19-Century Poetry (2): Art, Ambition and Mortality P. B. Shelley and Lord Alfred Tennyson
Outline • 19th Century Poetry: The Romantics and the Victorian Poetry • “Ozymandias” • The Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley • “Ulysses” • The Poet Lord Alfred Tennyson • “The Lady of Shalott”
William Blake (1757-1827) Willliam Wordsworth (1770-1850) Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) John Keats (1795-1821) -- died at the age of 25 Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) -- died at the age of 29 Lord Byron (1788-1824) –age 36 The Romantics: The Big Six Mary Shelley30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851)
Art in the Romantic Age The First Generation: The emphasis on • Inspired by French Revolution • Nature and the Natural: • correspondence between Nature and human nature (e.g. US – Whitman, Dickinson) • Democracy: Common and Rustic (鄉下的) people • Feelings (“spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling”) • Imagination and Vision (e.g. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”) & Vision • Individualism & Quest –so called “Natural Supernaturalism”
Art in the Romantic Age The 2nd Generation: The emphasis on • Feelings – Free Love • Art & Imagination (e.g. “Ode on a Grecian Urn”) & Vision • Individualism & Quest for the remote (myth) 3. More Radical • Breaking down more boundaries (e.g. the sensual, the moral); • against authority (“Ozymandias”) • Romantic or Satanic Hero ( Frankenstein) 4. (Lyrics) narrative poems
Victorian Poetry More dramatic, less visionary—sometimes sadder • Influenced by the Romantics, but there is usually a conflict between their need for conveying personal emotions and their sense of social responsibility (educational) —esp in Tennyson. • Influenced by the popularity of novels at the time dramatic monologue and narrative poems (e.g. Idylls of the Kings—Arthurian legends) • Late Victorians – the Pre-Raphaelites, Thomas Hardy and Matthew Arnold
Ozymandias –Starting Questions • Main Idea and Ironies? • How is Ozymandias described? • The poem’s form? • an Italian sonnet (octave + sestet). • Narrative frame: the use of the narrator
Ozymandias (Rhyme: ABABACDCEDEFEF). I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert....Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away." image
The narrative framesthe effect of distantiation I the Poem –the one that survives • “Survival” and death: traveler Lives: the other kings Ozymandias his heart and the sculptor’s hand passions on the sculpture + lifeless sculpture sand
Ozymandias: Historical Context (1) • Its title: Ramesses the Great (i.e., Ramesses II), Pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. Ozymandias –the Greek version of his throne name. • The inscription on the pedestal of his statue: "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works." (image and info source) • Shelley’s reading: wrinkled lip …
Ramesses II Front view of the temple of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel, Egypt
Ozymandias: Historical Context (2) • The poem: Written in 1817, three years after the Waterloo in 1815 (which brought Napoleon's conquest to a stop). (source) • Shelley’s other poem: “Ode to the West Wind” • What inspired the poem: The 'Younger Memnon' statue of Ramesses II in the British Museum an example of British colonialism
Percy Bysshe Shelley • A radical thinker and pronounced atheist • Supporter of free love • Eloped first with Harriet, and then with Mary Godwin Shelley (as well as her step-sister, when both were 16). • Set up a “radical community of friends” who shared everything with one another. • Two family suicides (one of Harriet, the other Mary’s half sister) • 1816-- the completion of Frankenstein. • 1821-- Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned at sea, aged 29.
Ulysses 1. The who, where, when and why of the poem? The listener”s”? 2. Ulysses– What does he think about his present life (ll. 1-5), his past experience (ll. 7-21), and future goals (ll. 22-32). Are there contradictions in his self-perception? 3. Ulysses vs. Telemachus: "He works his work, I mine." Do you find Ulysses irresponsible or a-social? 4. a) the rhythm (e.g. iambic pentameter), b) the arrangement of explosive and mellifluous sounds in the poem.
