hs 204 introduction to literature poetry section spring 2008 n.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
HS 204: Introduction to Literature: Poetry Section Spring 2008 PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
HS 204: Introduction to Literature: Poetry Section Spring 2008

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 88

HS 204: Introduction to Literature: Poetry Section Spring 2008 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

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

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

HS 204: Introduction to Literature: Poetry Section Spring 2008

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
hs 204 introduction to literature poetry section spring 2008

HS 204: Introduction to Literature: Poetry SectionSpring 2008

Prof. Milind Malshe

Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT, Powai, Mumbai.

  • I) The Human Species
  • II) The Idea of Humanities
  • III) Literature: LANGUAGE
  • IV) Poems & Poets
i the human species presence distinctiveness ascent
I) The Human Species:presence, distinctiveness & ascent
  • 1. The all-pervading presence and ascent
  • 2. The biological background
  • 3. Distinctive biological characteristics
  • 4. Society & Culture
  • 5. Comparison: “Animals”
the human species presence and ascent
The Human Species :presence and ascent:
  • 1. The all-pervading presence and ascent:
  • Presence: The spread and dominance of human beings all over the earth is unrivalled in completeness
  • Ascent: Conquest of the most diverse and hostile places and made them habitable → no part of the earth is unaffected by the human presence
the human species biological background
The Human Species :biological background
  • 2. The biological background:
  • Biologically, human beings → animal
  • classification:
  • The highest order of mammals → PRIMATES

(i.e. monkeys, apes, human beings) → strong physical similarities

the human species distinctive biological characteristics
The Human Species :distinctive biological characteristics
  • 3. But 3 most important biological characteristics separate human beings from ALL other animals:
  • Characteristics that have made ASCENT possible:
  • (a) ability to walk upright
  • → from quadrupedalism (walking on all fours) to bipedalism (the striding walk)
  • → hands were left free and the visual field expanded considerably
the human species distinctive biological characteristics1
The Human Species :distinctive biological characteristics
  • (b) fully developed opposable thumb:
  • 2 types of grips developed → power grip
  • → precision grip → unique and it enhanced the accuracy of hb’s touch
  • → manufacturing and using tools with accuracy
the human species distinctive biological characteristics2
The Human Species :distinctive biological characteristics
  • (c) comparatively enormous brain → unique sensory perception, intelligence, speech, imagination, reasoning skills and knowledge (including self-awareness)
  • → MIND: thinking, reflection
the human species society culture
The Human Species :society & culture
  • 4. Society & Culture
  • Society: many animals do exhibit “social” instinct, i.e. instinct to stay together (the “herd” instinct) and to form social relations for the sake of security & protection – e.g. they have systems of communication mainly for survival and procreative purposes
the human species society culture1
The Human Species :society & culture
  • Culture:
  • but no other animal has “culture”, i.e. behaviour based on norms and conventions which are predominantly
  • ETHICAL (e.g. “fasting”, “taboos”)
  • &
  • AESTHETIC (e.g. art) – Note that human language has functions far beyond survival and procreation
  • We have been comparing the human species with the other animal species
  • This has been mainly a rational, scientific approach to the comparison
  • Let us now see how a poet can approach this comparison
animals by walt whitman 1819 1892
ANIMALSby Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

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.

  • Words which you must know:
  • placid
  • (adj) = easy-going, peaceful
  • whine
  • (v) = comstantly complain
  • demented
  • (adj) = wild, mad, uncontrolled
  • mania
  • (n) = obsession, craze
  • kneels
  • (v) = go down on one’s knees, stoop
  • What is the “theme/central idea” of this poem?
  • Animals?
  • What are the “expressive devices” used?
  • Let’s look at another poem by the same poet, Walt Whitman:
walt whitman 1819 1892 when i heard the learn d astronomer
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

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.

