William Blake

	William Wordsworth

  1. The Prelude, Book Fourteenth: The chief subject of this conclusion to Wordsworth's great autobiographical poem is his narration of the ascent of another mountain, this time Mount Snowden in England. What symbolic images do we encounter, and what do they seem to "mean"? The film: consider some of the visionary experiences. Were they sublime? How might you dexribe the experience of the film? Was it what you had expected to see? Did it resemble Wordsworth's poetry?

14. "Resolution and Independence": Define the words in the title. How would you characterize Wordsworth's despair?

17. "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" suggests a paradigm for reading Wordsworth's poetry. Explain.



Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  1. Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Read the whole poem and its gloss carefully. Then before you read it a second time, consider the information provided in Wordsworth's comments in the headnote to "We Are Seven" and in Perkins's and Coleridge's remarks presented in the headnote to the Rime itself. What was the origin of the plot, and which writer conceived of the mariner's crime?
  2. Consider Coleridge's reply to Mrs. Barbauld regarding "the want of a moral," and Perkins's comment on the function of the last lines of the work. Our chief concern in discussion of this poem will be, not its "moral," but its theme. But first, who tells the tale? Is the narrator reliable? Who hears it? What is the tone and atmosphere of the poem?
  1. Biographia Literaria: What are Coleridge's definitions of poet, of the imagination, of poetic faith? "? Examine Coleridge's explanation of the respective purposes he and Wordsworth had in the original Lyrical Ballads, including his famous reference to "willing suspension of disbelief." Examine his definition of "reconciliation of opposites."
  2. From Shakespearean Criticism: list some of the important elements. What specifically does he mean by "Mechanic and Organic Form"? What is meant by his "lectures"? How have Coleridge's scholarly ideas reshaped Shakespearean criticism?

George Gordon, Lord Byron

  1. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Read the editor's headnote and refer back to the section of the "Introduction" for Byron discussing the poem's public reception and "the Byronic hero." In the first sixteen stanzas of Canto III, what personal background and character traits can we identify which might define that figure? : Are the narrator and Harold the same?
  1. Manfred. Consider the episode involving the Chamois-hunter: Is he symbolic?

Percy Bysshe Shelley

John Keats.

  1. Letter to J. H. Reynolds, 3 May 1818: Follow the discussion of the uses of "knowledge," and of the difference between Wordsworth and Milton. Which poet is greater, in what ways, according to Keats? What two things does Keats claim his comparison "proves"? In the middle of this discussion Keats illustrates his ideas with his famous description of life as "a Mansion of Many Apartments"; study his metaphor closely. How does it reiterate concerns Keats has already voiced in his poetry? How might we apply it to our own lives?
  2. The Fall of Hyperion: Consider the editor's not on this second fragmentary poem on the same subject, especially as it regards a change in style. There, it is suggested that an incompatibility of styles explains why Keats ultimately abandoned altogether his effort to write a poem about the Hyperion myth. But we may wish to consider as well whether there is some significance to the change in point of view in the second version--that is, from an "omniscient" point of view to a first-person point of view; from, as it were, Milton's style to that of Dante. the change from Mnemosyne to Moneta? from a Greek to a Roman name? a change in character? Who speaks in Hyperion? Mnemosyne did not speak; here, Moneta does. What is the issue she addresses? How does this relate to Keats's own ideas about poetry and his ambitions as a poet?

In our summing up the achievement of Keats, and in considering Lamia which we did not read, we should consider his growth and development as a poet as seen in his use of imagery, his experimentation with poetic forms, and particularly his elaboration of poetic themes. Our concern with the latter has revealed a fresh and earthy treatment of nature and the senses, an uncompromising approach to the theme of the real versus the ideal, an often painful inquiry into the question of poetry and service to humanity, and a daring investigation of the authenticity of the imagination and the relationship between beauty and truth.

Back to The Literary Link