Friday, December 17, 2010

Some Critical Appreciation SOLVED EXAMPLES

1
Ott When my spirit doth spred her bolder wings,
In mind to mount up to the purest sky,
It down is weighd with thought of earthly things,
And clogd with burden of mortality :

Where, when that soverayne beauty it doth spy,
Resembling heavens glory in her light
Drawne with sweet pleasures bayt, it back doth fly,
And unto heaven forgets her former flight.
There may fraile fancy, fed with full delight,
Doth bath in blisse, and mantlenth most at ease ;
Me thinks of other heaven, but how it might
Her harts desire with most contenment please.
Hart need not wish none other happinesse,
But here on earth to have such hevens blisse.
(Amroetti-LXXII—Edmund Spencer)
Critical Appreciation
In the first four lines Spenser presents the theme……In the next
four lines the reader expects to find some exploration of the theme, but finds, instead, simply further statement……In the well constructed lyric one would expect in the last lines to discover the intellectual resolution. Here, however, there is no dramatic emotional situation to be resolved. There is merely further explanation couched in terms of graceful tribute...The difference between the poems of Herrick and Stevens and Spencer is the distinction between poetry of explo­ration and the poetry of exposition. Herrick and Stevens present material for the reader to work through ; Spenser presents an ima­gined experience unequivocally stated. There is in the first two poems an intellectual and emotional problem to be settled in terms of the materials presented. Spenser, as a Christian, represents and illustrates a Christian attitude ; he does not re-experience it. He does not earn his attitude.
This does not arouse spirited defence of the Amoretti of all Spenser’s mature poems the least exciting, especially if one agrees that Herrick’s Mad Maid’s Song and Stevens’ Peter Quince at the Clavier are finer poems than this particular sonnet. The sonnet, however, is in its way well constructed and contains more of the qualities which O’Connor demands than he seems to realize. It is dramatic, yet there is more sinew in the convolutions of its neo-Platonic thought than casually appears ; there is even more surprise and tension, since underlying the whole sonnet is the pull between heaven and earth. The first four lines express the soul’s aspirations heavenward defeated by mortality ; the next four are statement, but “exploratory state­ment” essential to particularize “mortality”, showing the soul, snared by desire, accepting a substitute heaven. The octave leaves us with a sense of true heaven forgotten in early illusion. The opening lines of the sestet, expatiating on this earthly bliss,, are the only part of the poem which can be dismissed as merely “further explanation”, since the concluding couplet suddenly reverses the neo-Platonism and the substitute nature of earthly love, proclaiming the paradox of heaven on earth. In thus forcing a system of philosophy to bow to his mistress, Spenser shows no intense spiritual conflict ; he stays, as he intends to stay, within the bounds of graceful, playful tribute. Is there no room in poetry for this ? (W.B.C. Watkins)
2
Leave me, O love which reachest but to dust ;
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things ;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust,
Whatever fades but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be ;
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light
That doth both shine and give us sight, to see.
O take fast hold ; let that light be thy guide.
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide,
Who seeketh heav’n, and comes of heav’nly breath.
Then farewell, world ; thy uttermost I see ;
External Love, maintain thy life in me.
(Leave Me, O Love : Sir Philip Sydney).
Critical Appreciation
Though the Christian feeling of the poem has often been noticed, the Christian thought and Biblical allusions have not, so far as we know, been made clear. The poem has been associated with Petrarch’s “solemn and impressive renunciation of love’s empire” and more often with Renaissance Platonism. But these associations are vague and conjectural, while the Biblical background of the sonnet is unmistakable and the Christian meaning paramount.
The contrast emphasized throughout the sonnet is between the brevity of the things of this world and the duration of things heavenly. In lines 1—2, the renunciation of Earthly Love is sufficienty contrasted with the aspiration toward Heavenly Love, despite the gene­rality of “higher things,” by the phrase “which reachest but to dust.” All the things of this world must pass and return to the dust of which God made man even the love of a man for a woman. The allusion to Mathew, vi. 19-21 in line 3 is apparent. The image of “fading” in line 4 may be suggested by Mathew, vi, 22-24, where the idea of “darkness” is associated with self-seeking and worldliness and “light” with the steadfast aspiration of the Christian soul toward eternal salvation. This thought is likewise suggested by the first quatrain of Sidney’s poem.
