Augustans and Romantics
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Augustans and Romantics

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Introduction to two important periods of literary history with comments on poetry and poetic examples

Introduction to two important periods of literary history with comments on poetry and poetic examples

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Augustans and Romantics Augustans and Romantics Presentation Transcript

  • Poetic forms & genres
    Augustan and Romantic Poetry
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • 1660-1785 The Neoclassical Period
    1660-1700 The Restoration
    1700-1745 The Augustan Age (or Age of Pope)
    1745-1785 The Age of Sensibility (or Age of Johnson)
    1785-1830 The Romantic Period
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Augustan Poetry
    • Originally applied to the time of the Latin poets Virgin Horace and Ovid writing during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC-AD 14)
    • Then to the literary period in England c. 1700-1745
    • Major authors e.g. Pope and Swift imitated the style of the Roman poets.
    • Sometimes used to indicate the entire Neoclassical period
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Neoclassical Poetry
    • Reacted against what was seen as the stylistic indiscipline and excessive invention of the Renaissance poets
    • Wanted to restore the restraint, simplicity and impersonality of Classical Poetry
    • Translation and 'Imitation' of Classical poets
    • Distrust of innovation
    • Emphasis on 'rules'
    • Decorum: genre, characters and style should all match
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Pope's Essay on Criticism (1709)
    ‘Expression is the Dress of Thought, and still
    Appears more decent as more suitable;
    A vile Conceit in pompous Words exprest,
    Is like a Clown in regal Purple drest;
    For diff'rent Styles with diff'rent Subject sort,
    As several Garbs with Country, Town and Court’
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • In much Augustan poetry, poetic language is the 'dress' of thought and metaphor a kind of embellishment or packaging of the thought.
    ‘True wit is nature to advantage dressed
    What oft was thought but ne'er so well exprest’
    (Essay on Criticism)
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Poetic Form
    • Dominant poetic form of the Augustan period was the heroic couplet
    • A two-line unit of verse; iambic pentameter rhyming aa bb cc …
    • Grouped into verse paragraphs
    • 'closed' when the second line is end-stopped: the sense and grammar of the line comes to a close there
    • The closed heroic couplet was very common in Augustan poetry
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • ‘'Tishard to say, if greater Want of Skill
    Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
    But, of the two, less dang'rous is th'Offence,
    To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense:
    Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
    Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
    A Fool might once himself alone expose,
    Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose.’
    (from Pope's Essay on Criticism 1709)
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
    • Often the first line of a couplet was end-stopped as well as the second
    • Many single lines were broken into two halves by a strong caesura
    • Structures allowing for balance, antithesis and comparison
    • Help to reinforce the way of thinking being outlined in the poetry. Clear, intellectual style, though can be used for satire too.
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Pope'sThe Rape of the Lock (1714)
    Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
    And screams of horror rend th'affighted skies.
    Not louder shrieks to pitying Heav'n are cast,
    When husbands or when lap-dogs breathe their last,
    Or when rich China vessels fall'n from high
    In glittering dust and painted fragments lie.
    [zeugma: one verb used for two or more objects or subjects]
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Pope's Essay on Man (1734)
    ‘Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
    The proper study of Mankind is Man.
    Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
    A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
    With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
    With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
    He hangs between; […]’
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Augustan and other poets
    Pope was the dominant poet of the period
    Further Augustan poets include John Gay and Jonathan Swift
    Other poets were more concerned with nature and the individual self, anticipating Romanticism:
    James Thomson (The Seasons 1730) and Edward Yonge (Night Thoughts 1744)
    Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1750)
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Romantic Forms and Genres
    TheOxford Companion to English Literature :
    ‘In the most abstract terms, Romanticism may be regarded as the triumph of the values of imaginative spontaneity, visionary originality, wonder, and emotional self-expression over the classical standards of balance, order, restraint, proportion and objectivity. Its name derives from romance, the literary form in which desires and dreams prevail over everyday realities.’
    Key figures: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge,
    Byron, Shelley, Keats.
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • 'The principal object, then, which I proposed to myself in these poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible, in a selection of language really used by men; and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way.' (from the revised Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth & Coleridge,1802)
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • The Age of Revolution
    American Revolution (American War of Independence 1775-83)
