to a six year old, this is terrifying.
When I was reading “I Do Not Love Thee,” literally all I could think of was this song. I think Meg and Caroline would have been best friends.
So this is a really small contribution (if it can even be called that), but not long ago we read excerpts of Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century in my American Romanticism class. Fuller discusses various forms of interactions between men and women, and spends a decent chunk of time discussing marriage. Fuller stresses the importance of equality in a marriage; both men and women need the ability to grow, spiritually and intellectually. She develops four “tiers” of marriage, based on the level of equality between husband and wife. The lowest is “household partnership,” followed by “mutual idolatry,” then “intellectual companionship,” and lastly, “religious union” (Fuller 60, 69). As the anthology’s introduction on Mary Howitt states, Fuller specifically mentions the marriage between Mary and William Howitt, and classifies their marriage as an intellectual companionship. I found this really interesting and thought I would share the full passage:
“These are all instances of marriage as intellectual companionship. The parties meet mind to mind, and a mutual trust is produced, which can buckler them against a million. They work together for a common purpose, and, in all these instances, with the same implement, — the pen. The pen and the writing-desk furnish forth as naturally the retirement of Woman as of Man.
A pleasing, expression, in this kind, is afforded by the union in the names of the Howitts. William and Mary Howitt we heard named together for years, supposing them to be brother and sister; the equality of labors and reputation, even so, was auspicious; more so, now we find them man and wife. In his late work on Germany, Howitt mentions his wife, with pride, as one among the constellation of distinguished English-women, and in a graceful, simple manner. And still we contemplate with pleasure the partnership in literature and affection between the Howitts, –the congenial pursuits and productions– the pedestrian tours wherein the married pair showed that marriage, on a wide enough basis, does not destroy the ‘inexhaustible’ entertainment which lovers find in one another’s company.” (67)
Definitely a different type of marriage compared to the other poets we’ve read this semester!
Fuller, Margaret. Woman in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Greeley & McElrath, 1845. 60-69. Print.
Holly Anne’s Key Passage Analysis on Felicia Heman’s The Image in Lava.
“Far better then to perish,
Thy form within its clasp,
Than live and lose thee, precious one!
From that impassion’d grasp.”
In Felicia Heman’s poem, The Image in Lava, she is speaking about a form of a mother and child that was captured in the lava flow that destroyed their city of Herculaneum in 79 A.D, thus preserving their bodies. This poem is striking because Hemans takes the image of a mother and child and preserves it in another way: a poem. Throughout the poem Hemans discusses the binary of love and pain. This can be traced back to her personal life in the form of her failed marriage and five children and her coping with that in her life.
In the lines 29 through 32, Hemans makes the statement that it must be “far better” for the mother and child to die together than to face the possibility of living life apart. Hemans knows that that possibility may have not happened, but the mere possibility was enough for her to make the statement that it was better for them to die while they were still together. She describes the mother and child in an “impassion’d grasp”, like one gasping for their last breath and finding it in their child. It evokes an image of desperation and hope. Hemans insists that the child meant so much to the mother, that it was probably for the best that they die and preserve the image of their togetherness as a tribute to motherhood in subsequent generations.
Felicia Hemans was no stranger to motherhood, so she may have drawn on her feelings as a mother in order to connect with the mother’s image in the lava. The emotions described are very tangible. For example, when Hemans says “Thy form within its clasp” the image of hands holding onto something in desperation comes to mind. The mother in this image clearly finds her source of life in her child, and cannot imagine her life without it. The thought of being together for eternity, even in just the physical form, may have comforted the mother in her last moments.
The poem illustrates a mother’s love for her child, but it does not delve into the child’s love for the mother. Hemans might be looking at the form and the child and recognizing that even though the child may love the mother very much, a mother’s love for her child is very different. It is an irrational and emotional one. This is seen in the lines 29 through 32. The idea that it was somehow better for the mother and child to die together than face the possibility of life separated is ridiculous. Every mother knows that their child will have to be on their own eventually. But this passage illustrates the fulfillment of a mother’s secret wish to never be separated from their child, even if it means dying before that possibility.
