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  • William Wordsworth, Poems (21 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 22, 2018

      I think that this poem does a good job of representing different understandings of death, there’s a gray area and lack of clarity in trying to define what death is. Here, the poem seems to question what death means in terms of body versus what it means in terms of spirit. The speaker would be correct in saying that there are five children physically, because the other two have died and therefore their bodies/their person no longer exist. However, the little girl is also correct in saying that they are seven children, because their spirit and previous existence cannot be discounted or eliminated just because their bodies are no longer present. There are seven children, but two exist in spirit instead of in body.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 23, 2018

      This assumption of significance in the commonplace scenes and events of everyday life is a hallmark of Romanticism, and WW seems at pains to imply that the meaning of this poem is not in any special story or event from Lee’s life, but in the phenomena of his very existence. Lee’s early robustness and prowess and his deterioration in old age themselves convey profound meaning about human life and experience with a compelling alternative power that needs no illustrative narrative with a beginning, middle, and ending, and with crafted suspense, climax, and denouement.  The philosophic eye of the Poet, who succeeds and supplants the empirical Scientist of the preceding age, intuits and grasps the presence of the miraculous in the familiar, and conveys it through his utterances.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on January 23, 2018

      This stanza really stuck out to me and made me think of the materialism that so many people were trying to break away from at the time. The fear is brought up earlier in the poem, while he is in nature. Maybe this walk in nature, that was a perfect effortless beauty made him think of how materialism can distract life and cluster it up. especially as a poet, this could lessen your creative talent, making you worthless and unable to write. This lose of talent could lead to sadness, pains and “fleshy ills”, which sound awful.

      Comment by robert glasson on January 23, 2018

      Throughout this whole poem the two sides are negotiating the differences between whether or not one still exists are they are physically dead. Here in the paragraph and the following paragraph are detailed different activities that are done with the deceased member of the seven. Things like knitting, hemming, sitting, singing and eating are all described. The part that I wanted to touch on was how in our current lives we do not interact with each other as much as she interacts with a deceased member of her seven. We sit in silence and play on our phones. This shows that the ideas of held by the maiden are that of a bygone era. If we are so disconnect from those that we would currently constitute as alive one can only fear how we interact with those that we would consider deceased.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on January 23, 2018

      The speaker begins this poem by almost declaratively stating that a child who is full of life could know nothing about death.  Possibly implying that if one did, they would not be so full of life.  He then meets a little girl who tells him she and her siblings equal 7 even though 2 are in the church-yard laid.  He, as persistent as she, tries to convince her there are only 5 rather than 7.

      This was interesting to me because often times we look at death in a sorrowful way even though it is inevitable for everyone.  We continue to choose to keep that sadness or bitterness close to our hearts knowing there is nothing we can do about death itself.  The little girl who lost 2 of her siblings has a different perspective. She celebrates life and death by going to the grave and sometimes eating or knitting or playing with her other siblings there.  I didn’t see her as naive in that way, but instead she accepted the inevitable with grace.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on January 23, 2018

      meant to post this on We Are Seven.


      Comment by Kim Dunn on January 23, 2018

      [“But they are dead; those two are dead! Their spirits are in heaven!” ‘Twas throwing words away; for still The little Maid would have her will, And said, “Nay, we are seven!”]

      This whole poem resonated with me dearly.  To be a little personal for a bit, I am the youngest of seven children and two of them have died, one in 1983 by a drunk driver (my oldest brother) and the second one in 1988 by suicide (my brother up from me) so I understand entirely on the little Maid saying they are still seven as I do the same.

      Now, I read this as a bond-a personal understanding as it were-and as such, her insistence of saying that they are seven still is letting the gentleman telling her there is only five left know that it simply doesn’t matter if they are dead, they are still counted as part of the family, just as they should be.  Her insisting upon it is what should happen and the close-minded gentleman needs to just agree with her instead of arguing.

      On a side note, I would like to know why the gentleman seems to care about whether they are five or seven, and what his reasoning is for not acknowledging the two that have died.  It does not matter if they are alive or dead, they still lived and will forever be a part of the family.

      Comment by Tori Ward on January 23, 2018

      This poem is really reminiscent of the oral tradition of telling stories. Not only does it address the reader, or would be listener, but it rhymes in an ABAB style that’s very similar to a limerick/lyric. This form helps drive home the pastoral vibe of the piece–you can imagine this being sung on a street corner, which compliments the lonely feeling of it.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 23, 2018

      “a little man” “he once was tall” we loose six inches before death and “three score and ten” Score equals 20 years, plus the 10 would make 70, so the lines are saying “He says he is 70, but others say he’s 80,” so he claims to be younger than he is. by 70, he could easily have shrunk by 3 inches, by 80 4 or even 5 is possible. He would not have shrunk more than that, however. But, it’s just a poem, so it’s romantic and embellished and we think to ourselves that he lost ten inches or something, or maybe a foot, when we just read this casually without thinking much about it. Maybe he stoops more and that adds to his shrinking too. I don’t know.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 23, 2018

      Its interesting that this returning bad for good was an issue in his day. I thought it was only a modern thing. So, it’s good to read these old poems and see what the culture was like back then, and in ways, similar to ours. Some things are just human, I guess. So, this old man was grateful and showed normal grateful reactions to being helped.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 23, 2018

      I like the way that he watches people, interacts with them, then writes about them. He seems like an unselfish author. He also doesn’t force his views down our throat, the way that Mary Wollstonecraft and so many others do. His work is pleasant to read and we learn things in a warm and pleasant atmosphere.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 23, 2018

      He adds to the theme of missing loved ones, but having them in our hearts, through the nature that they themselves have returned to. His heartfelt words invoke deep emotion and give the audience the feelings he is trying to share, the feeling of nature comforting us. For example the river as his friend, which is something many people never really feel, but he understands this concept of natural surroundings actually being the result of all our losses, for all these thousands of years, here everyone is, in the river, the trees, the landscape, we’re all still here together.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 23, 2018

      Thank you for sharing that, Kim.

      In answer to your closing query, I think Wordsworth is concerned here, like Blake, to contrast innocence and experience–and by extension feeling/imagination (on the part of the child) with logic and reason (as exemplified by the speaker).

      Comment by Courtney Otto on January 23, 2018

      This poem proposes the idea that even in that day and age good deeds seemed few a far in between. The hard working man seems especially grateful for the man’s help. It seems that not many have taken the chance to care about his struggles.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on January 23, 2018

      One of the key points of Wordsworth pieces are about self-formation and post-childhood struggle, as discussed in class. Here the girl believes that her other siblings are in Heaven, but he is wise enough to know they are dead. As an adult, when someone dies they are excluded right away. Here he showcases the naivety and hopefulness of children when it comes to death versus what in the eyes of an adult we understand to happen. Heaven is a way for children to make with loss of someone.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on January 23, 2018

      The human tendency toward overt pridefulness and egotism leaves the author feeling forlorn. Not many are able to put aside these characteristics which make people more reliant on constant gratification through shallow portals like mail and things of the like. In today’s society man still struggles to overcome these qualities. We lean toward social media and other things to keep us from deeper feeling and observation of the profundity in life.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on January 23, 2018

      The wording here is important to understand the child’s nativity. She does not seem to understand that her brother didn’t have to die. From a religious standpoint, children are told that God is calling his angels back when they die, that they have to go. She obviously believes this but the author, obviously aged on the girl,  doesn’t believe that it is in anyway possible for him to be called anywhere, rather than he died because was sick. The very distinctive views of life from children to adults.

      Maybe this also gives meaning to the death.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 24, 2018

      This sonnet reminded me of our discussion in Tuesday’s class about stasis and movement in Wordsworth’s poem “Resolution and Independence”. “Mutability” stood out to me because the poem is always moving. The explicit subject matter shifts from music notes to truth and then to time.

      With the music notes, Wordsworth capitalizes on his word choice using phrases like “low to high” and “high to low” as well as “climb” and “sink” to make the reader feel like the poem is performing those actions. Wordsworth then provides stability be claiming that Truth will always remain, even though it will take on different forms. These forms, the frost and the tower, melt and crumble respectively due to the passage of time.

      I think that Wordsworth’s strength in this poem was using poetic devices to convey that nothing is permanent and the world is ever-changing.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 24, 2018

      [In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering; In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind.]

      Herman Melville recorded an interesting annotation to this passage where it is excerpted in his copy of William Hazlitt’s Lectures on the English Poets. This stanza and the poem as a whole illustrate what I described last class as the “doctrine of the imperfect.” For Wordsworth here seems to acknowledge that the joys of his earlier life are forever lost to him. But whereas these are irreplaceable, the duty to continue provides its own compensatory consolation. This does not lead back to innocent bliss, but forward to hard-won wisdom, and the “philosophic mind.”

      Comment by robert glasson on January 24, 2018

      The discussion of all the things that can contribute to experience and can corrupt the concept of innocence here reminds us that not all the things that could be seen as leading to experience would have to be negatives in life. Where he talks of a a wedding or a festival or the light from his father’s eyes.  We have talked in class about the continued use of the ideas of experience versus innocence but this is a different way to go about that comparison. With the other works focusing on more widely held dark ideas, like death or the corruption in towns because the cause of experience.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on January 24, 2018

      I was drawn in the last few lines, starting at “Our souls have sight of that immortal sea…”

      This whole poem made me think almost of reincarnation, but more so about a man trying to grip life before and after, in the limited way that he can in this era.

      This passage gave me a particular feeling of hope that Wordsworth was feeling for after death. That we have come from the ocean of life, and death is our way of appreciating and reaching that ocean again.

  • Blake, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience (12 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 9, 2018

      [On a cloud I saw a child]

      This reference to a child on a cloud invokes the idea of a cherub, as depicted here. Cherubs appear in religious iconography as a lesser order of angels commonly portrayed as a very young child with wings, scantily clad, and waiting upon saints or other immortals. The association may indicate Blake’s conception of innocent children as semi-divine beings, spiritualized by their innocence and atuned to higher truths and perspectives than adults who have lost their innocence and lost their religious sense of reality and experience. It is significant that the child appeals to the poet to “pipe” a song. This indicates the child is playing the role of a classical muse, inspiring Blake to write poetry.

      Comment by rglasson on January 10, 2018

      With the introduction of the child and the representation of innocence, we are then are provided with that said child showing his understanding beyond the basic level of innocence. It appears at John 1:29, where John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God who take away the sin of the world.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God With this biblical reference one can draw the conclusion that the child sitting on the clouds is searching for some way to remove the sins from the world. Also with our conversations from last class about the rise of empiricism, one can look at the following lines when the piping of a biblical reference brings tears to the child’s eyes as something hearkening back to a previous era of thought.

      Comment by vward on January 11, 2018

      Something that struck me as interesting here was “Old John, with white hair” sat “among the old folk”. I’m not sure if this is intentional, but it feels like Old John is excluded from this ‘old folks’ group, despite his physical descriptions.

      Comment by vward on January 11, 2018

      This repetition can be seen a lot in hymnals and in religious text, so I found it a really smart move by the author to include it in this little lamb poem. The lamb is an incredibly common religious symbol, so I liked that they didn’t just bank on the historical connotations of lamb, but added more tie-ins to traditional religion. It feels more genuine to me.

      Comment by cjones on January 11, 2018

      In Robert Blake’s poem “Song of Innocence,” stanza 6, he adds to his inspired poem by using a Volta to change the rhythm and theme of his poem. At the start of his poem he expresses inspiration and audience choice and his Volta begins with a poem within a poem, about the beauty of the “sun rising, happy skies, merry bells ringing” and explains that Spring is being welcomed by all. He references religious aspects, such as, “Old John, sisters and brothers, THE LAMB, Little lamb, who made thee?…Gave thee life.” His religious background adds to the depth and richness almost like the gold decorating his family Bible might with beautiful flowers and illustrations often found in old Family Bible. His poem has that sort of feeling to it too.

      Comment by elanagan on January 11, 2018

      Throughout all of these poems, Blake seems to repetitively use the word white in contrast with black or dark. Of course, white is a symbol of purity while black is something that is stained or wrong. Just something I noticed in quite a few of these poem, he uses a lot of contrasts to get the point across to the readers.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 11, 2018

      This stanza stood out to me because of the similar stanza in “The Divine Image”. In that poem, the words used are mercy, pity, peace, and love which are all characteristics attributed to God. In that poem, I would say that Blake’s poem reflects that humans are made in God’s image which means that humans also have these traits. This idea would fit well in a grouping of  poems about innocence.

      This poem however, definitely relates more to experience. Cruelty, jealousy, terror and secrecy are all natural and common human traits. Even though humans were created in God’s image, they didn’t inherit his good nature.


      Comment by sfrost on January 11, 2018

      In the Echoing Green, the movement of the sun seems to echo life. The children romp and play as the sun rises, energy unbound as it is with the young. Memories of youth gives the experienced and aged found memories while the sun is high. Then as the sun sets, the energy of the children is replaced with weariness, showing that as life winds down the need to rest.

      Comment by mhebbeln on January 11, 2018

      It wasn’t this particular stanza, but the whole of “The Fly” that resonated with me. It sounds like the thoughts you have when your so deep in thought that normal boundaries of thinking are broken. Or he is drunk. Ha! But it makes me think of the Buddhist way of thinking and how we shouldn’t even hurt a fly. Our perspectives as humans are as being superior just because we are humans. So just because we breathe with lungs and study topics like this we are far too busy to be bothered by fly. But they are just living their lives. It’s a humbling part of this entire collections of poems (or songs).

      Comment by mstreeter on January 11, 2018

      When love is formed out of acts of selflessness and care for only the person of interest it “builds a heaven in hell’s despair.”  A selfless person is able to love innocently and openly therefore creating a joyous experience.  In contrast, Blake suggests that love when formed on reason based off of prior experience builds a hell on earth despite heaven being an option. He used a pebble from the brook as a symbol of love being hardened by time and experience and a little clod of clay as the symbol of innocence showing it’s impressionable nature. I found the duality of the two conditions to be interesting because to me it suggests that although the idea of destroying something or having experience with it creates an understanding it also kills it’s innocence.


      Comment by kdunn on January 11, 2018

      The joy he has in this poem is so wonderfully happy, as shown in this part. He wants everyone that reads this to be as joyful as he is and as I continued to read through it, it never wavered.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 27, 2018

      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.

