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Yashwantrao Chavan
Maharashtra Open University

M. A. (English)
ENG 521 (Semester - I)
ENG 541 (Semester - II)

Literature in English: Poetry

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l Prof. (Dr.) P. A. Attar l Shri. G. M. Shikalgar,

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Centre for Distance Education Literature in English: Poetry
Shivaji University, M. A. Part-I English Paper-I
Writing Team

Author’s Name Unit No

Dr. K. D. Tiwade 1, 2
Vivekanand College, Kolhapur.

Smt. Prabha Patil 2

C/o. Shri Salunkhe J. D. 2019, Rajarampuri, 9th lane, Kolhapur.

Dr. N. B. Masal 3
Dr. Ghali College, Gadhinglaj.

Dr. Ramesh D. Tibile 4

Dr. Ghali College, Gadhinglaj.

Dr. Mrs. Pradnya Vijay Ghorpade 5

K. R. P. Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Islampur.

Dr. S. N. Jarandikar 6
Venkatesh College, Ichalkaranji.

Prof. Y. S. Kalamkar 7, 9
F-1/16, H.D.F.C. Colony, Telco Road, Chinchwad, Pune.

Prof. Anil Dadas 8

Dahivadi College, Dahivadi.

n Editors n

Dr. R. D. Tibile Shri. J. A. Mhetre

Dr. Ghali College, Gadhinglaj. Chairman, B.O.S. in English
Shivaji University, Kolhapur
Lal Bahadur Shastri College, Satara.

Dear Student,

This book contains Self Instructional Material prepared by a

team of teachers for Core Paper I Literature in English: Poetry.
The University has already made available the syllabus of this
paper online and in print form. This paper introduces general
topics on the poetry as a significant form of literature as well as
major poems of eight poets.

Unit 1, besides the discussion of the development of the

poetry, studies the poetry in terms of its important aspects, types
and narrative techniques. Units 2 to 9 deal with the poems of
eight poets prescribed for the detailed study. Each unit on the
prescribed poets introduces the life and works of the poets, the
summary of the poem, the analysis of the poems and major
aspects of poetry.

Other important features of this book are: Objectives,

Introduction and Summary, Check Your Progress with Possible
Answers, Exercises and Further Readings. All units are simply
points of departures. Readers should not depend entirely on this
material. They are advised to read original texts and refer to
critical books available online and in the libraries.

All the best for your final examination!

Dr. Ramesh Tibile


Literature in English: Poetry
M. A. Part-I English Paper-I


Unit No. Topic Page No.

1. The Poetry : General Topics 1

2. Edmund Spenser 46

3. William Wordsworth 99

4. Matthew Arnold 124

5. T. S. Eliot 147

6. Arun Kolatkar 167

7. Derek Walcott 190

8. Rilke, Rainer Maria 211

9. Charles Baudelaire 231

Each Unit begins with the section Objectives -

Objectives are directive and indicative of :

1. What has been presented in the Unit and

2. What is expected from you

3. What you are expected to know pertaining to the specific Unit

once you have completed working on the Unit.

The self check exercises with possible answers will help you to
understand the Unit in the right perspective. Go through the possible
answers only after you write your answers. These exercises are not to
be submitted to us for evaluation. They have been provided to you as
Study Tools to help and keep you on the right track as you study the

General Topics

i) Elizabethan Poetry
ii) Romantic Poetry
iii) Victorian Poetry
iv) Experimentation in Modern British Poetry
1.1.0 Objectives
1.1.1 Elizabethan Poetry
1.1.2 The poetic trends of the age
1.1.3 The poets
1.1.4 The Lyrists
1.1.5 The Satire of the Age
1.1.6 Check Your Progress
1.1.7 Glossary
1.1.8 Keys to check your progress
1.1.9 Exercise
1.1.10 Reference for further study

1.1.0 Objectives
After Studying this unit you will be able to understand :
 Histories of English poetry
 A general survey giving the relevant historical background and chief
poetical trends of the age.
 An accent of the representative poets and their works.
 Chronology of the age.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…1
1.1.1 Elizabethan Poetry
The Historical Background
The Renaissance : Began in England during the reign of Henry VII. Its effects
were twofold those on life and literature and those on religion. In the middle age all
under the unchallenged sway of the Roman Catholic Church. It declared man a born
sinner, descended as he was from the sinful pleasures of life as the only means to
achieve salvation. This world, it said, was nought: he must prepare for the world to
come. All learning, too, was the monopoly of the church; the rest was false. In
religion its head, the Pope, represented Christ himself and held the key to the
kingdom of Heaven. With the Revival of Learning, consequent on the flight of Greek
Scholars from Constantinople to the west European countries, a great revolution took
place. The study of the ancient Greek and Latin Classics, which they promoted,
engendered a spirit of free inquiry. Reason replaced faith. Hence began a revived
interest in life and its pleasures – art, literature, science, philosophy. This attitude is
called humanism concern with affairs human instead of divine. Literature henceforth
answered the call of life. In religion the new reign of Reason gave a fillip to the
Reformation movement and hastened the establishment of the Protestant Church.
The Reigns of Elizabeth I and James I :-
Long before Elizabeth I ascended the throne, the Parliament, at the instance of
her father. Henry VIII, had declared the English Church independent of the Pope,
making the king and his successors its heads and defenders of the faith, Elizabeth
inherited this tradition. The defeat of the Spanish Armada established the
Reformation as a fact in England, and at the same time united all Englishmen in a
magnificent national enthusiasm. For the first time since the Reformation began, the
fundamental question of religious toleration seemed to be settled, and the mind of
man, freed from religious fears and persecutions, turned with a great creative impulse
to other forms of activity. It is partly from this new freedom of the mind that the age
of Elizabeth received its great literacy stimulus.

1.1.2 The Poetic Trends of the Age :-

Although several kinds of verse forms were attempted in this age – the epic
romance, the pastoral, the verse tale, the elegy, the sonnet, the lyric, the satire –, it is
largely an age of the last three. It is rich, however, in all the richness of each growing

with the years from precedent to precedent. Following close upon the heels of the
Renaissance, it availed itself of all that the Greek and Latin classics had to offer but
the form of whatever it chose to write is largely its own. It was rather attracted by its
matter. This is important to bear in mind because in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries the writers would be more attracted by form than by its matter.
Ranking next only to drama, poetry proved no less popular. For the first time it
began to be published proved in anthologies. The fashion was set by what has come
to be called, after the name of its printer, Tottel’s Miscellany. It was published in
1557 and contained the ‘songs of sonnets’ of several authors, of whom Wyatt and
Surrey are the chief. It was followed twenty years later by a host of other collections,
of which only England’s Helicon (1600) offered the richest fare : Sidney, Spenser,
Drayton, Lodge, Greene, Peele, Shakespeare. The poems included in these
collections were largely songs lyrics and sonnets. But between 1593 and 1956
collection of sonnets were published separately by the authors themselves. Among
the common verse forms, attempted these two were the most in vogue, followed by
the satire. Others were attempted by individual writers.
The Sonnet of the Age :
1. It was introduced into England by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl
Of Surrey, in the first half of the sixteenth century, but while Wyatt more or less
followed the original Italian or Petrarchan form, Surrey changed it to three
quatrains in alternate rhyme and a concluding couplet. It was the latter form that
proved more popular and has since come to be called the English as opposed to
the Italian sonnet.
2. Following Petrarch, all of whose sonnets celebrate his love for Laura, the writers
wrote their sonnets in similar sequences or connected series, addressed to some
lady, supposed or real.
3. Love therefore is their subject but it is sometimes for mere form’s sake or
conventional sometimes real where it is the former, the writers follow certain set
conventions, the lady is always heartless, the lover ever languishing for her sake
and sometimes even at the point of death and so on. Where the sonnets are
inspired by genuine love, ‘with this key’, the poet ‘unlocks his heart’.
4. A few sonnets, however, were written on other subjects, such as, ‘sweet
content’, ‘care charmer sleep’, and religious contemplation.

5. Though the sonnet was originally brought over from Italy, it was the French
practitioner’s of the form that inspired the English writers more. Of these
Ronsard and Desportes were the more largely imitated.
6. In general, the language of the sonnets is rich and the verse musical. Thought,
word, and metre were never so happy blended together.
The Lyric of the Age
1. Borrowed from continental sources Greek, Latin, Italian, French; it took roots in
the English soil because it catered to the people’s growing interest in music.
Elizabeth herself played on the virginals and among the people there were not
only distinguished musicians but a regular class of professional singers who
performed in streets, taverns, and other places. The lyric therefore soon found its
way into the drama to be similarly sung for the entertainment of the audience. A
sufficiently large number of lyrics, written in this age, are of this nature.
Sometimes, however they were written independently and sometimes even
inserted in prose pamphlets.
2. Written and used for this purpose, they are not heavy stuff they express rather
the holiday mood of the writer. The lyrics inserted in the plays are particularly
of this kind.
3. Their subjects are varied: love, court life, nature, morality, dress, death.
Sometimes the same subject is treated differently by different poets.

1.1.3 The Poets

The sonneteers –
Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86)
Sidney was the chief of an elegant coterie and exercised an influence which was
almost supreme during his short life. He was the most commanding literary figure
before the time of Spenser and Shakespeare. Like the best of the Elizabethans.
Sidney was successful in more than one branch of literature, but one of his works
was published until after his death.
His finest achievement in poetry was Astrophel and Stella, a collection of 108
love sonnets. It is a collection of songs and sonnets, evidently addressed to one

person. Lady Penelope, Devereux, afterwards Lady Rich Sidney and Lady Penelope
had been betrothed when the latter was a child. For some reasons the match was
broken off and lady Penelope married Lord Rich, with whom she lived for a while
unhappily. Whether Sidney actually loved her when it was too late or whether he
wrote love sonnets, there is much of the conventional material of the Italian
sonneteers, but on the other hand there are touches so apt to the situation of a man
who loves too late, that one hesitates to ascribe theme to mere dramatic skill. These
sonnets are written mostly in mixed Italian and English forms in which the octave is
generally Italian and the rest : abba, abba, cdcd, ee, some follow the English form.
On the whole, they are charmingly written, some attaining a very high standard.
As a sonneteer Sidney is ranked next only to Shakespeare and Spenser. His best
written sonnets include : ‘Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show’, With
how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies’ : Come sleep, O sleep, the certain
knot of peace, Having this day, my horse, my hand, my lance, and no more my dear
no more these counsels try.
Edmund Spenser (1552-99)
His sequence of eighty eight sonnets Amoretti (Love – Songs) tells of his love
for Elizabeth Boyle whom he married in 1594, a year before their publication. In
1596 Spenser published his Four Hymns, the first two in honour of love and of
Beauty, being earlier works, and the latter two in honour of Heavenly love and
Heavenly Beauty, being written much latter. These hymns show the influence of
Platonism on Spenser. These Hymns are written in three inter-linked quatrains in
alternate rhyme with the couplet standing alone : abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee. In the
common English sonnet the quatrains have independent rhymes. While the feeling
the embody is genuine. In workmanship they are distinguished by beauty of language
and richness of melody, both characteristic of the poet’s works in general.
Petrarch among the Italians and Desportes among the French seem to have
influenced him most. He is the second greatest sonneteer after Shakespeare. His best
written sonnets include : ‘Like as a ship that through the ocean wide’, ‘Most glorious
Lord of life that on this day’, Fresh spring the herald of love’s mighty king, ‘One day
I wrote her name upon the strand’, and ‘Men call you fair, and you credit it’.

