Notes on Charlotte Smith

“Beachy Head”

  • starts with environment, then pulls out to broader ideas/emotions
    • the intimacy/subjectivity in describing nature
  • poem driven by what Smith could see
    • opposed to Barbauld’s “Summer’s Eve Meditation” where she looks at the sky and gets everything
  • discussion of upper and lower classes
    • giving time/space for the hermit
    • discusses lower class crime in contrast to the crimes of the upper class (conquering/imperialism/etc.)
  • engaging writing
    • because of the imagery? the clarity of subject?
    • non-linear, fragmentary but cohesive temporally/spatially
      • Romantic ideas of flexibility in time – personal/subjective time
  • memory as objective
    • poets as vessels for memory, don’t want to change it in their writing
      • Keats would say the poet has no character, just lets inspiration flow
    • Contemplation ruminates on Memory
  • an eventual move to the global with the sighting of the colonial ship
    • opened up the world into the realm of Contemplation
    • critiques slavery and expands that into a critique of materialism, capitalism, and imperialism
    • Great Britain can be self-sufficient
      • implication that other nations can as well
      • sense of nationalism
  • nature
    • humans imitating nature
    • movement away from nature into civilization doesn’t equal significance/betterment
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