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Matthew Arnold “His poetry endures because of its directness, and the literal fidelity of his beautifully circumstantial description of nature, of scenes,

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Presentation on theme: "Matthew Arnold “His poetry endures because of its directness, and the literal fidelity of his beautifully circumstantial description of nature, of scenes,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Matthew Arnold “His poetry endures because of its directness, and the literal fidelity of his beautifully circumstantial description of nature, of scenes, and places, imbued with a kind of majestic sadness which takes the place of music” (Kunitz)

2 A Brief Biography Poet and critic Was educated at Winchester; Rugby, where he won a prize for a poem; and Oxford, to which he went as a Scholar of Balliol College in 1841, and where he won the Newdigate Prize for "Cromwell, A Prize Poem," and received a Second Class in litterae humaniores. Was developing his poetic gift carefully, but his exuberant, versatile nature ensured that he was also very social among Oxford men & he even began to dress fashionably (despite being a “wordy”). In 1845, however, after a short term of teaching at Rugby, he was elected Fellow of Oriel, which was a great distinction at Oxford. Record of his private life at this period is, interestingly, lacking. Seemingly strong allegiance to France (and a fan of theatre). In 1847 he became private secretary to Lord Lansdowne, who in 1851 secured him an inspectorship of schools: he did this the rest of his life, and may have been partly responsible for the smallness of his poetical output. This prestigious position enabled him to marry Frances Lucy Wightman, daughter of Sir William Wightman, a Judge of the Queen's Bench. (Kunitz)

3 His literary career had begun in 1849 (not really noticed at this time). Arnold's work as a critic begins with the “Preface to the Poems”(1853). The major elements of his critical theory were emphasis on the importance of subject in poetry, on "clearness of arrangement, rigor of development, simplicity of style" learned from the Greeks, and in the strong imprint of Goethe and Wordsworth. In 1883 Gladstone granted Arnold a pension of £250 a year, allowing him to retire from the post & to travel both in Europe and in North America (reporting on continental education) These reports & his ordinary reports as a school inspector had an important effect on English education. With his increased freedom, he set out on a lecture tour in the United States; however, he wasn’t well received. He died suddenly in 1888, while running to catch a tramcar. Matthew Arnold "was indeed the most delightful of companions," writes G. W. E. Russell, "a man of the world entirely free from worldliness and a man of letters without the faintest trace of pedantry." He was a familiar figure at the Athenaeum Club, a frequent diner-out and guest at great country houses, was fond of fishing and shooting, a lively conversationalist, he read constantly, widely, and deeply, and supported himself and his family by the quiet drudgery of school inspecting. In his writings, he often baffled and sometimes annoyed his contemporaries by the apparent contradiction between his urbane, even frivolous manner in controversy, and the "high seriousness" of his critical views and the melancholy, almost plaintive note of much of his poetry. (Kunitz)

4 The Rationalist Aggravated by the issues of the age, in his youth, Arnold tried to find escape as the poets who proceeded him did (the Romantic poets): he accepted his alienation and sought to make a virtue of it. He found that the life of the imagination, though, cannot be entirely self-sustaining. Tennyson and Browning operated within a transcendental frame of reference – they rose above their reality, through imagination. Arnold lacked any such resources of imaginative being. Incapable either of Tennyson's “mystical double-vision” or of Browning's primitive confidence and animation, Arnold tried to rationalize his impulses. (Johnson)

5 Arnold & Religion Orthodox Christianity was intellectually unacceptable to Arnold. Very little of his early poetry exhibits any serious preoccupation with the Christian revelation. Perhaps the nostalgic undertone of “Dover Beach” is as close as the poet comes to an admission of the consolations offered by religion. But with the "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the Sea of Faith sounding in his ears, he faces a world lacking any spiritual motive, a world which offers: "Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain." And in exemplification of the failure of religion as an informing principle in modern life, there is nothing to match the final figure of "Dover Beach": And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night. (Johnson)

6 Gerald Hopkins

7 Gerard Hopkins Born in 1844, to Manley and Catherine (Smith) Hopkins. The first of their nine children. His parents were High Church Anglicans, and his father, a marine insurance adjuster, had just published a volume of poetry the year before. At grammar school in Highgate ( ), he won a poetry prize and a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. At one time he wanted to be a painter-poet like D. G. Rossetti (two of his brothers became professional painters). He was strongly influenced by the poetry of the devout Anglicans George Herbert and Christina Rossetti. Even more insistent, however, was his search for a religion which could speak with true authority. He converted to Catholicism and entered the Society of Jesus. He burned his early poems, feeling that the practice of poetry was too individualistic and self-indulgent for a Jesuit priest.

