February 15, 2018
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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.
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
See in context
February 22, 2018 at 12:43 pm
February 21, 2018 at 10:41 pm
February 21, 2018 at 10:34 pm
February 21, 2018 at 9:58 pm
February 21, 2018 at 9:49 pm
February 21, 2018 at 3:31 am
February 19, 2018 at 8:34 pm
February 16, 2018 at 6:44 pm
April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
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.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
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