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A Grammarian’s Funeral Shortly after the revival of learning in Europe Robert Browning Lecture 21.

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Presentation on theme: "A Grammarian’s Funeral Shortly after the revival of learning in Europe Robert Browning Lecture 21."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Grammarian’s Funeral Shortly after the revival of learning in Europe Robert Browning Lecture 21

2 About the poet Born in 1812 and died major English poet of the Victorian age, noted for his mastery of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. dramatic monologue is a form invented and practiced principally by Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Dante Rossetti, and other Victorians. In a dramatic monologue, a poem must have a speaker and an implied auditor, and that the reader often perceives a gap between what that speaker says and what he or she actually reveals (irony).

3 A dramatic monologue, to paraphrase M.H. Abrams, is a poem with a speaker who is clearly separate from the poet, who speaks to an implied audience that, while silent, remains clearly present in the scene. (This implied audience distinguishes the dramatic monologue from the soliloquy—a form also used by Browning—in which the speaker does not address any specific listener, rather musing aloud to him or herself).

4 The purpose of the monologue is to develop the character of the speaker and explore the consciousness of the speaker and the inner workings of the mind. The poem describes the influence of renaissance knowledge.

5 About the poem "A Grammarian's Funeral," which was published in Men and Women in 1855, is whether it is better to live one's life or to understand one's life. It is a classic literary theme that the two cannot be simultaneously chosen. The speaker of this poem is a disciple of an accomplished grammarian who has recently died. The speaker gives a eulogy for their master, telling how "he lived nameless“ in pursuit of mastering his studies, which focused on Greek grammar.

6 Analysis of the poem Let us begin and carry up this corpse, Singing together. Written in dramatic monologue – the speaker is the member of the funeral procession and makes a speech for his dead master.

7 Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes Each in its tether Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain, Cared-for till cock-crow: Common crofts: ignorant people Vulgar thorps: illiterate people Tether: rope or chain to limit movement Bosom of the plain: living in plains

8 Look out if yonder be not day again Rimming the rock-row! Rock-row: the highland

9 That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought, Rarer, intenser, Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought, Chafes in the censer. Self-gathered for an outbreak: breakaway from all restraint. The mountain, the place where they are taking the grammarian, represents greatness and higher thoughts.

10 Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop; Seek we sepulture On a tall mountain, citied to the top, Crowded with culture! Unlettered: ignorant Sepulture: tomb

11 All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels; Clouds overcome it; No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's Circling its summit. Yonder sparkle: light on top of the hill Citadel: a fortress protecting the town.

12 Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights: Wait ye the warning? Our low life was the level's and the night's; He's for the morning.

13 Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head, 'Ware the beholders! This is our master, famous, calm and dead, Borne on our shoulders. Showing respect for their master.

14 Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft, Safe from the weather! He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft, Singing together, He was a man born with thy face and throat, Lyric Apollo! Apollo: god of sun

15 Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note Winter would follow? Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone! He lived his life without caring for the difficulties.

16 Cramped and diminished, Moaned he, "New measures, other feet anon! My dance is finished"? His health was failing.

17 No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountain-side, Make for the city!) He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride Over men's pity; He took no notice of other men when they pitied his poor condition.

18 Left play for work, and grappled with the world Bent on escaping: "What's in the scroll," quoth he, "thou keepest furled Show me their shaping, Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage, Give!" So, he gowned him, Straight got by heart that book to its last page: He was always keen to learn new things,

19 Learned, we found him. Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead, Accents uncertain: "Time to taste life," another would have said, "Up with the curtain!" He suffered in his old age.

20 "Time to taste life," another would have said, "Up with the curtain!" This man said rather, "Actual life comes next? Patience a moment!

21 Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text, Still there's the comment. Let me know all! Prate not of most or least, Painful or easy! Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast, Ay, nor feel queasy." Prate: to boast Fain: pretend

22 Oh, such a life as he resolved to live, When he had learned it, When he had gathered all books had to give! Sooner, he spurned it. Spurned: to reject contemptuously, with scorn

23 Image the whole, then execute the parts Fancy the fabric Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz, Ere mortar dab brick! He saw life as whole not as parts – gives us an image of constructing a building.


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