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HS 204: Introduction to Literature: Poetry Section Spring 2008. Prof. Milind Malshe Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT, Powai, Mumbai. Introduction. OUTLINE I) The Human Species II) The Idea of Humanities III) Literature: LANGUAGE FORMS/GENRES
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Prof. Milind Malshe
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT, Powai, Mumbai.
(i.e. monkeys, apes, human beings) → strong physical similarities
I think I could turn and live with animals,
They are so placid* and self-contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat or whine* about their condition
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God.
Not one is dissatisfied - not one is demented*
With the mania* of owning things;
Not one kneels* to another, nor to his kind that
Lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the earth.
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the Classroom,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.Walt Whitman (1819-1892)WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER
“London” by William Blake (1757-1827)
“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
“The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)II) Humanities: Culturethe breakup of a civilization/culture
Near where the chartered* Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles* I hear.
How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blackening Church appals*;
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
But most through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear,
And blight* with plagues the Marriage hearse*.London by William Blake ( 1757-1827)
I wonder through each chartered* street, a
Near where the chartered* Thames does flow, b
And mark in every face I meet, a
Marks of weakness, marks of woe. b
In every cry of every Man, c
In every Infant’s cry of fear, d
In every voice, in every ban, c
The mind-forged manacles* I hear. d
How the chimney-sweeper’s cry e
Every blackening Church appals*; f
And the hapless Soldiers sigh e
Runs in blood down Palace walls. f
But most through midnight streets I hear g/d
How the youthful Harlot’s curse h
Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear, g/d
And blight* with plagues the Marriage hearse*. h
mark (v) & (n)
I hear… ; I hear how…
The sea is calm to-night.The tide is full, the moon lies fairUpon the straits; -on the French coast the lightGleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.Come to the window, sweet is the night air!Only, from the long line of sprayWhere the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,Listen! you hear the grating roarOf pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,At their return, up the high strand,Begin, and cease, and then again begin,With tremulous cadence slow, and bringThe eternal note of sadness in.
The Sea of FaithWas once, too, at the full, and round earth's shoreLay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.But now I only hearIts melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,Retreating, to the breathOf the night-wind, down the vast edges drearAnd naked shingles of the world.
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;And we are here as on a darkling plainSwept with confused alarms of struggle and
flight,Where ignorant armies clash by night.
The falcon* cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi*
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle*,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches* towards Bethlehem* to be born?
The second coming of Christ to usher in the millennium; end of human history & the start of the Christian culture
Here, end of the 2000-plus years of Christian culture & the start of a new supernatural force
widening gyre= cycle (of histotry) [The birth of Christ brought to an end the first cycle 2000BC to the dissolution of the Greeco-Roman culture]
the falcon=a bird which can be trained to hunt other birds; a bird of prey
Spiritus Mundi= the spirit or soul of the world, containing past memories of the raceThe Second Comingwords & refs you must know
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
Ref to the Russian Revolution of 1917
“ceremony of innocence”: Yeats believed that ritual was the basis of civilized living
Also see SPINX (separate file)
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action ...
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.
Convention as opposed to tradition
Dead, sheer habit living, changing
(Notion of nationalism is problematic; the political nation-state is a modern concept, it is the British who organized the Indian state.)
`fear’ of oppression not just from outside, but internal; `self-critique’
`orientalism’: construction of the east by the west ;`post-colonialism’: describes the condition after colonization ; European double-speak: European countries were getting rid of hierarchic structures within their own countries but imposing it in the colonies.
The black statement of pistons, without more fuss
But gliding like a queen, she leaves the station.
Without bowing and with restrained unconcern
She passes the houses which humbly crowd outside, 5
The gasworks, and at last the heavy page
Of death, printed by gravestones in the cemetery.
Beyond the town, there lies the open country
Where, gathering speed, she acquires mystery,
The luminous self-possession of ships on
It is now she begins to sing --- at first quite low
Then loud, and at last with a jazzy madness…
The song of her whistle screaming at curves,
Of deafening tunnels, brakes, innumerable bolts.