The poets who composed poetry between Spenser and Donne maintained the
tradition of Elizabethan poetry and left behind a rich harvest of pastoral, emotional
and erotic poetry.
Henry Constable (1562-1613)
Of the numerous sonnets he wrote, the twenty eight of the sequence, Diana, and
the four To Sir P. Sidney’s soul, prefixed to the later. Apology for poetry, contain his
best work. Which lady Diana stands, for is unknown, for little is known about
constable’s life. But his in ‘My Lady’ presence makes the Roses Red, he is able to
capture Spenser’s, charm. His rhyme-scheme is mixed Italian and English like
Sidney’s the octave being Italian and the rest English.
Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)
His poems include a sonnet series called Delia (1592) a romance called the
company of Rosamond (1592), Some long historical poems, such as The Civil Wars
(1595) and a large number of masques, of which The Queene’s Wake (1613) and
Hymen’s Triumph (1615) are the most important. His best work appears in his
sonnets which composed in English manner, carries on the great traditions of Sidney,
Spenser and Shakespeare. His poetry stands in contrast to the ‘Fine Frenzy’ of the
Elizabethan poets. His poetry marked with sobriety and serenity. It is the most
tranquil and classical of the period. His poetry is essentially the poetry of reflection
rather than of passion. Imagination does not kindle his verse. He introduces prose
qualities in verse Patriotism burns out in The Civil War.
Michael Drayton (1563-1631)
He was one of the most venerable and typical of Elizabethan poets. He was a
versatile singer and practised the sonnet, the ballad, fairy poetry, lyrics and long
poems on history geography and legend. His historical poems are to be found in
England’s Historical Epistles (1597) in decasyllabic couplets, and the Baron’s War
(1596-1603) recounting in eight line stanzas, the story of Mortimer and Queen Isabel
and murder of Edward II.
Drayton’s largest poem is Polyolbion. It is a long, careful and tedious
description of the geographical features of England. Drayton’s most delightful work
is the fairy poems in Nymphidia. The poem is written in graceful and fantastic
manner. His Idea’s Mirror containing fifty one sonnets, he honours a lady whose

identity is a matter of conjecture. He calls her Idea following the sonnet-collection of
the french writer calude de Pontoux, L’Idea. The sonnets are of all kinds, good, bad
and indifferent, but one, ‘Since there’s no help come let us kiss and part, is so
magnificently written that it is some times doubted whether it is Drayton’s. It is one
of the best sonnets ever written and Drayton’s chief title to glory today.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
He wrote one hundred and fifty four sonnets, published in 1609 by Thomas
Thorpe. ‘When my love swears that she is made of truth’ and Two loves I have of
comfort and despair, were published in William Jaggard’s anthology. The passionate
Pilgrim in 1599. They were dedicated to ‘Mr. W. H.’ who among others, has been
surmised to be the young Earl of Southampton. Henry Wriothesley. They are
addressed not to one person, as the other sequences are, but to two – ‘a man right
fair’ (the poet’s young patron) and ‘a woman coloured ill’ (called ‘the dark lady’)
who, among others, has been surmised to be Mary Fitton – both supposed to have
been the objects of the poet’s attentions at one time or another. In the beginning the
sonnets speaks of the poet’s attachment to the young man; towards the middle they
complain that he has transferred his favour’s to ‘a better spirit’ on a rival poet,
surmised, among others, to be Chapman; and towards the end they suspect him to be
in love with ‘the dark lady’.
It is difficult to say whether the sonnets are autobiographical, for not much is
known about Shakespeare’s life. But from the different things they say at different
times they do give the impression that they are. One cannot feign for a whole length
of one hundred and fifty four sonnets, and all harping on the same man, the same
woman, and the same rival poet. In poetical quality not more than fifty are of a high
order and even among them the order of excellence varies. Some verge on the
obscene. Nevertheless the best rank the highest in the age and handle the English
form as it had never been handled before. They include : ‘When in disgrace with
fortune and men’s eyes’ (No. 29), ‘When to the sessions of sweet silent thought’ (No.
30); ‘Full many a glorious morning have I seen’ (No. 33), ‘Since brass, not stone, not
earth, nor boundless sea’ (No. 65); and ‘Let me not to the marriage of true mind (No.

1.1.4 The Lyrists
Before Spenser and Sidney, however, everything was in a tentative and
experimental stage. English lyric had not attained that freedom of feeling and
expression which came in the Elizabeth age. The early Elizabethan lyric writers were
shrouded in the heavy atmosphere of the fifteenth century. However, a change came
in the tone and temper of Elizabethan lyric with the passage of time near about the
year 1580. The formal lyric was popularised in England by Wyatt and Surrey. While
Surrey is the superior of the two in the sonnet, he has nothing equal to Wyatt’s ‘And
wilt thou leave me thus?’ in the lyric. Sir Philip Sidney’s lyrics appear in the sonnet
sequence Astrophel and Stella and the prose verse pastrol romance Arcadia. The
eleven appended to Astrophel and Stella continue the vein of the sonnets. By these
stages the lyric took firm roots in the English soil and soon burst forth into the song –
concert of the Elizabethans. The formal lyric occurs most often in the plays of the
John Lyly (1554 ? – 1606)
He was the first among the Elizabethan dramatists to introduce lyrics into his
plays. It is surprising that one who began his literary career as a prose romancer and
who worte all his plays but one in prose could write such delightful songs. Their
natural flow contrasts sharply, too, with laboured diction of his Euphues and partly of
his prose plays. They include such sweet lyrics as ‘What bird so sings’ yet so does
wail and ‘Cupid and my Campaspe played’ in Alexander and Campapse; and ‘My
Daphne’s hair, is twisted gold’ and ‘Sing to Apollo, god of day’ in Midas.
Thomas Lodge (1557? - 1625)
His lyric’s are contained in the sonnet – sequence Phillis and his prose
romances, of which Rosalynde is the chief. ‘Love in my bosom like a bee’ is the best
lyric in Rosalynde. Those in Phillis that have lost none of their savour are ‘Love
guards the roses of thy lips’ and ‘My Phillis hath the mourning sun’.
Robert Greene (1558 – 92)
His lyrics are interspersed in his prose pamphlets and romances. In keeping with
the fashion of the day his subject is mostly love of the conventional sort but some
times he cane be Pathetically Personal as in the verses Written in the poet’s Last
Illness (in Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit), which express repentance for his misspent

life. His best lyrics include, ‘Fair is my love, for April’s in her face’, ‘Sweet are the
thoughts that savour of content’, ‘Ah, were she pitiful as she is fair’ and ‘Like to
Diana in her Summer Weed’.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
If Shakespeare has written nothing else, his lyrics alone would ensure him a
high place in literature. His lyrics are numberless. ‘When icicles hang by the wall’
(Love’s labour lost).
‘Tell me where is Fancy bred’ (The Merchant of Veniece).
‘Sign no more, ladies, sigh no more’ (Much Ado).
‘Under the greenwood tree’ (‘As you like it’).
‘O mistress mine, where are you roaming?’ (Twelfth Night); and ‘Take, O, take
those lips away’ (Measure for Measure).
Thomas Campion (1556 – 1619)
In his observation in the Art of English Poesie he attacked the use of rhyme in
poetry, as Sidney and Spenser had done slightly earlier, and yet like them too he
wrote beautiful verse in rhyme. The English spirit was too strong in them all to be
overcome by their new – found taste for the Latin system of unrhymed verse.
Campion’s lyrics are contained mostly in his three books of songs, called A Book of
Ayres and The Third and Fourth Book of Ayres.
Ben Jonson (1572 - 1637)
He also followed the contemporary fashion of introducing songs into plays, he
wrote three separate books of non-dramatic verse Epigrams, The Forest, and
Underwoods. The last two contain his lyrics. The lyrics that are still popular include.
‘Queen and huntress, Chaste and Fair’, (in Cynthia’s Revels), ‘Come, My Celia, let
us prove’ (in Volpone); ‘Still to be neat, still to be drest’ (in the Silent Woman); and
the ode to sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison (in Underwoods) containing the
beautiful conclusion. ‘It is not growing like a tree’.

1.1.5 The Satire of the Age

1. Satire occurs in middle English poetry. The satire thrives upon abuses, social or
individual. The satire not only lacks force but sincerity of purpose.

2. When, as largely, it is modeled upon Juvenal it is coarse and even abusive in its
thrusts; when modeled upon Hoarce, it shows better taste.
3. Its subjects are, the courtier and court life, the Puritan, the Woman, the corrupts
priests, the dishonest tailor, the Englishman who aped French or Italian
4. The heroic couplet was preferred to other stanza forms but it lacks the force that
it was to acquire in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However it
established itself on the fittest medium for his kind of verse.
The Satirists
The regular verse satire was written in this age chiefly by four writers,
Gascoigne, Donne, Hall and Marston. Wyatt’s satirical verse of the Courtier’s Life,
appeared in Tottel’s Miscellany of songs and sonnets, Spenser’s Mother Hubbard’s
Tale is an allegorical satire on the abuses of the court and the Church; Lodge’s A fig
to Momus, addressed to the god of satire, naturally, keeps close to the form and Ben
Jonson sometimes used his plays. – The poetaster.
The New Inn, and others, to attack his rivals, Shakespeare plays also abound in
similar satirical references, satisfies this test fully. It may be noted, too, that the
medium of Spenser, Logde and Jonson is the complet, heroic or other, which suits
this verse form most.
1. George Gascoigne (1525 – 77)
He wrote sonnets, plays, treatises including one on prosody, and otherthing, his
Steel Glass is perhaps the first regular verse satire in English. Its title is significant.
The poet holds the old fashioned steel glass in his hand to show the society its true
image, as the new glass or crystal mirrors only showed it better than its was.
2. John Donne (1573 – 1631)
He was one of most remarkable literacy figures of the Elizabeth age.
He wrote various types of poems – Lyrics, Elegies, Satires Satives and Religious
Donne wrote satires, such as of the progress of the soule (1601).

It was his cynical nature and keenly critical mind that brought him to the
composition of satires.
They were written in the complete form, later to be adopted by Dryden and then
by Pope and show clearly his cynicism, coarseness and dissatisfaction with the world
around him. He satirized women and reacted against the entrome idealization of
women encouraged by the Petrarchan tradition.
3. Joseph Hall (1574 – 1656)
His Virgidemiarum consists of six books of satires, the first three of which he
called ‘toothless’ and the last three ‘biting’. But there is not much difference between
the two. Since all the writers dealt with so far preceded him in the satirical art, he is
not the first English satirist.
While his satire are no varied subjects, those on the decline of poetry and social
manners making interesting reading. His satire of the social abuses of the poor status
accorded to tutors for instance (In Book II, Satire VI) – is in the conventional vein.
All are written in the heroic couplet which is better managed than here to offer.
John Marston (1515 – 1634)
His chief book of satires is The Scourge of Villainy. He appended ‘Certain
Satires’ to his Metamorphosis of pygmalion’s Image also, but the book was publicly
burnt by an order of the Church. The Scourge justifies its title. It whips men and
manners, but more out of anger than for their good. Its heroic couplets also fail to
impress. But together with Hall, he prepared the way for Dryden and Pope to do
splendid things in that medium.
Edumund Spenser (1552 – 99)
Spenser’s literacy career began with the publication of the Shepherd’s Calendar
(1597). This is a collection of twelve eclogues, one for each month of the year, and
they are mostly dialogues between Shepherds, touching on love, religion, poetry and
other matters, and Figuring the author himself as ‘colin colut’. It is the richest and the
Fullest pastrol in English. It contains both vigorous satire and lyrical idealism, pagan
despair and Christian comfort, homely humour and stress morality. His most famous
work is The Faerie Queene, an incomplete epic – romance in a little over six books
intended to fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline,
and containing a three fold allegory – moral, religious, and political. Apart from The

Shepherd’s Calender and The Faerie Queene, Spenser’s most notable song is
Epithalamion, a nuptil song on his own marriage, Prothalamion, a similar song on the
marriage of the two daughters of Pearl of Worcester, Four Hymns in honour Love,
Beauty, Heavenly Love and Heavenly Beauty.

1.1.6 Check your progress

A) Rewrite the following sentences by choosing the correct option given below
1. Amoretti is written by _______________
a) Geoffery Chaucer b) Edmund Spenser
c) James I d) Elizabeth
2. The renaissance began during the reign of ___________
a) Richard II b) Henry VII c) Queen d) Isabel
3. Samuel Daniel’s sonnet series is called ___________
a) Delia b) Mary c) Queen d) Isabel
4. Thomas Thorpe published ______________
a) Spenser’s sonnets b) William shakespeare’s sonnets
c) Chaucer’s poems d) Samuel Daniel’s
5. Sir Philip sidney’s lyrics appear in the sonnet- sequence ____
a) Astrophel and stella b) the faerie Queen
c) Prothalimion d) As you like it
B) Answer the following question in one word/ phrase/ sentences each.
1) What does Thomas Wyatt and Earl of surrey introduced in the literature?
2) What are the subjects for the lyric of Elizabethan age?
3) Who is Michael drayton?
4) Who are the satirists of the age?
5) What is Prothalamion?

1.1.7 Glossary
 Renaissance :- The great revival of art, Literature, and learning in Europe
in the 14th, 15th and 16th cent. Based on classical sources; it began in Italy
and spread gradually to other countries and marked the transition form the
medieval world to the modern.
 Salvation – Redemption.
 Persecutions – being persecuted
 Vouge – reputation
 Languishing – becoming weak/sentimental
 Ascribe – to write
 Quatrains – a stanza or poem of four lines often rhyming abab, abba, or
 Embody – to make concrete
 Tranquil – calm
 Decasyllabic – a word or line of verse having ten syllables.
 Interspersed – to scatter among other things.
 Puritan – member of a protestant group in England and the American
colonies that in the 16th and 17th century/ a person regarded as excessively
strict in morals and religion.
 Cynicism – The philosophy of the cynics
 Coarseness – lacking in refinement
 Appended – to attach

1.1.8 Key to check your progress
A) 1) a
2) b
3) a
4) b
5) a
B) 1) the sonnet
2) love, court life, Nature, Moralists, dressiest etc.
3) the sonneteer
4) Gascoigne, Donne, Josph hall and Marston
5) A song on the marriage of the woo danglers of the Earl of Worcester.