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poems (11 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 7, 2018

      [The everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind]

      Note the familiar emphasis here on mind and matter, and the interchange between the two. The position is related to the process of “half creation” we saw in Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” and Shelley revisits it at several points in this poem, and also at points in his poem “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty.” Here in “Mont Blanc,” though, Shelley seems ambivalent about the concept, and stresses the magnitude and vastness of the natural environment as potentially something far removed from the mind’s capacity to grasp–a trigger to its own processes and ability to respond, but ultimately beyond the mind.  The emphasis on external magnitude compares also with what we just observed of the prospect convention in Manfred, where the vastness of human selfhood and identity was put forth point for point against external nature. Shelley was less of an egotist than Byron.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 7, 2018

      From what I understand of his bio in our textbook, Shelley was an atheist. Yet a “hymn” has a religious context as a song for God or another deity. Here, the “deity” that Shelley speaks of is the Spirit of Beauty, which is found in nature. It’s curious to see a Romantic piece that doesn’t relate the  beauty of nature back to God. How was this type of thinking received during Shelley’s time?

      Comment by Em Lanagan on February 7, 2018

      This stanza and the next really stood out to me as being what being human is truly like. The last line of stanza 33 especially. “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”. We look before and after makes me think that we are talking about before we are brought into existence and for what is after we are dead, and pining for “what is not” would be to grasp for something we know not is there. Us humans are caught in our own self pity and hurt, yet without it we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good. It is telling of the human experience in a way. We can not stay innocent and unhurt forever, because without that hurt we couldn’t truly understand what it is to be joyful.

      Comment by Scott Frost on February 7, 2018

      After reading , this has many similar themes that Byron used in Manfred. The Intellectual Beauty, like Astarte, is sought, and is not attainable, leading to despondency. The author is dedicated to her, vowing his powers, and his dedication does not bring joy.  The supernatural, spells and spirits are prominently featured, as things that grant power, but they are not useful in possessing the beauty.

      Comment by Catt Jones on February 9, 2018

      The river Arve gets water from a secret source, ice glaciers.
      Many people have lived and died, inspired by the Arve River
      “Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion/Dizzy Ravine! And when I gaze on thee/I seem as in a trance sublime and strange” inspired by nature to a feeling and deep, dark thoughts that he attempts to express in words, but decides he cannot.
      Thoughts of people in the past were inspired by the river and in modern times, those same thoughts, long forgotten or never heard from those who died previously are now being thought by modern inspired poets as they experience this river and mountain. So, people might not express how it feels to be there or what thoughts they are inspired to, but after they die, the next generations can go there and feel the same feelings, express those thoughts and feelings that their ancestors had, but didn’t express. However, he is expressing them in this poem. Even so, he thinks there is more to express than can be expressed, without actually experiencing the river and the mountain for ourselves. And I agree with that. However, I believe the experience is different for each individual and that is also in line with his believe that our reaction to a river or mountain, is dependent upon our relationship with nature. There are people that can stand over a water fall and feel barely anything or look at a sunset and feel absolutely nothing and then there are people who feel more than others, more than can be expressed in words. And then there is Shelley, who experiences it and puts what he experiences into words for future generations to compare their own experiences to.

      Comment by Catt Jones on February 9, 2018

      [Driven like a homeless cloud from steep to steep That vanishes among the viewless gales! Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky, Mont Blanc appears—still, snowy, and serene; Its subject mountains their unearthly forms Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,]

      “Driven like a homeless cloud from steep to steep/That vanishes among the viewless gales!/Mont Blanc appears-still, snowy, and serene;/Its subject mountains their unearthly forms/Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between/of frozen floods, unfathomable deep,” Percy Shelley points out that the clouds are homeless, yet majestic and divine. He points out how unfathomable, as God would be unfathomable, as the universe filled with stars and planets he knew nothing of, are unfathomable to the technology available at the time he lived in. He equals the clouds, and mountains and rivers as divine, in a superior position to human beings, living almost forever, so far as we are concerned. The mountain exists before and after we are here, so does the river and the clouds come and go forming and raining, changing, living much shorter lifespans than we do, yet we are not superior to the clouds, the homeless clouds.

      Comment by Catt Jones on February 9, 2018

      [The limits of the dead and living world, Never to be reclaim’d. The dwelling-place Of insects, beasts, and birds, becomes its spoil; Their food and their retreat for ever gone, So much of life and joy is lost. The race Of man flies far in dread; his work and dwelling Vanish, like smoke before the tempest’s stream, And their place is not known. ]

      Shelley, like Byron, didn’t enjoy morality or the boundaries of rules for humans and fought against those moral boundaries throughout their works, always pointing out how pointless an existence we live and how small we are compared to Nature, to the Universe and how he believes the fact that Nature is superior, we should learn from nature to be different than we are, not have all those domestic rules binding us. He most likely, was okay with Bryon’s immorality and was Godless too, so even though Shelley is a romantic poet, he is also a naturalist poet and not so romantic as Wordsworth, since he avoids all convention and anything spiritual that is not based on animal instincts, the five senses, what can be seen or heard. He gives no thought to the possibility of spiritual beings, such as angels or demons, he sees the world as cells forming water, which then forms streams, which then forms rivers, to oceans and seas and the wind that tosses the water, and the moon which controls the tides, without any thought of a creator or the need to worship or live a moral life to please the one that made it all. He would have loved evolution. Since he was born in 1792 and died in 1822, he just missed Darwin, who was born 1809. I guess he was born a bit ahead of his time then. Or perhaps the poetry of this time period, with Byron and others, was a flag waving and a sign of the times as they were progressing.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on February 12, 2018

      I found this an interesting move as well.  I was also thinking about how throughout the poem Shelley refers to the Spirit of Beauty as an intangible “power” that uplifts and brings about a sense of love and hope to human beings. He also says “Depart not as they shadow came, / Depart not– lest the grave should be, / Like life and fear, a dark reality.” which I read as a wish for the Spirit to stay with him when he dies or else it will be a dark reality.  Overall, his explanation and feelings towards this spirit are pretty similar to a religious person and God.

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 14, 2018

      This stanza feels as if the narrator  is despairing over God’s decision to create humans with free will. Because humans have free will, and by extension consciousness of being and free thought, it makes us imperfect mirrors of god, and therefore not as pure or divine as a leaf, even dead, or a cloud or a wave. It takes the idea from previous readings that all creations by God are godly because they were created by Him and skews it a bit.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on February 16, 2018

      I am feeling incredibly lucky reading this and knowing exactly what it feels like to be in Chamonix, France and look upon Mont Blanc. The feeling that Shelley is emoting in this poems captures perfectly what I felt while I was hiking around the french alps and that little french town. The place is mystical and unlike anything I’ve ever seen and just like Shelley it is something I cannot explain. The mountains are taller then you’ve ever seen and they are piled on one another. The snow at the top never melts and it’s incredible to see in the middle of summer. Shelley helped me grasp just how being here made me feel.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 3, 2018

      I completely agree with you about the common religious understanding of the use of the word “hymn.”  I always thought that anyone who was Atheist, especially one who is noted to “brag” about not believing in any form of organized religion, would never use a word such as hymn–regardless of what he is describing.  He is using the word to describe “Intellectual Beauty,” but again, one wonders why.

  • Lord Byron, Manfred (11 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 5, 2018

      [Witch. That is not in my province; but if thou Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes. Man. I will not swear—Obey! and whom? the Spirits Whose presence I command, and be the slave Of those who served me—Never!]

      This exchange stood out to me as one of the more obvious examples of individualism that was found during the Romantic Period. The Witch of the Alps has offered to help him in exchange for his obedience, but even though Manfred is desperate, he refuses to submit to her. Byron reinforces the theme of self-sufficiency by having Manfred reject the Witch’s help, establishing the importance of individual freedom over conforming to society and authority figures.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 5, 2018

      Kiah Lowe’s comment, relocated:

      [Witch. That is not in my province; but if thou Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes. Man. I will not swear—Obey! and whom? the Spirits Whose presence I command, and be the slave Of those who served me—Never!]

      This exchange stood out to me as one of the more obvious examples of individualism that was found during the Romantic Period. The Witch of the Alps has offered to help him in exchange for his obedience, but even though Manfred is desperate, he refuses to submit to her. Byron reinforces the theme of self-sufficiency by having Manfred reject the Witch’s help, establishing the importance of individual freedom over conforming to society and authority figures.

      Comment by robert glasson on February 5, 2018

      We have brought into the discussions in class several times so far about the relations between what we are reading and Eastern philosophical notions. Here we have the hunter thinking through the idea of the ying and yang. But while he responds to his own thoughts with comments like “say not so” the hunter has not fully embraced this notion up until this point. Where you have small parts of good within evil and small parts of evil within good.

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 5, 2018

      Manfred, in the lines “The spirits I have raised abandon me, the spells which I have studied baffle me,” especially has a striking resemblance to Dr. Faustus, a character written by Christopher Marlowe. It seems incredibly powerful to be reading something in that vein coming right off the ancient mariner because it’s doing the opposite of what the mariner did–instead of being blase about signs and superstition, Manfred has involved himself to the point of being cursed. The Mariner and Manfred play in a nice balance to each other, of how one should balance spirituality and societal practicality.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on February 5, 2018

      [Man. Ye mock me—but the Power which brought ye here Hath made you mine. Slaves, scoff not at my will! The Mind—the Spirit—the Promethean spark, The lightning of my being, is as bright, Pervading, and far darting as your own, And shall not yield to yours, though cooped in clay! Answer, or I will teach you what I am.]


      (I hope that link shows up so you can read what I learned about the Promethean spark, something I had never heard of before, which surprised me because I know about Pandora and her reason.)

      This passage stuck out to me because of the reference to the Promethean spark and did some research on what that meant.  The Man thinks he’s being made fun of by the Spirits for not giving him the answers he seeks except in what I read as riddles: “We are immortal…Art thou answered?”  The Spirit tells him flat out a few paragraphs later that the Man’s death has absolutely nothing to do with the Spirit, however the Man can have what they do offer him, and he goes and turns that down.  Why?  It comes back to the Man thinking that the Spirit is mocking him about his death.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on February 5, 2018

      A few lines from this section that caught my eye were “How beautiful is the visible world! How glorious in action and itself! But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we, half dust, half deity, alike unfit to sink or soar, with our mixed essense make a conflict its elements…” This quote, as Tori said above me, reminds me of The Ancient Mariner in the opposite direction. Here the man was relying too hard on the supernatural and didn’t see the goodness of the real world. He is realizing, at least in my perspective, how fulfilling nature is, specifically in the quote “my soul would drink these echoes”.

      Comment by Scott Frost on February 5, 2018

      It seems that Manfred main characteristic is his defiance. He defies the Abbot and does not seek redemption for his great past sin. Manfred defies the spirits that seek to drag him to their master. He, the great individual, rejects both the divine and infernal, and chooses to simply die by his own terms. He was his “own destroyer,” his great sin was his own, and since he was unable to find oblivion in forgetfulness, he seeks death.

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 6, 2018

      I wonder if this paragraph is alluding to a homosexual relationship with the lines “And loved each other as we should not love, and this was shed: but still it rises up, colouring the clouds, that shut me out from Heaven,”. There’s no allusion to gender here, it could be an affair with an already engaged woman, but what makes me think he may be speaking of a man is because it says “loved each other as we should not love”, as in the act of being able to feel love for this person was wrong, not the action on it. And as most of us are familiar with, the bible is quite clear on homosexuality, ergo “the clouds that shut me out from Heaven.”

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on February 6, 2018

      I was drawn to the lines “I lean no more on super-human aid / It hath no power upon the past, and for / The future, till the past be gulf’d in darkness,”

      and “To rest for ever – wherefore do I pause? / I feel the impulse – yet I do not plunge; / I see the peril – yet do not recede;/… There is power upon me which withholds / and makes it my fatality to live;”

      These two passages struck me profoundly as Manfred is having a serious mental breakdown, later from what we learn is from the death of his lover/sister. Manfred has abandoned his love for God, or so I interpret from him saying he will no longer rely on super-human aid. Manfred wants to die, end it all by falling off the cliff, but maybe this waking life without his love is Hell.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 6, 2018

      Most readers interpret this as a reference to incest with Astarte, which is referred to at a couple of other points in the text as well (in our text, see pp. 657, line 124, where he is addressing her phantom). Incest was a prominent subject in a number of romantic-era texts. That’s not to say that the reference isn’t part of a larger preoccupation with different forbidden forms of love–including homosexuality–in Byron’s thought and writing, as well as in his life.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on February 7, 2018

      [My joy was in the wilderness,—to breathe The difficult air of the iced mountain’s top, Where the birds dare not build—nor insect’s wing Flit o’er the herbless granite; or to plunge]

      In this passage Manfred is remembering his youth and the closeness he held with Nature and how because of it he felt much different then the rest of the people around him. He secluded himself from men and found answers in Nature which was of course an eminent part of Romanticism.

  • Matthew Arnold, Poems (11 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 12, 2018

      In this stanza, Arnold is clearly speaking about the fading importance of religion during his time period. Water is almost always moving, therefore it is the perfect symbol for change. In this case, “The Sea of Faith” once “full and round” and secured around the shore like a form-fitting girdle (21-22) has now fallen to a “withdrawing roar” (25). However, while Arnold evokes an air of sadness from being abandoned by something that used to be heavily present in life, there isn’t a real sense of permanence to the loss as high tide will come around once again. Since the water in this passage is a reference to the changing times, it may symbolize something other than religion on its next go-around.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 12, 2018

      Catt Jones: Dover Beach
      “The sea is calm tonight, the tide is full,” in dreams calm water symbolizes emotions that are calm and not bothered by anything.
      He goes on to talk about, “Sophocles long ago/Heard it on the Aegean.” I googled those and will study into them tomorrow, but for now this is what google has to say about Sophochles and Aegean: Aegean: “Arnold alludes here to a passage in the ancient Greek play Antigone, by Sophocles, in which Sophocles says the gods can visit ruin on people from one generation to the next, like a swelling tide driven by winds. it: “the eternal note of sadness” (line 14). Aegean: The sea between Greece and Turkey.”
      One analysis mentions that there are many changes happing in England, much colonization and many changes due to the colonization of other countries that were affecting Arnold in a confusing way, during the Victorian age.
      Another analysis suggests that the “pebbles” are humans and that they are naked or vulnerable.
      The Sea of Faith is obviously that lack of religion experienced and speaks to the search of something to believe in, going from science to God and back again, like the water waves in the ocean.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on March 12, 2018

      I thought this stanza had an interesting play on the word lie. Obviously to lie means to be still, but to lie is also to tell something false. It was an interesting word choice to me as a reader. This stanza also reminds me of the concepts of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 22, that love in relation to the darkness and bareness of the world makes it all the better–in retrospect to the awfulness of the world true feelings prevail.