What is the “theme” of the poem?
  • Stars? Astronomy? Boredom?
  • Astronomy= science, scientific schematization, quantification
  • What is the poet’s attitude ?
  • Choice of words: learn’d, applause
  • Syntactic structures: repetition, passive voice
  • Length of the lines
  • The two divisions of the poem: contrast between the two approaches to NATURE
ii the idea of humanities
II) The Idea of Humanities
  • Humanities
    • (1) definition: study of human life, mind, society, culture, history
    • (2) Social evolution of human beings
    • (3) The meaning of “Culture”
    • (4) Dimensions of Society & Culture
    • (5) Comparison: Science vs Poetry
ii humanities 1 d efinition
II) Humanities:1. Definition
  • Dictionary meaning: “the branches of learning having primarily a cultural character”
  • i.e. study of culture
  • study of human life, mind, society, culture, history
ii humanities 2 social evolution of human beings
II) Humanities:(2) Social evolution of human beings
  • From hunter-gatherer
  • to sophisticated technological being (about 12,000 years)
  • Quite rapid when compared to evolution
  • From ape-like ancestors
  • To homo-sapiens (millions of years)
  • The rapid social evolution possible because of the MENTAL power
Nature: understanding
  • manipulation
  • Culture
  • Thus, humanities = study of the human mental faculty
  • and society/culture
  • ≠ psychology
  • ≠ sociology
  • ≠ anthropology
ii humanities 3 the meaning of culture
II) Humanities:(3) The meaning of “Culture”
  • What is CULTURE?
  • Dictionary def.:
  • (a) training & develop of the mind (→ process)
  • (b) refinement of taste & manner thro’ such training (→ product)
  • (c) social & reli. structures wh. characterize a society (→ foundations)
ii humanities culture the breakup of a civilization culture
Let’s have a look at poems which thematize the issue of the breakup of a society, civilization or culture:

“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
london by william blake 1757 1827
I wander through each chartered* street,

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)
blake s london
Blake’s London
  • Words which you must know:
  • chartered=well-organized, streamlined (according to a “charter”?)
  • mind-forged manacles= chains made by the mind
  • appals= shocks, fills with horror
  • blights= destroys
  • hearse=a vehicle for conveying the dead body to the place of burial
blake s london1
Blake’s London
  • Is it a poem about the city of London?
  • The “territory”? The land?
  • Streets, the Thames
  • Or the “society”? Indicators?
  • Faces, cry, voice
  • What kind of human beings are described?
  • Are any social institutions mentioned?
  • Why? What is the “theme”? A key phrase?

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

london technique
London: Technique
  • The use of “I”: personal identity?
  • Repetitions:


mark (v) & (n)


I hear

  • Sentence Structure:
  • Main clauses: I wander…, (I) mark…

I hear… ; I hear how…

dover beach matthew arnold 1822 1888
Dover Beach Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

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.

Sophocles long agoHeard it on the Aegean, and it broughtInto his mind the turbid ebb and flowOf human misery; weFind also in the sound a thought,Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

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.

Ah, love, let us be trueTo one another! for the world, which seemsTo lie before us like a land of dreams,So various, so beautiful, so new,Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

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.

Dramatic Monologue: drama within a poem, implied listener
  • Is it a love poem?
  • What does Dover Beach stand for?
  • The sea as a metaphor for life.
  • Sophocles: Gr. Tragedian (Oedipus rex), symbol for human tragedy
The Second Coming
  • By William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre*

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 words refs you must know
The Second Coming=

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 race

The Second Comingwords & refs you must know
The rocking cradle=the cradle of the infant Christ

“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)

We have so far seen three very significant poems about the break-down of civilization and cultural values
  • Let’s now see a poem expressing an optimistic vision of “freedom”: about one’s “motherland” (one’s own territory; attachment; patriotism, etc)
  • Rabindrnath Tagore (1861-1941)
rabindranath tagore 1861 1941 where the mind is without fear
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)Where the mind is without fear

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.

language structure
Language & Structure
  • Comment on the use of “thee” and “my father”
  • Also, identify the major figures of speech:
  • Personification?
  • “tireless striving stretches its arms”
  • “stream of reason has not lost its way”
  • What effect is produced by the repetition of the “where”-construction?
  • Also comment on “led by thee” and “let my country awake”
`Where’- ideal, visionary world
  • `desert sand of dead habit’-

Convention as opposed to tradition

Dead, sheer habit living, changing

  • Passive voice: `I’ is never mentioned.