1.1.9 Exercises :
Answer the following question
1) What are the most salient feature of Elizabethan poetry?
2) Write a brief note on the contributions of the lyricists of the Elizabethan
3) Write a note on sonneteers of the Elizabethan age.

1.1.10 References for further study

1. Bradley, A. C Oxford Lectures on Poetry.
2. Courthope W.J. A History of English poetry
3. Grierson, Sir Herbert, and Smith, J.C. A Critical History of English poetry.
4. William J long English Literature.

1.2.1 The Historical Background
The period we are considering begins in the latter half of the reign of George III
and ends with the accession of Victoria in 1837. On the very first day of the new
century (January 1, 1801) Ireland was united with Great Britain to form a common
country called the United Kingdom. The wars with Napoleon continued until he was
finally defeated in the battle of Waterloo in 1815. But they left England under a
heavy war debt. In the reign of George IV an important measure was the Catholic
Emancipation Act, removing many of the disabilities from which the reign of
William IV. The reform Act of 1832 extending the franchise to the middle classes,
and the act abolishing slavery.
In the economic sphere mill and factories multiplied, leading to the growth of
industrial towns. While wealth increased the labouring class, which included
children, had to work for long hours in unbearable conditions. The agriculturists
were equally hard to work for long hours in unbearable conditions. Added to these
were the degrading conditions in the poor houses, the cruel treatment of prisoners,
and lack of opportunities for education. A powerful section of people therefore
pleaded for the necessary reforms in each of these spheres.

1.2.2 The Poetic Trends of the Age

Changed outlook in this age the neo-classical way of writing was given up.
There were at least three reasons for it. One was the misuse, in the later stages of the
neo-classical movement, of the ideal of the rule of law in literature, which was
applied so rigorously that it left little to individual discretion. Poetry became a mere
mechanical process in which all that was to be done was to cast it into the mould of
its particular ‘Kind’ to follow the rules of metre and rhyme, and to point a moral at
the end. Its moving power was gone. Another reason was continental influence,
particularly that of France and Germany. France had just emerged from the French
Revolution that had made. ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ household words all
over Europe.
Earlier still Jean – Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) Whose writings had sown the
seeds of the Revolution.

The period of Romantic poetry began in 1798 with the publication of Lyrical
Ballads, a collection of poems composed by Wordsworth and Coleridge. The preface
of Lyrical Ballads denounced the poetry diction of proceeding century and proposed
to deal with materials from ‘common life’ in a selection of language really used by
The poems in that volume not only marked a significant change in poetic
diction, but showed a quite different attitude to poetry in general.
The New Mode
Romanticism is the name applied to the changed outlook. It is a tendency of the
mind that is impatient of rules on the one hand and of naked representation of reality
on the other. It is, thus, opposed to classicism on the one hand and to realism on the
other. It leaves the writer free to pursue the course suited to him, allowing full play to
his individuality, and its pictures of life bear but a distant likeness to reality. Either
the common is made uncommon or the uncommon common to make each stranger
than it is in life or in natural bent for the uncommon and the strange rather than for
its opposition to classicism which is but a corollary of this, that it is called the
Romantic Movement. It is ‘a free, onward impulse’ in art, such as animated an
explorer of old on discover new lands. It is this that makes it impatient of restrictions
whether of subject or of form. But it was not without its guiding principles. These, it
sought in the practice of the Elizabethans, by whom chiefly it was inspired. It is
therefore not a new movement in literature but a revival of the earlier Elizabethan
Characteristic of the Movement
With the above as the basic qualities of the romantic temper, it stuck out in the
following forms in the poetry of this age.
1. Individualism – Distrusting rules, it left the poet free to choose his own
form and his own line of treatment. He was not to conform to any set pattern. Where
the form chosen happens to be the same, the treatment is often different. The same is
true of subject matter. It is either different or treated differently. There is therefore
endless variety in romantic poetry. No two poets are alike in any of these respects, as
they broadly are in neo-classical verse. Struck by this trend of the movement, Victor
Hugo called it ‘liberalism in literature’.

2. Imagination – This freedom from conformity gave full play to the poet’s
imagination or mental and emotional reaction to his subject.
He treated it as it struck his mind and heart. In so doing he represented it not as
it actually was but as the mood of the movement made it appears to him. It emerged,
colourd by his mind, in a new shape altogether. This makes the pictures of romantic
poetry different from their originals in Nature or life. They are all subjective rather
than objective.
3. Refuge in Nature – Fleeing from the increasing interest in urbanisation and
industrialisation, the Romantics took refuge in the simple primitive Nature. While
their predecessors, the Augustans, looked on Nature as something incomplete and
hence in need of man’s help for its fulfillment, the Romantics regarded Nature as
independent of man. It was man, according to those poets, who ‘needed the help of
Nature to fulfill himself’ consequently, Nature became a persistent subject of
Romantic poetry. It is generally described with accuracy and sensuous nuance.
However, nature is not presented for its own sake; it becomes a stimulus for the poet
of engage in meditation about some important human problem, to arouse his sense of
sensuous beauty and so on.
4. Humanitarian Outlook : Reason was replaced by emotion. It led, in form,
to a preference for the picturesque over the shapely and, in matter, to increasing
sympathy for fellow men and even lower creatures. The latter feeling had already
been engendered by the teachings of Rousseau and partly by social conditions at
home. In graver moods it stimulated a melancholy contemplation of life, already in
evidence in the earlier poets of revolt. The intellectual heroic couplet gave place to
the emotional lyric. Poetry became impassioned.
5. Interest in the Past and the Exotic : To satisfy their craving for the
uncommon and the strange the romantic poets often turned to the remote in time and
place. In the former the tales and legends of the Middle Ages particularly appealed to
them. Scott and Keats make copious use of them. This led to the revival of the ballad
form which the neo-classicals had completely neglected. Some, like southey, treated
of ‘the gorgeous East’ whatever, thus, catered to the poets, feeling for the picturesque
was exploited to the full.
As the classical mythology served the same purpose, it was also freely used,
more particularly by keats.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…2
Romanticism is not opposed to classicism – Although romanticism rebelled
against the new classicism of the century that proceeded it, it is not the antithesis of
classicism. Classicism is a holistic combination of the different, elements of art.
Romanticism is one element of art and hence of classicism. We can detect elements o
Romanticism in classical works too. The difference is that while classicism holds the
various elements of art in a balanced proportion, Romanticism has one element
dominating its poetry. Abercrombie who upholds this view says, “The true antithesis
of Romanticism as not classicism, but realism, which is another element of art.”

1.2.3 The Poets:

The poets of this period fall into two groups: the elders consisting chiefly of
Wordsworth, Scott, Coleridge, and Southey; and the youngers consisting chiefly of
Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey are sometimes
called the Lake poets, as they all lived in the Lake district (Westmorland and
Cumberland). The Edinburgh Review- derisively called them to take school as their
poetry struck is as startlingly different from the prevailing neo-classical. The younger
poets were similarly attacked by the Reviews for the same reason.
Subjectivity, love of nature, spontaneity, attraction for the mystic and the
wonderful escapism, dissatisfaction with the present, pessimism, humanity, love of
common man, his language and the interest in the past can be listed as the chief
features of the Romantic poetry with which we are concerned now. Naturally, an
assessment of major Romantic poets is bound to be tested against these tendencies of
the age.
The Elder Romantics
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
His works
Wordsworth is a true son of the Romantic revival. His writing consists of lyrics,
lyrical ballads, odes, sonnets, verse tales, and reflective poems. His poems: We are
seven, Lucy Gray, The Reverie of poor Susan, Simon Lee. The Leech- Gatherer or
Resolution and Independence Michael, The Rainbow, lines Written in March, The
Daffodils, Lines Written in Early Spring, the five Lucy poems (Strange fits of
passion have I known, Three years she grew, the dwelt among the untroddem ways.
‘A slumber did my spirit seal’, and I travelled among unknown men), ‘To the

Cuckoo, The Solitary Reaper, Laodamia, Dion, character of the Happy Warrior, Ode
to duty, on Intimations of Immortality. The world is too much with us, Milton, thou
shouldst be living at this hour, scorn not the sonnet, upon Westminster Bridge Lines
composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, The Old Cumberland Beggar, and
Elegiac stanzas suggested by a picture of peele castle.
As a romantic poet wordsworth was a great lover of nature. He describes nature
1) in her physical beauty
2) as a thrilling and enchanting object.
3) through spiritual interpretation and
4) with a mystic touch.
Spiritual nature was a great source of poetry for him. He felt the presence of
God in nature. He finds joy as well as instruction in nature. He looked at her as
teacher. Unlike Coleridge wordsworth presented only the calm, quiet and seamy side
of nature. The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity attracted him. He felt, not
shocked but elated by the revolution.
Wordsworth revolted against- the neo-classical poetic diction which banished
the language of everyday speech from poetry. He wrote his Lyrical Ballads and some
other poems in a selection of language really used by men. As his thought become
more and more profound, he felt more and more the need to revert to the traditional
language of poetry. In poems like Laodomia and Dion, both on classical subjects, he
even assays the neo-classical diction. He has therefore more styles than one, though
he imparts his distinctive character to each. Matthew Arnold considers him the third
greatest poet in English after Shakespeare and Milton. He adds, one of the very chief
glories of English Poetry.
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
He is known as novelist, than as a poet. But he wrote several volumes of verse
before he turned to fiction. The chief of these are the Minstrely of the Scottish
Border, The Lay of the last Minstrel, Marmion, and The Lady of the Lake. The first
named is a collection of old Scottish tales and ballads, and the rest metrical romances
with lyrical pieces interspersed here and there. Like his novels they are all tales set
either in the Middle Ages or some other period of Scottish history. Their subject is
war with all the pomp and shaw associated with it in the past. Scott’s skill lies in

telling the tale engagingly, and vividly recreating its scene and epoch. But he is
interested more in physical action than in the complexities of thought and character.
His verse is not musical, it flows with extraordinary ease in keeping with its exciting
subject matter. It does not, however, penetrate deep into heart.
Samuel Toylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Coleridge was the friend and close associate of wordsworth in the publication of
the Lyrical Ballad. His poetical output is very small in bulk. The best of it was
confined but to six years, 1797-1803. It consists of Kubla Khan, a fragment of a
poem composed in a dream and transcribed of paper on waking, Christabel, an
unfinished ballad in two parts:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a ballad in seven parts: Frost at Midnight
Dejection, An ode: Love and Youth and Age. But they and particularly the first three,
are so rich in quality that they take their place with the greatest poems in English
Critics regard Coleridge as the most complete representative of English
Romantic poetry. He was a master of creating supernatural mystic atmosphere. He
could make the simple natural phenomenon like a sunset assume mysterious to
character. This needed imagination which Coleridge had in a very high degree. It was
of high quality too. Dealing with the mysterious aspects of nature provides a dreamy
quality to his poems and no better example than Charistable can be sighted for it.
Like a true Romantic, he showed his love of mediaevalism and escape into the past.
Nature was every where in his poetry. He displayed a natural aptitude for the horrible
aspects of nature. But he too believed in her Divine quality. His narrative skill, as
displayed in the Ancient mariner is superb. Like wordsworth he too used simple
language in his finest poetry.
Robert Southey (1774-1843)
He is better known as a prose writer than as a poet, and in the former capacity,
too, chiefly for his life of Nelson, which is one of the best written biographies in
His four long epics on four different mythologies-Thalaba the Destroyer on the
Mohammadan, Madoc on the welsh, The Curse of Kehama on the Hindu, and
Roderick the last of the Goths on the Spanish-are chiefly noteworthy for their

romantic interest in the distant in time and place. His shorter poems are
comparatively better written lyrics like stanzas written in his Library. Odes like the
one on the Death of the Princess Charlotte, and ballads like the Inchcape Rock and
the battle of Blenheim. Southey lacked imagination completely to make his mark as a
poet. Never popular in his own day, he fares no better today.