“Draw in thy beams……” The association in lines 1-4 of
worldly love and its objects with the lustrelessness of that “which moth and rust doth corrupt”, of that which “fades” and brings ‘‘fading pleasures”, may suggest that the mind of the worldly man bent upon worldly pleasures tries to emit its own light (dark though this be in comparison with the light of God), to live by this false light, competing, as it were, with God’s light. The true peninent will want to foresake the feeble “light” of his own mind (which is really the darkness of willfulness and sin) and will submit himself in all humi­lity to God’s light. The act of submission and the accompanying mood of humility are further enforced from two other texts. Jesus said : “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me : for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. And Jesus also said : “I the light of the world he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”. The reason for associating “that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be” with the breaking forth of light “that doth both shine and give us sight to see” in lines 6-8 is now clear and indeed compelling.
Sidney has brought into conjunc­tion two of the most memorable texts in the Gospels, and they are beautifully consistent with each other. We may then paraphrase lines 5-8 somewhat as follows : Cease to follow the pitiful illumination of your own mind in its worldness, for its light is but darkness. ‘ Sub­mit humbly to the yoke that Jesus lays upon men for He has promised that by assuming this yoke you will find the only lasting freedom, freedom to follow the path that leads to eternal life by the light of Jesus who is the light of the world.
“O take fast hold……” Of what ? The answer is, of Christian
faith and eternal life. The image is a favourite of
St. Paul’s though it also occurs elsewhere in the scriptures. The imagery and allusions of the first two quatrains are all related to the Gospels. In the third quatrain the mood and imagery become predominantly Pauline. The Pauline texts I Timothy, vi, 12 and II Timothy, vi, 7 suggest the image, in lines 9-10, of the Christian who takes fast hold ,on his faith as running a course, a brief course of human life, which only God can light to a successful end. The image of “sliding” in lines 11-12 is not Pauline. The concluding couplet is a prayer to the eternal God who is love ; for it is by the grace of the Eternal Love that the Christian finds salvation.
The sonnet is thus a very careful and beautiful expression of Christian doctrine and Christian feeling. It is an important commentary upon Sidney’s Christian experience and attitude.
(Harold S. Wilson)
3
When to her lute Corinna sings,
Her voice revives the leaden strings,
And doth in highest notes appear
As any challenged echo clear ;
But when she doth of mourning speak,
E’en with her sighs the strings do break.
And has her lute doth live or die,
led by her passion, so must I :
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring ;
But if she doth of sorrow speak,
E’en from my heart the strings do break.
(Of Corinna’s Singing : Thomas Campion)

Critical Appreciation
One would expect, despite Sidney’s notorious defence even of the lyric on moral grounds, that songs would be most likely to show images used simply to assist the representation of a state of mind. This ought to fit love songs at least, which permit “the many moodes and pangs of lovers, thoroughly to be discovered”. Suppose one reads through Bullen’s Lyrics from Elizabethan Song-Books, for example, with this natural expectation. One finds few poems which can have been chiefly intended to show us just how their writers felt, and few images which fit in with modern notions of the function of sensuous imagery in lyrics. Interestingly enough the examples which we believe would come nearest to modern expectations turns out to be Campion’s.
They do not come very near. The climax of “When to her Lute Corrina Sings” is the announcement “And as her lute doth live or die,/Led her passion, so must I,” but Campion leaves to us all particular elucidation of that element of dependence in a lover’s state of mind—nor does the poem lead us on to any such private pursuit. He confines himself to an image whose parallelisms can evoke only the most general notion of the speaker’s feelings, as though he were interested rather in praise of Corinna neatly elucidated through the parallel he draws. The emotion is so little particularized that Corinna might indeed be the Elizabethan analogue of the latest Carnegie Hall concert sensation, if it were not that we know enough about the conventions of Elizabethan love poetry to deduce another state of mind in the speaker than musical enthusiasm. The images reveal a man moved, but writing what the rhetories call “a praise” of the lady and the music, rather than examining the nature of his emotional experience. The ambiguity in “My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring,” picking up the suggestions of “Her voice revives the leaden strings,” the worn unparticularized image of heartstrings (its nature probably governed by the identity of the musical phrase to which lines 6 and 12 were sung), less metrically felicitious than its musical parallel, “Ev’n with her sighs the strings do break”—these do not describe ; rather they invest with new interest a perceived analogy, cunningly patterned to make the most of the repeated musical pattern.