      The way the lines are set up also give a different meaning to the first line of the stanza–“Ah, love, let us be true”, maybe suggesting that in this life that is full of lies people often act falsely to get to the unrealistic “land of dreams”.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on March 12, 2018

      This final stanza shows the complexity of the world as we know it.  On one hand the speaker is offering some peace by saying we, or he and his lover more specifically, can find happiness or truth if we are true to each other in matters that concern love.  The world is a place without “certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; / and we are here as on a darkling plain”.  The final lines of the poem show how chaotic the world is.  We are all confused and blindly fighting each other.  There is no way to tackle the vastness but we can start by being true and nice to each other.

      Comment by Tori Ward on March 13, 2018

      The phrase ‘ignorant armies’. made me wonder whether it was the soldiers who were ignorant, or whether what/who those soldiers were serving was the ignorant one. Is there such a thing as a non-ignorant army? Every war ever started shares the fact that no one knew the end, so I was very interested in the use of this word, and the use of the word ‘lie’, earlier in the stanza, since they both seem to have a double meaning.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 13, 2018

      As we know from his “Preface” to Poems, Arnold felt that the ancient poets and dramatists such as Sophocles were the best possible models for contemporary writers because of their “particular, precise, and firm” conception of the world and of their literary and artistic subjects (NAEL 1375–middle of the page). The present stanza effectively grounds the theme of “Dover Beach” within that sensibility–an ancient and timeless conviction of the tragedy of human experience being the basis for the poem. As conveyed in the “Preface,” Arnold sees contemporary society as “wanting in moral gradeur” and afflicted by “spiritual discomfort” (NAEL 1383), fragmented and diffused by the trivialities and shallow pursuits inseperable from commercialism and consumerism. The impulse to retreat into private faithfulness and stamina corresponds to similar themes we’ve seen in Tennyson and Browning among others.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 13, 2018

      This is a great example for the Victorian writer to express the idea that greatness in life comes from struggle and turmoil, with brief, wondrous bouts of passionate love. He is recognizing the pain we as humans put each other though currently and how we have done that for most of our history. The beauty of the coastline is a mental break from the ugliness of humanity.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 13, 2018

      [Sophocles ]

      Wikipedia says that he lived 497 or 496 BC to 406 or 405 BC, so about 90 years. His works are Aljax, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Oedipus at Colonus.
      Ajax, Antigone, The Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus survived
      Oedipus at Colonus is the story about Oedipus, who without realizing what he had done, killed his birth father and married his birth mother. Oedipus Rex is also about this person.
      Electra, the mother or father tell siblings that the brother is dead. The siblings learn the lie and kill both parents.
      Philoctetes is a sub story lined up with tales of the Trojan War.
      Women of Trachis is the story about the wife of Heracles. She becomes jealous, makes a love potion that she was lied to about and kills him by accident.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 13, 2018


      So this AEgean he refers to must be the AEgean Sea referred to in many Greek tales of ancient times. He doesn’t appear to refer to the Odyssey specifically, but to how Sophocles saw morality and exposed the deceit and pain that immorality caused people in Ancient Greece, or at least used this to create great dramas for Greeks to enjoy.


      Comment by Catt Jones on March 13, 2018

      Hi Doc,
      In the Preface, on page 1379, paragraph 3, he writes, “The confusion of the present times is great, the multitude of voices counseling different things bewildering…a guide…will nowhere find…his attention should be fixed on excellent models.” He goes on to share his ideas of who excellent models are, such as Shakespeare, so he has his own idea of who to revere in poetry. He must do his own style, but he likes to incorporate the styles and ingredients of great writers, such as Shakespeare and Sophocles. I haven’t finished the preface, but I feel confident assuming he also lifts up Homer as a good example to follow.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 26, 2018

      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.

  • Robert Burns, Poems (11 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 12, 2018

      [Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An’ fellow-mortal!]

      This reminds me of Mariah’s remarks on the shared spiritual essence of mortal creatures (specifically from Buddhist thought) in Blake’s “The Fly” from “Songs of Innocence.” Here, though, there’s not much mention of spiritual unity. The speaker and mouse are united by their frailty–their vulnerabilty to hostile external forces and chance. The sense and imagery relate to the existentialist angst we associated with some of Blake’s poems, and in passing with the American writer Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The present poem is classic Burns–hinting of profound questions in seemingly commonplace situations.

      Comment by Tori Ward on January 12, 2018

      What I couldn’t quite discern as I was reading was who was the mouse, and who was the farmer.  It could be seen, from a regionalism lens, that the farmer is the one speaking with the heavy dialect, because it invokes and idea of pastoral, country life. Or, from an existential sense, the mouse could be speaking the more broken English because they are literally a simpler life form, and it would fall in line with the louder emphasis of natural science/philosophy.  There are clues to each, but none that seemed like they couldn’t be interpreted in several different ways.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 15, 2018

      Catt Jones:
      “But, Mousie, thou art not thy lane,
      In proving foresight may be vain;
      The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
      Gang aft agley,
      An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
      For promis’d joy!”
           This passage from Robert Burn’s Poem “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough,” November, 1785, has been translated and used as inspiration for further work. I am familiar with the translation of “The best laid plans of mice and men,” but there are several out there. The work most familiar to me, inspired by this idea of mice and their plans being so ruined, just as people, especially colonized indigenous people, is Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhikker’s Guide To The Galaxy,” a work that has brought me much comfort over the years. It’s deep, compared to some, but only deep to anyone willing to really look at it.
           White mice are characterized as experimenting on the human race, before earth is destroyed. The fact that earth was manufactured, and I won’t go on, since it would give spoilers to anyone willing to go look at the movie or read the book. The white mice are seen in a human way, just as Robert Burns brings the mice up to human level when he perceives that poor mousie saw the field available and was thinking of how harsh winter soon would be, so she made her nest. Poor Mousie had no idea there would be a plough. If you are a mouse in a field, why would you give any thought to anything human, such as their ploughs coming to dig up a nest you made way out in a seemingly abandoned field.
           I also think of Lewis H. Morgan’s book “The American Beaver and His Works.” It’s not very common for authors to have an altruistic or respectful opinion of creatures that are not also human. Usually humans are given an admiration exclusively, not necessarily so well deserving when we really, truly, get to know the realities of humanity’s vices and immoral secret societies, etc., something non-human creatures, at least, do not contribute to. Creatures beyond human are intelligent, yet governed by instinct and natural laws that have nothing to do with morality, but mostly to do with hormones. If we were honest with ourselves, we would see that hormones have a great deal to do with our prison system being so massively full, but that’s another subject.
           Poor Mousie is given a name of Mousie and is raised up, because a mouse would need to be raised to be spoken of in this manner by a human. Most humans gave no thought to mice, except to kill and burn them, to prevent the plague, to prevent disease, to prevent their storages of food from being eaten and ruined. Mice were seen as only pests, worse than dirt. Dirt was viewed as cleaner than a mouse. So, Robert Burns likens Mice to Men in his statement of “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley, An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!”
           Today we still say that and we don’t think of mice on as low a level as Robert Burns’ generation did. We have mice as pets of all things and even have genetically altered them to do dna research with them, placing human parts, such as an ear, inside them to see if we can grow human parts using their bodies with our dna, and we’ve altered rats to be hairless, for pets we dress up and put on our instagrams and facebooks to make money with posters, t-shirts, cups, calendars, anything to do with whatever mousie character we can make money with online. It’s a strange world, but not any stranger than Robert Burns’ day and not any stranger to us to read about mice or rats sinking tiny basketballs into tiny hoops for psychology classes, than it was for his generation to read about compassion and empathy, that they no doubt felt was displaced and odd, even biazarre, to feel for any mouse. He put the mouse in a different light, giving a non-human creature attributes that could later be used in children’s stories such as ABC Animals, and other stories where animals and geese are used to depict characteristics for children to divert them from the harshness of what they are learning, or perhaps to entertain them, so they might learn something they otherwise would have ignored if the story were presented with humans, such as themselves.
           Is Burns trying to do this with his story? Is he making a statement about colonization and natives being ploughed up, their lands taken, ruined and used for the white man. I don’t know for sure. Further research might answer that question.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 16, 2018

      The takeaway from this stanza is that even the best plans can go wrong. Whether you’re a man or a mouse, sometimes planning is futile because the world is always changing and nothing is set in stone. I thought this idea reflected Burns’ own experiences with the death of his father and having to go to work with his brother at a young age.

      Comment by robert glasson on January 16, 2018

      The verbiage used here is specific to the Scottish region. The use of the word stell refers to a protective enclosure. Used to paint a regional feeling of the interactions between the scottish and the english. The overtones of Scottish nationalism are on display here, resilience and determination, have turned into people working for slave wages. Finally the final lines “But English gold has been our bane—Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!” ties in the name of the poem more effectively when you look at the definition of parcel, “a quantity or amount of something, especially as dealt with in one commercial transaction” then looking at the parcel of rogues being purchased with the English gold.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on January 16, 2018

      I would say it is from the perspective of the farmer because it is addressed in line 1 “To a mouse…”

      Although, I do see from your opposing point of view how it could be from the narrative of the mouse because if we are being honest it seems as if man is as afraid of mice as mice are afraid of men.  “O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!”

      It was more clarifying for me when the speakers talks about chasing with a mudering paddle. I couldn’t see the mouse doing that unless, of course, it was metaphorical or something.

      Comment by Scott Frost on January 16, 2018

      Indeed, Robert, this was the buying of Scotland, which was sold out to line the pockets of who? Well, it seems that this poem was written to protest the Act of Union, where  members of the Scottish Parliament allegedly sold their votes for English gold. In a fairly recent book , it is offered that though there were bribes involved, they weren’t enough to sway the vote. The majority of the members of Scottish parliament, the author says, wanted to join the Union. Of course this whole matter is a current issue due to the Scottish Independence movement which argues that the union was illegitimate to begin with.

      Why were the Scottish so money hungry for English gold? It appears that there was an attempt at colonization. The colony on the Panama isthmus failed and put many of the upper class in debt. Many saw that joining with the English as a much needed economic boost, and some required the bribes to change their minds. Thus England, who could never through force of arms, conquered Scotland with economic enticements.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on January 16, 2018

      This stanza made me think back to a theme I saw in Songs of Experience, the Fly, and wonder if this was a theme across the generation of writers. The perspective that man is no longer the greatest creature on earth, and that we should consider how our actions effect the other beings on this planet. The line ” I’m truly sorry man’s dominion, Has broken nature’s social union,” makes me think this. Nature was in unity until humanity showed up. Every plant and animal had their biome, any food or water you needed was supplied and had been for generations of plants and animals and the strong ate the weak. Things weren’t “civilized” but nature had a perfect yin and yang. Burns like Blake and maybe a lot of other writers at this time, trying to think about the larger picture and not being so selfish as writers before them. Made the movement of the sciences at this time helped get into this new perspective.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 16, 2018


           I watched a YouTube lecture at the Library of Commerce by Dr. Arun Sood.
           He mentions in his lecture how Robert Burns’ work has spread worldwide.
           Robert Burns was not singular and isolated, but was privy to a whole world of nations, trading not just objects, but ideas, songs, cultural ideas.
           Dr. Sood talked about the collective and cultural memory and how books, statues, etc. are part of the cultural memory, so that groups of people remember things like this song and incorporate it so deeply within their culture that the origin is lost.
            Robert Burns’ song is very common, globally and continues be reinitiated by various groups as part of a collective memory. The song is about missing friends, and Burns missed his friends that died and his past memories, both good and bad.
           This song is used at the ball dropping in New York each year and we take it for granted.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on January 16, 2018

      According to Scottish lore, “auld” means “old folk;” ancestors. How this became a New Year celebration song, I have no idea.

      I think Robert Burns did a wonderful job in showing us that we should never forget our “auld ones.” It shows a true commitment to history, family either past, present, or future, and speaks of a longing to remember, along with a celebration style.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on January 18, 2018

      I really enjoyed that Burns establishes that he felt bad for the mouse the entirety of the poem- he ruined her home and now in the onslaught of winter she is homeless. Yet Burns still sees that the mouse is spectacularly lucky- it is a simple being who doesn’t have the active conscious that humans do. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be mice- one dimensional  and forever living in the now, never dissecting what this life is about.


  • James Joyce, "Araby" (10 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 11, 2018

      I think that this section emphasizes the futility of the entire story. The narrator wants to be with Mangan’s sister, yet throughout the story, he has been unable to earn her affection due to the lack of (meaningful) interaction between the two. Being able to get a gift for her at the bazaar is his last chance to get her to feel the same way. When he gets to the bazaar just before it closes, he is disillusioned when he realizes that the bazaar and his feelings for Mangan’s sister are nothing special.

      Comment by robert glasson on April 11, 2018

      I took the comment about the two pennies falling in his pocket to be a reference to death. In that the custom to put coins over the eyes of the dead in order to pay the ferryman stems from Greek mythology. This notion of dying inside is common to those of heartbreak and loss. How many times have we heard young lovers comment about how they are dead inside? So there is a sense of futility here, that is not all without going through this he would not have become the creature he references in the following paragraph.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on April 11, 2018

      This section is one of the most interesting to me. The way the narrator has set up this industrialized scene to be something almost romantic seems to be sweet. I can relate to that –as I child when if I had a crush on someone, it seemed as if just by thinking of them it would occasionally make the mundane seem special. However, when juxtaposed to the thoughts he is sharing about his neighbor, it also shows how futile and somewhat obsolete these thoughts are. He is in love with her purely based on what she looks like–almost like saying your favorite food is french toast without ever having it before. He has never experienced anything but her vanity, which in the end comes to nip him in the butt.