1.2.4 The younger Romantics

Lord (George Gordon) Byron 1788-1824
He belongs to the second generation of the Romantic poets. In a short life-time
he produced several volumes of verse, consisting mostly of satires, narrative poems
and lyrics. The satires- English Bards and Scotch Reviewers which he had attacked
his juvenile hours of Idleness and the vision of Judgment, written in reply of
Southey’s attack on him in A Vision of judgment – continue the neo-classical
tradition of satire are notable for Byron’s affinity with that school.
Child Herald’s Pilgrimage is in four cantos, describing his own wanderings on
the continent. He wrote a couple of tales dealing with the romantic sense of the east.
They include Lara and The Siege of Corinth. His other poems are the vision of
Judgment. The Prisoner of Chillon and Don Juan.
As a romantic he accupies a special position. What we normally hope to find in
a romantic poet is absent in him. By his satiric bent he seems closer to Dryden and
Pope, rather than Wordsworth and Shelley. He was realist poet. In Don Juan this
realism comes out best. And yet he belongs to his age. He presents a rare
combination of realistic matter of factness and romantic imagination. Like other
romantic poets. He loved nature, freedom, passion as well as melancholy. He
believed in the power of nature and of love to inspire poetry. In poems like ‘I would I
were A careless child or I roved A young Highlander, the romantic note is more
prominent than in Don Juan or Child Herold.
Percy Bysshe shelley (1792-1822)
Besides lyrical dramas, Shelley wrote longer poems an elegy, lyrics and odes
and sonnets. The chief poems are queen Mab, Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude, The
Revolt of Islam Epipsychidion, and The Rriumph of Life. The elegy is Adonais,
written on the death of Keats. The lyrics and odes include: Stanzas Written in
Dejection near Naples, Ode to the West Wind, The Cloud, Ode to a Skylark, To

Night Music, when Soft Voices Die, O world, O life, O Time when the lamp is
shattered the last chorus of Hellas (The world’s greal-age begins anew) and lines to
an Indian Air (I arise from dreams of thee). The more popular sonnets are
Ozymandias of Egypt and England in 1819, of these the lyrics and odes represent
him best.
As a romantic poet P.B. Shelley occupies a distance place. Lyricism is his
Mainstay. It is incomparable. He was a highly imaginative poet. Like his Skylark, his
imagination soars high above the reach of a common poet.
Music, melody and beauty combined in his poetry to make it a rich thing.
Thus, Shelley is a romantic poet with his lyricism, music, love of nature, simple
diction, philosophical note, pessimism and above all his high soaring imagination.
John Keats (1795 - 1821)
Keats lived only for twenty — five years and it was only in the last year or of
this brief life that his best work was produced : the narrative poems, Isabella or the
Pot of Basil. The Eve of St. Agnes, and Lamia; the Odes, To a Nightingale, On a
Grecian Urn, To Autmn, To Psyche, and On Melancholy, the lyrical ballad La Belle
Dame Sans Merci, and the sonnets, When I have fears that I may cease to be and
Bright – Star, would I were steadfast as thou art. To these may be added from his
early poems the sonnet on first Looking into Chapman’s Homer and lyrics like In a
drear – nighted December of the rest, Endymion and Hyperion, two narrative poems,
deserve a passing reference, the former for provoking a fierce attack on the writer by
the Quarterly Review and Blackwood’s Magazine. Which was supposed to have
hastened his end, and the latter for its Miltonic blank verse.
The name of Keats is usually associated with those of Byron and Shelley. As a
poet Keats had the intense romantic fervour of the other two. His romanticism had an
outlook different from that of his colleagues. Byron looked around and criticized;
Shelley looked forward and aspired; and Keats looked backward into the romantic
past and sighed. Keat’s great search was for the joy that lies in beauty, and this
beauty he found most easily in the past.

1.2.5 Minor Poets
Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)
His long poem, The Pleasures of Hope (1799), brought him only a temporary
fame, but he is still remembered for his fine patriotic songs, such as Ye Mariners of
England and The Battle of the Baltic.
Thomas Moore (1779 - 1852)
His poems were highly successful during his life time, but after his death there
was reaction against them. His Irish Melodies are set to the traditional musical airs of
Ireland. His Lalla Rookh (1817) is an oriental romantic, written in the Scott Byron
Manner then so popular. He was clever and industrious as a poet, and his verse was
tuneful and attractive; but he lacked the intense insight and passion that give Burns
such an exalted place among the poets.
James Hogg (1770 – 1835)
He Was known as ‘’the Etrick Shephred’’.
He was really a Shepherd till his poetical gifts drew upon him the attention of
Scott and other literary men. Some of his shorter pieces, such as Kilmeny, have great
sweetness and the suggestion of Celatic mystery. His longer works, such as the
Forest Ministrel (1801) are weaker.
Ebenezer Elliott (1718 – 1849)
He was an iron - founder and endured much personal hardship on account of the
corn laws, which kept up the price of bread.
His Corn Laws Rhymes (1830) contains much powerful verse directed against
this grievance.
Felicia Hemanas (1793 – 1835)
May be taken as representative of the poetesses of the time. Her shorter poems,
like The Graves of a Household and The Landing of Pilgrim Fathers are managed
with simplicity and a great deal of charm.

Check Your Progress
A) Choose the correct option.
1. The Preface of lyrical Ballads is composed by ------------
a) Shelley and Byron b) John Keats
c) Wordsworth and Coleridge d) P. B. Shelley
2. William Wordsworth is a --------------
a) Romantic poet b) Classical poet
c) Pre – Shakespearean poet d) Modern poet.
3. Ode On a Grecian Urn is written by ----------------
a) P. B. Shelley b) John Keats
c) Thomas Campbell d) None of these
4. Don Juan is an effective ----------------
a) Satire b) record c) poem d) review
B) Answer the following questions in one word/phrase/sentence each.
1) When did Reform Bill pass in England?
2) What was the slogan of French Revolution?
3) What is true antithesis of Romanticism?
4) Who are the minor poets of this age?
5) Who are the elders of romantic poetry?

1.2.7 Glossary
 Corollary - an inference
 emerged - to rise
 fleeing - to pass away swiftly
 predecessors - a person who precedes
 persistent - continuing / lasting without change
 sensuous - perceived by the senses
 nuance - delicate variation in tone
 picturesque - vivid

 engendered - to bring to being
 catered - to provide
 antithesis - opposition of thoughts
 elated - to lift up
 assays - testing
 penetrate - to pass into
 soars - to fly into the air
1.2.8 Keys to Check Your Progress
A) 1) c
2) a
3) b
4) a
5) b
B) 1) 1832
2) ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’
3) antithesis of Romanticism is not classicism, but realism, which is another
element of art.
4) Thomas Campbell, Thomas Moore, James Hogg, Ebenezer, Felicia
5) William Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lord Byron, P. B. Shelly, John Keats.
1.2.9 Exercise
1. What do you understand by the term Romantic Poetry? What are its features?
2. How did the French Revolution influence the major poets of the ‘Romantic
Movement’ in England?
3. Write a note on Wordsworth as a romantic poet.
4. Discuss Major and Minor poets of this age.

1.3 Victorian Poetry
1.3.1 Historical Background:
This period derives its title from the reign of Queen Victoria lasting 1837-1901.
As the literary trends, most marked in this age, had begun some years earlier, it is
often dated from 1832, the year of Scott’s death. Its notable events were the Oxford
Movement, the rise of democracy, the expansion of the British Empire, and the
progress of science and industry. The Oxford Movement, so called from its origin of
oxford, was a movement for reviving the same faith in the church that is commanded
in the middle ages. In this way it sought to combat the skeptical tendencies of the
age. It was initiated by John keble with a sermon ‘national apostasy’ at Oxford
University in 1833. It is also called the Tractarian Movement because it carried on its
campaign in a periodical called the Tracts for the Times which ran for ninety
In the field of science a number of inventions and discoveries took place: those
of Pasteur in medicine and Darwin in Biology, the railway, the automobile, and the
aero plane; the telephone, the telegraph, the wireless; and the application of
machinery to industry. Of these, the last and Darwin’s discovery of the origin of
species had the greatest impact on the age. The application of machinery to industry.
While it increased wealth, resulted in its concentration in a few hands and
unbearable misery to the labouring classes which included women and children.
Drawin’s theories, by challenging the biblical version of the creation, shook people’s
faith in Christianity.
The Poetic trends of the Age :
In spite of the changes political, economic, scientific, religious- noticed above,
the poetic temper of the Victorian age is not materially different from that of the
early 19th century. In its individualism, play of imagination, love of the picturesque
and, interest in Nature and the past, it continues the romantic tradition. But in its
response to the changed conditions it acquired a distinctive character of its own,
which is briefly analysed below.
1) The Victoria poetry, which marks the transition from the romantic to the
modern, attempted with fair success in experimentation with respect to style and
subject matter. One of the most significant advances in the history of English

poetry is the kind of dramatic monologues written during this period, especially
the kind written by Robert Browning. In the words of Joseph Bristow, these
monologues “indicate how language speaks over against the speaker. Poetry,
here, is no more spontaneous overblown of powerful emotions.”
2) Romantic poetry, by and large, was written rather for the delight of the poet
himself than for that of the reader. The poet had an urge to satisfy and did not
care whether he carried the reader with him or not. The reading public being but
the educated few, he could afford to ignore it. But with rise of democracy and
the expansion of education, both making for a larger reading public the whole
conception of the poet’s function changed. Poetry was not only written for its
benefit but had to be of a kind which it could readily appreciate reader. In this
way, too Victorian poetry comes to be related more to life than the romantic. It
is the voice of Victorian England.
3) In consequence of Darwin’s evolutionary theory which conclusively proved that
the flora and fauna of the earth, instead of having been created as such in seven
days by an Almighty power, have evolved to their present shape by a gradual
process of change which continues, the poetry of the age is permeated either by
doubt or a positive disbelief in God. The degrading conditions in mills and
factories seemed belief in god. The degrading conditions of mills and factories
seemed to point to the same conclusion. Had there been a God above, he would
not have looked on helplessly at this sorry scheme of things entire. While four
poets-Fitzgerald, Clough, Arnold and James Thomson – definitely give way to
this despair in their verse, the others are not-wholle free. ‘Honest doubt’ is writ-
large in the pages of Tennyson, while Browning, who had determined to be an
optimist, by a queer logic, turns failure to success.
4) Science also had its impact on the poet’s attitude to Nature. With the existence
of God himself in doubt, he saw no divinely in its, nor did he invest in with any
philosophical significance. It was just what science had revealed it to him
‘matter motion, taking an inconceivable variety of form, but always in its variety
acting rigidly according to certain ways, which, for want of a wiser term, we call
laws. Stopford A Brooke: A study of Clough, Arnold, Rossetu: and Morris
(1908). It is therefore seldom treated for itself. It interest to the poet lies in its
utility to man. It is no longer his superior that it was in the Rosalie age. On the
contrary, it was discovered to be ‘red in tooth and claw’, each one of its

‘beauties’ struggling for existence with some other: plant with plants plant, with
animal, and animal with animal.
Where Nature serves for a scene, it is observed and described with
scientific accuracy.
5) Under the impact of science, again, the poetic style underwent a change. While
it continued to be ornate, most notably in Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites, it
became more to the point than before. It is more rational and less extravagant. It
is neo-classical in its plainness and romantic in its picturesqueness. One more
factor contributed to this change. The stress the age laid on order and discipline
in every walk of life. Poetry therefore shed the mere flowers of speech. It strove
for beauty within the limits of reason.
6) The Victorian poetry has a note of pessimism and cynicism resulting from the
contemporary conflict between science and religion. The theory of evolution
influenced man’s attitude to nature and to religion. The poets like Edward
Fitzgerald, James Thomas and Arthur Hugh Clough came to be known as the
7) There is a note of patriotism arising out of the unparalleled prosperity of
England, the astonishing discoveries of science and the expansion of the British
empire. Like the romantics, the Victorian poets tried their hands at many genres
and metrical forms such as lyrical, descriptive, narrative and reflective.
The Poets
The poets of this age may be classified as fallows:
The two major poets Tennyson and Browning who are often compared and
contrasted; the sceptics who include Fitzgerald, Clough, Arnold and James
Thompson; the spasmodics; the Pre- Raphaelites consisting chiefly of D.G. Rossetti,
William Morris and Swinburne; the women poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (wife
of Robert Browning) and Christina Georgina Rossetti (Sister of D. G. Rossetti); and
the ‘Decadents’. In each the trends of the age expressed themselves in different ways.