    French Revolution (1789-99)
    Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution
    'The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world, has, for want of the poetical faculty, proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave'
    (Shelley from A Defense of Poetry, 1821)
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Role of Imagination
    'What Nature gave me at my birth
    My Shaping spirit of Imagination'
    (Coleridge: Dejection, an Ode, 1802)
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Coleridge: BiographiaLiteraria (1817)
    IMAGINATION then I consider either as primary, or Secondary. The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • ...The poet, described in ideal perfection, brings the whole soul of man into activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other according to their relative worth and dignity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity that blends, and (as it were) fuses, each into each, by that synthetic and magical power, to which I would exclusively appropriate the name of imagination.
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Tintern Abbey(Wordsworth, 1798)
    ...Therefore am I still
    A lover of the meadows and the woods,
    And mountains; and of all that we behold
    From this green earth; of all the mighty world
    Of eye and ear – both what they half create,
    And what perceive…
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Wordsworth, The Prelude
    ‘As one who hangs down-bending from the side
    Of a slow-moving Boat, upon the breast
    Of a still water, solacing himself
    With such discoveries as his eye can make,
    Beneath him, in the bottom of the deeps,
    Sees many beauteous sights, weeds, fishes, flowers,
    Grots, pebbles, roots of trees, and fancies more,
    Yet often is perplexed, and cannot part
    The shadow from the substance, rocks and sky’
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • ‘Mountains and clouds, from that which is indeed
    The region, and the things which there abide
    In their true dwelling; now is crossed by gleam
    Of his own image, by a sunbeam now,
    And motions that are sent he knows not whence,
    Impediments that make his task more sweet;
    -Such pleasant office have we long pursued
    Incumbent o'er the surface of past time
    With like success...’
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Romantic Form
    The Romantic poets emphasised organic form, rather than the rigid 'containers' of Neoclassical form
    They used a variety of forms
    They revived neglected forms such as the ballad and the sonnet
    They experimented with and developed these revived forms
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Romantic Form
    The lyric poem became much more central:
    A relatively short poem uttered by a single first-person speaker, who expresses a state of mind, or a process of perception, thought and feeling
    Coleridge: Conversation poems; fragments,
    The Romantic Ode: e.g.
    Wordsworth: Intimations of Immortality
    Coleridge: Dejection: An Ode
    Keats: Ode to a Nightingale
    Shelley: Ode to the West Wind
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • The Ode
    A longish lyric poem that is serious in subject and treatment, elevated in style, and often elaborate in stanzaic structure
    Regular ode: regular stanza pattern
    Irregular ode: stanzas of different lengths
    Romantic Odes usually made up of a mixture of description and meditation
    Often of a three part structure:
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Romantic Ode
    1 description of a particular outer scene in nature
    2 extended meditation which the scene inspires, and which may be on a private problem, a universal situation, or both
    3 an insight or vision, a resolution or decision, signalling a return to the original scene, but with a new perspective.
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • From Wordsworth: ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey’ (1798)
    ‘FIVE years have past; five summers, with the length
    Of five long winters! and again I hear
    These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
    With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
    Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
    That on a wild secluded scene impress
    Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
    The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
    [sets the scene]
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • ‘But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
    Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
    In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
    Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
    And passing even into my purer mind,
    With tranquil restoration…
    [meditates on his feelings]
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • ‘…I have learned
    To look on nature, not as in the hour
    Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
    The still, sad music of humanity,
    Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
    To chasten and subdue.’
    [what he has learned as recompense for lost childhood]
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • ...something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things.
    [sense of a divine presence in nature]
    [then returns to the present situation and his sister Dorothy]
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
  • Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres
    • The Romantic period is seen today as a crucial time in history. It embodies many of the conflicts and ideological debates which are still at the heart of the modern world.
    • It was a time when ideas about societies were breaking down and being redefined, and radicalism and tradition, change and stability, nature and humanity were major themes.
    • We still live in a world that has been decisively shaped by this period even if we don’t know this consciously.
    Sarah Law Poetic Forms and Genres