Presentation on theme: "Some Modern British Poets At the Turn of the Age."— Presentation transcript:
Some Modern British Poets At the Turn of the Age
Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928) Both an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural. While he regarded himself primarily as a poet who composed novels mainly for financial gain, during his lifetime he was much better known for his novels, such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd, which earned him a reputation as a great novelist.
The bulk of his fictional works, initially published as serials in magazines, were set in the semi-fictional land of Wessex (based on the Dorchester region where he grew up) and explored tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances Hardy became a truly great English poet after the death of his first wife, Emma, beginning with the elegies he wrote in her memory, calling these poems, "one of the finest and strangest celebrations of the dead in English poetry." Most of his poems such as "Neutral Tones'" and "A Broken Appointment" deal with themes of disappointment in love and life (which were also prominent themes in his novels), and mankind's long struggle against indifference to human suffering. As in his novels, Hardy sometimes wrote ironic poems, like "Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave," in which he employed twist endings in the last few lines or in the last stanza to convey that irony.
Some, like "The Darkling Thrush" and "An August Midnight", appear as poems about writing poetry, because the nature mentioned in them gives Hardy the inspiration to write. His compositions range in style from the three-volume epic closet drama The Dynasts to shorter poems such as "A Broken Appointment." A particularly strong theme in the Wessex Poems is the long shadow that the Napoleonic Wars cast over the nineteenth century, for example, in "The Sergeant's Song" and "Leipzig". A few of Hardy's poems, such as "The Blinded Bird" (a melancholy polemic against the sport of vinkenzetting), display his love of the natural world and his firm stance against animal cruelty, exhibited in his antivivisectionist views and his membership in the RSPCA.vinkenzetting),
Religious Faith Hardy's family was Anglican, but not especially devout. He was baptised at the age of five weeks and attended church, where his father and uncle contributed to music. However, he did not attend the local Church of England school, instead being sent to Mr Last's school, three miles away. As a young adult, he befriended Henry R. Bastow (a Plymouth Brethren man), who also worked as a pupil architect, and who was preparing for adult baptism in the Baptist Church. Hardy flirted with conversion, but decided against it. Bastow went to Australia and maintained a long correspondence with Hardy, but eventually Hardy tired of these exchanges and the correspondence ceased. This concluded Hardy's links with the Baptists.
Hardy’s idea of fate in life gave way to his philosophical struggle with God. Although Hardy’s faith remained intact, the irony and struggles of life led him to question the traditional Christian view of God: The Christian god — the external personality — has been replaced by the intelligence of the First Cause…the replacement of the old concept of God as all-powerful by a new concept of universal consciousness. The 'tribal god, man-shaped, fiery- faced and tyrannous' is replaced by the 'unconscious will of the Universe' which progressively grows aware of itself and 'ultimately, it is to be hoped, sympathetic'
Hardy's religious life seems to have mixed agnosticism, deism, and spiritism. Once, when asked in correspondence by a clergyman about the question of reconciling the horrors of pain with the goodness of a loving God, Hardy replied, – “Mr. Hardy regrets that he is unable to offer any hypothesis which would reconcile the existence of such evils as Dr. Grosart describes with the idea of omnipotent goodness. Perhaps Dr. Grosart might be helped to a provisional view of the universe by the recently published Life of Darwin, and the works of Herbert Spencer, and other agnostics.
“The Darkling Thrush” Originally published in The Graphic with the subtitle “By the Century's Deathbed,” It was published on New Years Day The poem opens with a description of the dreary, bleak winter landscape, but the melancholy tone is shattered by the bright, optimistic singing of "an aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small." As mentioned before, the nature described here gives Hardy the inspiration to write. In the end, the speaker concludes that the small bird possesses "some blessed Hope, whereof he knew and I was unaware."
“The Darkling Thrush” I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-grey, And Winter's dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day. The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be The Century's corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament. The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.
William Butler Yeats ( ) He was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literature He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature:
The Nobel Committee described his work as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." He was the first Irishman so honoured. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). He studied poetry in his youth and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century.
His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889 and those slow-paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the Pre- Raphaelite poets. After many stormy love affairs Yeats (then 51) proposed to twenty-five year old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968), whom he had met through Olivia Shakespear. Despite warning from her friends— "George... you can't. He must be dead"—Hyde-Lees accepted, and the two were married on 20 October During the first years of his marriage, he and George engaged in a form of automatic writing, in which George contacted a variety of spirits and guides they called "Instructors."