Word Count: 466
“Of a happy forest child,
With the fawns and flowers at play;
Of an Indian ’midst the wild,
With the stars to guide his way:
Of a chief his warriors leading,
Of an archer’s greenwood tree: —
My heart in chains is bleeding,
And I dream of all things free!”
Felicia Hemans’ “I Dream of All Things Free” (page 324, lines 17-24)
In Hemans’ poem “I Dream of All Things Free,” the poetic speaker describes dreaming of and admiring various things that exhibit freedom, ranging from a ship sailing on the ocean to “some proud bird” (2-3, 9). However, in particular, the last stanza not only examines things that have freedom, but also encapsulates various themes common to Romantic poetry. Nostalgia, an awe for nature, and even a hint of emotional sorrow are all incorporated into the final stanza of the poem in order to emphasize the speaker’s personal desire for freedom.
The first image described by the speaker is of a “happy forest child, / With the fawns and flowers at play” (17-18). The lines are whimsical and immediately invoke a sense of nostalgia and innocence, along with an appreciation of nature. Furthermore, the image is a strong choice in regards to an example of freedom. Not only does the child possess the freedom to play amongst the fawns and flowers within the forest, but symbolically children are considered to be free from the hardships and struggles of adulthood as well. The poem’s next two lines take on another strong example of freedom amongst nature. Like the image of fawns and flowers, the image of “an Indian ’midst the wild” suggests the beauty of the natural world (19). However, rather than the playfulness of nature, this image instead emphasizes the subliminal aspect of it in order to convey the concept of freedom. By using the term “wild,” and by describing the stars as the Indian’s guide, the speaker views nature as a broad expanse, with the Indian free to explore it (19-20). The speaker implies that the Indian is not restricted to a certain path, but is instead able to freely explore at his will.
The next two images in the stanza are brief compared to the previous two. While it does not incorporate nature, the image of a chief leading his warriors continues the poem’s theme of freedom (21). Being a leader, the chief possesses his own freedom above his warriors. War in general can also be associated with freedom, or in many cases, specifically the fight for freedom. Nature returns in the next image, that of “an archer’s greenwood tree” (22). Though the speaker does not provide anymore details, it is still possible to comprehend the freedom associated with the image. As with the Indian, the speaker may be referring to the freedom the archer has to explore and hunt through the forest.
The final two lines of the stanza display a shift in tone. The speaker describes their heart as “in chains [and] bleeding” and reiterates their dream of all things that are free (23-24). The image of a chained, bleeding heart is much darker than the previous images provided by the speaker. It is emotionally powerful and illustrates his or her sorrow. Furthermore, given the fact that the line “I dream of all things free!” has been repeated throughout the poem, its final repetition carries a sense of desperation, and emphasizes the speaker’s wish for freedom.
Overall, Hemans’ poem provides readers with a prime example of Romantic literature. Not only does the poem focus on a speaker who passionately longs for freedom, but in this key passage Hemans also intertwines other themes and concepts frequently found in Romantic work, including nostalgia and childlike innocence, and a reverence for the natural world.
Word Count: 564
Hemans, Felicia. “I Dream of All Things Free.” British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology. Ed. Paula Feldman. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 324. Print.
On my honor, I pledge I have neither given nor received help on this assignment.