1.3.2 The Major Poets:
Alfred (Lord) Tennyson (1809-92)
His Works
Tennyson wrote several volumes of verse but the more important of his poems
include : The Lotos-Eaters; Ulysses; Break, Break, Break; Locksley Hall; The Lady
of Shallot; The Princess; In Memoriam; Ode on the death of the Duke of
Wellingtion, The Charge of the Light Brigade; Maud; Idylls of the king; Enoch
Arden; To Virgil; and Crossing the Bar. They comprise lyrics, odes, dramatic
monologues, and elegy, metrical romances, and verse tales. Their metres and stanza
forms are equally varied. Tennyson wrote on almost to the end of his life.
The prominent features of his poetry are simplicity, clarity, lucidity, stateliness
love of beauty and originality.
Robert Browning (1812-89)
His Works
The volumes of verse by which Browning is best known are Bells and
Pomegranates, Men and Women, Dramatis Personae, and the Ring and the Book.
The last named is a long poem in four volumes in which the story of a famous
murder trial in Italy is retold from ten points of view. The best known poems in the
other Volumes include:
Evelyn Hope, Porphyria’s Lover, My last Duchess, Meeting at Night, Parting at
Morning, The Lost Leader, and The Bishop orders his Tomb in Bells and
Pomegranates; Fra Lippo Lippi, Andrea del Sarto, The last Ride Together and One
Word More in Men and Women; and Abt Vogler, Rabbi Ben Ezra, and Prospice in
Dramatis Personae.
Browning mainly dealt with the unique individual human soul. He delved in to
the deepest psyche of the individual and sought to express the hidden motives and
principles which govern individual action. The best technique he used for achieving
his goal was the dramatic monologue, although he wrote also pure dramas narratives
like Pippa Passes. He has little to do with his age.
His poems do not have the lyrical beauty of Tennyson’s Poems. They have a
rugged rhythm and colloquial vigour, both of which add splendour to the dramatic

force of the poems. Browning was an innovation and never tired of experimenting
with forms.

1.3.3 The Sceptics

Edward Fitzgerald (1809-83)
Of the several translations he made from Greek, Persian and Spanish into
English, he lives by one only- that of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam a Persian Poet
of the late eleventh and early twelfth century, who wrote quatrains rhyming on wine,
roses, and love. Fitzgerald’s translation has the same features but from a translation it
develops in to an exquisite composition of the poet’s own. Its theme is both
pessimistic and optimistic. Its belief in determinism and disbelief in immortality it is
a product of the sceptical tendencies of the age, but in its call to make the most of
this life. ‘Ah, Take the cash in hand. And waive the rest it strikes a note that thrills
every heart. And it says all this in verses that are not only charming to read but easy
to understand, their meaning lying all on the surface. For all these reasons it proved
one of the most popular writings of the age. It is not, properly speaking, a single
poem but a sequence of loosely connected quatrains.
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-61)
Clough wrote both long poems and short Among the former may be mentioned.
The Bothie of Tober na vuolich, a love tale written during an Oxford voration,
Amours de voyage, another love tale written during a tour of Italy, and Dipsychus
(double souled) the story of a soul struggling between good and evil. While the first
two poems are light hearted in tone, the latter strikes a pessimistic note. All,
however, are failures. The best of Clough is in his shorter pieces. In poems like the
Songs of Absence, a series of taintcen love lyrics, The Latest Decalogue and say not
the struggle naught availth. The appeal of them all, however, is to the intellect rather
than to the heart Clough’s despair is not unmixed with hope. In the poem last
mentioned, by which he is best known, he is even robustly hopeful.
Matthew Arnold (1822-88)
His works
Arnold shines both as a poet and as a prose writer. The more important of his
poetical works include : The Forsaken Merman, Resignation, Shakespeare ,
Empedocles on Etna, Tristram and Iseult, Lines written in Kensington Gardens,

Shorab and Rustum, The Scholar Gipsy, Requiescat, Balder Dead, Thyrsis, Rugby
Chapel, Calais Sands, Dover Beach, and A Southern Night. Their form comprises
the narrative, the elegy and elegiac verse, the lyric and the sonnet. Arnold makes his
mark in each.
Thus, Matthew Arnold, like Dryden, Coleridge and Eliot Belongs to the class of
it writers who have excelled in the two areas: poetry and criticism. Arnold’s poetry is
marked with a conflict between classicism and romanticism. We find in his poetry a
serious concern with the life around and an elegiac note of melancholy and stoicism.
He had read the literatures of Greece, France and Italy, so his poetry was influenced
by the classical literatures. His style is simple and lucid Nature, the love of
melancholy, the worship of natural objects, the yearning for a happier time, loss of
faith and the loneliness of the human hearts are some of his concerns.
James Thomson (1834-82)
He published only two volumes of poems, The city of Dreadful Night and Other
poems and Vane’s story and other poems. No poet of his age or of any age has sung
so well of despair as Thomson does in these poems.

1.3.4 The Spasmodic

W.E Aystoun, in his firmilian a Spasmodic Tragedy, applies this title to a group
of poets whose poetry is marked by strangeness in subject matter and language. They
included P. J. Bailey (1816-1902) Sydney Dobell (1824-74) and Alexander smith
(1829-67) In subject matter wanting to be more modern than their contemporaries,
theory dealt with abstract philosophical questions rather than with concrete things
concretely presented- Bailey in Festus, Dobell in Balder, and Smith in A Life Drama.
They do succeed in expressing the perplexed mood of the age in a language to match.

1.3.5 The Pre-Raphaelites :

The Pre-Raphaelites owe their name to a school of painting called the pre-
Raphalite Brotherhood, that was established in England in 1848 to revive the ideals
of painting simplicity, sincerity, truth to life that inspired the Italian painters before
Raphel (1483-1520). It consisted of Dante Gabriel Rosett, his brother William
Michael Rosett, Holman Hunt, Jobn Everett Millais and Thomas Woolen. As the
rooster brothers and some other supporters of the brotherhood were poets also, they
strove to introduce the same features in their poetry, giving rise to a literary

movement along the same lines. But as the movement progressed, it developed but as
the movement progressed, it developed a manner of its own which, though not
strictly Pre-Raphaelite in character, is still given that name from it inception from the
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It attracted two other poets of note, William Morris and
A. C. Swinburne.
Donte Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82)
His Chief poems include the blessed Demozel, a sorrowful tale to a dead girl
pining in Heaven for her lover lift of earth; The House of Life, a sequence of one
hundred and one sonnets in the patriarchate form inspired by his wife, Eli eabeth
sided; Sister Helen, a tale of false love and superstition, and The King’s Tragedy, a
ballad in the form of a monologue. As the leader of the Pre-Raphaelites, he most
shows the characteristics of the school noticed above. His verse is closely allied to
the sister arts of painting and music.
William Morris (1834-96)
His chief works are: the Defense of Guenevere ever and other poems, the latter
including The Haystack in the Floods, and all medieval in inspiration; The life and
death of Jason, retelling the ancient Greek story of the quest for the golden fleece;
The Earthly Paradise a sequence of twenty. Four tales modelled on Chauser’s
Canterbury Tales and told in pairs, of which one is a medieval romance and the other
a Greek legend; and sigurd the volsung, an epic in four books on an ancient
Norwegian theme.
Morris is charming as a story teller, now employing the method of the ballad,
now of the epic
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Excluding his poetic plays, the best of which is Atalanta in cloydon, his chief
volumes of poems are: Poems and Ballads in two series, the first containing the
Garden of Proserpine and the second A forsaken Garden and Ave Atque vale, a
premature elegy on the reported death of his French master Baudelaire; songs before
sunrise, pleading the cause of Italian freedom; songs of the springtides, inspired by
his love of the sea; and Tristram of Lyonesse. He came under the influence of the
Pre-Raphaelite movement only in his earlier work- in Atalanta in Calydon and poems
and Ballads. They also mark the higher- achievement of his genius.

1.3.6 The Women Poets
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-51)
Her work roughly falls into two divisions: poems that are purely topical in their
interest and those that have a more abiding appeal. To the former category belong:
The Cry of the Children, drawing attention to the evils of child labour; The Cry of the
Human, expressing similar sympathy for the down-trodden and the oppressed; Casa
Guidi Windows, inspired by the Italian struggle for freedom; and Aurora Leigh, a
blank-verse romance in nine books, voicing the Victorian woman's yearning for a
place of honour in society. Admired in their day, they have little interest today. To
the second category belong the Sonnets from the Portuguese, a sequendfe of forty-
four sonnets expressing Elizabedi Barrett's love for Robert Browning and so called
because the latter playfully called her his ' little Portuguese' on account of her dark
complexion. They are truer poetry than any of her other poems, sincere in feeling and
simple in expression. Their structure is Petrarchan, perhaps because-they were
written in Italy. Part of their interest is due to the fact that they are the first sequence
of sonnets in English literature to be addressed by a woman to a man. They are her
only title to a place in literature today.
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-94)
Her chief volumes of verse are: Goblin Market and Other Poems, The Prince's
Progress and Other Poems, Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book, and A Pageant and
Other Poems. Besides her title poems of the first two volumes, her other best known
poems include: When I am dead, my dearest, apparent, Keats made the greatest
impact on the Pre-Raphaelites. Rossetti got the very idea of initiating the movement
from Lord Houghton's Life and Letters of Keats in which he first read of Keats's
interest in Pre-Raphaelite painting. Pre-Raphaelitism, therefore, was not a new
movement in English poetry but a development of the aesthetic qualities of the
Romantic Revival.
Other Poets :
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82)
His chief poems include The Blessed Damozel, a sorrowful tale of a dead girl
pining in Heaven for her lover left on earth; The House of Life, a. sequence of one
hundred and one sonnets in the Petrarchan form inspired by his wife, Elizabeth -

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…3
Siddal; Jenny, attacking prostitution; Sister Helen, a tale of false love and
superstition; and The King's Tragedy, a ballad in the form of a monologue. As the
leader of the Pre-Raphaelites, he most shows the characteristics of the school,
noticed above. His verse is closely allied to the sister arts of painting and music.
William Morris (1834-96)
By profession Morris was first an architect, then a painter, and finally a house
furnisher. But he found time to write poetry, too, and, under the influence of Carlyle
and Ruskin, to attend to the problems of the factory workers. In all these three
spheres he sought to replace ugliness by beauty. Beauty was his quest in all that he
undertook to do. In poetry he found it in the past, particularly in Greek antiquity and
the Middle Ages, which he depicts colourfully and musically in the manner of his
school. His chief works are: The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems, the latter
including The Haystack in the Floods, and all medieval in inspiration; The Life and
Death of Jason, retelling the ancient Greek story of the quest for the golden fleece;
The Earthly Paradise, a sequence of twenty-four tales modelled on Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales and told in pairs, of which one is a medieval romance and the other
a Greek legend; and Sigurd the Volsung, an epic in four books on an ancient
Norwegian theme. Morris is charming as a story-teller, now employing the method
of the ballad, now of the epic.
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Excluding his poetic plays, the best of which is Atalanta in Calydon, his chief
volumes of poems are: Poems and Ballads in two series, the first containing The
Garden of Proserpine and the second A Forsaken Garden and Abe Atque Vale, a
premature elegy on the reported death of his French master Baudelaire; Songs before
Sunrise, pleading the cause of Sleep at Sea, My heart is like a singing bird, Uphill,
The Convent Threshold, and the sequence of fourteen sonnets in the Petrarchan
rhyme, Monna Innominata ('Nameless Lady'), addressed to Charles Cayley whom
she could not marry for the difference in their religious views. Under the influence of
her brother she began as a Pre-Raphaelite but was influenced more by the Oxford
Movement which gave a religious direction to her verse. Her sonnets bespeak her
love for Cayley in a strain that is more of'parting than of union.. In fact, all her verse
is tenderly pathetic. Only in Sing-Song, intended for children, the tone is one of

liveliness. Her style is one of the simplest in English verse. As a devotional poet, she
ranks with Herbert, Crashaw, and Vaughan.
The Decadents
The Victorian attitude towards life may be defined as one of acceptance of
Authority. What was, was right. The writers and readers alike were satisfied with the
existing order in religion, politics, industry/ home life, literature. The last taught the
same lesson: that God was in his heaven and all was right with the world. But in the
last decade of Victoria's reign (1890-1900) this attitude began to be challenged. In
place of concern with contemporary social conditions, art for art's sake, earlier
advocated by the Pre-Raphaelites, was revived. This led, on the one hand, to
shallowness in thought and, on the other, to care for style for its own sake. In place
of complacency with the existing social order, poetry acquired a note of sadness. It
began to seek beauty more and more in ugliness. It even defied the moral
conventions of the age and dallied with sensual pleasure. Lastly, symbolism took the
place of the direct statement. All these features were largely borrowed from a literary
movement in France, popularised by Baudelaire and Gautier, which was called
Decadence and which propagated its ideals in a journal called Le Decadent. The
English poets who most came under this influence were Oscar Wilde (1856-1900),
Arthur Symons (1865-1945), Ernest Dowson (1867-1900), and Lionel Johnson
(1867-1902). Among their best known,poems may oe mentioned: Wilde's The Ballad
of Reading Gaol; Symons's Rain on he Down, Emmy, The Shadow, Credo, The Street
Singer, Javanese Dancers, Ipals, Requies, White Magic, The Ecstasy, and
Indian Meditation; Dowson's I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion1,
Villanelle of Marguerites; and Johnson's By the Statue of King Ckarle Charing Cross
and The Dark Angel. Their decade is called by two se rate names to distinguish it
from the rest of the century—fin de sic (end of the century) and' the naughty nineties

1.3.7 Check your Progress
I) Choose the most correct alternative from the ones given below each
1. Drawin’s discovery of the -------- had the greatest impact on the vichorian
a) Origin of man b) Origin of species
c) Origin of animal c) None of these
2. The Lady of shalott is written by ----------
a) Alfred lord Tennyson b) Robert Browning
c) William Morris d) William Wordsworth
3. Algernon Charles Swinburne is ---------
a) Romantic poet b) Pre-Raphaelites poet
c) Shakespearean poet d) None of these
4. The King’s Tragedy is -----------
a) a ballad in the form of a monologue b) song
c) lyric d) dramatic monologue
5. The cry of the chidren is written by -----------
a) Robert Browining b) Elizabeth Barreti Browning
c) Christina Georgina Rossetti d) None of these
II) Answer the following questions in one word / phrase / sentence each.
1. What is Tractarian Movement?
2. Give the names of sceptics of the victorian age
3. What does mean by spasmodic Tragedy?
4. Where does Pre-Raphaelites established?
5. What is Le Decadent?