      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on April 12, 2018

      I feel frustrated at the end of this short story. He wanted so much to impress this neighbor lady that he liked, but he drove himself made trying to get it. And when he got there, there was nothing but what seemed liked useless trinkets and people who didn’t even care if he was there. His blind materialism slaps him in his face.

      Comment by Scott Frost on April 12, 2018

      Throughout the story, there is a balance between the magic of childish play and the narrators childish attraction to Mangan’s sister, and the dirty and poverty stricken life of Dublin. The narrators quest to bring a token gift to Mangan’s sister is delayed by the mundane- the school week, his uncles tardiness, the slow train, and he arrives ten minutes until the market closes. The magic is broken but the reality of the situation. There is no way he is going to be able to bring back a gift, and he sees how he was caught up in his romantic dream of what could be, rather than what would be.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 12, 2018

      The increasingly industrialized society in which this story is set reflects in the narrator’s infatuation with the women next door. This final paragraph illustrates a blind desire within the narrator as an individual and within society as a hole. The narrator attached his happiness to this woman who he did not know outside of her looks. This leads to a realization that he is motivated by nothing outside of vanity in his desire. This is likely a product of a largely materialistic society.

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 15, 2018

      This character thinks nothing of taking things from his home, after he is dead, because he always gave his things away anyhow. (2)
      Author uses language such as “The space of the sky above us was the colour of everchanging violet.” “The cold air stung,” “we played till our bodies glowed,” When we met in the street the houses had grown somber.” “The career of our play,” “gauntlet of rough tribes,” “dark dripping gardens,” “shook music from the buckled harness,” “we left our shadow and walked up to Mangan’s steps,” In Stanza 3 it seems like it’s just boys playing, and then in 4 we are introduced to the narrator’s crush. In 5, more odd wording, “flaring streets”
      In stanza 5 the narrator mentions O Donovan Rossa, an Irish nationalist that formed the Phoenix National Literary Society. A secret society that was working toward Irish Independence. https://www.discoveringireland.com/jeremiah-o-donovan-rossa/

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 15, 2018

      The mention of Freemason and when his uncle says, after their first sleep now” in stanza 17 are interesting for the time period. About stanza 21, I am thinking that he is going to steal something for this girl. 

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 15, 2018

      At stanza 33, I am surprised, relieved that he didn’t steal anything. But, the last stanza makes me think this was supposed to be part of a larger piece of writing, perhaps James was trying an idea out for a book.

      Comment by Tori Ward on April 17, 2018

      I agree with your ideas about materialism here, Courtney. I think that this infatuation and drive for someone (or something) superficial is still really prevalent in our modern society. The idea that something pretty–some new gadget, trinket, car, what have you–will fix all of our problems because it will make us feel better about ourselves has really risen in the subconscious and conscious ranks on the internet. I can think of Instagram especially–people’s carefully crafted highlights of the best of their lives.

  • Thomas Carlyle, selections from <i>Sartor Resartus</i> (10 comments)

    • Comment by Em Lanagan on February 26, 2018

      This whole paragraph really spoke to humans expectations of what something divine is. I feel as if this paragraph is suggesting that humans are searching for the “Ideal World” when it is up to us in our mind to decide what the ideal is. Mankind had never reached anything of this unrealistic ideal, but by being “in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable Actual…is thy Ideal”. This kind of springboards the idea that humans do not need to live a life that is guided by doctrines in the Bible but perhaps by living with Nature and getting right with one’s own soul. The ideal world won’t come without cultivation of Nature and the soul.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 26, 2018

      Notice here the heavy emphasis on evolution and growth–applied specifically to the life of an individual but in ways that mirror the emanative character of the universe, as construed through a romantic lense.  The references to “nebulous envelopment” and “mad fermentation” evoke the seemingly chaotic phenomenon of an unsteady world in constant flux–an “aimless Discontinuity”. But the final clause makes clear the emanative growth of things plays out with a purpose. Professor Diogenes Teufelsdrock’s name is significant: “God’s Born, Devil’s Dung.” The point is to transcend, or more accurately, transform the material into the spiritual–to redeem it, including oneself.

      Comment by robert glasson on February 26, 2018

      The opening of this paragraph struck me as one that we do not normally think expand upon, in that we use the term fore-shadowing to even in relation to the possibility of positive things even though it has a built in negative connotation. So the use of the term fore-splendor makes for such a more logical and stream lined definition. This is even more prevalent in the search for Truth. The almost prophetic search for how when can begin to see Truths.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 26, 2018

      I agree that the human mind is what creates the “Ideal World” being spoken of. Going back to the “Centre of Indifference”, Carlyle seems to think that the divine comes from what humanity’s minds make of it, not what they are told by any doctrine.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on February 27, 2018

      This was an interesting approach to be the reader of a reader taking in this philosophical work. But it gave me a wonderful feeling of love and hope at the end. Calling upon the idea almost of “half create”, and how the light that we see with, and our eyes are part of what makes the beauty of this Earth. The Earth is so beautiful and we should live each day to it’s very best and create life for ourselves.

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 27, 2018

      The idea of the past being tied to books here is something so undeniably human. We are the only species on earth, the only species we’re aware of, that keeps track of their history, and writes it down for reflection, or entertainment, or for whatever reason any one has ever picked up a book. But Carlyle does more than just reflect on the entirely human experience that is the book–because the same can the argued for the city, or the field, as he mentions here–he also shows us that books, more than anything else any of us leave behind, are protected and even worshiped as the crux of our society. Everything else fades, or crumbles, or rusts, but the written word is forever. That’s why he says, “Thou who art able to write a book […] envy not him whom they name City-builder, and inexpressibly pity him whom they name Conqueror or City-burner” because Carlyle’s arguing that he who writes a book will outlast them all.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on February 27, 2018

      In the final sentence of this paragraph we read, ” wherefrom the fiercer it is, the clearer product will one day evolve itself?” Carlyle describes humanity’s struggle to evolve. In fact evolution is always occurring but each individual is blinded to this by their concept of time. One tends to feel stagnant, trapped by the monotonous feeling of counting hours and days. The final question emulates a madness produced by this cyclical kind of thought and puts forth the idea that evolution may very well be an effect of a fierce aversion to the constraints of time and determination to produce a feeling of evolution within the time each individual has. This brings about the question, does the man made concept of time help us to become greater or hinder our ability to act completely of our own accord. Many during this period of time and still today become entangled in the idea of a beginning and ending wherein a goal can be accomplished in a certain time set. In reality something greater may be achieved with no clearly defined stopping point only a desire to keep building upon ourselves. Evolution may very well become a byproduct of the effort one puts into life.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on February 27, 2018

      In paragraph 4 emphasis is placed on the idea that within our hopes lies the true feeling of purpose. The earlier and following paragraphs display how the professor has lost hopefulness and has therefor fallen into desolation because without hope there is no feeling of purpose.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on February 27, 2018

      Paragraph 5 continues to express the professor’s aimlessness developed after a long length of time in which the things he found gave him hope and purpose did not turn out as expected or did not give him the satisfaction he expected.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 23, 2018

      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.

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Sonnets from the Portuguese (9 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 7, 2018

      According to the Norton Anthology, these poems were written as recordings of “the stages of her love for Robert Browning” (1078). Taking that into account, this sonnet seems to represent that giddiness that comes with the beginning stage of love. The speaker requests that her love “Say over again, and yet once over again, / That thou dost love me” (1-2). The speaker immediately shows a desire to hear their significant other proclaim their love constantly, even if it begins to sound repetitive like “‘a cuckoo-song'”(3). The significant other may think that professing their love is tedious or unnecessary, but the speaker will not ever get tired of it. One may think that this relationship is superficial or not meant to last, but despite the school-girl giddiness of this newfound love, the speaker recognizes the importance of their significant other loving them “also in silence with thy soul” (14). In other words, while it is important for the speaker to hear the words “I love you”, it is also important that the significant other truly means the words, as the speaker desires a true and pure love.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 7, 2018

      A Cuckoo song is repeated hourly. One cuckoo for one o’clock and 12 for midnight and noon.
      So, she is saying that the words are repeated often and treated with less importance.
      “Remember, never to the hill or plain, Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain,” appears to maybe mean not to forget that she is loved and who she is loved by, even though she cannot hear an actual cuckoo clock walking away from home, but to remember it in her mind as often as she would hear it at home.

      Comment by robert glasson on March 7, 2018

      [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.]

      This is a beautiful expression of the vastness of the love that is felt. With the feeling that the love has transcended to a level equal to only  the incomprehensible infinitude of God. Only to be brought back down and grounded by that same God later in the same paragraph by admitting that that same infinitude can only be reached by what “God Choose”.  With the final line being the ultimate statement of love in that the love that is felt is not limited to material world.

      Comment by Scott Frost on March 7, 2018

      The love she describes is a complete love. It is pure, and childlike. With the dimensions of love so vast, it will endure all of her life. She then goes on to say beyond the end of life, the love will be beyond what she sees in this mortal existence. It is almost as if her experience of the love she feels itself enables the prospect convention, getting just a taste of the transcendent love beyond the veil.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on March 7, 2018

      As said by the others on this sonnet, I agree that it is a pure true love that is much like that of childhood love. It doesn’t seem to be a materialistic love , as there is no comparisons such as “I love thee like I love buying a new dress” (I don’t know what she would have bought). Instead all these things she is comparing her love to are very spiritual. She loves him purely, freely, with passion. She is devoted to him as she says “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints”, suggesting that she loves him with that childlike devotion children have to God and stories. This is a very beautiful look at love that goes beyond materialism and into the soul–a true love.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 8, 2018

      I’ve used this poem to officiate a wedding before and I feel like it captures the beauty of love and togetherness without the overwhelming feeling of God. And I still say this even with God being used in the second to last line. It does not degrade either sex and is purely equating an undying love to the natural beauty in life. Throughout these poems though, I’m noticing more of a shift to mentioning God then before with other writers.

      Comment by Tori Ward on March 8, 2018

      “I shall but love thee better after death” Is very reminiscent of  the types of propaganda around the world wars. Though not as extreme, it’s reminiscent of the “what could be more noble, valiant, or romantic than to die for ___?” Love, being the blank here. Personally, I think that’s a slippery slope–take R&J for example–but I think it echoes true, and vital for the time period. Leaning toward ‘Romantics’ in a more modern definition.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 8, 2018

      [Into our deep, dear silence]

      Love in life, and on earth, is here construed as a more fulfilling, dramatic, and interesting experience of love than one associated with heaven and immortality. What are the advantages? The speaker suggests that is is more private–no angelic interruptions, and heaven is crowded. Mortals are preoccupied with their own experiences–which are “unfit” and “contrarious”–and won’t interrupt the lovers’ companionship. Most importantly, “darkness and the death-hour” surround love in life. Life’s gloom makes earthly love that much more precious and uplifting, and its temporal nature contributes to its passionate intensity.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 24, 2018

      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.

  • Samuel Beckett, Endgame (9 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 16, 2018

      [CLOV: So you all want me to leave you. HAMM: Naturally. CLOV: Then I’ll leave you. HAMM: You can’t leave us. CLOV: Then I won’t leave you.]

      The characters seem to go nowhere in this play. The conversations and actions tend to be cyclical, in this case, Hamm and Clov and their inability to separate from one another. Despite the fact that Hamm and Clov aren’t good for each other, Clov never manages to get away from Hamm. Hamm’s reluctance when it comes to getting rid of Clov (and the fact the Clov never manages to leave) says a lot about the fear of being alone, so even if they absolute despised one another, being together is better than the alternative.

      Comment by robert glasson on April 16, 2018

      The overwhelming feeling of hopelessness is a constant theme throughout this work. The constant teasing of the break up between Hamm and Clov shows the reader this throughout the work, that regardless of what has happened these two characters have not grown closer, more so they have created rifts between them that will be the eventual downfall of Hamm and Clov. The line from this paragraph stating that “if i don’t come running it means i have left you.” shows just how lonely the two parties are even when they are together. That regardless of what they may be doing or feeling at any given instance one party could be done and gone in a blink of an eye.

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 16, 2018

      When I first read this, I thought, “Wow! I love how this person writes!” I wanted to read more. I flipped back to read his biography and within that passage I saw the words that burst my bubble, saying how his work is absolutely nothing and about nothing. I see what he’s doing as a unique form of minimalism, almost playful with words and I will have to finish reading this before I can say what I think he is trying to do with this writing. But, I like it so far.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on April 16, 2018

      I agree with you. I don’t remember the exact paragraph, but up above I believe that Clov says something about nature being gone and Hamm is just out right shocked by this idea. This is where the hopelessness really kicked in for me. The fact that Hamm gets up just to go back to sleep is another example of this. They’re evidently both old and I think we young people have this idea that when death comes we will accept it, but maybe that just isn’t true. Maybe our existence does not come to a sweet ending but, just as you said, really ends in the blink of an eye.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on April 17, 2018

      By the end of this story, I was left with so many thought, that until I had researched what this play could represent, couldn’t put into words. All throughout I was just reminded of the suffering of man, and the video version I watched (with David Thewlis and Michael Gambon) furthered the view of dispare and suffering with mankind. The play looked to be during or post-Industrial revolution and how these people had been sucked into the monster of industrialized society. They were mad and repetitive and without God or spirit. They are bound to repeat the same tasks over and over again, showing mankind’s eternal recurrence and inability to create a better life for themselves. These characters are also heavily removed from nature, hardly even able to see the ocean from their tiny windows.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 17, 2018

      [Nothing is funnier than unhappiness]

      Beckett called this the most important line in the play. Note that is says nothing is funnier than unhappiness, not happier than unhappiness–and so not a true paradox. How, within the context of this Absurdist work, can happiness be construed as funny?  Note that happiness is about the farthest possible mindset possible from the conditions of the characters in the play. Happiness in this conceptual world is not possible, and so perhaps unhappiness is funny because it is defined by something that does not exist. It is the opposite of nothing. Finally, to define your self as unhappy in a world where happiness is manifestly absent is itself absurd. It’s like being unhappy because you have no wings and can’t fly. The fact is nobody has wings, and so the unhappiness is laughably unrealistic.

      Comment by Scott Frost on April 17, 2018

      [Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you NELL: that. But— I was trying.]

      I must admit, this is a hard reading for me. The absurdism is a bit more than my hard head can handle. But this is truth.