And always light, aerial, underneath 15
Retreats the elate* metre of her wheels.
Streaming through metal landscapes on her lines,
She plunges new eras of wild happiness,
Where speed throws up strange shapes, broad curves
And parallels clean like trajectories from guns. 20
At last, further than Edinburgh or Rome*,
Beyond the crest of the world, she reaches night
Where only a low stream-line brightness
Of phosphorus on the tossing hills is light.
Ah, like a comet through flame, she moves
Wrapt* in her music no bird song, no, nor bough
Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal
(1933)Stephen Spender (1909-1995) The Express
(Does it bring any specific “manifesto” to your mind?)
elate (adj)=giving joy
Edinburgh= capital of Scotland (University 1583) What does it stand for?
Rome= capital of Italy, the spiritual centre of medieval Europe
wrapt (adj)=wrapped, covered, enclosed
Identify the similes & metaphors:
Like a queen
The heavy page of death
Like a comet through flame
Music no bird song … shall ever equal
What is the effect of these?
Do these suggest the theme of the poem?
What is the theme?
What is the tone of the poem?Language:Lexical Choice & Figures of Speech
narrative, lyric, dramatic, discursive
telling emoting showing discoursing
words -> morphology
meanings -> semantics
Arbitrariness of language
3 types of signifier-signified relations:
ICONIC, INDEXICAL, SYMBOLIC
emotive/expressive: ref to self/sender
persuasive/conative: ref to the other/receiver
referential/descriptive: ref to the context
metalingual: ref to the code (lang about lang)
phatic/ritualistic: ref to the contact
poetic/aesthetic: ref to the unique message
“what oft was thought / But never so well expressed”
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples,
a river dries to a trickle
in the sand,
baring the sand ribs,
straw and women's hair
clogging the watergates
at the rusty bars
under the bridges with patches
of repair all over them
the wet stones glistening like sleepy
crocodiles, the dry ones
shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun
The poets only sang of the floods.
He was there for a day
when they had the floods.
People everywhere talked
of the inches rising,
of the precise number of cobbled steps
run over by the water, rising
on the bathing places,
and the way it carried off three village houses,
one pregnant woman
and a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda as usual.A River by A. K. Ramanujan (1929-1993)
the old poets, but no one spoke
of the pregnant woman
drowned, with perhaps twins in her,
kicking at blank walls
even before birth.
the river has water enough
to be poetic
about only once a year
it carries away
in the first half-hour
three village houses,
a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda
and one pregnant woman
expecting identical twins
with no moles on their bodies,
with different coloured diapers
to tell them apart.
The Persistence of Memory (1931) is one of Salvador Dalí's (1904-1989) most famous works: shows soft, flexible clocks which are being dried like clothes
“anyone lived in a pretty how town”
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)
theysaid their nevers
they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)anyone lived in a pretty how town
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
WHEN God at first made man, Having a glasse of blessings standing by ;Let us (said he) poure on him all we can :Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie, Contract into a span. So strength first made a way ;Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honour, pleasure :When almost all was out, God made a stay, Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure, Rest in the bottome lay. For if I should (said he) Bestow this jewell also on my creature, He would adore my gifts in stead of me, And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature : So both should losers be. Yet let him keep the rest, But keep them with repining restlesnesse :Let him be rich and wearie, that at least, If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse May tosse him to my breast.
She dwelt among th’untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the Eye!
-Fair, as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky!
She liv’d unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceas’d to be;
But she is in the Grave, and Oh!
The difference to me.
With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them,
And he said to her, 'Try to be true to me,
And I'll do the same for you, for things are bad
All over, etc., etc.‘
Well now, I knew this girl. It's true she had read
Sophocles in a fairly good translation
And caught that bitter allusion to the sea,
But all the time he was talking she had in mind
The notion of what his whiskers would feel like
On the back of her neck. She told me later on
That after a while she got to looking out
At the lights across the channel, and really felt sad,
Thinking of all the wine and enormous beds
And blandishments in French and the perfumes.