8 When he studied the writings of Duns Scotus in 1872 he decided that his poetry might not necessarily conflict with Jesuit principles. Scotus ( ), a medieval Catholic thinker, argued (contrary to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas) that individual and particular objects in this world were the only things that man could know directly. In 1874, studying theology in North Wales, he learned Welsh, and was later to adapt the rhythms of Welsh poetry to his own verse, inventing what he called " sprung rhythm." After his ordination as a priest in 1877 he served (not too successfully) as preacher or assistant to the parish priest in Sheffield, Oxford, and London During the next three years he found stimulating but exhausting work as parish priest in the slums of three manufacturing cities, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. In 1881 he began ten months of spiritual study in London, and then for three years taught Latin and Greek at Stonyhurst College. He was appointed Professor of Greek and Latin at University College, Dublin, which might be expected to be his happiest work, instead found him in prolonged depression. He was reading hundreds of papers written by uninspired students (half failed) and came to feel that his prayers no longer reached God; and this doubt produced the "terrible" sonnets. He refused to give way to his depression, however, and his last words as he lay dying of typhoid fever on June 8, 1889, were, "I am happy, so happy."

9 Other than a few uncharacteristic poems scattered in periodicals, Hopkins was not published during his own lifetime. His good friend Robert Bridges ( ), whom he met at Oxford and who became Poet Laureate in 1913, served as his literary caretaker: Hopkins sent him copies of his poems, and Bridges arranged for their publication in Even after he started writing again in 1875, Hopkins put his responsibilities as a priest before his poetry, and, so, his output is rather slim and somewhat limited in range, especially in comparison to such major figures as Tennyson or Browning. Over the past few decades critics have given him much credit and notice. He has been viewed as a great Victorian poet. This implies that his concern with the " inscape" of natural objects is centrally important to the period Since that way of looking at the world is essentially Romantic, it further implies that the similarities between Romantic and Victorian poetry are much more significant than their differences. (Everett)

10 Sprung Rhythm Gerard Manley Hopkins' term for a complex and very technically involved system of metrics which he derived partly from his knowledge of Welsh poetry. It is opposed specifically to "running" or "common" rhythm, and provides for feet of lengths varying from one syllable to four, with either "rising" or "falling" rhythm. No other poet has since used sprung rhythm regularly. Also characteristic of Hopkins was his need to back up his poetic practice by a theory which demonstrated the immanence of God in his poems.

11 Mind-Calming Contemplation It's been said that Hopkins had one of the finest minds of his generation; a brilliant classical scholar with a glittering career ahead of him. He gave it all up to become a poor — and, it has to be admitted, an unsuccessful — Jesuit priest. But central to the Jesuit way of life are retreats and contemplative exercises. In this mind- calming contemplation Hopkins must also have encountered the God he found in landscape and poetry (Sullivan).

12 “God’s Grandeur” “Masterful alliteration, expert use of enjambment, rhymes that click like the ticking of a clock, and imagery that is beautiful, original, and bold, and a meter that creates its own rhythm that has never been matched. What more could we ask for?” (World Class Poetry Blog).

