WILLIAM WORDSWORTH • SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE • WILLIAM BLAKE FIRST GENERATION
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – pg. 684-685 • “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” – pg. 685-709 • “Kubla Kahn” – pg. 710-712
Overview of Romantic Literature • The romantic period is an age of poetry. • Wordsworth and Coleridge are the most representative writers. • They explore new theories and innovative techniques in versification. • They believe that poetry could purify individual souls and society.
The key words of English Romanticism are nature and imagination. • Romantics argue that poetry should be free from all rules.
NATURE • The poets who chose the Romantic style at this time investigated many topics. • They wrote of time, love, death, art, and religion among other topics. • One topic in particular was a favorite among the Romantics - nature.
NATURE • As long as there have been poets, there have been poems about nature, but the nature poems of the Romantics are somehow different from the ones that came before. • These poems were not quaint, predictable, over-simplified glorifications of nature on a purely observational level.
NATURE • The poems of the Romantics were designed to communicate Nature’s transformative power. • Nature is portrayed as omnipresent and capable of altering human perception and perspective. • The settings of these poems, therefore, are picturesque and exotic.
ORDINARY = EXTRAORDINARY The ability to describe ordinary events as extraordinary is a characteristic of Romantic literature.
Romantic poetry valued individual experience. • Rationalism was replaced by a trust in one’s emotions. • Romanticism rejects the social “us” and embraces the “me”. • Intuitions, feelings, and emotions ruled. • Man’s heart was a more valued guide than his head. • Another characteristic of Romantic poetry is this enlightenment by emotion.
Simple Language • The Romantics searched for personal experiences and strove to communicate their power in meaningful ways. • To achieve this, Romantic writers employed simple and directlanguage. • This was another way to reject the Neoclassical movement that hoped to emulate the ancient writers in lofty styles and language.
Simple Language • Think of it this way… our most personal conversations, our most private, do not need elevated language to impress or ring true. • This simple language is another Romantic characteristic.
Another characteristic of Romantic literature is the inclusion of supernatural elements. • Perhaps, for the Romantics, Nature was so powerful that it could not be contained. • Nature takes on a mysterious, sometimes even scary quality in literature of the Romantics. • Supernatural elements play a large part in these works. Supernatural Natural
Coleridge saw the poet as a man of great integrity as well as special gifts, producing poems which would offer profound insights into man’s imaginative, psychological, and ultimately, moral being.
Poets are born and not made. • Poems should be judged only according to their own merit and not according to any established precept or precedent.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge • Coleridge was born into a clergyman’s family in 1772. • He was a great genius. • At the age of six, he had read the Bible, Robinson Crusoe, and Arabian Nights. • He was a mentally precocious boy, full of fantasy and dreams in his mind. • During his Cambridge years, he made friends with Charles Lamb, the great essayist of English Romanticism.
Campus life bored him. • He ran away from the university and enlisted in the army but was discharged after a few months. • He returned to Cambridge.
He joined Robert Southey in a utopian plan of establishing an ideal democratic community (named Pantisocracy) in America. • The plan resulted in nothing but his marriage to Sara Fricker, which turned out to be an unhappy marriage.
In 1798 Coleridge traveled to Germany with Wordsworth and began to study German philosophy. • Upon Coleridge’s return to England, he became addicted to opium, which he used as a pain reliever.
Coleridge quarreled seriously with Wordsworth in 1810. • Though they reconciled later, their friendship was never as close. • In Coleridge’s later years, he became conservative and turned to theology for spiritual comfort.
Comments • Coleridge is a great Romantic poet. • His poetic imagination is unique. • Coleridge is fond of unusual and supernatural things. • Coleridge is one of the first critics to pay close attention to language of poetry. • Coleridge maintained that the true end of poetry is to give pleasure “through the medium of beauty.”
Coleridge’s poetry often deals with the mysterious, the supernatural, and the extraordinary. • While Wordsworth looked for the spiritual in everyday subjects, Coleridge wanted to give the supernatural a coloring of everyday reality.
The Rime of Ancient Mariner • Coleridge describes the natural and supernatural events that occur during an adventurous voyage. • The events of the poem take place in an eerie, ghostly atmosphere, and the reader often feels he is moving from a real to an unreal world and back again.
The poem is famous for its beautiful cadence (tempo, rhythm, pace, beat) and wonderful imagery. • The combination of the natural and supernatural, the ordinary and extraordinary makes it one of the masterpieces of Romantic poetry.
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” • Coleridge’s contribution to Lyrical Ballads. • The poem tells a strange story in ballad meter. • Three guests are on their way to a wedding party when an ancient mariner stopped one of them. • The mariner tells of his adventures on the sea. • When his ship sails toward the South Pole, an albatross comes through the snow-fog and alights on the rigging.
The mariner shoots at the albatross quite thoughtlessly. • Then misfortune befalls. • The whole crew, with the exception of the old mariner, die of thirst as punishment for the cruel act. • The spell breaks only when themariner repents his cruelty.