Sadly, I had to unexpectedly miss class Thursday and even more sadly missed out on the rip-roaring discussions on the first set of Felicia Hemans poems, so I thought I would make a small contribution to the blog (and if this was already discussed in class, I apologize!). For some reason, I was particularly interested in the mineralogist that she describes in her poem “Epitaph on Mr. W-, a Celebrated Mineralogist.” As both our book and Megan in her key passage analysis states, the mineralogist Hemans described was Charles P.N. Wilton. The footnote also states that he became an assistant chaplain in New South Wales, Australia, while conducting geological research there as well. As it happens, he made some really interesting observations while there. One of his most well-known topics is the “Burning Mountain” in New South Wales. In 1828, before Wilton had arrived, a newspaper in Australia had published an article claiming that an active volcano had been discovered in the area. People who visited the area reported seeing smoke rising and even flames coming out from the ground. Naturally this caused a huge amount of interest, especially in Wilton, who traveled to the region in 1829. However, he had observed that there was no presence of volcanic rock or lava in the area. After further research, it was determined that the land was actually not a volcano, but was sitting above a coal seam fire, or an underground deposit of coal that continuously burns (Mayer 200-202). Even more interesting, the Burning Mountain is the world’s oldest known coal seam fire, at 6,000 years old (Krajick). Now, coal seams are actually quite common in the world (there are a few even in the US), but it’s important to consider not only the time period in which this observation was made, but also the fact that Wilton had disproved a story that had gained national, and even international, attention.
Another thing that interested me about Wilton was that he was both a mineralogist and an assistant chaplain. Wilton was very much a fundamentalist in terms of his religious views and was known to attempt to correlate his scientific observations with religion. He believed that his observations and investigations lead to “a greater understanding of God’s work” (Mayer 205). This interested me particularly because how similar Wilton’s views were to some of the themes we’ve seen in Romantic literature. Some Romantic works at times associate nature with a higher being or power, so to me it was interesting to see this association outside of literature as well.
Krajick, Kevin. “Fire in the Hole.” Smithsonian Magazine May 2005: n. pag. Web. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/fire-in-the-hole-77895126/>.
Mayer, W. “Geological Observations by the Reverend Charles P.N. Wilton (1795-1859) in New South Wales and His Views on His Relationship Between Religion and Science.” Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility. Ed. Martina Kolbl-Ebert. London: Geological Society of London, 2009. 200-202, 205. Print.
“The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England”
Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted came; 10
Not with the roll of stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame:
Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear; –
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.
Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea!
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free. 20
Here Hemans is presenting a romanticized view of colonialism in North America. This poem in particular was one of her most popular works in America at the time. Published in 1825, Hemans wrote this work around the time she moved into Rhyllon with her mother, sister, and many sons. Her time in Rhyllon was inspiring and joyful, fueling the creation of more positive works of poetry. Unlike most other romantic works of her time, Hemans’ “The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England” has a more positive theme and looks upon colonialism, at least colonialism in America, in a more positive light.
In lines 9 and 10, the pilgrims colonizing the New World are portrayed not as “conquerors,” but as “true-hearted.” Much of colonialism was achieved through conquering of foreign lands and seizing of valuables from the natives. A good example of this would be Hernando Cortez the conquistador, whose colonization of Central America wiped out the Aztec Empire. This point is further illustrated by lines 11 and 12, which talk about a lack of war drums and songs of fame following the pilgrims to the New World. Unlike Cortez, the pilgrims weren’t there for gold and glory. They weren’t like the conquistadors, they had no interest in taking things from the natives. The pilgrims began to colonize America specifically for religious freedom and were not motivated by greed.
Lines 13 and 14 expand further on the pilgrims’ motivation. They were not bound by fear and weren’t there to flee anything. They wanted a level of freedom that western civilization couldn’t offer them at the time, and they left to find a better life in the New World. Lines 15 and 16 cut past the fear imagery with “lofty cheer” as they shake the very foundations of the Earth with how pleased they are to be there. Desert gloom here could allude to a quiet emptiness, a vid if you will that is filled by the weight of the joy and life the pilgrims are bringing in, putting emphasis on what the pilgrims bring rather than what they take.
The theme of happiness against a backdrop of despair continues to pervade in lines 17 and 18. Even against a raging storm, they sang out in joy. Though their situation appeared bleak, the prospect of freedom was far too valuable a prize to give up. Their feelings are validated when the stars and the sea hear their cries, as if they are large enough for forces of nature to take heed of. Lines 19 and 20 wrap up the patriotism toward American colonization. The “anthem” of the pilgrims, a cry for freedom, rings throughout the landscape of “dim woods.” It is almost as if, from Hemans’ point of view, that there was not really anything going on in America before the pilgrims showed up. The land almost seems devoid of civilization; ruled by nature and “conquered” by the good vibes and liberty the pilgrims are bringing over. The pilgrims here are portrayed as having something positive to add to the New World. With the focus on what they can offer as opposed to what they take away from the land, the early colonists are made out to be heroes pursuing dreams of freedom rather than conquerors fueled by a selfish desire for wealth and power.