Ulysses It little profits that an idle king,By this still hearth, among these barren crags,Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and doleUnequal laws unto a savage race,That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.I cannot rest from travel; I will drinkLife to the lees. All times I have enjoy'dGreatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with thoseThat loved me, and alone; on shore, and whenThro' scudding drifts the rainy HyadesVext the dim sea.I am become a name;For always roaming with a hungry heartMuch have I seen and known,-- cities of menAnd manners, climates, councils, governments,Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--And drunk delight of battle with my peers,Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. The Hyades = sisters, daughters of Atlas, who were turned into a constellation of stars by Zeus. They vexed, or tormented, the sea with blowing sheets of rain ("scudding drifts"), just as the constellation can influence the sea and weather.
Ulysses I am a part of all that I have met;Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fadesFor ever and for ever when I move.How dull it is to pause, to make an end,To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on lifeWere all too little, and of one to meLittle remains; but every hour is savedFrom that eternal silence, something more,A bringer of new things; and vile it wereFor some three suns to store and hoard myself,And this gray spirit yearning in desireTo follow knowledge like a sinking star,Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
Ulysses –Stanza 2 This is my son, mine own Telemachus,to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfillThis labor, by slow prudence to make mildA rugged people, and thro' soft degreesSubdue them to the useful and the good.Most blameless is he, centred in the sphereOf common duties, decent not to failIn offices of tenderness, and payMeet adoration to my household gods,When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
Ulysses –Stanza 3 There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--That ever with a frolic welcome tookThe thunder and the sunshine, and opposedFree hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.Death closes all; but something ere the end,Some work of noble note, may yet be done,Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs;the deepMoans round with many voices. Come, my friends.'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Ulysses –Stanza 3 Push off, and sitting well in order smiteThe sounding furrows; for my purpose holdsTo sail beyond the sunset, and the bathsOf all the western stars, until I die.It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'We are not now that strength which in old daysMoved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--One equal temper of heroic hearts,Made weak by time and fate,but strong in willTo strive, to seek, to find,and not to yield.
Ulysses 1. Ulysses at an old age—first speaking in his palace to no one (the wife does not seem to listen) and then ("There lies the port"), to the mariners by the port. 2. Ulysses: a. present – a boring life in “barren crags” with an aged wife and tedious duties (mete and dole; not known); past: -- seen the world, well known, a lot of experience; change – action, to strive with god, to find something new. destiny – dark broad sea death (Happy isle=Elysium) 3. Ulysses//mariners vs. his wife, people and Telemachus Is he irresponsible? (“hoard, and sleep, and feed”; “offices of tenderness”) 4. More question: Jerome H. Buckley asserts that the poem does not in fact convey • a will to go forward . . . but a determined retreat, a yearning, behind allegedly tired rhythms, to join the great Achilles (or possibly Arthur Hallam) in an Elysian retreat from life's vexations.  Do you agree?
Ulysses with Three Desires—and three possible readings • Desire: for meaningful “living” but not mere breathing; an eventful life, but not dull routine; to “follow knowledge like a sinking star / Beyond the utmost bond of human thought”; for being a hero as he was before; --one "braving the struggle of life." • Desire: to be a wanderer and break away from the status quo (now known, or "I am become a name“), in which he sees his wife ”aged,” his people “savage” (sleeping, eating and hoarding), and his son, Telemachus, who is “soft” (or "discerning," "prudent," "soft," "good," "blameless," "centered," and "tender“) --one dissatisfied with mundane life and thus irresponsible • Desire: for “"There gloom the dark, broad seas" and the Happy Isle.” – one yearning for rest.