And then she got really angry. To have been brought
All the way down from London, and then be addressed
As a sort of mournful cosmic last resort
Is really tough on a girl, and she was pretty.
Anyway, she watched him pace the room
And finger his watch-chain and seem to sweat a bit,
And then she said one or two unprintable things.
But you mustn't judge her by that. What I mean to say is,
She's really all right. I still see her once in a while
And she always treats me right. We have a drink
And I give her a good time, and perhaps it's a year
Before I see her again, but there she is,
Running to fat, but dependable as they come.
And sometimes I bring her a bottle of Nuit d' Amour.“The Dover Bitch: A Criticism of Life” by Anthony Hecht (b. 1946)
1. Whitman’s ANIMALS
2. Whitman’s WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER
3. Blake’s LONDON
4. Arnold’s DOVER BEACH
5. Yeats’s THE SECOND COMING
6. Tagore’s WHERE THE MIND IS WITHOUT FEAR
7. Spender’s THE EXPRESS
8. Frost’s STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING
9. Auden’s AN UNKNOWN CITIZEN
10. cumming’s anyone lived in a pretty how town
11. Ramanujan’s A RIVER
12. Wordsworth’s SHE DWELT AMONG THE UNTRODDEN WAYS
13. Hecht’s DOVER BITCH
14. Donne’s DEATH BE NOT PROUD
15. Herbert’s THE PULLEYPoets & Poems
Science! true daughter of old time thou art!
Who alertest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? Or how deem these wise,
Who wouldst not love him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jeweled skies,
Albeit he scared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower, And under the arches of the bridge, and scream In the elms above the flooded stream; Imagining in excited reverie That the future years had come, Dancing to a frenzied drum, Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty and yet not Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught, Or hers before a looking-glass, for such, Being made beautiful overmuch, Consider beauty a sufficient end, Lose natural kindness and maybe The heart-revealing intimacy That chooses right, and never find a friend. Helen being chosen found life flat and dull And later had much trouble from a fool, While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray, Being fatherless could have her way Yet chose a bandy-leggd smith for man. It's certain that fine women eat A crazy salad with their meat Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.Yeats’s A PRAYER FOR MY DAUTHTER
So let her think opinions are accursed. Have I not seen the loveliest woman born Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn, Because of her opinionated mind Barter that horn and every good By quiet natures understood For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence, The soul recovers radical innocence And learns at last that it is self-delighting, Self-appeasing, self-affrighting, And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will; She can, though every face should scowl And every windy quarter howl Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house Where all's accustomed, ceremonious; For arrogance and hatred are the wares Peddled in the thoroughfares. How but in custom and in ceremony Are innocence and beauty born? Ceremony's a name for the rich horn, And custom for the spreading laurel tree.Yeats’s A PRAYER FOR MY DAUTHTER (continued)
squinting at the parallax of black planets, his Tiger, his Hare moving in Sanskrit zodiacs, forever troubled by the fractions, the kidneys in his Tamil flesh, his body the Great Bear dipping for the honey, the woman-smell in the small curly hair down there.Ramanujan’s ASTRONOMER
A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "'weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother, say?"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.
"Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
"And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery.”
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.Keats’s ODE TO AUTUMN
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.Keats’s ODE TO AUTUMN(continued)
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight -Shelley’s TO A SKYLARK
Of that silver sphere
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see -we feel that it is there.
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.Shelley’s TO A SKYLARK(continued)
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as far,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.Frost’s THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
As a globed fruit
As old medallions to the thumb
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown –
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves
Memory by memory the mind –
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
A poem should be equal to:
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea –
A poem should not mean
But be.MacLeish’s ARS POETICA
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.
Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and sayst that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now;
'Tis true, then learn how false fears be;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.Donne’s THE FLEA
Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
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
Bound each to each by natural piety.
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.
We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling on the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.
Since then ‘tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.