Literary Analysis • Define the following (pg. 685): • alliteration—the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginnings of words: • EX: “The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew…” • consonance—the repetition of similar final consonant sounds in stressed syllables with dissimilar vowel sounds • EX: “a frightful fiend / Doth close behind…” BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY LINES WITH BOTH ALLITERATION AND CONSONANCE
Literary Analysis • assonance—the repetition of a vowel sound in stressed syllables with dissimilar consonant sounds: • EX: “The western wave was all aflame.” • internal rhyme—the use of rhymes within a poetic line • EX: “With heavy thump, a lifeless lump…” BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY LINES WITH BOTH ASSONANCE AND INTERNAL RHYME
NOTES – Part 1 • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner relates the events experienced by a mariner on a long sea voyage. • The Mariner stops a man who is on the way to a wedding ceremony and begins to recite his story. • The setting for the wedding is most likely a medieval town.
NOTES – Part 1 • The wedding guest's reaction turns from bemusement to impatience and fear to fascination as the Mariner's story progresses, as can be seen in the language style. • Coleridge uses narrative techniques such as personification and repetition to create either a sense of danger, of the supernatural or serenity, depending on the mood of each of the different parts of the poem.
NOTES – Part 1 • The Mariner's tale begins with his ship departing on its journey. • Despite initial good fortune, the ship is driven south off course by a storm and eventually reaches Antarctica.
NOTES – Part 1 • An albatrossappears and leads the ship out of the Antarctic, but even as the albatross is praised by the ship's crew, the Mariner shoots the bird - (with my cross-bow / I shot the albatross). • The albatross initially symbolizes good luck.
NOTES – Part 1 01. Theme: the sanctity of all wild creatures 02. The mariner maintains a tone of freshhorror and inspires a sense of awe as he retells his tale. 03. Symbolism of choosing a wedding: • Mariner’s choices = break with nature and society (Coleridge’s warning about isolation and guilt) VS. • Wedding = unity and community
NOTES – Part 1 04. Initially, the albatross symbolizes luck. (pg. 690) 05. As the bird is referred to as “pious,” this is an indication of its innocence, even to a point of holiness. 06. Carelessly, the mariner shot the bird with his crossbow.
Albatross • A type of great, white sea bird native to the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere. • Since the publication of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "albatross" has also come to mean "a constant, worrisome burden" or "an obstacle to success."
NOTES – Part 1 Shooting the albatross: • a gratuitous act • uncalled for, unjustified, unnecessary • Senseless act: • The motive is of no concern because there really isn’t a motive. • The person who performs the deed matters because this deed/choice will transform his life. Isolation: The mariner will be set apart from his crew.
NOTES – Part 1 • This unprovoked act places the mariner in the genealogy of literary figures who become wanderers. • The mariner becomes a man with a chain, a rule breaker. “The mariner is a killer.” “The mariner is an outcast.”
NOTES – Part 2 • The crew is angry with the Mariner, believing the albatross brought the South Wind that led them out of the Antarctic - (Ah, wretch, said they / the bird to slay / that made the breeze to blow). • However, the sailors change their minds when the weather becomes warmer and the mist disappears: ('Twas right, said they, such birds to slay / that bring the fog and mist).
NOTES – Part 2 • The crime arouses the wrath of spirits who then pursue the ship "from the land of mist and snow.“ • The south wind, which had initially led them from the land of ice, now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed. • What uncharted waters are you traveling?
NOTES – Part 2 • Becalmed does not have a pleasant connotation. • Becalmed means the ship is at a standstill and is not moving.
NOTES – Part 2 Lines 115-122 Dayafter day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. • The sound devices Coleridge uses in this particular section (lines 107-122) mirror the ship’s condition. • The same words are used again and again. • This symbolizes the fact that the ship is not moving.
NOTES – Part 2 • A comparison can be made: Ship does = Humans who not move do not move • If this is the case, then both the ship and humans become stagnant. • For humans, this means no growth (spiritually, mentally, physically, etc.). • This mirrors what is happening with the ancient mariner at this point in his “journey” (life).
NOTES – Part 2 • The sailors change their minds again and blame the Mariner for the torment of their thirst.
NOTES – Part 2 • In anger, the crew forces the Mariner to wear the dead albatross about his neck, perhaps to illustrate the burden he must suffer from killing it, or perhaps as a sign of regret. • Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks / Had I from old and young! / Instead of the cross, the albatross / About my neck was hung.
NOTES – Part 2 • The dead albatross now symbolizes guilt.
NOTES – Part 3 • Coleridge uses several wordsrepetitively at the beginning of part 3. • He does this to create
NOTES – Part 3 • In an eerie passage, the ship encounters a ghostly vessel.
NOTES – Part 3 • On board are Death (a skeleton) and the "Night-mare Life-in-Death" (a deathly-pale woman), who are playing dice for the souls of the crew.
NOTES – Part 3 • The symbolism: • The dice game suggests that universal forces are not guided by reason.
NOTES – Part 3 With a roll of the dice, Death wins the lives of the crew members and Life-in-Death the life of the Mariner, a prize she considers more valuable.