme scheme of each stanza is in the form ABABB
*"To a Skylark"
Prometheus Unbound is a four-act play by Percy Bysshe Shelley first published in 1820. It is inspired by Aechylus's Prometheus Bound and concerns the final release from captivity of Prometheus.
For the GRE, you probably need only know that Shelley wrote this play, and you ought to have a general background of the story of Prometheus.
Prometheus Unbound is a four-act lyrical drama by Percy Bysshe Shelley first published in 1820. It is concerned with the torments of the Greek mythological figure Prometheus, who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity, for which he is subjected to eternal punishment and suffering at the hands of Zeus. It is inspired by the classical Prometheia, a trilogy of plays attributed to Aeschylus. Shelley's play concerns Prometheus' release from captivity, but unlike Aeschylus' version, there is no reconciliation between Prometheus and Jupiter (Zeus). Instead, Jupiter is abandoned by his supportive elements and falls from power, which allows Prometheus to be released.
Shelley's play is closet drama, meaning it was not intended to be produced on the stage. In the tradition of Romantic poetry, Shelley wrote for the imagination, intending his play's stage to reside in the imaginations of his readers. However, the play is filled with suspense, mystery and other dramatic effects that make it, in theory, performable.
(1812-1889) Poet especially notable for his dramatic monologues.
As a rule, everything and anything of his that may appear on your exam is going to be a dramatic monologue, which makes picking out his work a lot less difficult than it might seem. "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Duchess" are both common on the GRE.
"My Last Duchess"
28 rhymed couplets of iambic pentameter.
Background: marriage b/w Lucrezia and Duke of Este family).
Lucrezia was not well educated, and the Medicis could be considered "nouveau riche" in comparison to the venerable and distinguished Este family (the Duke's remark regarding his gift of a "nine-hundred-years-old name" clearly indicates that he considered his bride beneath him socially). She came with a sizeable dowry, and the couple married in 1558. He then abandoned her for two years before she died on 21 April 1561, at age 17. There was a strong suspicion of poisoning. The Duke then sought the hand of Barbara, eighth daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary and the sister of the Count of Tyrol, Ferdinand II. The count was in charge of arranging the marriage; the chief of his entourage, Nikolaus Madruz, a native of Innsbruck, was his courier. Madruz is presumably the silent listener in the poem.
Story of poem
The poem is set during the late Italian Renaissance. The speaker (presumably the Duke of Ferrara) is giving the emissary of the family of his prospective new wife (presumably a third or fourth since Browning could have easily written 'second' but did not do so) a tour of the artworks in his home. He draws a curtain to reveal a painting of a woman, explaining that it is a portrait of his late wife; he invites his guest to sit and look at the painting. As they look at the portrait of the late Duchess, the Duke describes her happy, cheerful and flirtatious nature, which had displeased him. He says, "She had a heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad..." He goes on to say that his complaint of her was that "'twas not her husband's presence only" that made her happy. Eventually, "I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together." He now keeps her painting hidden behind a curtain that only he is allowed to draw back, meaning that now she only smiles for him. The Duke then resumes an earlier conversation regarding wedding arrangements, and in passing points out another work of art, a bronze statue of Neptune taming a sea-horse. Throughout the whole poem you get the sense that the Duke owns his wife.
In an interview, Browning said, "I meant that the commands were that she should be put to death . . . Or he might have had her shut up in a convent."
"My Last Duchess"
That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myselfthey turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart — how shall I say? — too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace — all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men, — good! but thanked
Somehow — I know not how — as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech — (which I have not) — to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark" — and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
-E'en then would be some stooping, and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listen'd with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneel'd and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soil'd gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And call'd me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me—she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I look'd up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipp'd me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laugh'd the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untighten'd next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blush'd bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propp'd her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorn'd at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gain'd instead!
Porphyria's love: she guess'd not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirr'd,
And yet God has not said a word!
This poem is told by a madman in the process of murdering his lover by strangling her with her own hair, which he does so that she can be his forever and will be in an eternal state of love.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
One important thing to note about Coleridge, which I do not discuss below, is that he co-wrote The Lyrical Ballads with Wordsworth.
For my money, I'd bet on seeing "On Donne's poetry" and "Frost at Midnight," but there are a fair number of works by Coleridge that could appear on your exam.
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all...
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
"On Donne's Poetry"
With Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots,
Wreathe iron pokers into true-love knots ;
Rhyme's sturdy cripple, fancy's maze and clue,
Wit's forge and fire-blast, meaning's press and screw.
