February 24, 2018
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CattJones: The Poet reviews and connects stanzas 17, 20, 30, 31, 32, 33, 38, using words such as white, after death kiss, mentioning women as being as intelligent as men, yet expectations for both are brought out in the stanzas, especially stanza 38, “But diverse: could we make her as the man,/Sweet Love were slain: his dearest bond is this,/Not like to like, but like in difference.” He finishes his poem with the thoughts about marriage and how two join together to create one meaningful relationship, yet are perfect separately. He is telling us about how men and women are perfect in their separate state of relationship, or single and yet are also perfect together in a relationship that can be beautiful or deadly, but not because of the relationship, only because of how we think of it. The Lady of Shalott felt that Sir Lancelot would be her death and so he was, but not by his hand, only be her own behaviors when she saw him in her magic mirror arriving in Camelot. Her belief was that she would be cursed if she stayed and then she claims that her curse arrives with Sir Lancelot. Someone else can elaborate further on that point. The Lady of Shalott dies in a boat and is discovered by many, but also by Sir Lancelot. He says about her, in stanza 20, “She has a lovely face;/God in his mercy lend her grace,/The Lady of Shalott.”
[but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.]
This poem is a strong statement of the doctrine of the imperfect in Victorian literature. Ulysses is old and resigned to his ailing strength and vitality, but he asserts the power of his will against inexorable mortal decline, and determines upon a final voyage that will end in his death. The message of the poem is that character and spirit matter more than one’s material condition, and that dignity and self-possession are found more in the struggle than in the outcome. That sense of struggle and trial was central to the Victorian poetic sensibility owing to a number of social factors we’ll address in class.
The discussion in this paragraph is right out of our discussions in class about romanticism and the notion of burning out instead of fading away. the quote. “To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! As tho’ to breathe were life!” He clearly discusses the idea of sitting around, living what some may consider life, with the notion that all it takes to being living life is the simple act of breathing. But from the experiences that he has had to cannot allow himself to stay in one place anymore. He has tasted the proverbial grape, and now has a desire to taste it over and over.
From this is the answer to Neil Young’s “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Keats, Shelly and Byron, all dying young, saw that in the fading strength of aging a lessening of the value of life. That the vitality lost meant there was little reason to go on living. This really is a continuation of the argument of the Materialists, that if you see little value in something, that it becomes disposable. But Ulysses, at the end of his eventful life where he struggling against gods, monsters, sorceresses, magic and great peril, sees just a continuation of the adventure, “Little remains; but every hour is saved.” As long as he has the strength to move, Ulysses will keep moving.
The thing that struck me most about this stanza is in line two, the phrase “depth of some divine despair”. I don’t often think of the words divine and despair together, since the divine is usually religious and religion, although sad when you think on it, is supposed to be joyous. I suppose the speaker of the poem is trying to say it is hard to live when you know that days are no more- each day is passing and will no longer be and we have to figure out what it is all about. Perhaps that is what the idle tears are–the struggle to understand life and the pain to find meaning.
[Thro’ the noises of the night She floated down to Camelot:]
I related Camelot to be a Heaven-like symbol. It is often mentioned in an almost dream-like or far away place. Pathways like the road and river lead to Camelot, like it’s the ultimate destination. It’s not a stop off the side of the road, it’s the end goal. The Lady of Shalott can only see it through a mirror, and is unable to experience it for herself until the day that she dies. Even then, she only reaches Camelot after she has already passed on.
This poem evokes such an emotion of longing for those special things that we can no longer be a part of. The beautiful days in nature that we wish could last forever, like sunsets over the ocean, or wishing to be next to a passed loved one. The use of “divine despair” used in the first stanza also makes this feel like Tennyson’s sadness is far more drastic and deeper than the normal amount of dread.
This whole poem brings to mind an ending, as in a changing of the season; possibly a spring straight into winter. There is a loss and isolation feel to it, especially at the mention of Danae. I do love winter and I know now everyone does, which is why to me this feels like he’s writing about an ending of a beautiful spring.
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April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
See in context
March 1, 2018 at 11:08 am
February 28, 2018 at 11:36 pm
February 28, 2018 at 11:12 pm
February 28, 2018 at 10:54 pm
February 28, 2018 at 9:24 pm
February 28, 2018 at 9:09 pm
February 28, 2018 at 10:12 am
April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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