(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.

stephen spender 1909 1995 the express
After the first powerful, plain manifesto*

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

ocean.      10

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

entranced,      25

Wrapt* in her music no bird song, no, nor bough

Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal


Stephen Spender (1909-1995) The Express
language lexical choice figures of speech
manifesto (n)=a public statement of opinions or intentions on behalf of an organized body

(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
literature language forms genres
  • LANGUAGE:structure & function

narrative, lyric, dramatic, discursive

telling emoting showing discoursing

language structure function
LANGUAGE:structure & function
  • Language: structure
  • Levels of structuring: sounds -> phonology

words -> morphology

sentences-> syntax

meanings -> semantics

Arbitrariness of language

3 types of signifier-signified relations:


language structure function1
LANGUAGE:structure & function

Language: functions:

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

poetic language
Poetic Language
  • Special “poetic diction”?
  • Poetry as “A WAY OF SAYING”:

“what oft was thought / But never so well expressed”

  • Special relationship bet content & form:


  • FORM: imagery & figures of speech
appreciation of a poem
Appreciation of a poem:
  • The “theme” or the “central idea”
  • The “technique” or the “devices” which structure and express the theme
  • Why the poem is “appealing” or “interesting” or “significant”
  • Analyze both the text and the context
text and context context
Text and Context: CONTEXT
  • The poet: his/her period & background
  • The historical and cultural context
  • The “local” significance
  • The “universal” significance
textual analysis
Textual Analysis
  • The title: direct & indirect relevance to theme
  • The indicators of time & space/territory
  • The identity of the speaker “I” (and the listener “you”): the use of pronouns
  • The opening & closing lines
  • The Tone or the Mood
  • Reality (imitation, description) vs. Vision
  • vs. Expression
  • Rhyme & Rhythm: repetition
  • Imagery & Symbolism
a river by a k ramanujan 1929 1993
In Madurai,

city of temples and poets,

who sang of cities and temples,

every summer

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 new poets still quoted

the old poets, but no one spoke

in verse

of the pregnant woman

drowned, with perhaps twins in her,

kicking at blank walls

even before birth.

He said:

the river has water enough

to be poetic

about only once a year

and then

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.

  • Is it about the river? About Madurai?
  • About the poets and the poetic?
  • Life versus Poetry?
  • Concrete versus Abstract?
  • Real versus Imaginary?
  • The old poets versus the new poets
  • “The poets” sang of “cities and temples” and “only of the floods”
  • “He” versus “the poets”?
imagery form
Imagery & Form
  • Significance of Madurai: location, territory
  • Also “people everywhere”: location and life
  • “every summer”, “for a day”, “only once a year”: time
  • REALISM: concrete details of life: e.g. names of cows
  • See how the image of the pregnant woman is developed in its concrete detail in every stanza
Now look at the last stanza: Is there anything strange about the image of the pregnant woman?
  • All the concrete details of realism
  • But does the entire image go beyond REALISM?
  • SURREALISM: thoughts and visions of the subconscious mind, dreamlike images: Do you find any such images? The final stanza?

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

  • e. e. cummings (1894-1962):
  • American poet
  • Experimentation, innovation
  • Look at capitalization, line-structure, use of pronouns
  • Does the poem tell a “story”?

“anyone lived in a pretty how town”

anyone lived in a pretty how town
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
one day anyone died i guess

(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

irony satire parody
  • We have seen poems with a sense of irony and satire: e.g. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen”
  • Auden: poet of the 1930’s, influenced by Marxist thought; Spanish Revolution.
  • Tone of sarcasm
  • Passive voice: impersonal
  • Govt. flattens individuality
  • Rhyme scheme indicates regularity, monotony
  • Utilitarianism
  • In e.e.cummings, we saw a deliberate distortion of form: lexical, graphical, phonological, syntactic

George Herbert (1596-1633)


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.

Let’s now look at another poem which distorts conventional belief with an ironical and satirical tone: a 17th century “METAPHYSICAL” poem
  • Metaphysical conceit: two disparate ideas are brought together in a single image, e.g. Donne’s “The Flea”,the lovers metaphorically unite in the flea that sucks their blood. 
  • Anthropomorphic God; blasphemous, God as `jealous’.
  • Pun on `rest’
  • Tone of irony: “said he” 
Discussion: “Death be not Proud” by John Donne
  • Elizabethan Age: peak of prosperity; Death was an obsessive fear
  • Tone of defiance: satirical argumentation
  • ‘me’ as part of humanity
  • `sleep’, `rest’: imitations of death; `death’ as a temporary state before the spirit is liberated.
discussion lucy by william wordsworth
Discussion: “Lucy” by William Wordsworth
  • Romanticism: movement in nineteenth century: reaction against ‘neo-classicism’ ( 18.c.) which was an age of prose, everything was rule-governed, etiquette, morality, rationality were important values
  • Romanticism: Nature as a model; spirituality in nature; Rousseau “noble savage”: nature vs. culture, culture corrupts
  • Major Poets: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Tennyson, Browning
william wordsworth 1770 1850
William Wordsworth( 1770-1850)

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.