      As the Great Philosopher, Mel Brooks said “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open sewer and die.”

      It seemed that all of the great comedians have been tortured by depression. You could see that in Robin Williams eyes, that just a glimpse of the tears held back.  “For me, comedy starts as a spew, a kind of explosion, and then you sculpt it from there, if at all. It comes out of a deeper, darker side. Maybe it comes from anger, because I’m outraged by cruel absurdities, the hypocrisy that exists everywhere, even within yourself, where it’s hardest to see.” –  Robin Williams
      For me, comedy starts as a spew, a kind of explosion, and then you sculpt it from there, if at all. It comes out of a deeper, darker side. Maybe it comes from anger, because I’m outraged by cruel absurdities, the hypocrisy that exists everywhere, even within yourself, where it’s hardest to see. Robin Williams
      Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/comedy

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 17, 2018

      This line seems particularly strong in emphasizing the cyclical nature of humanity. Once one decides they are finished there is typically a feeling of hopelessness when a purpose is accomplished. In the absence of purpose man tends to turn quickly to the next goal. In this light the question must be asked- Are we truly finished? Finality is especially hard to accept when one has directed a significant amount of time and energy toward one thing. In this case we are lead toward the implication that the characters in this story know only of what exists within the walls of this setting. They have confined themselves by settling upon one given end. They have fallen into a cycle which likely repeats every day. This is the trap that many fall into when they decide to accept the comfort of repetition. Clov decides something is finished but when faced with the daunting question of “What next?” he returns to the comfort of goal nearly accomplished.

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 17, 2018

      Samuel Beckett “Endgame”
      I’m going to write this as if I knew for certain, even though I don’t, because always writing, maybe and possibly is annoying.
      Hamm is equal to the name of Noah’s wicked son, and in this writing Hamm is the center of his own world, within his own mind and his own conception of his own world. Nagg and Nell are those voices of his parents, the perception of them, left after they have died. Clov is his wisdom, his reason and that little voice that sets a man straight in times of crisis. Clov lies, creates in his kitchen and lies about creating, maybe Beckett believed in the subconscious, maybe he didn’t, but he put some scenes in this work that have nothing to do with his theme. When Hamm talks about the dripping in his head, this is a symptom that happens after a migraine. It doesn’t do anything for the storyline and Hamm doesn’t need to be fleshed out with it, since Beckett isn’t fleshing out his characters in this piece.
      The stuffed dog represents the materialism that people, even of our time, have a tendency to replace people with. Who doesn’t hold a stuffed dog at night, when the rest of the world is sleeping and the nightmares are hitting and the migraine has begun and nobody is home, not even a real dog? Some of the story is in the real world, most is in Hamm’s head. The point of the whole work is to expose the idea that we all create our own perception of our life. We can build walls, keep our parents in trash cans, run ragged the wisdom God created us with, instead of educating it to give it information that could guide us on a fantastic life path. In Endgame, Hamm choses to turn away from the world, hide inside, withhold education from himself, he does believe in his own failure to life his life. He waits for death and this story is shortly before his death. To do a story of Hamm’s life would be lengthy and empty. The only thing that fills this story is the fact that it’s about Hamm’s last day alive.
      There are plenty of symbolisms, references to the bible, God, Jesus, forgiveness or rather the lack of it, rebirth, renewal, and the futility of it all.
      Possible Motif meanings:
      1. The whistle=The sound a tea pot makes to call us, or a coach calls us, or police stop crimes, or women used to use them to call for help when attacked, etc.
      2. Telescope=Conscience and it shows Clov grey lack of black and white morality in the world.
      3. Alarm Clock=Endgame, armegeddon, Hamm when he cried as a child for attention and received nothing and possibly developed Reactive Attachment Disorder, Death or time of death.
      4. Stuffed dog=Materialism, the lack of comfort brought from people, especially his own parents when he was a baby.
      5. Christ=forgiveness, his inability to forgive, to feel forgiven, to see the world as forgiveable.
      6. Chess=Endgame or that life is not something that can be won and is lost at birth, because nobody can win, everyone eventually loses their life.
      7. Gaff=Putting forth effort is futile and will not prevent death in the end of the game of life.
      8. The stories about the little boy=Sometimes feeling as if his mother and father are not his mother and father, because they didn’t tend him when he cried as a youth and with reactive attachment disorder one can only feel anything for a stranger that rescues them and only until that stranger gets too close and is then seen as a parental figure and the reactive attachment disorder causes the person with the syndrome to push that person away. They can only get so close to anyone and then they have to pull back or get really mean to the person, rejecting them before they can be rejected, since it hurt too much being rejected as a baby, bad enough that some babies die from not being held and attended.
      Every character in the story is Hamm, part of Hamm’s conscious mind, his inside thought processes.

  • La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad and the Odes (9 comments)

    • Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on February 16, 2018

      I was deeply enthralled this entire poem. Hearing it aloud and feeling the words deeply. Even with it starting in a rather romantic, beautiful way, there was a sense of melancholy, but that tone kept me interested like many Gothic things. The poem is happy and then the switch happens at stanza 11 “I saw their starv’d lips in the gloam / whit horrid warning gaped wide, / and I awoke and found me here / on the cold hill’s side.”

      This imagery struck me and I went from a fancy light feeling, to cold and lonesome. Maybe the man was at war and dreaming of being in another place.

      Comment by robert glasson on February 19, 2018

      Understanding that the term meads refers to a meadow, that is not how i read it the first time. I read the word meads as in to refer to the alcoholic beverage. So for the entirety of the poem i was picturing this knight celebrating a the completion of the harvest. In such he thought he met a women but she was only in his head. With the line later in the poem about waking dreaming on a cold hillside, i took to mean that he got too drunk and passed out and the next morning he awoke on the hillside it would be a lonely walk of shame to return to the town.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 21, 2018

      [Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, Or on the wealth of globed peonies;]

      At first I found it interesting that Keats wrote this poem because the first stanza is dedicated to telling melancholic readers to not give in to death or drink, when “Ode to a Nightingale” expresses the desire to do both. Once I finished the poem however, I came back to these lines (quoted above), and it reminded me of the idea that Romanticists had of nature bringing about spiritual renewal or healing. Because of the brevity of the poem, I believe that Keats was reminding others of this fact in the simplest way he could.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 21, 2018

      One suggestive way to read the situation of this poem is within the context of unsustained vision we associated with Shelley’s poems. Shelley’s personae intuit the presence of divinity in the form of intellectual beauty, the skylark, and the west wind. All of them invoke what we referred to as the correspondent breeze within the mind and heart of the poet. But the inspiration, powerful and transformative as it is, turns out to be unsustainable. Here in Keats’s poem, the knight-at-arms encounters la belle dame sans merci, “the beautiful woman without mercy,” who enthralls and abandons him; and now he palely loiters by the lake where they embraced and refuses to leave it.  Both poets deal with aspects of yearning and nonfulfillment–Shelley in the persona of the poet prophet who longs for a sustained vision, and Keats through the image of the knight for whom mundane reality has also been made intolerable on account of an experience that was transcendant, after a fashion, but also ephemeral.

      Comment by Scott Frost on February 21, 2018

      Keats, apparently looking at a Grecian urn, is caught up at the ancient artwork painted on its side. In each scene there are figures showing “men or gods” and “maidens” and their actions and intent, played out visually, are unknown, and questioned by Keats. The sound of pipes are unheard, but by the spirit of the author. The passion of the “Bold Lover” is frozen, unrequited, but immortalized, never fading. The beauty of the art on the side of the urn outlasts the mere mortals who are left guessing at what the painted subjects are up to. All that matters is the beauty.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on February 21, 2018

      Throughout this semester, we have talked about how the Romantics were interested in what to do in a world so disconnected from God/spirituality. Keats here is saying that is it “too late antique vows”- too late for old vows of worshipers, and too late for us to still believe the world has a holiness to it in a more traditional sense, that he himself as a poet will “be thy priest”. In stanza 19, it is interesting the way he uses words more associated with nature to dominate his description of what would happen if he were to be the priest. He uses words like “untrodden” and “branched thought”, which go back to his idea of a forest.

      Comment by Scott Frost on February 21, 2018


      The beauty is the wind to Keats Eolian harp. There is no meaning to the art that the poet can perceive, but it’s beauty.

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 22, 2018

      I think the idea of the poet being the “priest” for nature, the disciples spreading the message, is really integral to what poets were fearing art would become in the face consumerism and modern science. When the mystery and majesty has gone out of the world,  out of people’s lives, what is there left to write about? I think that the reoccurring desperation of the poets to be the mouth piece of nature’s church, not lot let nature give up on humanity, reveals this concern.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 23, 2018


      I, too, thought war when I read this.  The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (9 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 29, 2018

      I spent a while trying to figure out exactly what the Albatross symbolizes. It could be God, or Jesus and maybe his crucifixion. I ultimately decided that the Albatross is a connection to God. The Albatross (God) brings safety and good luck to the sailors when they are kind and treat him well. When the Mariner mistreats the Albatross by shooting him (committing a sin), the sailors lose their good fortune are forced to suffer through hardship and death. While not a total match, it’s somewhat reminiscent of The Fall in the Bible.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 29, 2018

      [and now the Wedding-Guest Turned from the bridegroom’s door.]

      It seems to be very meaningful that  the wedding celebration is just steps away during the whole of the Ancient Mariner’s account. The guest has arrived to attend the wedding, he’s been stopped right at the entrance to hear the story, and on the story’s completion he opts not to go through with his attandance at the celebration and turns away “forlorn,” and rises the next day sadder, but wiser. The merriment of the wedding, along presumably with whatever else it symbolizes, is now rendered frivolous by the meaning of the Mariner’s Rime and the wisdom it has forced (not too strong a word) onto the guest. Weddings, of course, have qualities of the sacred and pure as well as the merely celebratory. They symbolize new beginnings after turmoil, resolution, and revitalization (this is why Shakespeare’s comedies all seem to end with one, or even with more than one). But perhaps the point is that when the antithesis is visionary and moral truth, even a wedding can be dismissed as all too earthly and (in the Platonic sense) artificial and unreal.

      Comment by Catt Jones on January 29, 2018

      The mention of “him who died on cross,” refers to Jesus Christ. The poem begins with a wedding and the man that is mentioned in stanza 97, is a wedding guest, much like the wedding guests mentioned in the bible as the only ones that would survive Armageddon.

      Comment by robert glasson on January 29, 2018

      I drew a similar conclusion but i reached it via an updated reference to the idea of Noah and the songbird/dove that was sent out to search for land. What i mean by an updated reference is that here we are given a bird that could fly great distances without ever touching ground so it would be more acceptable to the people living in the current age of science and knowledge as opposed to a small songbird that could not fly great distances. I like your mention of the crucifixion however in that to see an albatross flying across the sun could shed a shadow like cross on the deck of the boat.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on January 29, 2018

      The sailors disregard the death of the Albatross when they think that it didn’t do them good. It made me wonder if this is showing how selfish humans are. Later in the poem-only a few stanzas-they then make the Mariner wear the dead bird around his neck as a way of showing his guilt. Wasn’t this the same thing they were doing? Isn’t this a bit hypocritical of the sailors?

      Or perhaps this is a way of showing how prideful the Mariner was. He was being praised for killing the bird…but pride comes before the fall.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on January 30, 2018

      “Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
      Our meddling intellect
      Misshapes the beauteous forms of things;
      —We murder to dissect.”

      I related this poem to Wordsworth’s famous quote we discussed a few weeks ago.  The mariner shoots the Albatross because he is curious about it’s closeness to the spiritual world and powers it seems to possess over nature which bring about good wind, the splitting of the ice, and a resemblance of a “Christian soul”.  He kills the albatross without second thought and is then punished for doing so.  They have no water to drink, the ship is idle, there are slimy creatures in the sea.  It seems like after the bird was killed so were all things beautiful and natural.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on January 30, 2018

      The imagery of this passage amazed me. Up to this point  I was on the ship deck with our main character and I could really see each soul fly from each body and the feeling of dread and loneliness that would give me. This is an image that I feel has been used in movies and games to this day. This is a classic image I can remember from my childhood. It made me wonder if Coleridge was the origin of this imagery.

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 1, 2018

      This poem seems to be split not only between the story of the mariner and the wedding that’s happening, but between the traditional and the watchmaker god. This line, “So Lonely ’twas, that God himself / Scarce seemed there to be.” is very deist, and happening in the context of the wedding. Whereas the mariner prays a bit, and makes a lot of references to heaven and to biblical stories (in stanza 73 he mentions ‘Mary Queen’, and in stanza 65 he mentions ‘seven days and seven nights’).

      This split plays with the time in which the whole story is set–the deist interjections are in the wedding-guest time, alluding that it’s happening in the future from the story of the  mariner, which is more traditional/romantic.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 1, 2018

      I think this last part of the Rime is telling.  It’s showing me that he is determined to learn from his mistakes, especially in killing the albatross.  It is telling of his regrets even though it doesn’t actually say he regrets anything.  Even though, he woke up wiser the next morning and went about the rest of his life.

  • Christina Rosetti, "Goblin Market" (8 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 4, 2018

      The previous stanzas bring the themes of temptation and sin into play with the goblins calling out for people to buy their fruit. The most obvious comparison to this would be Eve and the forbidden fruit in Eden. Rossetti then provides us with two different responses to this temptation. Lizzie vehemently rejects the temptation, claiming “Their evil gifts would harm us”, before jamming her fingers in her ears, closing her eyes and running away from the source of temptation (1467). This imagery evokes a child-like and more importantly innocent and pure view of Lizzie, speaking to her high sense of virtue in comparison to Laura, who chooses to stick around and ultimately give in to temptation in an almost sensual and hedonistic way.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on March 5, 2018

      There is a clear religious symbol in the words “fruit forbidden”, or as in the case of Eve–the Forbidden Fruit. Although this does seem to indicate the sin of tasting the forbidden fruit would cause Lizzie’s life be “wasted” like Laura’s was after she tasted the goblin men’s fruit, I also feel like there are a lot of feminist undertones to the poem as a whole. It may not just be about giving in to temptation, but giving into men. In the end, Lizzie saves Laura and in the last stanza of the poem says “for there is no friend like a sister” and lists some things sisters do for each other. However  as a reader I feel like those things are not only things sisters do for each other, but that other women should do for one another as well. Just my take on the poem as a whole–especially because women can be tempting as well as men, but this poem focused on “goblin men” instead of a tempting woman.