(Word Count: 555)
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page 283, lines 25-32
“Weep not, good reader! he is truly blest / Amidst chalcedony and quartz to rest: / Weep not for him! but envied be his doom, / Whose tomb, though small, for all he loved had room: / And, O ye rocks! – schist, gneiss, whate’er ye be, / Ye varied strata! – names too hard for me / –Sing, “Oh, be joyful!” for your direst foe, / By death’s fell hammer, is at length laid low.”
In her poem “Epitaph on Mr. W—, a Celebrated Mineralogist,” Felicia Hemans praises the character of Mr. Wilton, a mineralogist who, according to the footnote, “fell off a rock… during [a] mountain ramble.” Throughout the poem, Hemans tells of Mr. Wilton’s great exploits into mountains, and how he “rent the hills asunder” to study the rocks within them (8).
In the lines that I have chosen to analyze, she urges her readers to “weep not” for the man, claiming instead that we should be envious of “his doom” (27). Hemans’ word choice in this line is particularly interesting; the contrast between her meaning and her diction contrasts sharply, and calls attention to the tension between the reaction to death that many people have, and the reaction she is calling for people to have instead. Hemans earnestly counsels her audience to refrain from mourning Mr. Wilton, declaring his situation worthy of jealousy, but her use of the word “doom,” invokes a certain melancholic attitude that does not seem to fit with her message (27). Because of the depressing connotation of “doom,” Hemans’ readers are left torn between the idea that death is a necessarily bad event, causing the ruin of the individual in question, and the idea that Mr. Wilton’s death specifically is to be envied and indeed coveted as the best way to meet such demise (27).
In the next few lines, Hemans explains two reasons why Mr. Wilton’s death should not be wept over by either humans or rocks. The first reason, that he was buried with “all he loved” in his tomb, is a somewhat expected reason, since it is realistic to assume that most people would find that being enshrined amongst their most prized possessions like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh to be preferable to being buried alone (28). Hemans’ second reason, however, is slightly less expected. She personifies the rocks themselves, and advises them to rejoice over his death and the fact that their “direst foe” is “by death’s fell hammer… laid low” (31-32). Hemans references a hammer blow in speaking of Mr. Wilton’s death, a wonderfully clever way to equate his death to the way he conducted his mineral research. Earlier in the poem, Hemans mentions Mr. Wilton’s beloved hammer that he used to “split huge cliffs,” and generally wreak havoc on the rocks contained within them (14). By referring again to a hammer as she advocates for the rocks he terrorized to celebrate his death, Hemans skillfully suggests that Mr. Wilton’s karma eventually caught up to him, and he died the way he had lived, inserting seriousness as well as humor simultaneously.
In this section of her poem, Hemans adroitly makes use of language to convey multiple layers of meaning within each line. This fascinating interplay of diction and meaning works well to impress upon her readers a sense of gravity in addition to humor.
Word count: 481
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Terri’s Key Passage Analysis on Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s “Lines of Life”
Page 376, lines 5-12
“I never knew the time my heart / Look’d freely from my brow; / It once was checked by timidness, / ‘Tis taught by caution now.
I live among the cold, the false,/ And I must seem like them; / And such I am, for I am false/ As those I must condemn.”
On the whole, Lucretia Elizabeth Landon’s poem focuses on the speaker’s desire to transcend the base cynicism of the world around her and to embrace hope and success. She longs to leave an impact on the world through her art and to be remembered even after death. I have chosen to focus on the second and third stanzas, as I believe these eight lines give valuable insight into the ways the speaker’s words and feelings reflect Landon’s own experiences.
