10-William Blake and Robert Burns

William Blake and Robert Burns
Forerunners of Romanticism William Blake (1757-1827) British poet, painter, and engraver, who illustrated and printed his own books; Visionary(幻想家)and mystic(神秘主义者) (幻想家) (神秘主义者) To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. ----Auguries of Innocence 在刹那中见终古,在微尘中显大千,在有限中寓无限 William Blake Religiously a dissenter; Politically a radical, Sympathetic to the American and French revolutions and to the spirit of freedom. Considered eccentric and incomprehensible in his time; But in 20th c recognized as one of the greatest of English poets. Today, he is known both for his poetry and his drawings of biblical subjects, his illustrations of Dante and other artistic works. William Blake Forerunner of romanticism in England His poetry shows some features of romantic spirit; opposed to neo-classicism marked by imagination, feeling and originality Blake’s Poetic Works The lyrics and Prophetic books Songs of Innocence(1789) Songs of Experience(1794) Blake’s Poetic Works The two volumes form a contrast and reflect two widely different views of life. Innocence and experience represent two contrary states in the development of human soul; the two different stages

of life: childhood and adulthood. Blake’s Poetic Works Songs of Innocencepresents a happy and innocent world, even in the face of sorrow and suffering. The world is seen through the eyes of a child’s imagination. The keynote is happy and delightful; the poems show the happy and carefree state of innocent children before they know anything about the hardships and misery of life and evils of society. Songs of Experience paints a different world, the atmosphere is no longer sunny but sad and gloomy. Evil is found everywhere in this world. Through the loss of imagination, man has become a slave to the falsehood and hypocrisy of religion and society, and thus has lost the Heaven of Innocence and gained the Hell of Experience. The prophetic books French Revolution, America, Europe, the Book of Los, Vala, Jerusalem, Milton, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell etc. In his later poems Blake grew more mystical and concentrated more on his inner self and claimed that he saw visions. They are highly symbolic. In the prophetic books he describes what has seen in his visions. Blake as an innovator in poetry writing Blake broke completely with the traditions of 18th c and searched for new poetic forms and techniques; experimented in meter and rhyme and introduced bold metrical innovations which could not be found in the poetry of his contemporaries. Text study: “London” The poem gives a comprehensive picture of the many miseries, both physical and spiritual, suffered by people in the English capital. It is written in quatrains of iambic tetrameter, with rhymes occurring on the even-numbered lines. Notes 1. charter’d : given special rights to someone according to a charter (document issued by a government granting rights and




5. 6. 7. 8.

privileges). What is implied here is each street is strictly under the control of some capitalists in pursuit of material interests, and the same is true of the Thames. ban: a. an order that officially forbids something; b. condemnation issued by the church; c. a summons to arms; d. a marriage ban-notice; a) ambiguity is a virtue in poetry mind-forg’d manacles: chains and shackles devised and made by the ruling class, and used to confine and restrict the minds of the people. black’ning: blackening. The word is used in both its physical sense and moral sense. Physically the outward appearance of the church grows black with time and air pollution. Morally, it refers the hypocrisy and corruption of the church. soldier’s sigh: referring to the tragic lives of the disarmed soldiers wandering in London Runs in blood: hearing the sighs of the miserable soldiers, the poet visualizes blood running down on the walls of the palace. Blasts the new born infant’s tear: implying the new born infant’s eyes are damaged due to prenatal infection with VD. the marriage hearse: implying a wedding turns into the funeral because of plagues ( VD ) Questions 1. Explain the following phrases coined by the poet: a) charter’s street b) the mind-forg’d manacles c) the marriage hearse 2. Discuss the linguistic features of the poem.

Robert Burns(1759-1796)
The national poet of Scotland Robert Burns Wrote chiefly in Scottish dialect; published his first volume in 1786, “ Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect”; His poetry is noted for its beautiful lyricism and sincerity of emotions, and is characterized by a profound sympathy for the down-trodden people. Poetic works a) Four Groups of Burns’ Poems:

1) Themes of love and friendship. Simple thoughts, but strong emotions, effective words and haunting rhythm. (A Red, Red Rose//John Anderson, My Jo; Auld Lang Syne) 2) Scottish (esp. rural) Life. Patriotic poems on Scotland’s struggle for freedom. (My Heart’s in the Highlands) 3) Political liberty and social equality (under influence of French Revolution): For A’ That and A’ That 4) Satirical Verse (exposing the hypocrisy of the rich, the bigotry of the church and other evils). Holy Willie’s Prayer Text study: A Red, Red Rose 1. Simple language, sincere feelings, beautiful melody, written essentially in the ballad stanza. 2. Ballad meter (民谣体): each stanza the odd-numbered 民谣体): 民谣体):in lines are iambic tetrameter while the even-numbered lines are iambic trimeters, and the rhyme scheme is a b c b 3. Figures: alliteration, repetition, parallelism, simile, metaphor, hyperbole. 4. The Scottish words give a national coloring and the archaic words (art, thee) create a sense of formality. Questions 1. How does the narrator in the poem express his love? 2. Why is the poem so touching to the readers? 3. What are the figures of speech used in the poem and what is their effect?


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