Poetry & British Romanticism
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Poetry & British Romanticism

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Poetry british romanticism

Poetry & British Romanticism

When we analyze poetry, what we’re going to do is take a look at the structure of poems and try to figure out their meanings. Poems are very compact. They have a lot of information in a really small space. So, you’re going to have to analyze each line in a poem and really take a look at all those words and try to figure out what they mean. I always tell my students there are lots of correct answers as well as a lot of wrong answers when analyzing poetry. Your job is to try to figure out meaning in a poem and then you have to use lines from that poem to support your ideas.


Poem example a poison tree by william blake

Poem Example – A Poison Treeby William Blake

I was angry with my friend:I told my wrath, my wrath did end.I was angry with my foe:I told it not, my wrath did grow.And I water’d it in fears,Night and morning with my tears;And I sunned it with smiles,And with soft deceitful wiles.And it grew both day and night,Till it bore an apple bright;And my foe beheld it shine,And he knew that it was mine,And into my garden stoleWhen the night had veil’d the pole:In the morning glad I seeMy foe outstretch’d beneath the tree.


Structure

Structure

  • Rhyming or Prose [not rhyming].

    • When we analyze the structure of a poem, we usually try to find out if it is a rhyming poem where lines rhyme perhaps at the end of the lines or sometimes in the middle. We even have sight rhymes where the words look like they would rhyme on the page even though if we pronounce them, the words don’t rhyme, and then we have prose and what prose essentially means is non-rhyming.

    • If we take a look at A Poison Tree, we can see that this is a rhyming poem. For example, in the first stanza “I was angry with my friend: / I told my wrath, my wrath did end. / I was angry with my foe:/ I told it not, my wrath did grow. We can see that the first and second lines rhyme [friend / end] and the third and fourth lines rhyme [foe/grow].


Structure ii

Structure II

  • Poems are usually broken into sections separated by a space called Stanzas [like a paragraph] - couplet = 2 lines, tercet = 3, quatrain = 4

    • A Poison Tree has 4 stanzas and each is made of 4 lines [quatrain]

    • Why know this structure?

      • Sometimes the structure leads to a better understanding of the meaning. For example, from A Poison Tree, we can see that every stanza kind of moves a little bit. The first part talks about friends and enemies, the next stanza talks about ones wrath growing and how, the next stanza talks about the tree bearing fruit, and finally the last stanza shows the foe’s defeat. So you can see those stanzas are there to break up time and show us movement in the poem.


Analyzing poetry

Analyzing Poetry

  • Speaker

    • The person speaking in the poem may not be the poet. It may be that the poet has created a persona, or a person in the poem.

    • In A Poison Tree – the speaker is in the poem, talking about his/her life. We know this because it says “I” many times. Remember, the speaker is not necessarily the same person as the author!

  • Audience in the poem

    • There’s often an audience that’s in the poem. For example, the poem may be written to someone specific [not us].

    • The audience in A Poison Tree is not the Foe but rather some third party. We know this because in the end the speaker says, “In the morning glad I see / my foe [rather than you] outstretch’d beneath the tree”

  • Audience reading poem – there is the intended audience when poem was written and of course you are the audience too!


Words 1

Words #1

  • Tone of voice & Rhythm:

    • tells us the mood [happy / sad/ angry / excited/ passionate / etc… ]

    • Tells us the message [how we should feel about the information]

    • Again in A Poison Tree, if you listen to the poem, there’s a sing song like rhythm there. It is reminiscent of a children’s poem like “Roses are red / violets are blue / sugar is sweet/ and so are you.” And yet, the author is contrasting this innocent type sound with the killing of one’s foe through the planned growth of a poison tree [and poison apple].


Words 2

Words #2

  • Diction: choice of words

    • If you describe a car crash and you call it an accident that’s a very different image then if I said two cars smashed into one another.

  • Syntax: order of words

    • If someone says, “Hi, how are you doing?”, that’s a regular kind of order of words we’re used to, but if the person says, “Doing how are you?” - that would kind of surprise us because the order of words were reversed - so pay attention when word orders are different, the author is trying to get your attention.

  • Denotation: literal meaning & Connotation: implied meaning

    • If I said Mary had a cow and that’s a literal meaning or denotation then Mary is probably a farmer, and she owns a cow. However, connotation is the implied meaning. If I said Mary had a cow, I might mean that she’s really upset - not that she actually owned a cow.

    • Poets often make use of both literal and implied meanings in poems – in fact, he/she may want us to see both meanings at the same time!


Figure of speech

Figure of Speech

  • Simile (like)

    • she has eyes like blue pools

  • Metaphor (is/are)

    • her eyes are blue pools

  • Personification / anthropomorphism

    • giving inanimate objects human or living characteristics, so your can say the car purred happily or the door groaned in pain

  • Allusion (reference to another work, historical event, art, or person to add depth of meaning)

    • An Allusion can be in the title of the poem or some line in the poem will refer to another work, maybe a piece of art or a person, to add depth of meaning. **It doesn’t mean the poem is about that actual thing!! It means it’s similar. By alluding to that other idea, the poet brings greater depth to the poem.


Figures of speech cont

Figures of Speech Cont..

  • Metonymy – words based on association

    • Crown = monarchy [so when we say he took the crown, we don’t mean just took the crown like a thief. We probably mean that he’s taking over the monarchy and that he’s become king.]

  • Synecdoche – part = whole

    • Hand = whole person [so when he takes her hand in marriage, he doesn’t just marry her hand, he marries all of her.]