1.3.8 Key to check your progress
I) 1. b
2. a
3. b
4. a
II) 1. Tractarian Movement is called the Tracts for the Times which ran for
ninety numbers.
2. The poets, Edward Fitzgerald, James Thomas and Arthur Hugh Clough.
3. Poets whose poetry is marked by strangeness in subject matter and
4. It was established in England in 1848.
5. The literary movement in France, popularised by Baudelaire and Gautier,
which was called Decadence, propagated its ideals in a journal called La

1.3.9 Exercises :
I) What are the characteristics of Victorian poetry?
II) Write a note on the Pre-Raphaelite Movement
III) Victorian poetry shows a marked decline when compared to the Romantic
poetry? What factors were responsible for this?
IV) What was the contribution of the two leading figures, Tennyson and
Browning to the Victorian poetry?

1.4 Experimentation in Modern British Poetry
The great Victorian writers had nearly all disappeared by the year 1890. Queen
Victoria herself reigned till 1901, but long before that year new influences became
apparent stronger and deeper during the reign of her son and successor Edward VII
(1901-10) and increased to a marked degree in the reign of the next sovereign
George V. Finally, in 1914, World War I broke out, and for four years remained
suspended literary activity as well as other phases of ordinary human industry.
With the conclusion of the war in 1918 a new era was opened in the history of
the Western world. At the end of the second world war, of the united Nations
Organization to ensure peace and co-operation in the world; the tremendous
advances in science which include the invention of nuclear weapons and the
successful of light into space; the struggle in a large number of countries between the
capitalistic and communistic ideologies; and the increasing class consciousness
among the working classes of the world. While there is greater realization than ever
before of the need for peace, the world finds itself divided into two major power
blocs, the Anglo- American, standing for the democratic way of life, and the Russian,
standing for the communistic.
The poetry of the first half of this century is either traditional or experimental; in
the former case more or less following the romantic or neo-classical mode of writing,
and in the letter choosing a course of its own. Traditional poetry can be for their sub-
divided into the Education, the Georgian, and the poetry of the great war of 1914-18.
Experimental poetry has, similarly, pursued different- lines : the Imagist, the
Neo- Metaphysical, the Surrealist, the Neo- Romantic.
The younger group representing the more advanced ideas they became
prominent during and after the great war; and their methods, highly experimental and
courageous, designed to give a lead to the poets of the future. The name ‘futurist’,
which is often given to this class of poetry, is borrowed from the sister art of

1.4.1 The first three decades –

The Victorian era continued into the early years of the 20th century and how
figures emerged as the leading representative of the poetry of the old era to act as a
bridge into the new. These were Yeats and Thomas Hardy. Yeats, although not a

modernist, was to learn a lot from the new poetic movements that sprang up around
him and adapted his writing to the new circumstances. Hardy was in terms of
technique at least, a more traditional figure was to be a reference point for various
anti-modernist reactions, especially from the 1950s onwords.
The Georgian poets and World War I
The Georgian poets were the first major grouping of the post- Victorian era.
Their work appeared in a series of five anthologies called Georgian poetry which
were published by Harold Monro and edited by Edward Marsh. The poets feature
included Edmund Blunde, Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, D. H. Lawrence, Walter de
la Mare and Siegfried Sassoon. Their poetry represented something of a reaction to
the decadence of the 1890s and tended towards the sentimental. Brooke and Sassoon
were to go on to win reputations as war poets and Lawrence quickly distanced
himself from the group and was associated with the modernist movement.
Other notable poets who wrote about the war include Isaac Rosenberg, Edward
Thomas, Wilfred Owen, May Cannan and from the home front, Hardy and Rudyard
Kipling, whose inspirational poem; If- is a national favorite. Like William Ernest
Henley’s poem; Invictus that has inspired such people an Nelson Mandela when he
was incarnated. If - is a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism, regarded as a
traditional British virtue. Although many of these poets wrote socially aware
criticism of the war, most remained technically as conservative and traditionalist.
Among the foremost avant-garde writers were the American born poets
Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, H. D. and Ezra Pound, each of whom spent an important
part of their writing lives. In England, France and Italy Pound’s involvement with the
Imagists marked the beginning of a revolution in the way poetry was written English
poets involved with this group included D. H. Lawrence, Richard Aldington, T. E.
Hume, F.S. Flint, Ford Madox Ford, Allen Upward and T. S. Eliot, particularly after
the publication of The Waste Land, became a major figure and influence on other
English poets.
In addition to these poets, other English modernists began to emerge. These
included the London Welsh poet and painter David Jones, whose first book, In
Parenthesis, was one of the very few experimental poems to come out of World War
I, the Scot Hugh MacDiarmid, Mina Loy and Basil Bunting.

The Thirties
The poets who began to emerge in the 1930s had two things in common, they
had all been born too late to have any real experience of the pre World War I and
they grew up in a period of social, economic and political turmoil. Perhaps as a
consenquence of these facts, themes of community, social justice and war seem to
dominate the poetry of the decade.
The poetic image of the decade was dominated by four poets, W. H. Auden,
Stephen Spender, Cecil Day – Lewis and Louis MacNeice, although the last of these
belongs at least as much to the history of Irish poetry. These poets were all, in their
early days at least politically active on the left. Although they admired Eliot they also
represented a move away from the technical innovations of their modernist
predecessors. A number of other, less enduring, poets also worked in the same vein.
One of these was Michael Roberts, whose New Country anthology both introduced
the group to a wider audience and gave them their name.
The 1930s also saw the emergence of a home grown English surrealist poetry
whose main exponents were David Gascoyne, Huge Sykes Davies, George Barker
and Philip O’Connor. These poets turned to French models rather than either the
New Country poets or English experimental poets as it broadened the scope of the
English avant- garde tradition.
John Betjeman and Stevie Smith, who were two of the most significant poets of
this period, stood outside all schools and groups. Betjeman was a quietly ironic poet
of middle England with a fine command of a wide range of verse techniques. Smith
was an entirely unclassifiable one-off voice.
The Forties
The 1940s opened with the United Kingdom at war and a new generation of war
poets emerged in response. These included Keith Douglas, Alun Lewis, Henry Reed
and F. T. Prince. As with the poets of the First World War, the work of these writers
can be seen as something of an interlude in the history of 20th century poetry
technically, many of these war poets owed something to the 1930s poets, but their
work grew out of the particular circumstances in which they found themselves living
and fighting.

The main movement in post-war 1940s poetry was the New Romantic group
that included Dylan Thomas, George Baker, W. S. Graham, Katheleen Raine, Henry
Treece and J. F. Hendry. These writers saw themselves as in revolt against the
classicism of the New Country poets. They turned to such models as Gerard Manley
Hopkins, Arthur Rimbaud and Hart Crane and word play of James Joyce. Thomas,
in particular, helped Anglo-Welsh to emerge as a recognizable force.
Other significant poets to emerge in the 1940s Lawrence Durrell, Barnard
Spencer, Roy Fuller, Norman Nicholson, Vernon Watkins, R. S. Thomas and Norman
McCaig. These last four poets represent a trend towards regionalism and poets
writing about their native areas; Watkins and Thomas in Wales. Nicholson in
Cumberland and MacCaig in Scotland.
The Fifties
The 1950s were dominated by three groups of poets, The Movement, The group
and a number of poets that gathered around the label Extremist Art.
The Movement poets as a group came to public notice in Robert Conquest’s
1955 anthology New Lines. The core of the group consisted of Philip Larkin,
Elizabeth Jennings, D. J. Enright, Kingsley Amis, Thom Gunn and Donald Davie.
They were identified with a hostility to modernism and internationalism, and looked
to Hardy as a model. However, both Davie and Gunn later moved away this position.
As benefit their name, the Group were much more formally a group of poets,
meeting for weekly discussions under the chairmanship of Philip Hobsbaum and
Edward Lucie Smith. Other Group poets included Martin Bell, Peter Porter, Peter
Redgrove, Geroge MacBeth and David Wevill. Hobsbaum spent some time teaching
in Belfast, where he was a formative influence on the emerging Northern Ireland
poets including Seamus Heaney.
The term Extremist Art was first used by the poet A. Alvarez to describe the
work of the American poet Sylvia Plath. Other poets associated with this group
included Plath’s one time husband Ted Hughes, Francis Berry and Joe Silkin. These
poets are sometimes compared with the Expressionist German Schools.
A number of young poets working in what might be termed a modernized vein
also started husband Ted Hughes, Francis Berry and Jon Silkin. These included
Charled Tomlinson, Gael Trunbull, Roy Fisher and Bob Cobbing. These poets can

now be seen as forerunners of some of the major development during the following
two decades.
The 1960s and 1970s
In the early part of the 1960s, the centre of gravity of mainstream poetry moved
to Ireland, with the emergence of Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin, Paul Muldoon and
others. In England, the most cohesive groupings can, in retrospect, be seen to cluster
around what might loosely be called the modernist tradition and draw on American
as well as indigenous models.
The British Poetry Revival was a wide-reaching collection of groupings and
subgroupings that embraces performance, sound and concrete poetry as well as
legacy of Pound, Jones, MacDiarmid, Loy and Bunting, the Objectivist poets, the
Beast and the Black Mountain Poets, among others. Leading poets associated with
this movement include. J. H. Prynne, Eric Mottram, Tom Raworth, Denise Riley and
Lee Harwood.
The Mersey Beat poets were Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough.
Their work was a self-conscious attempts at creating an English equivalent to the
Beats. Many of their poems were written in protest against the established social
order and, particularly, the treat of nuclear war. Although not actually a Mersey Beat
poet, Adrian Mitchell is often associated with the group in critical discussion.
Contemporary poet Steve Turner has also been compared with them.
English poetry now
The last three decades of the 20th century saw a number of short-lived poetic
groupings, including the Martians, also with a general trend towards what has been
termed ‘Poelectics’, namely an intensification within individual poet’s oeuvres of
“all kinds of style, subject, voice, register and form”. There has also been a growth in
interest in women’s writing, and in poetry from England’s ethnic groupings,
especially the West Indian community. Performance poetry has gained popularity,
fuelled by the Poetry Slam movement. Poets who emerged in this period include
Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion, Craig Raine, Wendy Cope, James Fenton, Blake
Morrison, Liz Lochhead, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zepahaniah.
Even more recent activity focused around poets in Bloodaxe Books. The New
Poetry, including Simon Armitage, Kathleen Jamie, Glyn Maxwell, Selima Hill,

Maggie Hannan, and Michael Hofmann. The New Generation movement flowered in
the 1990s and early 2000s, producing poets such as Don Paterson, Julia Copus, John
Stammers, Jacob Polley, David Morley and Alice Oswald. A new generation of
innovative poets has also sprung up in the wake of the Revival grouping. There has
been, too, a remarkable upsurge (citation needed) in independent and experimental
poetry pamphalet publishers such as Barque, Flarestack, Heaventree and Perdika
Press. Throughout this period, and to the present, independent poetry presses such as
Enithrmon have continued to promote original work from (among others) Dannie
Abse, Martyn Crucefix and Jane Duran.