13 “Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell” Emily Dickinson THE GREAT UNKNOWN

14 Introducing...Emily Dickinson Unknown in her lifetime, now recognized as one of the greatest American poets (Milani) Wrote over 1700 poems (Milani) Many of her poems were left unfinished (Mondragon) No dates on many of her poems (Milani) One single known photograph of her (Mondragon)

15 The Photo

16 Her Life... Born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts (Mondragon) Immediate family included: Emily (mom), Edward (dad), Austin (brother), & Lavinia (sister) (Mondragon) Father was a prominent businessman, lawyer and later member of House of Representatives (Mondragon)

17 Her Education... Education was a big deal to the Dickinson family (Mondragon) Grandfather, Samuel, was a founder of Amherst college (Mondragon) Emily went to excellent schools such as the Amherst Academy studying classic literature, mathematics, history and botany (Mondragon) Left home at 17 to study at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (Mondragon) Returned to Amherst after a year where she led a life of seclusion (Mondragon)

18 Her “Strange” Behaviors From late teens to early twenties adopted childish spelling of her name, “Emilie” (Mondragon) Did not learn to tell time until her mid- teens because she did not understand her father’s explanation and did not want him to know (Mondragon) Asked guests at social gatherings if they would rather a glass of wine or a rose (Mondragon)

19 Her “Strange” Behaviors (Cont.)... Talked to friends behind partially opened doors (Milani) Stayed in her room to listen to her father’s funeral service, held on the lawn of the house (Milani) Her doctor had to diagnose her while walking by a partially opened door (Milani) She lowered baskets of baked goods to children of the neighborhood via a pulley outside her bedroom window (Milani)

20 Her Relationships... Despite life of recluse, she corresponded with a few friends regularly (Mondragon) Two who had great influence on her writing were: Thomas Wentworth Higginson, eminent literary man and Reverend Charles Wadsworth (Mondragon)

21 Her Relationships (cont.)... Met Wadsworth on a trip to Philadelphia (Mondragon) Was a solitary, romantic person Emily could confide in when writing poetry (Mondragon) Influenced Emily’s religious beliefs(Mondragon) Most importantly, Emily is believed to have been in love with Wadsworth, making him the potential subject of her love poetry (Mondragon)

22 Her Relationsips (cont.)... Wrote to Higginson after reading an article he wrote encouraging writers to publish (Mondragon) He appreciated her creativity and fantastic writing ability (Mondragon) He became a mentor of sorts (Mondragon) Met Dickinson at her home one night, which prompted him to write to his wife, “I never was with anyone who drained my nerve power so much. Without touching her she drew from me. I am glad not to live near her.” (Mondragon)

23 Death... In 1864 and 1865, visited doctors in Boston for eye problems. Was told not to read or write anymore (Mondragon) Father Edward died suddenly in 1874 (Mondragon) In 1878 friend Samuel Bowles died (Mondragon) 1882, mother died and friend Charles Wadsworth died (Mondragon) 1883, her brother’s son dies (Mondragon) This rapid onset of death in her life may have influenced her numerous poems on the subject (Mondragon) Emily herself died on May 15, 1886 at the age of 56 of kidney problems (Mondragon)

24 Her Poetry... Began writing poetry upon her return from Holyoke (Mondragon) Did not title any of her poetry (Mondragon) Had only seven of her poems published during her lifetime (Mondragon) Sister Lavinia found poetry after her death. Even she did not know the scope of Emily’s writing (Milani)

25 Her Poetry (cont.)... Her secluded lifestyle gave her place (her bedroom) and time to write poetry (Milani) Many versions of her poems exist because she was not around when they were published (Milani) Passionate poet, whose passion was represented in the dramatic quality of her poetry (Milani) “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?” (Milani )

26 Her Poetry (cont.)... Her poetry provided an escape from pain- death, religious conflicts, terrors (Milani) Concerned with the essence of living (Milani) Wrote about the qualities that made the thing or the experience, distilled the inessential (Milani) Insisted on distinction between her poetry and her life. “I” in poetry did not necessarily mean her (Milani)

27 Her Poetry (cont.)... Had a disregard for the rules of grammar and sentence structure (Milani) Eliminated unnecessary language and punctuation from her poetry (Milani) Experimented with rhyme (Milani) Poetry less concerned with events of society, more about the individual (Milani) She lived through the Civil War yet her poems do not explicitly discuss it (Milani) Richard Howard said, “There was only one event, herself.”


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