The spirits communicated a complex and esoteric system of characters and history, which the couple developed during experiments with the circumstances of trance and the exposition of phases, cones, and gyres. Yeats devoted much time to preparing this material for publication as A Vision (1925). In 1924, he wrote to his publisher T. Werner Laurie admitting: "I dare say I delude myself in thinking this book my book of books" From 1900, Yeats' poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life.
“The Second Coming” First printed in The Dial (November 1920) and afterwards included in his 1921 collection of verses titled Michael Robartes and the Dancer. The poem uses Christian imagery regarding the Apocalypse and second coming as allegory to describe the atmosphere in post-war World War I) Europe. The poem is considered a major work of Modernist poetry and has been reprinted in several collections including The Norton Anthology of Modernist Poetry.
While the various manuscript revisions of the poem refer to the Renaissance, French Revolutions, the Irish rebellion, and those of Germany and of Russia, Richard Ellman and Harold Bloom suggest the text refers to the Russian Revolution of Bloom argues that Yeats takes the side of the counter- revolutionaries and the poem suggests that reaction to the revolution would come too late. Early drafts also included such lines as: "And there's no Burke to cry aloud no Pitt," and "The good are wavering, while the worst prevail."
“The Second Coming” 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: a waste of desert sand; 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 Wind 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?
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889) Hopkins first ambitions were to be a painter, and he would continue to sketch throughout his life, inspired, as an adult, by the work of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites. He was the first of eight children of religious, literary and artistic parents. His siblings were greatly inspired by language, religion and the creative arts. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,’’
Hopkins became a skilled draughtsman and found that his early training in visual art supported his later work as a poet. As a college student became a major follower of Edward Pusey, the last member of the original Oxford Movement. It was during this time of intense scrupulosity that Hopkins seems to have especially begun confronting his strong homoerotic impulses and began to consider choosing the cloister. Never acted on the impulse.
On 18 January 1866 Hopkins composed his most ascetic poem, “The Habit of Perfection.” On 23 January he included poetry in the list of things to be given up for Lent. In July he decided to become a Catholic, and he traveled to Birmingham in September to consult the leader of the Oxford converts, John Henry Newman. Newman received him into the Church on 21 October On 5 May 1868 Hopkins firmly "resolved to be a religious." Less than a week later, he made a bonfire of his poems and gave up poetry almost entirely for seven years. The decision to convert estranged him from both his family and a number of his acquaintances.
After his graduation in 1867 Hopkins was provided a teaching post at The Oratory School by Newman, but the following year he decided to enter the priesthood, pausing only to visit Switzerland, which officially forbade Jesuits to enter. While he was studying in the Jesuit house of theological studies, St Beuno's, near St Asaph in North Wales, he was asked by his religious superior to write a poem to commemorate the foundering of a German ship in a storm. So in 1875 he was moved to take up poetry once more and write a lengthy poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” inspired by the Deutschland incident, a naval disaster in which 157 people died including five Franciscan nuns who had been leaving Germany due to harsh anti-Catholic laws.
The work displays both the religious concerns and some of the unusual meter and rhythms of his subsequent poetry not present in his few remaining early works. It not only depicts the dramatic events and heroic deeds but also tells of the poet's reconciling the terrible events with God's higher purpose. The poem was accepted but not printed by a Jesuit publication, and this rejection fuelled his ambivalence about his poetry. Most of his poetry remained unpublished until after his death. Hopkins chose the austere and restrictive life of a Jesuit and was at times gloomy.
The brilliant student who had left Oxford with a first class honours degree failed his final theology exam. This failure almost certainly meant that, though ordained in 1877, Hopkins would not progress in the order. In 1877 he wrote God’s Grandeur, an array of sonnets including “The Starlight Night” and finished “The Windhover” only a few months before his ordination.
Sprung rhythm A poetic rhythm designed to imitate the rhythm of natural speech. It is constructed from feet in which the first syllable is stressed and may be followed by a variable number of unstressed syllables. Hopkins claimed to have discovered this previously-unnamed poetic rhythm in the natural patterns of English in folk songs, spoken poetry, Shakespeare, Milton, et al. and used diacritical marks on syllables to indicate which should be drawn out (acute e.g. á ) and which uttered quickly (grave e.g. è ). Some critics believe he merely coined a name for poems with mixed, irregular feet, like free verse. However, while sprung rhythm allows for an indeterminate number of syllables to a foot, Hopkins was very careful to keep the number of feet he had per line consistent across each individual work, a trait that free verse does not share
“The Windhover” I caught this morning morning’s minion, king- dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing! To Christ our Lord
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier! No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
Sites Cited “The Darkling Thrush Introduction” enotes “The Darkling Thrush” Wikipedia. “Thomas Hardy” Wikipedia. “William Butler Years” Wikipedia “William Butler Years The Vision”