(Rosemond Tuve)
4
I struck the board, and cried, “No more I will abroad !
What shall I ever sigh and pine ?
My lines and life are free : free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store,
Shall I be still in suit ?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit ?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it ; there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me ?
Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay ? all blasted
All wasted ?
Not so, my heart, but there is fruit
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures ; leave thy could dispute
Of what is fit and not ; forsake thy cage,
Thy rope and sands,
Which petty thoughts have made ; and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away ! take heed !
I will abroad.
Call in thy death’s-head there, tie up thy fears.
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need
Deserves his load.”
But as I raved, and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, “Child” ;
And I replied, “My Lord.”
 (The Collar : George Herbert)
Critical Appreciation
This is not to say that poems have never been composed on lines of imagery laid down in advance. George Herbert surely did it time and again ; and his great poem, The Collar, shows how successful this method may be. It is an example of the strictly functional use of images ; their use, that is, to point a theme already defined. The central image, the spiritual rope by which the Christian is tied to his God, would represent an idea so similar to Herbert’s contemporaries that the boldest explorartion of it could hardly take them far out of their depth. At first Herbert subtly hints at the tie, by seeming to deny its existence :
I struck the board, and cried, “No more ; I will abroad.
What shall I ever sigh and pine ?
My lines and life are free : free as the road
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit ?
After that delicate hint, a variation of the theme appears. The Tempter’s voice within continues :
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit ?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it : there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
The images are still conventional, symbols only : but notice how cleverly the Temtper has used these Christian symbols, thorn and blood, bread and wine, for his own nefarious purpose. Next, the full theme appears : but the rope between Christ and Christian is diabolically contorted into
……leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit, and not ; forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw
And be thy law,
While thou did’st wink and would’st not see.
Then, with a master stroke of cynicism, the Tempest gives one twist to the rope :
Call in thy death’s head there : tie up thy fears.
But Christ had the last word : and it is consonant with the remarkable dialectic skill and dramatic delicacy of the poem that this last word, for all the still, small voice in which it is spoken, should so strike us as a climax noble, thrilling, unanswerable :
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, “Child” ;
And I replied, “My Lord”.
(C. Day Lewis)
5
So in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord,
By these his thorns give me his other crown :
And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own :
Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.
We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Chrit’s Cross and Adams tree, stood in one place.
Look Lord, and find both Adams met in me :
As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.
(From Hymn to God : My God In My Sickness : John Donne)
Critical Appreciation
The first five-line stanza is a specific development of what has already been implicit in the poem—the unity and beneficence of God’s plan. Adam’s tree made Christ’s Cross necessary, and they stood in one place, because Christ, on the human side, was descended from Adam, in fulfilment of the prophecy that Eve’s seed should “bruise the head” of the serpent. The meeting of both Adams in the drying man is made possible only by the last Adam’s death upon the cross. But even here, when the body is almost ready to yield completely to spirit, Donne cannot get away from a strong sense of the physical (characteristic of most of his poetry) : “As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,” he says, describing the effect of the fever, “May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.”
The next five-line stanza indicates that this prayer has been answered. Wrapped in Christ’s purple, he is at last ready to be received into the presence of the Lord. “Purple” here is surely not the regal colour of imperial Rome, which would not be appropriate for Christ even when he sits at the right hand of the Father, but the “purple” which is an incorrect translation of a colour (probably crimson) admired by the ancient Hebrews. “In his purple wrapp’d” then, would be similar to “washed in the blood”. The suffering of the sick man analogous also to Christ’s crown of thorns, after enduring which he feels that be can plead for the other crown. The poem ends in simple, homely language, justifying the ways of God to man : “Therefore that he may raise, the Lord thrown down”.