      Comment by robert glasson on March 5, 2018

      [“Buy from us with a golden curl.”]

      This stanza shows that there are more than just monetary ways to pay for something. With the line quoted we are shown the way that laura pays for the fruit. She pays with her body. This can be compared to present day when you look how a women can dress up and go out to a bar and she has all the money that she needs within her looks to pay for all of the drinks. This plays into this piece with the constant sexual overtones about what is allowed and what the forbidden fruit may be.


      Comment by Scott Frost on March 5, 2018

      Though the poem has much sensuous imagery, this ending sort of kills the argument that it is about a maiden falling into sexual scandal. Laura falls and is enraptured by the pleasures of the flesh (of the fruit) and later much like in Keats La Belle Dame sans Merci, cannot reach that ecstasy again. It takes her sister’s molestation to bring her out of her addiction to the fruit. This does not jive with the idea that Laura lost her virginity. I sort of  wonder if this is not an allegory for the commercial market though it is twice said “Men sell not such in any town.”

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 6, 2018

      This poems reminds me of Eve eating the apple, and even the image of the Tree of Life reminds me of that and how a modern romantic might be retelling this story. And later in stanza 25 Laura calls it “fruit forbidden.” There is also a hint of what I would consider in my modern senses, incest between Lizzy and Laura. But in the end, the women overcome the evil fruit and this could be the writers feelings to how to old religion is dead and women are stronger then they think.

      Comment by Tori Ward on March 6, 2018

      It’s interesting to see the echo of the “forbidden fruit” mythos throughout literature. Laura’s immediate addiction to the fruit brings to mind not only eve and the apple, but also the pomegranate from Greek Mythology. It’s reminiscent of Eve and the apple because, as Lizzie has been alluding, once you taste of the fruit, you can never go back.  This is similar to the Grecian pomegranate–thought to be the fruit of Hades, which if you ate, you surrendered your soul to the Underworld. With the connections of these myths from all over the world, it really shows the transcendentalism of the written word.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 6, 2018

      [Come buy, come buy:]

      The connection to commercialism and sensual indulgence would seem to position the goblins in association with worldly and industrialized values, paradoxical as that seems. But the wedding of material reality and conditions with the language and imagery of the supernatural is familiar to us from Coleridge and from Mary Shelley, among other writers we’ve discussed. As with many other situations in Victorian verse, the poem deals with alternative choices and paths: one self-oriented, liesurely, and self-gratifying, and the other characterized by sacrifice, asceticism, and an embrace of less tangible goods and principles. As Carlyle put it, “soul is not synonymous with stomach.”

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 24, 2018

      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.

  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson (8 comments)

    • Comment by Catt Jones on February 28, 2018

      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.”

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 28, 2018

      [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.

      Comment by robert glasson on February 28, 2018

      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.

      Comment by Scott Frost on February 28, 2018

      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.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on February 28, 2018

      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.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 28, 2018

      [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.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 1, 2018

      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.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on April 23, 2018

      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.

  • Siegfried Sassoon, Poems (8 comments)

    • Comment by Em Lanagan on March 18, 2018

      This poem really showcases the contrast between what the Bishop has said will change compared to what has actually changed about the men. “They  have challenged Death and dared him face to face” compared to “For George lost both his legs” is nothing. The first stanza is trying to rationalize the awful cost of war an fighting by saying that it is in some way an act of God, however, it is obvious that it is not by the last line “The ways of God are strange!”. The Bishop has talked God up and the reason to fight up, yet when faced with the real consequences, it is impossible to say God would have one of his children lose both of his legs or to go blind.


      I also personally connect to this. When I was younger, I found that I was very spiritual and very much believed that God had a reason for the madness of the world. However, after living nine years in a household filled with alcoholism and abuse, I distanced myself from the idea of God and an ultimate goal or path because it didn’t seem right. And when I would try to seek some kind of guidance from religion, I felt like the only answers I got were “The ways of God are strange”. It is hard to try to find a reasoning for suffering in line with the view of Christianity. They say that God only gives you what you can handle, yet there are people dying and suffering daily.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 19, 2018

      It’s nice to see a work praising some of the wonderful attributes of women; how deeply they care for the men in their lives. Either by being a support system or actually making the ammunition and weapons for their fight. I loved the imagery of ” You worship decorations; you believe / that chivalry redeems the war’s disgrace.” The people all know that they are honor bound to fight the war, but that if given the option, they would choose not to fight.

      Comment by robert glasson on March 19, 2018

      [As prisoned birds must find in freedom]

      This line was so powerful. With it being two fold. Firstly taking it for what it says we can garner the overwhelming joy a prisoned bird would be able to find in freedom. But more so it paints the reader a picture of undirected enjoyment. With the metaphor relating being in war to being in prison, the prisoned bird knows its place within the world, much like a solider in a time of war. But to release the prisoner/solider back into the world around them, when anything including spontaneous singing can occur, could create a sense of directionaless interactions with the new world. Secondly if you look at everything that has to be done to reintroduce a bird that was held in captivity or domesticated back into the wild, leads one to see the dark side to the metaphor used here. Will the bird live much longer in the wild? Or will it succumb to the joys that suddenly arise?

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 19, 2018

      The Central Powers were the anti-Christ. This shows the Allied Forces as the chosen to win side.
      Siegfried fought in the first world war and stopped fighting, sent a letter to the House of Commons complaining that the was being prolonged by the powers that be. Author Robert Graves saved him from severe consequences by claiming his friend had shell shock. Sassoon was sent to a hospital to recover.
      Researching for this poem led me through the first world war, past Hitler and his brown eyes that some say were blue and into the Mandela effect. That last line, “The ways of God are strange!” aligned with the Mandela effect, but in this poem, I think he meant that when the boys left and expected to come back changed, they didn’t expect the changes to be so physical, that they expected to be changed inside somehow, purer, so that would then “breed and honourable race.” The children coming from brave men were then expected to be brave also.
      Siegfield uses satire when he has the boys say, “We’re none of us the same!/For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind;” to show that the change was not the righteous change the Bishop promised, but a betrayal had taken place in battle.
      According to the Poetry Foundation, Sassoon uses a lot of satire in his work and he wrote a great deal concerning the war. He worked as a pacifist, but later became Catholic, even after all the writing between 1917 and 1920 that was considered his best work. He was expressing his true inner self during those years and probably began to project more of a wishful thinking later, that wasn’t considered as good.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 19, 2018

      In Stanza 7, Sassoon realistically depicts the feelings and timing of what it was truly like in the war, in the trenches, fighting. He was there and saw it all and he had good reference. Other writers, such as Hemingway depicted the war, but without the emotion, the panic and genuine depth that Sassoon expresses in his poetry.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 19, 2018

      Sassoon was brave in battle, brave to stop fighting and write his letter, brave to endure a hospital when he was absolutely right that the battle was begin lengthened and could have been so much shorter. It shouldn’t have lasted more than two months, the way the Allied Forces were, compared to the Central. He was brave when he had fought and didn’t drown himself in bottle like so many Vietnam vets did. So many of them never talked about what they went through and the pain it must have been to not just write it out, expressing it, but to express it so accurately when those who never went to war didn’t earn the right to know what it really was like. I think he was brave to paint war accurately, but I think he wanted to paint it accurately as an attempt to make it stop, make wars stop. Most men don’t want to talk about what happened in battle and without his pacifist goal to make wars stop, I don’t think he would have campaigned so heavily through his poetry.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 21, 2018


      I think I have to disagree with you. I don’t think that Sassoon is praising women at all, more like insulting them. The speaker says “You love us when were heroes, home on leave, / Or wounded in a mentionable place” (1-2) meaning that the soldiers have to be perceived as heroic, at home, or injured in order to win a woman’s favor. The next line “You worship decorations” (3) is spiteful, it’s not the brave men that women praise, but the medals (“decorations”) that the men bring home, an example of materialism at its worst. The speaker goes even further by saying that the women don’t mourn the men themselves, but their “laurelled memories” (8), or their honors and achievements. The women that the speaker describes are taken by an almost romantic vision of war instead of the reality of it.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 21, 2018

      Thanks for sharing that, Em. The poem does indeed hinge on the contrasting perspectives of the clergyman, who views the war ideologically and from a distance, and of the boys, who experience it first hand and are quickly disabused of whatever romanticized conceptions motivated them. The final line as you say is deeply ironic, illustrating the pliability of religious doctrine when invoked to justify this or that cause, and the willful blindness it can be made to serve. As Melville said of war in one of his Civil War poems, “youth must its ignorant impulse lend, age finds place in the rear.”

  • Mary Wolstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (7 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 17, 2018

      This section stood out to me because of the sarcasm and contempt that Wollstonecraft displays. She states that she hopes that other females will forgive her for treating them rationally, yet the purpose of this piece is to prove that women are capable of being rational beings when they aren’t treated like children. This passage also reveals the contempt that Wollstonecraft feels for both men who think women are inferior and women who perpetuate this stereotype. In her eyes, women cannot be taken seriously if they won’t choose to make themselves strong and would rather continue to remain delicate flowers.

      Comment by Tori Ward on January 17, 2018

      “Because intellect will always govern” I think is a strong tie-back to earlier, where MW addresses the natural, biological strength advantages that men have in “the government of the physical world,”. What I think is clever about that line in relation to this ending is that it brings the reader to the conclusion that we, as human beings, are not combined to the government of the physical world anymore. We inhabit the intellectual world of discourse–the fact that this begun with a letter written in protest of a constitution proves that. And by re-using govern here, to draw us back to the earlier idea, she sets up her metric of measurement. That if tigers suddenly had government, and discourse, they would stopped being judged superior or inferior on who could run the fastest or kill the easiest. In this paragraph, she’s making the same comparison for women.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 18, 2018

      [that in a pre-existent state the soul was fond of dress, and brought this inclination with it into a new body,]

      This appeal to the reality of the soul is a mainstay throughout the present work. Wollstonecraft reasons that if it’s be be granted women have souls, then their pursuits should involve reason and intellect no less than material and sensual pursuits. The equation of spirituality with mind is of a piece with other Romantic tendencies we’ve already noticed: the equation of art with religion in Blake, for instance. The increasing secular vision of Romantic sensibility in the 1790s and beyond, or rather the the spiritualization of the secular, was used as the means for many varieties of desired social reform–here gender reform, but all of it rooted in the sanctity of individual experience and rights, regardless of external conditions and circumstances.

      Comment by robert glasson on January 18, 2018

      “Men, indeed, appear to me to act in a very unphilosophical manner, when they try to secure the good conduct of women by attempting to keep them always in a state of childhood.” When we were just reading and discussing the Blake and his ideas on innocence and exp the picture was painted to us how a childhood state would be innocent. So here MW can be seen as comparing what a man wants to do to a woman. To keep her innocent, to keep her unexperienced, to keep her in what the men of the time would regard as the highest form.

      Comment by Scott Frost on January 18, 2018

      This brings to mind the Gnostic idea that the physical is lesser, tainted, debased, under the sway of the Demiurge. The mental, the spiritual is the higher, touched by the divine. Blake was suggesting that the experienced was to see the moral dimension to life, to see the banality of much of what men do on the physical, purely materialistic level. MW wants to lift women from that level by the sharpening of their rational mind, lift them from the life of just pleasing the libertine nature of their husbands, and the banality of worried about appearances and dress. She wants women to possess empowered moral senses by giving them agency to make their own choices.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on January 18, 2018


      I completely agree with you; especially the last line, “She wants women to possess empowered moral senses by giving them agency to make their own choices.” 

      Women of this (MW’s) age have always been told to sit at home, drink tea, have babies, do their needlework, and make sure the home is run properly.  MW wants to let all the women know that that is not what they have to do anymore, that they can do a lot more with their voices than just sitting at home doing what they are expected to do, which is usually what makes the men of that time happy–they feel that being a woman discredits them from doing anything the men can do and thus aren’t smart enough to carry out anything the men can do. 

      This whole thing resonated with me because of the way I was raised–I was given choices in my life to do what I wanted; though within reason.  It is the same notion of when I married; I took the role of wife to the level that some women scoff at now.  I stayed home, took care of our son, took care of the house, made all the meals, all of it, because he worked all day and didn’t need to come home and have to do things there also.  Towards the end it wasn’t enough and I’m an ex-wife, however I do think MW would have been disgusted by me and would say that I had set women’s liberation back a long way even though, through her own words, it was all my choice.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on January 18, 2018

      The whole of this work really shook me, coming from a woman during this time period. Little did she know that so much of what she wrote then could resonate with me now. There are too many lines to comment that I will quote or call back to, but the one at the end of this paragraph was enlightened and savage. Her whole voice through the essay is to show that for the idea about women until now has been one sided and controlled by men. Through her piece here, she is systematically break down each sexist block that man has set in her way. I absolutely loved it.

  • Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (7 comments)

    • Comment by robert glasson on April 9, 2018

      Here we have a writer touching on a large concept of communication theories without using the word. What is being discussed here is the context to the parties. When other writers solely focus on the larger issue that they came across they fail to provide the context which allowed them to arrive at such a conclusion. Even if the food is nothing special, that in and of itself could provide the needed context in order to interpret the conveyed message without being subjected to noise, either inner or outer.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 9, 2018

      This section stood out to me because of the absurdly hilarious nature of the example. This moment of course, is symbolic of women being confined to a certain role, forced to take the path while men are free to roam off into the grass and explore or learn freely to their heart’s content. But how silly would it be nowadays for women to be told they couldn’t walk on the grass because it was for “Fellows and Scholars”? I imagine most people (men in this case) would be laughed at, for taking it upon themselves to restrict access to something that is universal owned, so to speak. It’s nice to see that humans as a whole have come far enough to recognize that something like this makes no sense, and that women are free to walk on the grass without quite as many obnoxious obstacles.