  • Hyperbole [exaggeration]

    • I told you a million times to turn down that stereo!

  • Litote [understatement]

    • Let’s say I ate 10 candy bars, and someone asks, “Did you eat a lot of chocolate today?” and I reply, “Just a tad.” [opposite of hyperbole]

  • Paradox and Oxymoron - impossibilities and contradictions

    • A paradox is two situations that couldn’t possibly occur at the same time [a man could be alive and dead in a poem at the same time].

    • An oxymoron combines two contradictory terms like jumbo shrimp. Shrimp means small and jumbo very big, so how you can have jumbo smalls??


Sound

Sound

  • Mood: (flowing, choppy)

    • We can really get the mood from the way things sound. I remember a line from the Raven, “and the silk and sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me, as I’ve never been thrilled before.” The sound of that can really give us a mood or an idea.

  • Onomatopoeia: words that sound things they represent

    • buzz sounds like a bee sound or hiss sounds like the actual cat sound

  • Alliteration: same consonant at beginning of each word

    • Little lover lacy

  • Assonance: same vowel sounds close together

    • The crook took the book

      **Poets use these techniques to get the reader’s attention, so a line where you find this is usually important.


Rhyme scheme

Rhyme Scheme

  • Often what will happen in a poem is we’ll have very similar rhyme schemes. So if we take a look at A Poison Tree the first stanza, ends on the sounds from friend – “sound A”, the next line end “sound A”, third line ends with foe and rhymes with grow, so that would be “Sound B”. So our rhyme scheme would be a, a, b, b.

    • I was angry with my friend: [sound a]

      I told my wrath, my wrath did end. [sound a] I was angry with my foe: [sound a] I told it not, my wrath did grow. [sound a] .

    • Rhyme schemes can change - in fact they can be very complicated - you can have abc, abc, you could have a b c b d b, so only every other line rhymes.

  • Rhyme schemes can be really complicated. Take a look at the rhyme scheme, often there will be a change in the poem’s rhyme scheme and that will give us a clue that’s an important line we should take a look at.


Impressions

Impressions

  • Imagery: sensory impressions

    • In A Poison Tree, the second stanza “And I watered it with fears, and night and morning with my tears”, so the idea is that because he’s not sharing his wrath, his fears, tears and sadness make it grow. “I sun it with smiles, and with soft deceitful wiles”, and so then he gets an idea, soft deceitful wiles, to some trickery that he might do. Again, there is some innocence in water and sun, but the author is not using them innocently. So we want to take a look at those sensory impressions because they’re trying to make an impact on us and make us feel something.

  • Symbolism: [red rose = love]

    • In A Poison Tree, the tree “bore an apple bright”, and the idea - and when we say we have an idea that bears fruit – so the speaker’s ideas, soft deceitful wiles, and anger has grown until it bears fruit, an apple. The apple has a lot of symbolism. We think of Adam and Eve and the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Eating from the tree of knowledge brings death ultimately, and so we have an idea that this fruit is there as a temptation. “My foe beheld its shine and he knew that it was mine”, so it was almost like the speaker grew this tree and it bore fruit. The foe sees the fruit, goes into the garden, steals that fruit and “in the morning glad I see my foe outstretched beneath the tree”. And so the foe must have taken a bite of that apple, that poison fruit from the poison tree, and so he’s outstretched like it has killed him.


Irony

Irony

  • Verbal irony: (one thing said, another meaning intended)

    • You could have a man tell a woman, “I love you” but we can’t be sure of the meaning, does he really mean “I love you”, or is he being ironic? Is he saying, “Yeah, I love you” as in “of course I DON’T love you”, but because we don’t hear tone of voice in poems, we have to really look for other clues to let us know what the author means.


British romanticism

British Romanticism

The great flowering of English Romanticism occurred about the middle of the second decade of the 19th century when for some ten years England became the focus of European Romanticism. Poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Blake, Byron and Keats were the major writers of this period. These writers not only wrote poetry, but wrote about poetry itself.


British romanticism characteristics

British RomanticismCharacteristics

  • The natural and the supernatural – an attempt to see the unique and beautiful in the simple and ordinary. The idea we are still connected to nature.

    • Poetry is often remembrances of the past, and through memories we regain our link to the natural.

    • It may take a supernatural event to make us recognize our link to the natural.

  • Imagination was another important theme of English Romanticism.

    • Imaginative mind can lead to real freedom.

    • It is within imagination and emotion that truth can be found.

  • Reason must be combined with emotion.

  • Much of the poetry of this period was lyrical in style.

    • Some of the distinguishing characteristics included “emotion, subjectivity, melodiousness, imagination, description, and (sometimes) meditation.”

    • Many poems were elegies, odes and sonnets.


British romantic hero

British Romantic Hero

  • Often rebellious in nature [doesn’t wish to follow the norms of society]

    • He is usually isolated from society as a wanderer or is in exile of some kind.

    • Because he rejects the values and moral codes of society, he is often unrepentant by society's standards.

  • Larger than life intellectual capacity, pride, and passion.

    • These heightened abilities often make the hero arrogant, extremely confident, abnormally sensitive, and extremely conscious of himself.

  • Moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue.

  • Often plagued by a guilty memory of some terrible unnamed crime.

  • With the possibility greatness, yet seriously flawed in some manner, our hero usually meets with sad a end.

    • Due to these characteristics, the hero is often a figure of repulsion, as well as fascination.


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