1.4.2 Glossary:
 Communistic - Supporting communism
 Surrealist - A modern movement in art and literature in which an attempt
is made to interpret the workings of unconscious mind as manifested in
 Expressionist - characterized by
 Extremist - the quality or state of going to extremes.
 Retrospect - to look back
 Upsurge - surge upward

1.4.3 Check your progress:

I) Choose the correct option.
1. Traditional poetry can be sub-divided into the _________
a) Knowledge
b) Education
c) Education, the Goergian, the poetry of the great war
d) none of these
2. The leading representative of the poetry of the old era of act as a bridge
into new were _________
a) Philip Larkin and Keats

b) William Wordsworth and Byron
c) W B Yeats and Thomas Hardy
d) Rudyard Kipling Wilfrd Owen
3) T.S. Eliot became a major figure after the publication of ________
a) The Waste Land
b) Tintery Abbey
c) Kubla Khan
d) None of these.
4) The term Extremist Art was first used by the poet ________
a) A Alvarez
b) Elizabeth Jennings
c) D.I. Enright
d) Kingseley Amis
5) The Movement poets as a group came to public notice in ________
a) London Magazine
b) Robert Conquest’s 1955, anthology New Lines
c) Poetical collection
d) None of these.
II) Answer the following questions in one word / phrase / sentence each.
1. Whom does the Romantic writers revolted against in the forties?
2. What is poelectics?
3. Give the names of new Romantic poets.
4. What is mean by futurist?
5. Who are the main exponents of Surrealist poetry?

1.4.4 Key to check your progress
I) 1. c
2. c
3. a
4. a
5. b
II) 1. The classicism of the new country poets.
2. The term – all kinds of style, subject, voice, register and form.
3. Dylan Thomas, George Baker, W.S. Graham, Katheleen Raine, Henry
Treece and J.F. Hendry.
4. The class of poetry which is borrowed from the sister art of painting.
5. David Gascoyne, Huge Sykes Davies, George Barker and Philip O’Connor.

1.4.5 Exercises :
V) What are the characteristics of modern poetry?
VI) Write a note on the Movement Poetry.
VII) What was the contribution of the modern poets to the modern poetry?

1.4.6 Suggestions for Further Reading

Bradley, A. C. : Oxford Lectures on Poetry.
Bullough, G. : The Trend of Modern Poetry, 1934; 1949.
Bush, Douglas : English Poetry.
Courthope, W. J. A. History of English Poetry (6 Vols.) 1895-1910
Daiches, David : Poetry and the Modern World.
Evans, B. I. For : English Poetry, 1944; 1947.
Leavis, F. R. : New Bearings in English Poetry, 1932; 1950.

Edmund Spenser

i) ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’
ii) ‘Epithalamion’
2.1.0 Objectives
2.1.1 Introduction
2.1.2 Life-sketch and literary career of Edmund Spenser
2.1.3 About “The Shepherd’s Calendar”
2.1.4 Summary
2.1.5 Glossary
2.1.6 Check your progress
2.1.7 Critical Appreciation
2.1.8 Exercises
2.1.9 Keys to check your progress

2.1.0 Objectives:
 To acquaint the learner with Spenser’s poetry.
 To enable the learner to know Spenser’s distinctive verse forms—
Spenserian Stanza and Spenserian Sonnet.
 To acquaint the learner with allegorical aspects in his poetry.
 To make the learner to inculcate different aspects of Spenser’s poetry, such
as form, content, setting, imagery, rhythm and other linguistic richness.
 To acquaint the learner with Spenser’s role as a stylistic innovator.

2.1.1 Introduction :
Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) was an English poet of 16th century, and a
contemporary of William Shakespeare. He was a leading poet during the Elizabethan
Era. Spenser is known as ‘the poet’s poet’ for his delight in the pure artistry of his
craft. His pictorial imagery, sensuous description, and linguistic richness combine to
establish him as one of the greatest of English poets. His work has earned the
approbation and respect of some of the most illustrious names in poetry. John Milton
spoke of ‘our sage and serious poet, Spenser’, John Dryden acknowledged him as his
‘master’ in poetry, James Thomson referred to him as ‘fancy’s pleasing son’, John
Keats characterized him as ‘Elfin Poet’ and William Wordsworth envisioned ‘sweet
Spenser moving through his clouded heaven/ With the moon’s beauty and moon’s
soft pace…’. Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”, though unfinished, is indisputably a
masterwork of English literature.
His work reflects the religious and humanistic ideals as well as the intense but
critical patriotism of Elizabethan England. His contributions to English literature are
in the form of heighted and enlarged poetic vocabulary, a charming and flexible
verse style and a rich fusing if the philosophic and literary currents of the English
Renaissance. In general style and spirit, Spenser has been one of the most powerful
influences on all succeeding English romantic poetry. To Lowell:
“His great merit is in the ideal treatment with which he glorified common thing
and glided them with a ray of enthusiasm. He is a standing protest against the
tyranny of the commonplace, and sows the seeds of a noble discontent with prosaic
views of life and the dull uses to which it may be put”.


Spenser was the son of a tailor, but his family seems to have had its origins in
Lancashire. He was admitted to the newly founded Merchant Taylors’ School about
1561 as a “poor scholar”. In 1569, Spenser went to Pembroke College, Cambridge.
He spent seven years at the University gaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1572
and his Master of Arts degree in 1576. He studied Italian, French, Latin and Greek.
He read widely in classical literature and in the poetry of the modern languages. At
Cambridge, Spenser came to know Gabriel Harvey, lecturer in rhetoric and a man of
letters. Among his fellow students were Lancelot Andrews, and Edward Kirke. Three

years after leaving Cambridge, in 1579, Spenser issued his first volume of poetry,
The Shepherds’ Calendar.
In 1578, Spenser served as Secretary to the Bishop of Rochester and in 1579
went to work for the Earl of Leicester. The latter position brought him into proximity
of the court of Queen Elizabeth I, where he met Philip Sidney and others. In
Renaissance England, the court was the center of social life and power and poetry
was one means by which courtiers gained recognition and promotion.
A turning point in his career came in 1589, when he spent one more year at
court under the patronage of his friend, Walter Raleigh, who helped him publish the
first book of “The Faerie Queene” in 1590. In 1594, Spenser married Elizabeth
Boyle, their courtship and marriage are immortalized in Spenser’s sonnet sequence,
the “Amoretti” and his wedding ode, the “Epithalaminon”(1595). In 1598, political
unrest in Ireland forced Spenser and his family to flee the country, his Irish estate,
“Kilcomen Castle”, was destroyed in Tyrone’s Rebellion. They went to London,
where Spenser died soon after. He is buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminister Abbey.
Spenser’s the most important work is “The Faerie Queene”, a narrative epic of
legends and romance. It is a series of chivalrous adventures, replete with tales of
knightly honor, damsels in distress, and evil forces to be conquered.It consists of six
books and a fragment of a seventh, commonly referred to as the “Cantos of
Mutabilitie”. It is the allegorical epic. The allegory works on two levels- moral and
political- although subsidiary spiritual, historical and personal allegories have also
been seen. The Shepherd’s Calendar (1579) and Colin Clouts Come Home Again
(1595) reveal Spenser’s attitudes towards art, pastoral idealism and the socio-
political world of the Elizabethan court. Spenser’s sequence of love sonnets, the
“Amoretti” is fairly conventional in conception. The “Epithalamion”, an ode
celebrating his marriage, is Spenser’s best work. His notable prose piece is “A View
of the State of Ireland, Written Dialogue-wise, between Eudoxus and Irenceus

2.1.3 The Shepherd’s Calendar:

“The Shepherd’s Calendar” was published in 1579. It was dedicated to “The
Noble and Virtuous Gentleman, worthy of all titles both of Learning and Chevalrie,
M. Philip Sidney.” It was praised successively by Sir Philip himself in his Defence of
Poesie (1583). It was also praised by William Webbe in his Discourse of English

Poetrie (1586) and by Thomas Nashe in the Preface of Menaphon (1589).The
Shepherd’s Calendar was introduced E.K., Spenser’s fellow-collegian and
contemporary, Edward Kirke. This work is consisted of 12 pastoral eclogues.
Spenser’s eclogues cover a wide range of subjects in many metres and styles of
poetry. But they are skillfully held together to form a convincing single poem within
the pastoral framework. It is written from the point of view of various shepherds
throughout the months of the year. Spenser used pastoral conventions as vehicles of
allegorical and satirical allusions to contemporary political and religious problems, as
well as his own life and loves. Spenser, in this work shows the influence of such
classical and foreign models as Virgil, Jacopo Sannazaro, Clement Marot, Geoffrey
Chaucer and other English sources.

2.1.4 Summary of the Shepherd’s Calendar

The Shepherd's Calendar (1579) is famous as the poem which announced that
a successor to Chaucer had at last appeared in England. It is an amateurish work in
which Spenser tried various meters; and to analyze it is to discover two discordant
elements, which we may call fashionable poetry and puritanical preaching. Let us
understand these elements clearly.
It was a fashion among Italian poets to make eclogues or pastoral poems about
shepherds, their dancing, piping, love-making,--everything except a shepherd's
proper business. Spenser followed this artificial fashion in his Calendar by making
twelve pastorals, one for each month of the year. These all take the form of
conversations, accompanied by music and dancing, and the personages are Cuddie,
Diggon, Hobbinoll, and other fantastic shepherds. According to poetic custom these
should sing only of love; but in Spenser's day religious controversy was rampant, and
flattery might not be overlooked by a poet who aspired to royal favour. So while the
January pastoral tells of the unhappy love of Colin Clout (Spenser) for Rosalind, the
springtime of April calls for a song in praise of Elizabeth:
Lo, how finely the
Graces can it foot
To the instrument!
They dancen deffly and singen soote,
In their merriment.
And reign with the rest in heaven.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…4
In May the shepherds are rival pastors of the Reformation, who end their
sermons with an animal fable; in summer they discourse of Puritan theology;
October brings them to contemplate the trials and disappointments of a poet, and the
series ends with a parable comparing life to the four seasons of the year.
The moralizing of The Shepherd's Calendar and the uncouth spelling which
Spenser affected detract from the interest of the poem; but one who has patience to
read it finds an almost every page some fine poetic line, and occasionally a good
song, like the following (from the August pastoral) in which two shepherds
alternately supply the lines of a roundelay:
Sitting upon a hill so high,
Hey, ho, the high hill!
The while my flock did feed thereby,
The while the shepherd's self did spill,
The apparatus added to The Shepherds’ Calendar by E.K. highlights the aspects
and summary of the eclogues in the Calendar. In the first eclogue, “January”, the
Shepherd’s boy, Colin Clout, is shown with a staff (properly called a crook). We also
see a distant town with the spires of a cathedral or churches, and the Zodaic sign for
Aquarius.When Colin Clout leads “forth his flocke” one sees that during “winter’s
wastful spight” it has “waxed”faint and “feeble in the fold” and that “all as the
sheepe, such was the shepherds looke.” Here the condition of external nature is
mentioned first, and then the fact that Colin resembles it. It suggests that Colin is a
prisoner of the natural cycle and subordinate to it. Collin claims that the “barren
ground” is “made a myrrhour to behold his plight”. This may suggest a pathetic
fallacy in which the natural surroundings respond to Cloin’s emotional state. In
comparison of Colin’s life with the seasons, Colin is accommodating himself to the
cycle of the natural year in which case he must die with winter. Some of the details
of Colin’s comparison indicate that he will be unable to compose poetry. The change
of the seasons will not help him, for he has already psychologically passed through
all of them and will be paralyzed in this wintery unproductive stage until he dies in
“December”. The shepherd-poet needs shade and otium to produce poetry but
Colin’s mind is “overcome with care” which is a disruptive influence on the creative
mind, for

