Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Month: September 2014 (page 1 of 6)

Poetry Analysis: Thomas Hood’s “Autumn”

In Thomas Hood’s   “Autumn”, the season is apostrophized as an enigmatic person  devoid of shadow. He is just like silence that exists with omnipresence, but does not have any concrete manifestation. Robert Browning  had also  remarked  on the silent appeal of autumn: “Autumn wins you best by this, its mute Appeal to sympathy for its decay.”

He is like ‘silence listening to silence’ because he bears testimony to his own presence and acknowledges the same. This is because nothing would communicate with him to affirm his presence. Neither the lonely bird though it was lonely itself; nor the lowly hedge and solitary thorn. The poet therefore signifies that neither the animate world ( bird) nor the vegetative world(thorn/hedge)  communicated with Autumn .He is typified as an ‘unruly ‘character with his disheveled appearance:

Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,

His locks are qualified with the adjective ‘languid’, when it refers to the persona of Autumn itself. The word ’languid’ is therefore a ‘transferred epithet’. But there is aestheticism even in his unkempt appearance. The word ‘gossamer’ may refer to the material of his dressing: a gauze-like fabric. On the other hand, it may also allude to the spider cobwebs entangled above his head, as ‘gossamer’ also stands for ‘spider silk’.…

Poetry Analysis: Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

In Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” Keats talks about is no particular vase. It is a symbol of enduring art as opposed to ephemeral art. The indefinite article “a” in the title of the poem substantiates this fact. It transforms into a ”thing of beauty that is a joy forever.” The urn in the poem is said to have been inspired by the Elgin marbles.

Keats had witnessed youth deteriorating and dying, by the side of his consumptive brother Tom. In his undying passion for Fanny Browne, he had envisaged a love that had no tomorrows. He had also experienced intellectual stagnation that mellowed him down in his youthful years, but did ripen his imagination in the process. And he comprehended that there was nothing permanent in the tangible world. Beauty had become synonymous with tangible objects. In the prescribed poem, Keats, through his imagination creates a thing of beauty that can be apprehended only through imaginative perception, and is therefore unique and pristine. It is far from the ravages of the Universal Enemy-Time. It is imaginative and intellectual at the same time because it is synonymous with Truth.

The urn is preserved in a secluded spot and fostered by Time,the other wise Destroyer.…

Poetry Analysis: Lord Byron’s “When We Two Parted”

“When We Two Parted” by George Gordon Byron was published in 1813 in The Poetical Works of Lord Byron. The moment the poet had to part from his beloved was colored with intense sorrow connoted by the word ‘tears’. The word ‘silence’ suggests that their silence spoke volumes. The silence could be attributed to an inexplicable reason for their separation. It may also point to a reason well-known to them that could not stand the ravages of time. Therefore, both of them are resigned to their fate, and separate in ‘silence’. The phrase ‘Half broken-hearted “ may suggest that they are not fully heart broken(that only the poet is heart-broken). It may also signify that the heart is broken into two equal halves representative of the lovers. In the attempt to reconcile these broken parts, to his perception, her cheek had grown pale with the onset of misery. The warmth of their love had diminished and therefore:” Colder thy kiss.” It lacked the genuine feeling of love. That hour precisely foretold the sorrow that was to come in the succeeding years.

Mornings are supposed to usher in new promises. However, the dew seems to sink in his brows with a chilling effect, benumbing his feeling and vision.…

Poetry Analysis: Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The theme of the allegorical “The Ancient Mariner” has been described as one of guilt and expiation, obliteration and regeneration and the conflict between individual love and universal love. The paranormal atmosphere, one of awe and mystery suits perfectly the setting for crime and nemesis that follows the sinner. The poem ,the longest of Coleridge’s major poems is a ballad and is therefore in the oral tradition .It lends significance to the theme as at the end of the poem, the mariner is commanded to recite his tale to generations. The coherent and convincingly contrived imagery lends visual appeal to the poem. Coupled is the lyricism and internal rhyme that add to its resonant sound effect.

The poem may have been inspired by James Cook’s second voyage of exploration (1772-1775) of the South Seas and the Pacific Ocean; and more importantly as Coleridge’s tutor, William Wales, was the astronomer on Cook’s flagship and had a strong association with Cook. As per William Wordsworth, the poem was inspired while Coleridge, Wordsworth and Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy were traversing the Quantock Hills in Somerset in the spring of 1798. The discussion had turned to a book that Wordsworth was reading, A Voyage Round The World by Way of the Great South Sea (1726), by Captain George Shelvocke.…

Poetry Analysis: Shelley’s “Ozymandias”

 Shelley’s “Ozymandias” is a comment on the ephemeral nature of fame, power and glory. It was published by P.B. Shelley in The Examiner. “Ozymandias” was penned during a friendly competition with Shelley’s companion Horace Smith. The statue on which the poem is based is quite famous and several greats including Napoleon and Giovanni Belzoni had tried to claim the same. Therefore the poem may have been inspired by the statue itself or the reputation it garnered. The poem is based on King Ramses II of Egypt (1322). He conquered the Hitties and married their princess. King Ramses II is said to have conquered Ethiopia and established a fleet on the Mediterranean. Third person narrative renders the tone of the poem more effective and lends an impersonal objectivity to the observations made .A 2008 travel guide to Egypt Lonely Planet talks of it referring to the dilapidated fallen statue of Rameses II at the Ramesseum, a memorial temple built by Ramesses at Thebes(Egypt).