Donne in this poem uses five-line stanzas of iambic pentameter, rhyming a b a b b. The rhymes are sometimes rather loose, as, for example, “lie” and “discovery”. Trochees are frequently, and dactyls less often, substituted for iambs—trochees like “Whilst my” or “Is the” : dactyls like the last three syllables “Cosmographers” or of “Jerusalem”. Runover lines allow the pauses to fit the thought rather than the meter. These runover lines and the metrical variations within the iambic-pentameter pattern gives the effect of a combination of unity with variety—one aspect of the “reconcilement of discordant equalities,” which Coleridge demanded of a poem.
Still another aspect of this discordia concors appears in the judicious mingling of simple, homely, short words like “What shall my West hurt me ?” with long, sonorous words like “Cosmo­graphers”, “discovery”, “Jerusalem”, “evermore”, and “resurrection”, which in their context add an element of ecclesiastical dignity. More specifically antihetical collection of words appears in “West and East”, “Paradise and Calvary,” “Christ’s cross and Adam’s tree”, “first Adam” and “last Adam”, “Thorns” and “crown”.
The serenity of Donne’s “Hymn” has a different quality front that of other poems on the same subject. The conclusion to “Thanatopsis”, for example, attains a certain kind of serenity, and yet Bryant’s rhetoric seems almost to shout at us that we should die in a quiet way. Tennyson’s limitations we have mentioned. Shake­speare, in a still different way, stresses the horrible aspect of “dusty death” or of flight “from this vile world with vilest worms to dwell” Even the followers of Donne wear the metaphysical shroud with a difference. Bishop King strikes the note of terror in his famous conceit :
But hark ! my pulse like a soft drum
Beats my approach, tells thee I come.
Marvell must dwell on his mistress’s death, when “worms shall try that long preserved virginity”.
Donne, in his valedictory poems at least, certainly has a different emphasis. In view of these poems we can well believe that the picture of the saintly Donne given by Walton is really not inaccu­rate for one side of this strange poet-preacher the side that became more and more uppermost as he grew older. Williamson says that Donne’s having his picture painted while he wore his shroud in hi, last illness indicates morbidity. Perhaps so—but Williamson ought to make a distinction between this kind of morbidity and that which during the greater part of his life kept Donne from “allaying the fever of the bone”. Such a fever has in this poem (written at the same time the shroud picture was painted) given way to a joyful contemplation of the central theme of Christian faith : that “death doth touch the resurrection”. Such serenity, reached artistically through a combination of religious intensity with metaphysical wit, .makes this one of the finest religious poems ever written.
(Harry M. Campbell)
6
Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of the chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.
True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field ;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such
As thou too shalt adore :
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.
(To Lucasta, Going To the Wars : Richard Lovelace)
Critical Appreciation
That Lovelace’s Lyric. “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars”, has been attractive, there can be no doubt. Its general popularity seems to rest on the epigrammatic quality of its last two lines, considered as a set-piece. Without attacking the absurdity of so confirmed a view of Lovelace’s general achievement, it might be useful to indicate the integrated structure of this Lucasta poem for something of the same benefit which has come from the realization that Donne’s poems have more than brilliant opening lines.
Here the poet is presented with a situation, that of the departure from his mistress of a lover called to the wars. The problem of the lover is that of explaining the motivation of his departure and of anticipating the accusation from her that he is both cruel in so doing and inconstant to his earlier vows of fidelity. He wishes to ease the departure by avoiding sentimentality, that is the display of more emotion than the situation warrants. Faced, then, with a quandry, he offers as solution a paradox (a statement seemingly self-contradic­tory. though possibly well-founded or essentially true).
The interest of the poem comes from his procedure. He opens his address with an epithet of quality (“sweet”), and urges that she need not think him “unkind”. (i.e. lacking in natural goodness ; contrary to nature ; harsh). By his reference to the chaste and sancti­fied refuge which she provides as though she herself were a nunnery, he establishes the basis on which the problem can be met not basically as a separation of divisible bodies but as one of indivisible spirit. The path of solution is commonplace in a love poetry ; the quality of Lovelace’s poem arises out of his particular twist to it.