“Lucy”: begins like a narrative
  • Lyrical, expressive
  • Loneliness, alienation from society, environment is nature: “child of nature”
  • `Eye’: society, the sun
  • Two images: of the violet and the star, sigifies movement from earth to the sky: lifting from earthly reality to a cosmic existence.
  • Note opening She’ and closing `me’.
  • Last line: personal expression of grief.
Emotions of amusement, scorn, contempt, indignation expressed through the “tone”
  • Comments on social manners, moral degradation, cultural evils
  • Parody is an exaggerated imitation of another literary text, like a caricature or a cartoon, an extreme expression of irony and satire
  • Look at “The Dover Bitch: A Criticism of Life” by Anthony Hecht (b. 1946)
the dover bitch a criticism of life by anthony hecht b 1946
So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl

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)
poets poems
We have studied:

1. Whitman’s ANIMALS


3. Blake’s LONDON

4. Arnold’s DOVER BEACH



7. Spender’s THE EXPRESS



10. cumming’s anyone lived in a pretty how town

11. Ramanujan’s A RIVER


13. Hecht’s DOVER BITCH


15. Herbert’s THE PULLEY

Poets & Poems
poems for self study
Poems for self-study:
  • 3. Ramanujan’s ASTRONOMER
  • 5. Keats’s ODE TO AUTUMN
  • 6. Shelley’s TO A SKYLARK
  • 7. Frost’s THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
  • 8. MacLeish’s ARS POETICA
  • 9. Donne’s THE FLEA
  • 10. Auden’s EPITAPH ON A TYRANT
  • 11. Wordsworth’s LONDON, 1802
  • 12. Wordsworth’s MY HEART LEAPS UP
  • 13. Milton’s ON HIS BLINDNESS
  • 14. Shakespeare’s LET ME NOT (SONNET116)
  • 15. Dickenson’s I’M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU?
edger allan poe 1809 1849 sonnet to science
Edger Allan Poe ( 1809-1849)Sonnet- To Science

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?

yeats s a prayer for my dauthter
Once more the storm is howling, and half hid Under this cradle-hood and coverlid My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle But Gregory's wood and one bare hill Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind, Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed; And for an hour I have walked and prayed Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

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 continued
In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned; Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned By those that are not entirely beautiful; Yet many, that have played the fool For beauty's very self, has charm made wise, And many a poor man that has roved, Loved and thought himself beloved, From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes. May she become a flourishing hidden tree That all her thoughts may like the linnet be, And have no business but dispensing round Their magnanimities of sound, Nor but in merriment begin a chase, Nor but in merriment a quarrel. O may she live like some green laurel Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

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)
ramanujan s astronomer
Sky-man in a manhole with astronomy for dream, astrology for nightmare; fat man full of proverbs, the language of lean years, living in square after almanac square prefiguring the day of windfall and landslide through a calculus of good hours, clutching at the tear in his birthday shirt as at a hole in his mildewed horoscope,

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
blake s the chimney sweeper

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.”

keats s ode to autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

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 continued
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

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)
shelley s to a skylark
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!

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
shelley s to a skylark continued
Keen as are the arrows

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)
frost s the road not taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

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.

macleish s ars poetica
A poem should be palpable and mute

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:

Not true

For all the history of grief

An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love

The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea –

A poem should not mean

But be.

donne s the flea
Mark but this flea, and mark in this

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
auden s epitaph on a tyrant

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.

wordsworth s london 1802
Wordsworth’s LONDON, 1802

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.

wordsworth s my heart leaps up
Wordsworth’s MY HEART LEAPS UP

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.

milton s on his blindness

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.”

shakespeare s let me not sonnet116
Shakespeare’s LET ME NOT (SONNET116)

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.

dickenson s i m nobody who are you
Dickenson’s I’M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU?

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!

emily dickinson 1830 1886 because i could not stop for death
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH

Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.

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.