The poem is in the form of a sonnet and is utilized in a ironical stance. Particularly as the sonnet form was used to eulogize a person. The statue was built to venerate his positive aspects, however ironically his negative qualities are highlighted by the same.

Poetry Analysis: Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”

Among his contemporaries, Shelley was the most zealous in temperament and radical in attitude. He is the most purely visionary poet in English literature, with his far-sighted philosophy and futuristic ideals His fervent anticipation of a world devoid of malevolence and crammed with love, his high-ceilinged idealism and the prophetic ardour render him one of the most influential English poets. Shelley’s poetry is infused with his idealism. He thrived with a craving to unshackle mankind from the clutches of morbidity and lack of liberty. This lent to his poetry an elemental force, a vehemence as vigorous as that of the Wild West Wind. In spite of his pervading optimism, Personal Despondency is another recurrent aspect of this Romantic:

“I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d

ne too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.”

Ode to the West Wind is one of the unsurpassed poems of all time. The poem in terza rima was conjured up and written in a wood that skirts the Arno. It puts across Shelley’s spirit of liberty which is tempestuous and prevailing as the West Wind itself. The poet talks to the West Wind and beckons his spirit to descend upon him and act through\ his lips as the trumpet of a prophecy to the quiescent world.…

Poetry Analysis: Wordsworth’s “The Rainbow”

My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!

The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be

The poem “The Rainbow” also holds the alternative title “My Heart Leaps Up”.Wordsworth stated in his “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads” that a true poet should be enchanted by things absent, as though they were present. The symbol of the Rainbow is emblematic of his ideology. The rainbow is a natural phenomenon. It exists visually, however, is not present as a tangible object, or rather materially. I came across the following in an internet article: A cube has six sides. We live in a universe of three dimensions. Each dimension has two directions: front-back, right-left, up-down; yielding a total of six. The seventh is then the middle point, a thing of zero dimensions, and untouchable. Present, but intangible. It therefore represents the holiness that is inherent in the universe. Wordsworth’s poem follows similar lines.

The rainbow embodies the seven colours that are the most basic elements of what white light is made of.…

Poetry Analysis: Wordsworth’s “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge”

William Wordsworth was the quintessential Romantic who rendered the natural supernatural.  Wordsworth’s “Upon Westminster Bridge” presents a different subject matter as compared to his other poems. The poet chose for the subject of his poems the serene setting and the rustic folk because “in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language.” This poem is unlike his other poems that typically depict the landscapes of the Lake District.

The prescribed poem “Upon Westminster Bridge” reveals the pristine beauty of the city as it is untouched by the multitudes, and the sound and fury of everyday life. The poem, although written in 1802, was published in 1808.The context is Wordsworth’s visit to his former French mistress Annette Vallon and their illegitimate daughter, Caroline. His sister, Dorothy Wordsworth accompanied him during the meeting.Although he wanted to marry Vallon in 1791, he had been forced to return to Britain owing to the possibility of war between France and Britain. The Treaty of Amiens (1802) enabled him to travel once again to France. However, by then, time and space had altered relationships.…

Poetry Analysis: William Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us “

William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much with Us” presents a fatalistic picture as viewed from an unstable past and towards an uncertain tomorrow. The poem was composed in 1802 and published in Poems, In Two Volumes (1807).It is in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet with the rhyme scheme abbaabbacdcdcd. It was essentially a response to the Industrial Revolution steeped in commercial values and the materialistic march for progress. Wordsworth perceived the same as “the decadent material cynicism of the time.”

In the reification process, nature too was perceived as a commodity. People lost communion with nature and relegated the therapeutic powers of Nature. Wordsworth comprehended that Nature was the ultimate panacea for the worldly trials and tribulations .Nature was also endowed with the ability to render moral elevation. Words like “late and soon” bridge the gap between the past and present. Energies are simply wasted in “getting and spending” or indulging in profit and gain as life has transformed into a business proposition. Being a writer, he also hints at the trading of creativity for money.” Little do we comprehend that Nature is ours”: Wordsworth her refers to external nature that is sidelined as well as the masking of our inner natures.…

Poetry Analysis: Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium”

William Butler Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium” was published in the collection The Tower (1928). Penned in ottava rima, the poem is allegorical. It depicts a voyage that is emblematic of the spiritual quest, combating intellectual stagnation and emotional drainage. “Sailing to Byzantium” is Yeats’s standpoint on the advance in age, and the prerequisite to maintaining the vivacity and vigor in old age -a youthful spirit and sharp intellect.

The poet writes the poem as he enters the threshold of old age (60 yrs) He avows:

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another’s arms, birds in the trees

—Those dying generations—at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unaging intellect.

The country remains for the young of the human world, the animal world(birds) and the vegetative world(trees)Note that the country does remain for the animal world and the vegetative world, but does not for the aged. The fish, flesh and fowl command and commend during the summer of their years. Nevertheless, what is begotten has to untimely die the way that it is born.…

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