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 9, 2018

      I was surprised when I read this, since I’ve written similar things myself, only about kittens learning language. Don’t worry, nobody will ever see it. She’s so right that limiting anyone’s education is going to limit their chances at being a famous writer. I think this statement is true for most things a person might do with their life, if not given the chance and stifled by anyone that doesn’t believe. I remember being in grade school, I think it was second grade, it would have been about 1968 and since Idaho was always about ten years behind New York, this was more of a 1958 thing to have happened. But, in elementary school they used to ask the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. My turn came up and I said honestly, “I want to be a farmer, a horse rancher and a veterinarian!” I felt proud and refreshed for about 5 seconds, then I noticed the red angry faces around me and after that the voices rang loud enough to stop any ideas I  might have had of being anything at all. I’m not sure how many boys said it, but in my memory its one talking, while the rest agreed, “You can’t do that! You’re a girl!” Yeah, I bought it, that I couldn’t do it. That’s probably why it took me so many years to get to college, way too late. Frankly, before that day, although I was rather aware of being a girl, I was doubly aware and the seeds of hatred toward the male sex were firmly planted too. Only very recently I have learned, as Virginia Woolf later points out, that, “men aren’t [really] snobs,” it’s not really them, it’s the systems and beliefs we allow ourselves to be governed by that are the real problem.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on April 9, 2018

      The latter half of this section is what caught my eye. Woolf is in such deep scholarly thought, such as in the line “But then one would have to decide what is style and what is meaning…” only to be told she could not go into the library because ladies need to have special permission or an accompaniment to go in with. This seems just as futile of a rule as the one stated in the previous section about turf. Of all the injustices and crime in the world at this time, it the women who are not allowed to do the simplest of thing when it is the men who are causing the destruction on the beautiful natural world. Maybe that is sexist and mean of me to say, but it makes me actually angry to think that an educated woman was not allowed inside a library. I take for granted that I can, that I have access to most everything in the world.


      The characterization of women during this time period is tragic. Women are more than pretty faces who attend luncheons and make dinner seven days out of the week.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on April 10, 2018

      I find so much truth in this passage relating to my feelings about how male writers write about women in modern times. Yes, women are given much more space to write ad exist now, but I still see this stereotype of women characters being written by male writers because they simply have no idea what it is to be a women. SO why are they allowed to?

      Comment by Tori Ward on April 10, 2018

      The sentence “And though turf is better for walking than gravel, no very great harm was done.” reminds me of the “separate but equal” segregation sect from the 60s.  The reason this type of segregation fails, and always fails, doesn’t have anything to do with opportunities available, but with superiority. While the “Fellows and Scholars” Aren’t treating the woman any less, they are still making it clear that they’re inferior.

      Comment by Scott Frost on April 10, 2018

      Looking at Heart of Darkness, would you say Conrad’s presentation of the Africans was just a stereotype, or having some or any truth?  Yes, it is offensive, as I’m guessing that the stereotyping of women that you see in modern works offends you. But can you say that it, speaking to the European Imperialist view wasn’t of value in its time, in its context? When I read, I try to understand that every author is drawing on their own very limited human and very flawed experiences, in that little window of time that the author lived. I see it as taking their work, grinding it down to find the gold nuggets of their experiences, and understanding that our own biases can color our interpretation of the work.

  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (7 comments)

    • Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 31, 2018

      [He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck—Why? Where did he get it? Was it a badge—an ornament—a charm—a propitiatory act? Was there any idea at all connected with it? It looked startling round his black neck, this bit of white thread from beyond the seas.]

      Marlow seems unable to comprehend the combination of white and black. He desperately searches for some explanation as to why these two colors have come into contact. Interestingly enough, Marlow’s thoughts tend to to be more positive, he thinks the yarn is a charm, or even an act of sacrifice. something that the young man willingly wore around his neck.When I first read this part, I thought that the material and the placement were both important details to note. Immediately, I thought of a noose because the worsted style of yarn reminds me of the way rope looks and the fact that it was placed around the neck. I then thought that the yarn could be a collar, similar to the chains and shackles that the Africans were forced to wear. Ultimately, I think that the yarn (“from beyond the seas”) around his neck is symbolic of Europeans forcing Africans into slave positions.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on April 3, 2018

      It must have been a hard topic to write about. Imperialism and Colonialism is considered the great and Patriotic duty at the time, but Conrad is disillusioned by it. Is it really so grand to go force your culture upon people you view as lesser, when your own people are plagued by disease, heartache and greed?

      Comment by Scott Frost on April 3, 2018

      Here Conrad presents Brussels, the capital of Belgium, as a “whited sepulchre.” The King of Belgium, Leopold, was the personal owner of what was known as the Belgian Congo, and a rapacious ruler, far beyond that of the other European powers. In the Bible in Matthew, Jesus calls the Pharasees white sepulchres, apparently clean, but filled with dead mens bones, unclean and rotten things; in a word calling them hypocrites. The Congo was used and the people used in the worst of ways, literally, as shown in Heart of Darkness. The colonization was not for the Congo, the White Man’s Burden was not to taken up, and the people were used in the worst possible ways.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 3, 2018

      [there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent]

      This image is a good illustration of the futility theme associated with imperialism we say in Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden.” The spectacle of a western warship firing its big guns “into a continent” evokes ludicrous associations and summons up existential qualities of human isolation and psychological projection. Imperialism itself is a projection of perspective and values, imposed upon an uncooperative world that resists the “idea” invoked by Marlowe in the opening chapters of the novel. Here the image of the ship “in the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water” summons up the idea of an oversized ego bent, fruitlessly, on making a reality of its projections.

      Comment by Tori Ward on April 5, 2018

      I think the title Heart of Darkness has more layers of meaning today than just the Congo being the heart of Africa, and the heart of the imperialistic/moral struggles. I think this line is a good one to explore those layers in, as the words as very specific. Notice Marlow says “one of the dark places of the earth” not “darkest”. I believe this “dark” isn’t only literal and moral, but can also represent the modern stereotypical dilemma we face surrounding Africa via lack of information. The Western/American view of African is so one note–starving children, poor people, disease–because of our media’s propaganda. We are “in the dark” about how Africa really is,  partly because of how widely perpetuated the stereotype is, and partly because it serves an agenda.

      Comment by Marissa streeter on April 5, 2018

      Marlow’s quick line breaks the silent illustration and thoughts of the primary narrator. Not only does this shift the storyteller, but it also offers a completely different point of view than the one being represented before. While the nameless narrator seems fond of London and the idea of imperialism,
      Marlow seems to disagree as he reminds us of England at a time when it was not the place of “enlightened civilization.” Darkness is a huge symbol in this piece because it represents savagery and ignorance. If England, the best country on Earth, too, was once uncivilized, what, then, is civilization? Civilization is not inherent in “civilization” it must be brought into it.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 5, 2018

      In this section the narrator describes Kurtz’s moment of death as a tragic and magnificent event. Kurtz’s face was one a man may make only in his final moments. A face of immense knowledge and understanding only found in the final moments before death. His final declaration was immense in emotion and meaning. His utterance, “The horror! The horror!” in paragraph 154 illustrates how words, like life, only have as much importance as you have to place in them. We are not given a clear reason for this choice of words but in the narrator’s description we are led to believe Kurtz looked back on his life and that of those surrounding him and was horrified by what he saw. His words seems to be filled with terror but also great sadness and joy. His life seemed to be laid out before him like a book. Each event leading up to the great and terrible conclusion. And in seeing his story, he may see great mistakes and triumphs to be learned and understood more clearly in the moment when it ends. In viewing this moment where Kurtz steps past the line dividing life and death, the narrator is offered a small bit of knowledge about what comes after life and is also offered a small bit of hope that comes with the uncertainty of a question left unanswered.

  • Rudyard Kipling, Poems (6 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 14, 2018

      [the White Man’s burden]

      Another well-known expression we can point to and say, with some discomfort in the present instance, “Here’s where it started.” When we hear the expression today, we tend to think of unapologetic ethno- and Euro-centrism, and the effort to ennoble and dignify colonial oppression. That sort of rhetoric was indeed pervasive in England in the 19th century. But in the present poem there is a bitterness about the whole concept of colonial expansion that suggests Kipling is at best ambivalent about the enterprise. The bitterness seems grounded not so much in the wrongness of the activity as in Kipling’s sense of its futility–that the nation was investing so much of its manpower (“Go bind your sons to exile”) in a thankless and unrealistic task. Within his attitude we can see an erosion of the themes of struggle and fortitutude, and of the doctrine of the imperfect. In earlier writers those qualities and attitudes were represented as redemptive, but in Kipling’s assessment of colonial expansion perseverence in adversity has a kind of absurdity associated with it.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 14, 2018

      Catt: Stanza 4 mostly:
      Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
      Danny Deever shooting someone sleeping reminds me of Bobby Gentry’s song, Ode to Billy Joe. Looking from various perspectives, we have Files on Parade as one, Colour Sargeant as two, Danny as three, the one shot as four, 900 other soldiers in the regiment as five, his family back home as six, and there is nothing mentioned of a girl. Since this is a regiment, it is a, “permanent unit of an army typically commanded by a colonel and divided into several companies, squadrons, or batteries and often into two battalions” (google dictionary).

       The 900 are not necessarily watching him hang, but only those in his own company. Since these men live together, close enough to kill each other in their sleep, the chances of the others, such as Files on Parade, knowing why Danny Deever killed his fellow soldier in his sleep are very high.
      It is odd that Files on Parade is asking about what is happening, as if the soldiers in the company aren’t aware of what is going on, and it shows a lack of control on the part of the soldier. The Files on Parade has no control over what is happening to Danny Deever and the Colour-Sergeant seems to have no control either. There are people hanging Danny, someone or a group of men had to have had the decision to make about him, about what would happen to him. He was not arrested and sent to prison in his home country, but the Army is taking care of this themselves.
      Reading this without taking into consideration the author, I’m looking at the wording and wondering about the regional method used. It seems to be an attempt at southern black slang speech, but a failed attempt. Is it possible that Kipling was attempting to make a poem about Danny being hung in America, in the North, during the civil war? 1861 Lincoln became president and the civil war began, four years before Kipling was born. He’s in India, so this is most likely about India. I suspect the soldier killed another soldier for bullying, possibly raping him. But, Kipling doesn’t tell us that. Also, how do we know he really did kill the soldier in his sleep and isn’t being framed for it? We don’t know much, except that Danny Deever is being hung and his fellow soldiers know nothing about it, the Sargeant speaking might not be Danny’s Sargeant. I’ll look some things up and see what I find about regiments, etc. Googling, “Danny Deever,” not much comes up, so far as analysis.
      I don’t usually use Wikipedia for this type of thing, but they are the only one that touched on the subject of which war Kipling was referring to in this poem. So, the poem is about a british soldier in India and the colour sergeant is an India Indian. Wikipedia also says that Files-on-Parade suggests a group, but then goes on to call Files-on-Parade a young soldier. It says that the region for voice is vernacular English. The nine hundred was not just the number of men in the army, but was indeed how many men were typically in a “Battalion,” in India, so 900 men did watch Danny Deever’s die. The Wikipedia is saying that Kipling did use an actual regional voice for his poem. In American writing, during this time period, Twain, Chestnutt and Chopin were using this regional method to give their characters more depth.
      Wikipedia points to Barrack-Room Ballads too. Files-on-Parade, it is suggested, is many men and that each line is a different young male soldier asking the sergeant about what is going on.
      These are interesting techniques that Kipling is using and he doesn’t explain it in his poem and it’s not obvious.

      Comment by Catt Jones on March 14, 2018

      Widow at Windsor is of course, Queen Victoria, which Kipling obviously sees as a tyrant that he has no way protecting himself from, except to stay away from her, her sons, the whole lot of her people in her service. He talks about her lack of care with her own soldiers, that they will never see home and he shows, without telling, that she doesn’t care about anybody, not them, not her sons, nobody. She‘s evil in this poem. He depicts her like a piece of machinery that is crushing men without concern for them, just using them. Like a wood chopper, something to steer clear of when in use, only she’s a wood chopper that sucks soldiers in and has them killed without anyone controlling her.
      Now to look it up and find out what’s really going on.
      The Kipling society believes this poem has masonic references and that Kipling was part of the masonic order.
      After reading what they say, the poem continues to resonate with a feeling of lack of control and now I’ll add a lack of privacy, that he and others must have felt at this time in history. He seems to drink in his surroundings and everything happening in his world, around him, deeply and then writes about it, the whole time keeping in mind that those in power might not like what he has to say, so he says it in a way that wouldn’t get him killed, I suppose. Either that or he doesn’t think they will see what he wrote. I’m not sure. The masonic information is way over my head.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 19, 2018

      I can clearly see that Kipling puts a lot of stress and passion into being a man. I wouldn’t exactly call this a bad thing always, he is promoting a loving sense of self-confidence. I might also consider this a type of toxic masculinity that leads to anxiety in men. But I’m trying to see the lighter side of where Kipling is trying to encourage keeping your sense of self while being surrounded by masses of people who seem content to follow the crowd.

      Comment by Tori Ward on March 20, 2018

      As I was reading through this poem, I kept wondering who widowed this woman/what the circumstances were, and on that line of inquiry I remembered the line “With a hairy gold crown on ‘er ‘ead?” and it made me think that she’s a queen, having inherited a ruling of some kind from this widow-husband. Perhaps the crown is hairy because it wasn’t meant to be worn by a woman. Until modern times, being widowed put you in a very unfavorable position, unable to provide for yourself and your family. However, a royal widow could be a different circumstance, and this hairy gold crown, and the widow being at Windsor, which is the name of the English royal house allude to her being just that.

      Comment by Scott Frost on March 20, 2018

      During the Imperial Colonial English period, there were many people, both among the commons and the genteel classes, that were in the military, quite unlike the U.S. today. The barracks vernacular would be common parlance for the many who took the Queens Shilling (signing up), plus those that read the popular literature of the time. In 1880, according to the wonders of Wikipedia, the English Army was 248,000 men, from a population of 24 million, so roughly one man out of every 50 men were in the Army (if my maths skills didn’t fail me) at any one time, plus retirees and such. As for the death penalty, it could be given for such things as striking an officer, but often just reserved for the usual capital crimes.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poems (6 comments)

    • Comment by robert glasson on January 31, 2018

      The lines in the poem, romantic chasm, mighty fountain, thresher’s flail and sacred river provide a sense of sexual overtones to the piece. Then the the dominating words like forced, beneath, and wailing provide a sense of forced feelings toward the sexual overtones. With the use of the such forceful sexual overtones layered beneath that of nature and the beauty of the undiscovered nature there is a metaphor running between how he feels about mankind’s ability interact with nature and conquer and the conquering of a sexual conquest. Basically saying the mankind has raped nature in an attempt to conquer it.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 31, 2018

      I thought that this section really highlighted Romanticism by putting an emphasis on nature and its beauty and how it is close to God. The speaker himself knows of its importance and wants his child live closer to God, rejecting the urbanization of the world by choosing to raise his son away from the city, and bringing him up with nature instead.