"Frost at Midnight"
The narrator believes that his child will experience a better life than his own:
For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: (lines 51-58)
The poem concluded with a message of hope for the narrator's child:
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon. (lines 65-74)
The original ending of the 1798 version of the poem described the narrator's child and wife during winter:
Or whether the secret ministry of cold
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet moon,
Like those, my babe! which ere tomorrow's warmth
Have capp'd their sharp keen points with pendulous drops,
Will catch thine eye, and with their novelty
Suspend thy little soul; then make thee shout,
And stretch and flutter from thy mother's arms
As thou wouldst fly for very eagerness. (lines 72-78)
The speaker of "Frost at Midnight" is generally held to be Coleridge himself, and the poem is a quiet, very personal restatement of the abiding themes of early English Romanticism: the effect of nature on the imagination (nature is the Teacher that "by giving" to the child's spirit also makes it "ask"); the relationship between children and the natural world ("thou, my babe! shall wander like a breeze..."); the contrast between this liberating country setting and city ("I was reared / In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim"); and the relationship between adulthood and childhood as they are linked in adult memory.
Didn't have the idyllic, privileged, country childhood of Wordsworth. Grew up in London. Feels lingering sadness and alienation from that.
Wordsworth believed that a child has perfect communion with nature and that in adulthood, this communion is lost, though something else can be regained--a sort of insight that enables one to look into nature with understanding and see music, the relationship b/w nature and human existence.
Coleridge lacked the first communion, as it were, altogether, having been deprived of nature in his youth. He may have felt loss that in powerful contrast to his friend Wordsworth.
"Frost at Midnight"
All that is necessary to identify this passage is the following information:
Coleridge always capitalizes the words "Imagination" and "Fancy," which recur throughout the work.
Coleridge's thesis is that the imagination is the supreme faculty of the human intellect, and its cultivation is both a prerequisite and the aim of poetry. For him, "imagination" is the process of keenly perceiving the phenomena of the world and self, and then re-expressing phenomena through the creative faculties of the poet's whole being, the mind and the soul, the rational and the irrational.
William Blake (1757-1827)
Your GRE exam will probably have a poem from either Songs of Experience or from Songs of Innocence — almost certainly either "The Tyger" or "The Lamb." Chances are good that the more psychedlic stuff like Visions of the Daughers of Albion will not be on the test, but they might.
"Songs of Innocence"
"Songs of Innocence"
Songs of Innocence is a collection of illustrated lyrical poetry, published by William Blake in 1789. Its companion volume is Songs of Experience.
Blake believed that innocence and experience were "the two contrary states of the human soul," and that true innocence was impossible without experience. Songs of Innocence contains poems either written from the perspective of children or written about them. This collection includes "The Lamb."
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight;
Softest clothing, wooly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Songs of Experience
Songs of Experience
The Songs of Experience is a poetry collection, forming the second part of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience. Many of the poems appearing in Innocence have a counterpart in 'Experience', with quite a different perspective of the world. The disastrous end of the French Revolution caused Blake to lose faith in the goodness of mankind, explaining much of the volume's sense of despair. Blake also believed that children lost their innocence through exploitation and from a religious community which put dogma before mercy. This collection includes "The Tyger."
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
"Mock On, Mock On, Voltaire, Rousseau"
"Mock On, Mock On, Voltaire, Rousseau"
Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
Mock on, mock on; 'tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.
And every sand becomes a gem
Reflected in the beams divine;
Blown back they blind the mocking eye,
But still in Israel's paths they shine.
The Atoms of Democritus
And Newton's Particles of Light
Are sands upon the Red Sea shore,
Where Israel's tents do shine so bright.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, written between 1790 and 1793, is the most complex work of Blake's early years. It consists of 24 Plates (as well as three further Plates under the separate title "A Song of Liberty") and has at its heart an opposition between Heaven, conceived as an image of restraint and passivity, and Hell, an image of energy and action. Both of these "contraries", Blake claims, are necessary for human life; but there is little doubt as to which is more to his taste. In the fourth Plate we hear the voice of the Devil, making three crucial claims which in turn underpin Blake's own world-view:
1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
2. Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3. Energy is Eternal Delight.
This rejection of reason as the touchstone of the human in favour of a revaluation of the body and its desires is pursued throughout the Marriage, perhaps most famously in some of the "proverbs of Hell" which comprise Plates 7 to 10 of the poem. Some of the best-known, frequently to be found as recently as the 1960s as emblematic graffiti, are the following:
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
Exuberance is Beauty.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.
Some of these aphorisms, especially the last-quoted, may appear mystically anarchic; but it must be remembered that Blake is trying to assert a different set of values against the received wisdom of his day. Later in the poem, the narrator has an encounter with an "Angel", who threatens him with Hell for his beliefs; but the narrator counters by delving into his own imagination and showing the "Angel" that his vision of Heaven and Hell is merely an extension of his belief in the changelessness of society, and that an alternative vision, based on change and potentiality, is also possible.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell can be seen as a kind of treatise on how to think beyond confining limits, on how to value energy and excitement and not to be restrained by conventional patterns of thought. If it speaks in its title of a "marriage", the reader is nonetheless at liberty to question whether this marriage will necessarily be a smooth one, and whether what is really at stake here is an eternal battle between order and chaos, between reason and energy, between social constraint and imaginative freedom.