The ambiguity and paradox of the situation is affirmed by the twisted implications of “To war and arms I fly”, which so obviously picks up the martial “Anna virumque Cano” of Virgil. Foreseeing a potential misunderstanding that his true delight will lie in war, the poet proceeds to her expected implication of shifted allegiance, and maintains continuity in the role of lover, as one might with apparent inconstancy leave from a quarrel to pursue the first girl one saw. But any conflicting passion on the level of the flesh is, as he presents the case, subtly omitted, since he does not actually embrace this new mistress, but only his material accoutrements ; and this he does only with “faith”, which is non-sensory. This may paradoxically still seem inconstant and inconsistent until we actually understand the nature of the other love. This, we see, lies in “Honour”, a concept of the spirit and not of the body, therefore essentially sexless and genderless, in a situation mutually attractive (“as thou too shalt adore”). Their common adoration of “Honour” is a bond between them of ultimate timelessness, overcoming distance and decay, as “the marriage of true minds” does for Shakespeare, and lunary love (by extension to the compass) does for Donne. Since Lovelace now openly avows his love of Honour, by implication of affinity he pays his mistress the ultimate compliment of extending this inherent superiority to his relationship with her. Any unkindness in his departure can be said to exist only on the sub-lunary level of flesh. It cannot be unnatural except on that plane, and the inconsistance will be resolved by her recognition of the hierarchy of affections, on a higher level of which comes Honour. Perhaps the fullest value of the poem is indicated in the increased density which his final epithet of endearment bears over that of his initial one ; for the progress from his opening address to her as “sweet” to that of “dear” cumulatively carries with it, under the circumstances, a final assessment not only of quality but also of value and of flesh immortalized by ascending spirit.
If there is a question as to the actuality of a shift of tone from beginning to end, one needs only to attempt a simple substitution to understand the incongruity of the alternative :
I could not love thee (sweet) so much,
Loved I not Honour more.
(Norman Holmes Pearson)
7
Tiger ! Tiger ! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry ?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes ?
On what wings dare he aspire ?
What the hand dare seize the fire ?
And what shoulder, and what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart ?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand ? and what dread feet ?
What the hammer ? what the chain ?
In what furnace was thy brain ?
What the anvil ? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp ?
When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see ?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee ?
Tiger ! Tiger ! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal band or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry ?
(The Tiger : William Blake)
Critical Appreciation
The poetry of this desire and of what it meant to Blake can be seen in “The Tiger”. Hero enraptured song conveys in essential vision some themes which Blake presents elsewhere in more detail. This is the pure poetry of his trust in cosmic force. The images of “The Tiger” recur in the prophetic books, but in the poem, detached from any very specific context, they have a special strength and freedom. The tiger is Blake’s symbol for the fierce forces in the soul which are needed to break the bonds of experience. The “forests of the night”, in which the tiger lurks, are ignorance, repression, and superstition. It has been fashioned by unknown, super-natural spirits, like Blake’s mythical heroes, Ore and Los, prodigious smiths who beat out living worlds with their hammer ; and this happened when “the stars threw down their spears”, that is, in some enormous cosmic crisis when the universe turned round in its course and began to move from light to darkness—as Urizen says in The Four Zoas, when he finds that passion and natural joy have withered under his rule and the power of the spirit has been weakened :
I went not forth : I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath ;
I call’d the stars around my feet in the night of councils
dark ;
The stars threw down their spears and fled naked away.
If we wish to illustrate “The Tiger” from Blake’s other works, it is easy to do so, and it adds much to our understanding of its back-ground and its place in Blake’s development. But it is first and last a poem. 1 he images are so compelling that for most purposes they explain themselves, and we have an immediate, overwhelming of an awful power lurking in the darkness of being and forcing on us questions which pierce to the heart of life.
(C. M. Bowra)

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1 comments:

asma sheikh said...

its too informative

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