      Comment by Scott Frost on January 31, 2018

      Coleridge echos the Romantic theme of childhood being closer to the divine, and how the experienced can see through the child’s eyes and remember the wonder of nature viewed for the first time. The author describes how he was “reared in the great city” and the only brush with nature was through “the sky and stars.”  But this child will be taught by the vistas described, bringing the Prospect Convention into clear focus, and through the wild mountains, lakes, and sky, God Himself will teach the child, showing the pantheistic God “in all, and all things in himself.”

      Comment by Em Lanagan on January 31, 2018

      This stanza was very telling to me of a Romantic mindset. “We receive but what we give, and in our life alone does Nature live”. Basically, Coleridge is pointing out that we get what we give and we disregard nature. What we get out of that is this “inanimate cold world”. It shows that we need to look into our souls to appreciate life and nature at its fullest-something Wordsworth also reiterated again and again in his works.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 1, 2018

      That’s a good point. I think the concept of “half creation,” which we discussed in Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” is also relevant here. The soul within needs to meet the soul without in order for cultivation and harmony to be achieved. This emphasis on what the poet brings to his experience of nature, the agency of his creative imagination is what enables the Romantic to avoid the perils of Idealism–complete subjectivity and isolation–and the horrors of materialism: a merely mechanistic world of fixed and repetitive natural laws.  To judge from this poem, that faculty can be lost or eroded, and this appears to be what Coleridge is lamenting about himself in “Dejection.”

      Comment by Marissa streeter on February 5, 2018

      I found this poem to be a great example of the relationship between children and the divinity of Nature.  Coleridge feels as if he did not get the experience he necessarily wanted as a child as he was in the classroom during summer and growing up in the city where a relationship with Nature was not readily available.  He envisions for his son a childhood and experience much closer to Nature than he ever had.

  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Intro: The Last Man (5 comments)

    • Comment by Catt Jones on February 12, 2018


      Sibyl is the ancient Prophetess that makes a deal with Apollo for 1,000 years of life, but forgets to include eternal youth in her deal. There are many caves considered to by hers, but this particular cave is the official “Antro della Sibilla” or Entrance to Hell or the Underworld. It is supposed to date back to 600 BC, but Sibyl dates back much further than 600 BC. Sibyl is mentioned in the Odyssey. She is the one that Aeneas looks for, searching through her cave for her. She’s mentioned in the works of Ovid, she’s on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, she’s in Dante’s Inferno and in poetry written by TS Elliott.

      The Gates to Hell or the Underground are also associated with the ancient Sumerians, with accounts of aliens having created a world within our world, etc.

      The caves that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her companion are visiting in this story are famous, but  were unexplored and feared, along with the idea of exploring Hell or the Underworld, as forbidden.

      Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, typically going against convention, would definitely have visited this cave and with all the symbolism and parallel meaning that visiting such a cave would carry with it.

      The expansion of consciousness, the idea that God themed religions with boundaries and rules were something to be tossed off the back and the notion that Hell and the Underworld would logically then be just as mistakenly held in forbidden mystery as the secrets of God, being a God to worship and for whatever reason God existed and required worship, she would explore beyond the imposed boundaries of religion in all directions, Heaven, Hell and everything in between, leaving nothing untouched or unexplored, morality included.

      Comment by Em Lanagan on February 12, 2018

      [Sometimes I have thought, that, obscure and chaotic as they are, they owe their present form to me, their decipherer.]

      This quote reminds me of the last few lines of “Mont Blanc” and more importantly the magic of the human mind. It is a good point to make that without the human mind, there would be nothing to decipher and without the human mind, what would there really be for us to live for? Our minds create the world we live in because they show us what we see. How Dr. Olsen-Smith visually sees and interprets nature and material existence is perhaps far different than the way I see it.

      Although she claims her “only excuse thus transforming them, is that they were unintelligible in their pristine condition”, it is still a good example of the power and beauty of the human mind.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 12, 2018


      This quote actually brought me back to Wordsworth and the discussion of the concept of half-creation that he brings up in “Tintern Abbey”. As the concept is basically the mind’s ability to process what it sees and determine that thing’s value to the person perceiving it, Shelley’s character determining that these forms are only so because he is “their decipherer” seems to actually be taking a leaf from Wordsworth’s book, though she chooses to make this comment about art and not nature.

      This might have something to do with the fact that Mary Shelley’s father was friends with William Wordsworth, and he let her sit in on conversations with him and other notable literary scholars. It’s interesting to see how many of the people we are studying actually knew each other!


      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on February 16, 2018

      Mary Shelley is a reader we read before asking for the men and women of the world to give women a chance to express their intelligence. Mary in this story has created a character who does not seem to live with the same restrictions of character and knowledge that many women would have faced in her time. This is a wonderful example of creating a world you would like to see and hoping that creates change. I couldn’t help but see a spark of inspiration for the popular gaming character Lara Croft.

      Comment by Kim Dunn on February 20, 2018


      I agree wholeheartedly with what you said, especially about how all these authors intertwine with each other thus seeing hints of others in their own writings. MWS shows these connections, I think, the best of all and it fascinates me that they are each their own author, but use others as well–which is okay, I think.

  • William Ernest Henley, "Invictus" (5 comments)

    • Comment by Catt Jones on March 14, 2018

      William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)
      This poem is obviously about rising above the pain and problems common and uncommon in life. Kipling is encouraging himself and others to see everything as Ecclesiastes states, it all has happened before and will happen again and none of us are better than those in the past or those that will come in the future, so our best can only be shown by being the best we can be, to not let life get us down. Ecclesiates 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (NIV). http://www.biblegateway.com
      Ellen Degeneres, “It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting. Are they fun when they happen? No. but they are what makes us unique. And that’s what I know for sure…I think.” She encourages us all to dance instead of losing it.
      Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
      He’s sort of saying, it’s all about the choices we make and even so, when life gets at us, we can still choose to be the master of our fate, the captain of our soul. Of course, this is all seriously easier said than done.

      Comment by robert glasson on March 14, 2018

      This poem was incredible, it is short and to the point. It is direct in what it is saying while still including several allusions. The line that spoke to me the most was a line that accepts the fact that we do not know for sure what religion, if any are true.[I thank whatever gods may be] He not only acknowledges the existence of a god, but also the possible existence of many gods. Also notable from that quote is the lower case use of the word “god” showing it as a category more than a name of a particular divine being.  All while still paying respect to the gods, by thanking them for the creation of his soul.   


      Comment by Em Lanagan on March 14, 2018

      This seemed to me to be about death being inevitable and that the speaker of the poem is not scared to die or even face the awfulness of the world. As much as you run from the problems of the world, to “the shade”, “the menace of the years”, also known as death, will find you. However, the speaker of the poem seems a little uninterested in avoiding death. Rather the speaker is trying to say, as said in the next stanza, that “I am the master of my fate”, or that they aren’t giving into the scariness of the world and the harshness of life because it is up to them to live the life they want.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 14, 2018

      This stanza resonated with me because of the resilience displayed by the speaker. The phrases “fell clutch” (5) and “Under the bludgeonings” (7) create an undeniable feeling of being trapped or oppressed by negative experiences that have been thrown at the speaker. Despite all the pain that has been delivered by their circumstances, he continues on with his heady “bloody, but unbowed” (8), meaning that his soul cannot be dominated no matter the type of trauma that life has thrown his way.

      Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 19, 2018

      This is a strong Victorian idea that made this poem infinitely famous. Life will rain struggles down upon all of us and the writers at this time encourage strength to get through these struggles. This poem embodies that idea in the title alone.

  • William Butler Yeats, Poems (4 comments)

    • Comment by Tori Ward on April 12, 2018

      “The Falcon cannot hear the Falconer” this line really enforces what some people believed would bring about the second coming/the rapture–humanity’s distance from god. We forget ‘our place’ In the spiritual order of things, and it’s for that reason that “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. Without the guide of the falconer, we falcons are left to our own devices. these can be for good, but this poem argues that they’re mostly for bad. This distance from the falconer incurs “Mere Anarchy” and “blood-dimmed” tides, which doesn’t speak favorably for humanity’s impulse control.

      Comment by Catt Jones on April 16, 2018

      In this stanza Yeats might be referring to the sacrifices of animals or objects, labeled as anatithenai, a word that would later evolve into anathema, excommunication from the Orthodox Church. He is using satire to state how ridiculous sacrificing a clueless creature, that knows nothing of himself, was in his eyes, as others saw it as a way to eternal life, the cleansing of sin from their eternal souls. It’s sad how he was in the middle of Protestantism and Catholicism. Even though both his parents were protestant, he resisted both religions and had a long history of painful issues due to religion. Off the internet: On May 29, 1453 CE, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks and the Byzantine Empire came to an end. Constantinople was transformed into the Islamic city of Istanbul.
      Also, Byzantium was the Eastern Orthodox region that held closely to the original Christian belief system until its destruction by Islam in 1453. https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/byzantine-empire
      With the fall of Constantinople came the fall of the Byzantium Empire. Where is the Eastern Orthodox Christian Religion today and how can someone in our Western World possibly attach themselves to that first original religion? Is it any wonder that Yeats and his peers in Ireland and elsewhere attempted to find something to hang onto?

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 27, 2018

      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.

      Comment by Courtney Otto on April 27, 2018

      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.

  • Wilfred Owen, Poems (4 comments)

    • Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on March 19, 2018

      I didn’t know the year of this poem until I finished it and could already guess that it was WW1. The first line shows how men were carted of to this “heoric duty” and murdered by the opposition, but also by their leaders and government that sent them to this death. This youth is doomed to death or ptsd from surving the battles.

      Comment by Scott Frost on March 20, 2018

      Though I have never seen combat or the horrors of war, I have seen the faces of those that have, and talked to them. I cannot share their experiences, and would never want to, but to them, they are both precious and horrific, due to the bonds with those that shared the foxhole. This bond, stronger than that between the man and his spouse, is beyond common understanding. Racists who share the experiences with those they hated, come to love their once hated companion. At the same time it hardens someone, so that young men speak of rape and murder outside of war as if they were something trivial. Friends are no longer the same people, and something human was left on the battlefield, even if they didn’t leave blood or limb there.

      Comment by robert glasson on March 21, 2018

      [The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.]

      After a vivid description of the effects of chemical warfare throughout the poem the reader finally gets the feeling toward it all in one very synced thought with this final line of the poem. Being both a call back to Roman lyric and a reflection on the thoughts of how warfare has changed in the minds of the soldiers but not in the need of soldiers to die for the country. It is no longer sweet nor proper to die for the fatherland in the numbers that are now required for the upgraded style of warfare.

      Comment by Scott Frost on March 22, 2018

      (continued) The common experiences, the mud on your faces, the gallows humor, the common sufferings; what Owen shows us in Apologia, harden the bonds of this more than friendship relationship between people that share foxholes. Outsiders are looked at as not worthy of concern compared to your mates.

  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, The Mortal Immortal (3 comments)

    • Comment by robert glasson on February 12, 2018

      The line from paragraph 32 “A cure for love and for all things” proves unique here. With the extended duration of life all others things can be cured. But which is the root that is actually cured. Does the elixir cure love in that it puts love in a different perspective? Or does the extended life change how one can be loved? With Bertha becoming jealous and peevish it changed how she could love. Then to go on to say she was won with perfect love, she wasn’t, love was cured she was won with courage and resolution. Are all three (love, courage, resolution) one in the same?

      Comment by Tori Ward on February 14, 2018

      There’s an interesting role reversal that’s shown up in the narrator’s relationship with Bertha–stereotypically, it’s the woman who bends over backwards to get married, to survive, and she’s usually of lower class. With the male now being the lower class, desperate one, casting the patriarchy in a weaker light than accustomed, I wonder if Shelley is taking feminist notes from her namesake, despite Bertha being an all together awful character.

      Comment by Scott Frost on February 19, 2018

      A slight twist of the Gnostics, where secret knowledge leads to spiritual transformation, Winzy has reached immortal status through secret arts of alchemy. Where in Christianity, sin causes death, this potion has brought his body to an incorruptible state, to a Christ-like state.

  • Gerard Manly Hopkins, Poems (2 comments)

    • Comment by robert glasson on March 12, 2018

      The removing of the aspen tree written about here reflects the poets feelings about mankind’s destruction of the natural environment. . “My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled” (line 2). The reader can get the sense that the people who fell the trees or who ordered the trees to be felled did not know what they would be destroying. The quelling of not only the direct sunlight but also just the beauty that they provided was something that was taken for granted until they were not longer there.

      Comment by Scott Frost on March 12, 2018

      This brings to mind the springtime poems of Emily Dickinson mixed with Jonathan Edwards. The ecstatic joy of nature in spring, the richness, the beauty, the transcendent pleasure of the experience of growth. Yet at the same time the reminder of the Christian God and reminders of Eden, unsullied with sin. A strange melange of American Romantic and Puritan, all at once brought to feel in the breeze the inspiring pagan call and yet brought to see the tired Christian dogmas afresh.

  • Emily Bronte, Poems (1 comment)

    • Comment by Courtney Otto on April 24, 2018

      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.

  • Matthew Arnold, Preface to Poems (1 comment)

    • Comment by Catt Jones on March 13, 2018

      Catt: I think he is saying that we have the same ability to understand the inside feelings, within us, that people felt thousands of years ago, even if we don’t necessarily have a full understanding of the systems within which they lived or the experiences they were suffering. As authors he felt we should make this entertaining, while bringing up experiences that would stir our hearts with empathy for the characters we are writing about.

  • The Eve of St. Agnes (1 comment)

    • Comment by Mariah Hebbeln on February 20, 2018

      This poem reminds me a lot of Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, but with a slightly more adult tone to it, but still the need for these “star crossed lovers” to run away together and never look back. Thankfully or their sake, they don’t have to die to be united in love.

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