Visions of the Daughters of Albion
Visions of the Daughters of Albion
The central action of Visions of the Daughters of Albion is clear. The maiden Oothoon, accepting love, goes fearlessly to her lover Theotormon, but her happiness is short-lived. She is raped by a figure of violence, Bromion, but worse, Theotormon thereafter regards her as defiled; in his jealousy he ties Oothoon and Bromion back to back, and it is with this unmoving scene that the poem concludes. What, then, is the poem about? At one level, it is clearly about sexual jealousy and about double standards. In the last part of the poem, Oothoon has a long and very powerful speech on these themes:
I cry, Love! Love! Love! Happy, happy love, free as the mountain wind!
Can that be love that drinks another as a sponge drinks water,
That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day,
To spin a web of age around him, grey and hoary, dark,
Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight?
Such is self-love that envies all, a creeping skeleton
With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed.
But it also needs to be remembered that alongside this indictment of the curtailment of sexual freedom, Oothoon is referred to as the 'soft soul of America', and throughout the poem there runs a critique of both British oppression of the colonies and also the American slave trade.
I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
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
Every black'ning Church appalls ;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
a major English Romantic poet. His Lyrical Ballads, published with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798, is widely credited with launching the Romantic movement in England.
He famously sought to write poetry in "the real language of men," and defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings from emotions recollected in tranquility."
Wordsworth is a major figure on the GRE Literature exam.
1. "It is a Beauteous Evening (Calm and Free)"
2. "My heart leaps up (when I behold)"
3. "The world is too much with us"
-loosely follows the form of an Italian sonnet
4. "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey"
-Part of the Lyrical Ballads
(link goes to separate entry)
5. The "Lucy" poems
-Part of the Lyrical Ballads
(link goes to separate entry)
6. The Prelude
(link goes to separate entry)
The Prelude may be worth adding to your GRE reading list, but not as a high priority. I recommend William Wordsworth - The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics).
"It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free"
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heavens broods o'er the Sea:
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder — everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year,
And worship'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
"My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold"
My heart leaps up when I behold
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
Bound each to each by natural piety.
"The World Is Too Much With Us"
The World Is Too Much With Us
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan, suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
"Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey"
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, not any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
Lines Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey
William Wordsworth's "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey" (1798) is one of the major early texts of the Romantic movement.
This poem is almost guaranteed to appear on the GRE Literature exam. You should read the full text (Wikisource) of the poem at least twice before the exam.
"Tintern Abbey" is the young Wordsworth's first great statement of his principle (great) theme: that the memory of pure communion with nature in childhood works upon the mind even in adulthood, when access to that pure communion has been lost, and that the maturity of mind present in adulthood offers compensation for the loss of that communion—specifically, the ability to "look on nature" and hear "human music"; that is, to see nature with an eye toward its relationship to human life. In his youth, the poet says, he was thoughtless in his unity with the woods and the river; now, five years since his last viewing of the scene, he is no longer thoughtless, but acutely aware of everything the scene has to offer him.
The Lucy Poems
Strange fits of passion I have known
Strange fits of passion I have known,
And I will dare to tell,
But in the lover's ear alone,
What once to me befel.
When she I lov'd, was strong and gay
And like a rose in June,
I to her cottage bent my way,
Beneath the evening moon.
Upon the moon I fix'd my eye,
All over the wide lea;
My horse trudg'd on, and we drew nigh
Those paths so dear to me.
And now we reach'd the orchard plot,
And, as we climb'd the hill,
Towards the roof of Lucy's cot
The moon descended still.
In one of those sweet dreams I slept,
Kind Nature's gentlest boon!
And, all the while, my eyes I kept
On the descending moon.
My horse mov'd on; hoof after hoof
He rais'd and never stopp'd:
When down behind the cottage roof
At once the planet dropp'd.
What fond and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a Lover's head—
"O mercy!" to myself I cried,
"If Lucy should be dead!"
She dwelt among th' untrodden ways
She dwelt among th' untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love.
A Violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the Eye!
—Fair, as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky!
She liv'd unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceas'd to be;
But she is in her Grave, and Oh!
The difference to me.
The Lucy poems were central in establishing the early popularity of Romantic poetry, and one or more is almost guaranteed to appear on the GRE Literature exam. It's almost worth memorizing them. (Luckily, each mentions Lucy at or near the end.)
The Prelude (1805, 1850)
William Wordsworth's The Prelude, aka the "Poem to Coleridge," is one of the major works of English Romanticism.
It exists in three versions, of which the unpolished, radical 1805 version and the posthumous 1850 version are the most commonly used for modern publications. (The 1799 version is much shorter.)
The poem, written entirely in blank verse, is a kind of "spiritual autobiography.
Famous passages include:
1. Opening journey to the Vale of Grasmere
2. Crossing of the Alps near Mont Blanc in Book VI
3. Climactic ascent of Snowdon in Wales
Yeah, not reading this before the exam.