William Jones

“The Third Anniversary Discourse”

The most interesting part of this piece to me was the idea that Jones presented: that all languages come from a now dead “mother-tongue.” This connection to the Tower of Babel is fascinating. The belief that all Eastern and Western nations spoke the same language and were punished by God is one that is not widely believed today. I don’t quite understand how he believes in the Tower of Babel, but still believes in the superiority of one/few languages. Much of his discourse is not based in actual fact, and seems to be praising imperialism–as long as it’s British imperialism, which offers up support that English is superior in Jones’s mind, which inevitably brings up the issue of race. He connects race with gender, saying that Oriental men are automatically effeminate, thus implying that the only group that is qualified to rule are white men.

“On the Poetry of Eastern Nations”

Jones argues in this piece that nature is a large role in poetry writing, and therefore we must study Oriental poems, as Eastern nature is so beautiful. I think for English poets to write about India, Greece, etc. without having been there seems insincere and it would be more helpful for poets to simply study Eastern poems and then to learn how to look at their own nature that surrounds them for inspiration.

“On the Arts Commonly Called Imitative”

The big word in this piece was “expressive.” Romantic poets are not simply saying “I’m in love,” they’re expressing their love, showing it, and that is only possible through passion.

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