January 9, 2018
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[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.
Kiah Lowe’s comment, relocated:
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.
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.
[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.
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”.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
[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.
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February 7, 2018 at 8:51 pm
See in context
February 6, 2018 at 2:19 pm
February 6, 2018 at 10:20 am
February 5, 2018 at 11:55 pm
February 5, 2018 at 11:05 pm
February 5, 2018 at 10:23 pm
February 5, 2018 at 9:46 pm
February 5, 2018 at 8:42 pm
February 5, 2018 at 3:53 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.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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