Ulysses: Historical Contexts • In this poem Tennyson is elaborating upon a conviction he formed at Hallam's death "that life without faith leads to personal and social dislocation" (Chiasson 165). (source) • In Memoriam (1850)
Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) As a “twilight poet” • Worried about poverty and contracting epilepsy (a family disease) a twilight poet • Deeply saddened by the death of his friend Hallam. (1833) • Shorted sighted and with keen interest in sound effects, he created his poems in his head, memorizing lines and then creating their contexts. • Many narrative poems about suspension and languidness; e.g. "The Lotos-Eaters" “Mariana” (a waiting woman); about dullness of immortality: dramatic monologue: "Tithonus.“ • As a a poet Laureate (1850) • a philosopher-poet, dealing with contemporary concerns with science vs. God: ’Nature, Red in tooth and claw’ • a narrative poet catering to popular taste
“The Lady of Shalott” Starting Questions • How is the Lady of Shalott presented? And how about Lancelot? • What do you think about the rhyme scheme AAAABCCCB, with the "B" always standing for "Camelot" in the fifth line and for "Shalott" in the ninth? Also, the rhymes either contain long vowels ([ei],[u]) or are feminine rhymes (“early” “barley”)—except for some stanzas re. the people going to Camelot? • What do you think the different elements of the poem means symbolically? For instance, the Lady under spell, weaving the images on a mirror, looking out of the window, Lancelot’s attraction and the ending (two different ones in the two different versions)?
Structure • Stanza 1 to stanza 4: setting and LS introduced • Stanza 5 to stanza 8: what LS does vs. the outside world • Stanza 9 to stanza 12: Lancelot passes by • Stanza 13 to stanza 17: LS’s responses and death • Stanza 18 to stanza 19: coda –the others’ responses and Lancelot’s praise of LS.
Setting: Camelot vs. the Isle • Note the inverted sentence structure, where the subject appears late and after the adverbial/prepositional phrase. • An island on a river, surrounded by the barley and rye fields • On the island, LS is surrounded four grey walls, and four grey towers, by lilies, shivering breeze, whitened willows and quivering aspens. • People go to Camelot by barges and shallop, or on the road running by, but when they look in another direction, they see the isle.
LS Introduced with questions; only heard by the reapers focused on weaving “a magic web with colours gay.” Half sick when seeing funeral or wedded lovers passing by “Shadows” of the world: the river eddy whirls, the surly village churls and the red cloaks of market girls troop of damsels, curly shepherd and knights all going down to Camelot a world of action and love Lady of Shalott vs. the Mundane World
Lancelot: Associated with the sun, armor and coats of arms ( actions) His shield—love With sounds and explosive sounds: bridle bells, glitter, silver bugle, bearded meteor His appearance described, song quoted: "Tirra lirra." LS 1 in action with self-awareness 2. Like a “seer” 3. self-assertion: writes her name, sings her last song until she dies. Persistent in her art creation. Lancelot vs. Lady of Shalott
Ending and Different Interpretations • Respect is paid for LS, with the whole town in silence and fear, and Lancelot praising her. • LS: • a woman determined to seek her love and then she gets confirmed by the lover • a devoted artist seeking to face reality, instead of staying in her ivory town, twice removed from reality.
section 1: --a direct description of LS "A pearl garland winds her head She leaneth on a velvet bed, /Fully royally appareled, The Lady of Shalott." Section 1: questions; “seen or known” –passive “But who hath seen her wave her hand? Or at the casement seen her stand?Or is she known in all the land? ” The Lady of Shalott : 1833 vs. 1842
They cross’d themselves, their stars they blest, Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest. There lay a parchment on her breast, That puzzled more than all the rest, The wellfed wits at Camelot. ‘The web was woven curiously, The charm is broken utterly, Draw near and fear not,--this is I, The Lady of Shalott.’ Who is this? And what is here? And in the lighted palace near Died the sound of royal cheer; And they crossed themselves for fear, All the Knights at Camelot; But Lancelot mused a little space He said, "She has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shalott." The Lady of Shalott : 1833’s vs. 1842’s last stanzas
The Lady of Shalott • The Lady of Shalott- 1888 - The Tate Gallery, John William Waterhouse. • Poem and images
Ophelia, by Millais • ( Elizabeth Siddal)
References • Ozymandias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozymandias • The Tennyson Page http://charon.sfsu.edu/TENNYSON/poems/index.shtml • Chapter Three: Poems (1842) Tennyson's Major Poems: http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/tennyson/kincaid/ch3.html