Lecture 9 Thomas Gray (1st hour), Elegy Written in a

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Transcript Lecture 9 Thomas Gray (1st hour), Elegy Written in a

Lecture 9 Thomas Gray (1st
hour), Elegy Written in a Countryyard,
William Blake (2nd hour)
• I. Sentimentalism in English Poetry.
In the first half of the l8th century, Pope was the leader of English
poetry and the heroic couplet the fashion of poetry. By the middle of
the century, however, sentimentalism gradually made its appearance.
Sentimentalism came into being as the result of a bitter discontent
among the enlightened people with social reality. Dissatisfied with
reason, which classicists appealed to, sentimentalists appealed to
sentiment to the human heart. "Sentimentalism turned to the
countryside and its material and so is in striking contrast to
classicism, which had confined itself to the clubs and drawingrooms, and to the social and political life of London, Pope and
Addison entertained and educated the middle class, but had no
message for the labouring people. Meanwhile, the poetry of the
sentimentalism is marked by a sincere sympathy for the poverty-stricken expropriated peasants. They wrote the "simple annals of the
poor', though still in a classical style.
• Pre-romanticism:
In the latter half of the 18th century, a new literary
move merit arose in Europe, called the Romantic Revival.
It was marked by a strong protest against the bondage of
Classicism, by a recognition of the claims of passion and
emotion, and by a renewed interest in medieval
literature, In England, this movement showed itself in the
trend of pre-Romanticism in poetry, which was ushered
in by poetry, represented by Blake and Burns. Thomas
Chatterton (1752-1770) is the saddest and most
interesting figure of the Pre-Romantic movement. During
his boyhood, he pored over some old documents which
had been preserved for 300 years in a church. He copied
them until he could imitate the language and handwriting
of the manuscripts.
• Thomas Gray (December 26, 1716 – July 30, 1771), was an
English poet, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge
• He was born in Cornhill, London, the son of an exchange broker and
a milliner. He was educated at Eton College where his uncle was
one of the masters. He recalled his schooldays as a time of great
happiness, as is evident in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton
College. He made three close friends at Eton: Horace Walpole, son
of Prime Minister Robert Walpole, Thomas Ashton, and Richard
West. The four of them prided themselves on their sense of style,
their sense of humour, and their appreciation of beauty.
• In 1734, Gray went to Cambridge. At first he stayed in Pembroke
College. In 1738 he accompanied his old school-friend Walpole on
his Grand Tour,
• He began seriously writing poems in 1742, mainly after his close
friend Richard West died. He moved to Cambridge and began a selfimposed programme of literary study, becoming one of the most
learned men of his time, though he claimed to be lazy by inclination.
He became a Fellow first of Peterhouse, and later of Pembroke
College, Cambridge.
• It is believed that Gray wrote his masterpiece, the Elegy
Written in a Country Churchyard, in the graveyard of the
church in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire in 1750. The
poem was a literary sensation when published by Robert
Dodsley in February 1751 and has made a lasting
contribution to English literature. Its reflective, calm and
stoic tone was greatly admired, and it was pirated,
imitated, quoted and translated into Latin and Greek. It is
still one of the most popular and most frequently quoted
poems in the English language. Before the Battle of the
Plains of Abraham, British General James Wolfe is said
to have recited it to his officers, adding: "Gentlemen, I
would rather have written that poem than take Quebec
tomorrow". The poem's famous depiction of an "ivymantled tow'r" could be a reference to the earlymediaeval St. Laurence's Church in Upton, Slough.
• Interestingly, however, Gray's connection to the
Romantic poets is vexed. In the prefaces to the
1800 and 1802 editions of Wordsworths' and
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads,
Wordsworth singled out Gray's "Sonnet on the
Death of Richard West" to exemplify what he
found most objectionable in poetry, declaring it
was "Gray, who was at the head of those who,
by their reasonings, have attempted to widen the
space of separation betwixt prose and metrical
composition, and was more than any other man
curiously elaborate in the structure of his own
poetic diction." Indeed, it was Gray who had
written, in a letter to West, that "the language of
the age is never the language of poetry."
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
• Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share,
• Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
• Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
• But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
• Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
• Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
• For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, --
• Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;
"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
• One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
"The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
The Epitaph
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melacholy marked him for her own.
• Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode
(There they alike in trembling hope repose),
The bosom of his Father and his God.
• William Blake
• I. Life:
• William Blake, born on 28 November 1757, was the son of a London
hosier, The boy never went to school. He picked up his education as
well as he could, his favourite studies in early days were
Shakespeare, Milton and Chatterton, the "marvellous boy" who
wrote "The Rowley Papers". At the age of 14, he was apprenticed to
an engraver. After leaving him, Blake began to earn his living as an
engraver of illustrations for various publishers. His illustrations” for
Young's Night Thoughts", Gray’s poems and the Book of Job show
him a great artist with a style of his own. But he was never
prosperous in this business and remained poor all his life.
In 1782, he married Catherine Boucher, an illiterate girl. Blake
taught her to read and to help him in engraving. Catherine proved an
excellent wife, sympathizing with his work and sharing in it.
• In 1827, Blake died in obscurity and poverty.
• “Songs of Innocence” (1789) and “ Songs of
Experience” ( 1794):
The best of Blake's short poems is to be
found in these two little collections of lyrics.
“Songs of Innocence” contain poems which were
apparently written for children. Using a language
which even little babies can learn by heart, Blake
succeeded in depicting the happy condition of a
child before it knows anything about pains of
existence. The poet expresses his delight in the
sun, the hills, the streams, the insects and the
flowers, in the innocence of the child and of the
lamb. Here everything seems to be in harmony.
• In Sons of Experience ', a much maturer work. entirely
different themes are to be found, for in this collection of
poems the poet drew pictures of neediness and distress
and showed the sufferings of the miserable The will to
freedom must endure, for a time, the limitations of
worldly experience, and salvation is said to come
through passion; the revolt, through revolution. The poet
was conscious of some blind hand" crushing the life of
man, as man crushes the fly.
The Contrast between "Songs of Innocence” and
Songs of Experience" is of great significance; it marks a
progress in the poet's outlook on life, In the earlier
collection there seem to be no shadows, To the poet's
eyes, the first glimpse of the world was a picture of light,
harmony, peace and love.
But in the later years, experience had brought a fuller
sense of the power of evil and of the great misery and
pain of the people's life.
My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but oh my soul is white!
White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereaved of light.
My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And, sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And, pointed to the east, began to say:
• "Look on the rising sun: there God does live,
• And gives His light, and gives His heat away,
• And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
• Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.
• "And we are put on earth a little space,
• That we may learn to bear the beams of love
• And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
• Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
• "For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear,
• The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice,
• Saying, 'Come out from the grove, my love and care
• And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice',"
Thus did my mother say, and kissed me;
And thus I say to little English boy.
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy
I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our Father's knee;
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry "Weep! weep! weep! weep!"
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.
• There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
• That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved; so I said,
• "Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head's bare,
• You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."
And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight! -That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.
And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and let them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.
• Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
• They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
• And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
• He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.
• And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
• And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
• Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy
and warm:
• So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
A little black thing in 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."
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could Frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
• What the hammer? what the chain?
• In what furnace was thy brain?
• What the anvil? what dread grasp
• Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
• When the stars threw down their spears,
• And watered heaven with their tears,
• Did he smile his work to see?
• Did he who made the lamb make thee?
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
I wandered through each chartered street,
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:
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appalls,
And the hapless soldier's 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 blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.