Charlotte Smith

  1. The marriage that propels her also hinders her
    1. Writing for life, necessity, instead of merely passion
  2. More known as a novelist than a poet
    1. Publishing almost one novel a year
    2. Fictionalizing herself into her stories
  3. Beachy Head published after her death
    1. Intimate and objective relationship with the subject
    2. Natural scenery from a personal angle
    3. Extensive footnotes
    4. Compared to A Summer Night’s Meditation
      1. Subjects transition into each other
      2. Getting both the upper class and lower class involved
        1. Bones in the ground has no difference from each other
        2. The land is the only thing that holds the eternal power? Sublime?
        3. The survived survives with dignity
    5. Poetic quality of the landscape

 

Written at the Close of Spring

 

“Ah! poor Humanity! so frail, so fair,

Are the fond visions of thy early day,

Till tyrant Passion,° and corrosive Care,

Bid° all thy fairy colours fade away!

Another May new buds and flowers shall bring;

Ah! why has happiness—no second Spring?”

 

Sentimental tone and “feminine” subject?

Raising the question of possibility of her finding a better husband?

 

Beachy Head 

 

Hyper inclusive, if expended in language it can be well over 200 pages

Weaving the language of the ornamental and the ordinary

From local to global, going beyond observation into contemplation

  1. Geological processes of the land – geology was not one of the prominent sciences
    1. Making people very unsure about where they are in history
    2. Doubting the authenticity of the Bible
      1. Shaking people’s faith
  2. Artworks suggesting the trivialness of humanity in front of the Nature
    1. Not all Romantics believed in Christianity, most of the biblical image coming from Nature
  3. Concrete, specific imagery keeps the readers focused and carried along
    1. Diversity of themes and subject as well, keeps the reader on track
    2. Internal poetry
    3. Not chronological structured
  4. The difference between Romanticism and Classicism
    1. Classicism way more structured
    2. Romanticism: no integrity of time, no integrity of space
      1. Not even the definition of Beachy Head
      2. A collection of miciallaneous pieces
      3. Durational time later called, but later the cosmic time
      4. Relativity. Classicism keep things in what people can understand
        1. Challenging the traditional arrangement of time and space, groundbreakers, Shakespeare, or Charlotte Smith
        2. Any individual tragedy seem trivial when confronted with the landscape, but at the same time they are of the same importance
  5. Talking about what it means to be innocence and happiness
  6. Contemplation here, /High on her throne of rock, aloof may sit, /And bid recording /Memory unfold/ Her scroll voluminous—bid her retrace/ The period,
    1. Not contemplation of abstract, every word is important: Thorne of rock, very natural imagery, aloof: solitariness
    2. Let memory bring it out! Very romantic move, instead of sculping it into what one intends
    3. Something within you as a rememberance
    4. Keats: the negative capability
      1. Something that’s different from the ego, the lack of ego –> truth
      2. Egotistical sublime(?)
      3. Inspiration coming from God, another side say it’s a mere reflection of experience and ancestry
    5. What the poet shape the poem? Show herself?
  7. Afar off, /And just emerging from the arch immense /Where seem to part the elements, a fleet/ Of fishing vessels stretch their lesser sails;
    1. Farther off, imagery positively reflects the rest of world
    2. Suddenly twist the subject to suffering of humanity, mere “toys of Nature”
      1. Critiquing slavery
      2. Attacking materialism
      3. Feuling forces of Imperialism – materials
      4. To someone who reasons, it doesn’t make sense
      5. A critique of civilization in general
        1. Also that of the rest of England
        2. Keeps it a poem even getting into the politics
      6. Natural harmony, better than what artificial
        1. Gemstones from deep in earth, what worth do they have?
        2. They are far more beautiful than humanity? How can human wealth contaminate the natural treasure?
          1. The price of it comes from the human misery that mines them out
          2. Trees and their internal thoughts, instead of what human consider
        3. The artificial, the distortion of harmony, however turning it back onto criticizing the savagry
        4. Actual human life to the natural scheme
  8. Contemplation here, /High on her throne of rock, aloof may sit, /And bid recording Memory unfold /Her scroll voluminous—bid her retrace /The period,
    1. “Ruins” Eolney, what evokes the reminiscence of the history, the aura of the old historical period
    2. Separating England from the rest by identifying the rest as Catholic ruled
    3. All kinds of monarch, no matter in what faith, they are all “connected by blood:” sharing common ancestry
      1. Could also be a very negative poem, a deep historical root, historical and racial commentations.
      2. Anglo-Sexan ancestry –> North Cultures
      3. Features with double meaning
      4. A sense of ethnic pride
        1. English versus the rest
        2. Catholocism largely influenced by pagan ideas?
          1. Biases against Catholocism
  9. Ah! who is happy? /Happiness! a word /That like false fire, /from marsh effluvia born,/ Misleads the wanderer, destin’d to contend/ In the world’s wilderness, with want or woe /Yet they are happy, who have never ask’d / What good or evil means.
    1. Endless pursuit of self excellence – crucial idea of what Romanticism is about
      1. The same idea with the pursuit in Christianity
  10. An early worshipper at/ Nature’s shrine,/ I loved her rudest scenes—warrens, and heaths,/ And yellow commons,° and birch-shaded common lands/ hollows,
    1. Celebrating nature as tangled as it is
      1. Simplification instead of Complication
      2. But Smith complicates them rather than simplifies
        1. By tangling human nature into a complex unity
      3. Modern sensibility, modern man, modern woman, first brought up in German when talking about the Romantics
      4. In a state of nature – shouldn’t be naming trees in this state
        1. Complicates the nature, interfering and taking control over the nature
        2. Science the same, human manipulation of what is naturally there
        3. “We murder to dissect” – Wordsworth – but in nature, everything is alive
        4. Tempest – Shakespeare, again the dynamic between human and nature
        5. All about experiencing, the reasons why the poet comes to this conclusion
          1. Experiencial expression rather than intellectual, tentative states one after another, ultimately coming to the Truth
          2. More sentimental, apparant and shallow interpretations of Romanticism
            1. But the forefather of Modernism, suggestion of the tentative journeys, implications of each
            2. Academically, taking it in little by little
            3. Wanting to own the history that is an external invasion
            4. The arc of the poem – the pattern of the text
            5. Classic-Romantic trait: very open to the rhyme and form
        6. What is God if there is no force of Nature?
          1. Nature is the purest temple
    1. At day-break, anxious for the lonely man, /His cave the mountain shepherds visited, Tho’ sand and banks of weeds had chok’d their way— /He was not in it; but his drowned cor’se /By the waves wafted, near his former home /Receiv’d the rites of burial. Those who read /Chisel’d within the rock, these mournful lines, /Memorials of his sufferings, did not grieve, /That dying in the cause of charity /His spirit, from its earthly bondage freed, /Had to some better region fled for ever.
      1. All to come to an end with a hermit
        1. Who observe the world but does not participate – common notion of Romantic poets
        2. Too earnest and sincere, tell too much about themselves – criticism on Romanticism

 

Fancy & Hope, the two characters that kept on wrestling with each other throughout the poem

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