In the first four lines of the second stanza, the speaker recognizes her inability to be open and honest with her feelings and her truth. It seems that nervousness was what held her back when she was younger, by that she now has resigned herself to seeing her avoidant tendencies as “caution.” These lines may well be influenced by Landon’s own experience with the public eye. Her close friendship with journalist William Maginn was much speculated, and she felt herself “the object often of malicious representation.” She ultimately chose to break the relationship between the two, claiming that he should not have to bear the stigma and public embarrassment associated with their companionship. Surely this loss would have had a powerful effect on Landon, and no doubt on her writing as well. Meanwhile, the speaker notes in the third stanza that she must make every attempt to fit in with the “cold” people around her. While she damns their falseness, she must also acknowledge her own hypocrisy. After all, she refuses to be honest about what she feels, as she tells the reader in lines 5 and 6. In recognizing and mimicking their duplicity, she makes herself one of them after all.
An important theme in these stanzas is the interpreted falseness of society. Landon herself had said that she meets “with more homage and attention than most when she goes out into society, but that “it is dearly bought.” She claimed that a woman with a literary career would experience only “envy, malice, and all uncharitableness.” Admiration from others may read only as jealousy and a desire to undermine her success. This cynical outlook is certainly reflected in the words of the speaker, who seems only to see deceit and corruption around her.
Word count: 423
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“A deeper sense of truth and love/ Comes o’er us as we pass;/ While lingers in the heart one line,/ The nameless poet hath a shrine.” (Page 385, lines 37-40)
In her poem entitled “The Unknown Grave,” Letitia Elizabeth Landon explores the idea of a poet’s work being overlooked, despite the meaning and beauty that it holds. Landon powerfully expounds upon the idea that poets encapsulate life, youth, love, and hope in their writing, but that the actual name of the poet goes easily forgotten or underappreciated. Landon struggles with the fact that poets contribute virtue and value to the world, but that they can die without anyone giving attribution to the poet. By the end of the poem, Landon argues that the life, love, youth, and hope that poets give to their readers continue to make a home in their hearts, despite the forgotten name of the poet.
In the first stanza, the speaker describes a “lonely grave,” devoid of visitors or memory. Landon personifies this grave to the life of a poet. In stanza two, Landon attributes the meaningful aspects poets have brought into the world by saying “Youth, love, and hope yet use his [the poet’s] words,/ They seem to be his own” (lines 17-18). The speaker states that these virtues – youth, love, and hope – actually wrote the poem; they use the poet’s words to emulate themselves within the poem. This idea expresses the deep meaning and significance of a poet’s writing – it is not the words, but it is the values and virtues themselves that makes up a poem. The next line reads “And yet he has not left a name,/ The poet died without his fame” (lines 19-20). Landon reveals a possible fear for herself, but also a sad fact of life: writers can, and some will, die without receiving any credit for their work.
At the end of the poem, the speaker states that “A deeper sense of truth and love/ Comes o’er us as we pass” (lines 37-38). Landon argues that poets help explain and make sense of the important, but complicated, facets of life: truth and love. This more profound understanding of truth and love comes in a way that is two-fold. “A deeper sense” could be understood by someone actually passing by the unknown grave of a poet – coming to know the author as a person is what gives value to the work. But Landon also touches on the idea that a deeper meaning of a poem or writing becomes present after the author has died. It is interesting that in both instances, death is present and is a medium by which writing becomes more powerful and appreciated.
The poem ends by saying “While lingers in the heart one line,/ The nameless poet hath a shrine” (lines 39-40). The speaker maintains that poetry remains constantly in the hearts of its readers, therefore creating a home or “shrine” for the poet. Landon asserts that the power of poetry causes readers to internalize its meanings and virtues in their hearts, allowing the “nameless poet” to be remembered after all. The remembrance of their words and virtues gives praise to the poet, even though no name is attached, the meaning of poetry and the depth of the virtues ascribed to it are always remembered.
Word count: 520
Landon, Letitia Elizabeth. “The Unknown Grave.” British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology. Ed. Paula R. Feldman. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. 384-385. Print.