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WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827) - LIFE. THEMES, WORKS

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WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827) - LIFE. THEMES, WORKS

WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827)

LIFE

-He was born in London in 1757

-He was the so of a hosier

-He went to a drawing school love for the Gothic style

-He was a visionary man he often saw God and the angels




-He spent his life in poverty and obscurity

-He died in 1827

THEMES

-Exaltation of art as a creative vision of the world ( not imitation )

-Sympathy with the sufferings of the poor

-He attacked the values of the 18th century

-Freedom: "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" (Rousseau) exaltation of the American and French revolutions

-Opposition to any type of institution, including Church and State

-He supported the vindication of women's rights

-Religion: God is inside men and it is the creative and spiritual power in men (imagination) pantheism

-Romantic myths: - childhood

- democracy

- nature seen with objectivity

-The poet is a prophet who has to show his generati 545b14f on the world of imagination : we live in a world of illusions ( five senses, chaos, reason.) but the real world is that of imagination (harmony) where men can see the reality beyond the visible world.

WORKS

Blake's lyrical poems alternate harshly realistic and satirical descriptions of the squalor of the contemporary world with visions of the spiritual world ( infinite and eternal ).

In Songs of innocence Blake describes the condition of a child who, for his innocence due to his young age, is still close to his divine origin. But man can't remain a child forever and, growing, he must know not only joy, but also sorrow and must be tested by experience. Innocence and experience are both in the human soul and they are mixed differently in men and children: they are complementary (see "The Lamb" and "The Tiger").

Songs of innocence: simple language, repetitions, pleasant and joyful tone.

Songs of experience: difficult and negative words, indignant tone.

 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770-1850)

LIFE

-He was born in the Lake District

-He lost his mother when he was 8 and his father when he was 13

-He died in 1850

THEMES

The natural landscape of the Lake District influenced him strongly, nature aroused in him strong emotions and his poetic composition took place from the recollection in tranquillity of these emotions.

- Poetry describes incidents and situations from simple rustic life, transfigured by imagination and reflecting the way people think in a state of excitement. The preference for humble life follows from the assumption that men are better when closer to nature, far from the artificialities of civilization.

- Poetry should use a familiar, simple language (the language of men in the middle and lower classes) because humble country people live in communion with their objects from which language originates and voice their feelings in a more immediate forceful way.

- The poet has to reach the essence of things and communicate them in a simple language; he is a moral teacher. The creative process starts from an emotion which is recollected in tranquillity, recreated and enjoyed by the poet and shared by the reader.

- Imagination plays an important role, her function is to add new splendour to external, ordinary things and to modify objects presenting them in an unusual aspect.

WORKS

The Prelude

The excursion

The Lyrical Ballads

I wandered lonely as a cloud (Daffodils)-from the " Lyrical Ballads "

The poem was composed in 1804 and was inspired by the sight of a field full of golden daffodils waving in the wind. The key of the poem is joy, as we can see from the many words which express pleasure and delight: in fact the daffodils are golden, waving in a sprightly dance and outdoing the waves in glee: they provide a jocund company and the sight of them fills the poet's heart with pleasure. The flowers are set in a natural environment made up of land, air and water. The words related to the three elements are: for land: vales, hills, tree. For air: cloud, breeze, stars, milky way. For water: lake, bay, waves. All nature appears wonderfully alive and happy in fact the cloud floats on high; the stars shine and twinkle, the waves dance and sparkle in glee. The daffodils, too, are not static like in a painting, but alive with motion. They are in fact fluttering and dancing in the breeze, and tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The sight of the daffodils amazes the poet at first because of their great number in fact they a crowd, continuous, ten thousand, host, never ending-line. Yet Wordsworth is not interested in the flowers as such, but in the way they effect him; that is from inner to deter worlds and vice verse. The sight of the flowers brings the poet delight but he doesn't realize that at the moment but only later, when memory brings back the scene. It is clear that the daffodils have a metaphorical meaning. They may represent the voice of nature, which is scarcely audible except in solitude, the magic moment when our spirit develops a visionary power and we "return to the enchanted unity with nature we knew in childhood; they may represent a living microcosm within the larger macrocosm of nature. Describing the daffodils the poet mentions only one colour: golden; but the whole poem implicitly suggest a wealth of colours: white = clouds; green = hills, vales, trees; blue = lake; silver = star; silver-white = milky way. In stanza 4 the poet suggests the perfect state of mind we should be in to hear the voice of nature; he says we should be in a sort of inner emptiness almost like that of the mystics when they enter into communion with God. This state of mind favours the poet's inner perception, which he calls "in ward eye". Tanks to this inner perception the poet's physical "loneliness" turns into a moment of ecstasy, which to calls bliss of solitude. Brief as it is, the poem presents a perfect structure. It is divided into four stanzas which correspond to the various moods of the poet.



Stanza 1_ Setting and shock at the sight

Stanza 2_ Description of the flowers

Stanza 3_ Relationship between the flowers and the poet

Stanza 4_ Emotion recollected in tranquillity

The devices used by Wordsworth in this poem are. Similes: lonely as a cloud; continuous as stars. Personification: crowd, host, (the daffodils) fluttering and dancing (line 6),(the daffodils) tossing their heads (line12);(the waves) dance (line 13) company (line 16), (my heart) dances (line 24). The personification of the flowers make them alive as if endowed with a life and a soul of their own repetition: gazed (line 17). It conveys the impression of the poet breathless when faced with the beauty of nature and unable to remove his eyes from it.

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834)

LIFE

-He was born in Devonshire in 1772 and he was the son of a clergyman

-After his father died, in 1782 he was sent to Christ's Hospital School in London where he started to read the Neoplatonists.

-He went to Cambridge but he left University soon

-In 1794 he planned to emigrate to America and found a "Pantisocracy" :an idealistic community made up of twelve men and twelve women living on "communistic" lines

-In 1796 he moved to Nether Stowey where he met William Wordsworth with whom he started a great friendship

-This friendship with Wordsworth helped Coleridge to modify his political ideas: from being a republican and supporter of the French Revolution, he turned into a reactionary and royalist

-After a quarrel with Wordsworth he definitively settled in London where he died in 1834

THEMES

His poems illustrate all the elements which constitute the spirit of Romanticism:

-ballad structure and themes

-medieval setting

-mystery and supernatural : some of his poems are unfinished which increases their sense of mystery

-nature : it plays an important role but the poet doesn't find happiness or consolation in it

-exoticism :some poems are set in distant places or times (see Kubla Khan)

-music : Coleridge uses special sounds, words and devices in order to create an unreal atmosphere

WORKS

Coleridge made a lot of translation from German, essays on philosophy, religion and politics, lectures, journalism and plays.

The most famous work are the "Lyrical Ballads" written with Wordsworth, which contains "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner".

The Rime of The Ancient Mariner is the story of a crime and its punishment, told by the protagonist himself, an old mariner condemned to expiate his crime by travelling from land to land telling his story and teaching love and reverence for all God's creatures.







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