The vaunted verse a vacant head demoundes,
Ne wont with crabbed care the Muses dwell.(October, 11.100-101)
The breaking of his pipe is merely a formal recognition of the obvious fact that
Colin cannot compose poetry. Nor can he do much else, for he is caught in stasis of
conflicting emotions:
A thousand sithes I curse that carefull hower ,
Wherein I sawe so fayre a sight, as shee . (January, 11.49-52)
Colin is immobilized with the Petrarchan antitheses of “joy and pain” and can
neither progress nor regress in his love for Rosalind. Colin’s pipe pleases “not where
most I would” in either winning Rosalind or in slaking the fires of love.Colin breaks
his pipes because the supposed efficacy of poetry has reached a stasis. Then he
“downe did Iye”. This physical stasis mirrors the emotional and poetic stasis from
which Colin cannot emerge, having now reached the winter of his life. Colin laments
that his spring is “but now begonne and yet it is already done”, suggesting that he
was “newly enarmoured” once, and that this brought him from the spring to the
winter of his life with great rapidity. The final “event” of the eclogue is that Colin is
leading his sheep home. This act is a pastoral formula for ending an eclogue and may
serve as a symbol for the poem. Colin may lie down but the poem needs a proper
closure so he leads his sheep home.
In the eclogue, “Februarie”, an old shepherd, Thenot, speaks to a shepherd boy
called Cuddie. We see the zodiac signs for Pisces (the fish) in the sky.This eclogue is
the conflict of youth and age suitable to the month. Cuddie identifies himself with the
approaching spring and complains about the “bitter blasts” of winter. The
Mantuanesque Thenot, who has lived to the “lust prime of thrise threttie years”,
maintains that Cuddie’s complaints are the “lewd” complaints of a “laesie ladd”.
Thenot believes that the world must become progressively worse and the only
remedy is to make one’s flock one’s chief care and disregard the cycle of the
seasons. Since Cuddie’s “flowering youth is foe to frost”, he will not accept Thenot’s
pessimistic wintery world view. He identifies himself with the fertility of spring and
regards winter as age’s restraint on youth’s desires. Thenot moralizes on the dangers
of Cuddie’s position but Cuddie replies that his arguments are expressions of envy
for his lost youth and efforts to deprive him of legitimate and natural eroticism. The

not argues that age is a punishment for misspent youth. The debate reaches a
standstill and
Thenot offers to tell a “tale of truth” which he had learned from Tityrus
In the eclogue, “March”, two shepherds’ boys begin to “make purpose of love
and other pleasaunce, which to spring time is most agreeable.” Thomalin tells his
friend how he recently startled from the bushes a “a naked Swayne” and how he shot
at him with his arrows till he had emptied his quiver, when he ran away in a fright,
and the creature shot him and hit him in the heel. Willie explains to his friend that the
swain was Love, a fact with which he is acquainted because his father had once
caught him in a fowling net, fortunately without his bow and arrows. The
ploughman’s warning contains an epigram such as: “do not prematurely seek to fall
in love; Love, the ruthless god, will conquer you in due time.” We see the two boys
standing talking and also Cupid. In the sky, there is the zodiac symbol for Aries.
There also appears to be a naked child or man in the woodcut hidden under netting.
“March” and “November” eclogues are the allegories—providing the material or
ideas to poetry. In “March” the elements are added to “Plot” such as love’s knights
and distorts by adding scorn to Thomalin’s reactions, conflating his story with
Willy’s and having Thomalin instead of Cupid entangled in the net.
The eclogue, “April” is intended to honour and praise of the most gracious
Queen Elizabeth. Thenot is complaining of Colin’s great misadventure in love:
whereby his mind was alienate and withdrawn not only from him who most loved
him, but also from all former delights and studies, as well in pleasant piping as
conning rhyming and singing and other lovable exercises. Whereby he took this
occasion, for proofing his excellence and skill in poetry, to record a song, which
Colin sometime made in honour of his Majesty, whom abruptly he called Elisa.
In the eclogue “Mayie” the debate begins with the subject of what is the
appropriate behavior of the clergy in contrast to the laity. Palinode is a “world’s
childe”, wanting to participate in the rites of spring. He recognizes that a minister is a
man like others and thus subject to the demands of nature and the fact of death, and
therefore, counsels the enjoyment of the present. Palinode does not have Piers’
awareness of the potential evil in the world. The kid had no knowledge of the fox’s
identity and could not have been “Fayne” to have his friendship as a “falser”. The

tale warns one of the result of becoming friends with a “falser” and of the deceits “of
craft coloured with simplicite”, but it does not tell one how to detect the fraud.
In the eclogue, “June”, Hobbinol, unlike Colin, is able to relax into the calmness
and coolness of the month. Colin is frustrated in his poetic ambitions. His spirit is so
depressed that he cannot rally to the high praise bestowed on him by Hobbinol. In the
last stanza of his lament, Colin relinquishes absolute control over his poetic power.
The eclogue, “Julye” “is made in the honour and commendation of good
shepherds and to the shame and dispraise of proud and ambitious pastours”. It covers
Thomalin’s invective on the abuses of power. Morell joins Thomalin in his
awareness of the dangers to power, and in his pity for Algrind.
In the “August” eclogue, we have a singing match between Willie and Perigot.
Here, Perigot recites luckless love story.
It sets forth a delectable controversy, made in imitation of that in Theocritus:
whereto also Virgil fashioned his third and seventh Eclogue. They choose for umpire
of their strife Cuddie, a neatherd's boy; who, having ended their cause, recited also
himself a proper song, where of Colin, he said, was author.
The meaning hereof is very ambiguous: for Perigot by his poesy claiming the
conquest, and Willie not yielding, Cuddie the arbiter of their cause, and patron of his
own, seemed to challenge it as his due, saying, that he is happy which can, so
abruptly ending: but he meant either him that can win the best, or moderate himself
being best, and leave off with the best.
The eclogue, “September” shows Diggon Dauie’s attack on the “loose living of
how to cure the ills which leads to a stasis of futile inaction. Diggon exhorts
Hobbinol, in a Mantuanesque fashion to “ever liggen in watch and ward” over his
sheep. But Hobbinol enjoys his Vergilion otium.
In the eclogue, “October”, Cuddie complains of the contempt into which poetry
has fallen. In this eclogue, Orpheus, Vergil and Colin are all presented as better
poets. The eclogue remarks “the perfect pattern of a poete”. This may describe the
problems besetting this “perfect pattern of a poet” that is the accurate picture of a
frustrated poet, Cuddie. Cuddie attempts to act out his own imaginary wine-induced
inspiration but his “corage cooles ere it be warm” and he retires to the “humble
shade” which is conducive to the otium of pastoral poetry. So all aspects of poetry

even the inspiration, congeal into a stasis which will not be broken by Cuddie. The
only positive movement in poetry is attributed to Colin’s potentiality.
In the “November” eclogue, Colin bewails the death of some maiden named
Dido. The personage is secret and unknown. This eclogue is made in imitation of
Marot’s song which he made upon the death of Loys the French Queen.
Spenser’s final eclogue, “December” suggests the general arrangement of the
Calendar. This eclogue ends with a complaint of Colin to God Pan. He
proportionates his life to the four seasons of the year. He compares his youth to the
spring time, when he was fresh and free from love-follies. His manhood is compared
to the summer, in which he was consumed with great heat and excessive drought
caused through a Comet or blessing star by which he mean love. His riper years he
resembles to an unseasonable harvest wherein the fruits fall as they are ripped. His
latter age is compared to winter’s chilly and frosty season, drawing nearer to death. It
concludes with a melancholy farewell to his sheep, his Hobbinol, his Rosalind, and
indeed all his delights.

2.1.5 Glossary
Colin Clout, is a name not greatly used, and yet have I seen a Poesie of Master
Skelton's under that title. But indeed the word Colin is French, and used of the
French poet Marot (if he be worthy of the name of a poet) in a certain Eclogue.
Under which name this poet secretly shadoweth himself, as sometimes did Virgil
under the name of Tityrus, thinking it much fitter than such Latin names, for the
great unlikelihood of the language.
unnethes,- scarcely.
Couthe, - cometh of the verb Conne, that is, to know, or to have skill.
As well interpreteth the same, the worthy Sir Thomas Smith, in his book of
Government : whereof I have a perfect copy in writing, lent me by his kinsman and
my very singular good friend, Master Gabriel Harvey : as also of some other his most
grave and excellent writings.
Sythe, - time.
Neighbour town, - the next town : expressing the Latin Vicina.

Stoure,- a fit.
Sere,- withered.
His clownish gifts,- imitateth Virgil's verse.
" Rusticus es Cory don, nee munera curat Alexis."
Hobbinol,- is a feigned country name, whereby, it being so common and usual,
seemeth to be hidden the person of some his very special and most familiar friend,
whom he entirely and extraordinarily beloved,
Rosalind is also a feigned name, which, being well ordered will bewray the very
name of his love and mistress, whom by that name he coloureth
Avail,- bring down.
Overhail,- draw over.
Keen,- sharp.
Gride,- pierced : an old word much used of Lydgate, but not
found (that I know of) in Chaucer.
Ronts,- young bullocks.
Wrack,- ruin or violence, whence cometh shipwreck : and
not wreak, that is vengeance or wrath.
Foeman,- a foe.
Thenot,- the name of a shepherd in Marot his JEglogues.
The sovereign of seas, is Neptune the God of the seas. The
saying is borrowed of Mimus Publianus
Fond flies: He compareth careless sluggards, or ill husband-
men, to flies that, so soon as the sun shineth, or yet waxeth
anything warm, begin to fly abroad, when suddenly they be
overtaken with cold.
Brenie,- chill, bitter.

Chamfred,- chapt, or wrinkled.
Accoy cd,- plucked down and daunted.
Snrquedrie,- pride.
Eld,- old age.
Sicker,- sure.
Tottie,- wavering.
Corbe,- crooked.
Hcrie,- worship.
Phyllis,- the name of some maid unknown, whom Cuddie whose person is secret,
loved. The name is usual in Theocritus, Virgil, and Mantuan.
Belt,- a girdle or waist-band.
Afon,- a fool.
Lithe,- soft and gentle.
Venteth,- snuffeth in the wind.
Thy flock's father, the ram.
Crags,- necks.
Rather lambs, that be ewed early in the beginning of the year.
Embellished,- beautified and adorned.
To wonne,- to haunt or frequent.
Sneb,- check.
Why standst,- the speech is scornful and very presumptuous.
Engrained,- dyed in grain.
Accloyeth,- encumbereth.
Adawed,- daunted and confounded.
Trees of state, taller trees, fit for timber wood.
Coronal,- garland.

Flowerets,- young blossoms.
The primrose,- the chief and worthiest.
Naked arms, metaphorically meant of the bare boughs, spoiled
of leaves. This colourably he speaketh, as adjudging him to the fire.
The blood, spoken of a block, as it were of a living creature, figuratively,
Hent,- caught.
Nou ld,- for would not.
Ay,- evermore.
Wounds,- gashes.
Enaunter,- least that.
Glee,- cheer and jollity.
For scorniny Eld, and minding (as should seem) to have
made rhyme to the former verse, he is cunningly cut off by
Cuddie, as disdaining to hear any more.
Galage,- a startup or clownish shoe
Ovenoent,- overgone.
Alegge,- to lessen or assuage.
To quell,- to abate.
Welkin,- the sky.
The swallow,- which bird useth to be counted the messenger,
and as it were, the forerunner of spring.
Flora,- the goddess of flowers
Maitfs bower, that is, the pleasant field, or rather the May bushes. Maia is a goddess,
and the mother of Mercury, in honour of whom the month of May is of her name so
called, as saith Macrobius.

Lettice,- the name of some country lass.
Askance,- askew, or asquint.
Foithy,- therefore.
Lethe, is a lake in hell, which the poets call the lake of forgetfulness. For Lethe
signifieth forgetfulness. Wherein the souls being dipped did forget the cares of their
former life.
So that by love sleeping in Lethe lake, he meaiieth he was almost forgotten, and out
of knowledge, by reason of winter's hardness, when all pleasures, as it were, sleep
and wear out of mind.
Assot,- to dote.
His slumber, to break love's slumber is to exercise the delights of love and wanton
A dell,- a hole in the ground.
Spell, is a kind of verse or charm, that in older times they used often to say over
everything that they would have preserved, as the night spell for thieves, and the
woodspell. And herehence, I think, is named the gospel, as it were God's spell or
word. And so saith Chaucer, Listeneth Lordings to my spell.
Gang,- goe.
An ivy tod, -a thick bush.
Swain, a boy : for so is he described of the poets to be a boy, s. always fresh and
lusty ; blindfolded, because he maketh no difference of personages; with divers
coloured wings, s.
full of flying fancies ; with bow and arrow, that is, with glance of beauty, which
pricketh as a forked arrow. He is said also to have shafts, some leaden, some golden :
that is, both pleasure for the gracious and loved, and sorrow for the lover that is
disdained or forsaken. But who list more at large to behold Cupid's colours and
furniture, let him read either Propertius, or Moschus his Idyllion of winged love,
being now most excellently translated into Latin, by the singular learned man
Angelus Politianus : which work I have seen, amongst other of this poet's doings,
very well translated also into English rhymes.

Wimble and wight,- quick and deliver.
Latched,- caught.
Wroken,- revenged.
Fayr once : In this tale is set out the simplicity of shepherds'
opinion of love.
Stoopiny Ph'C l n,s is a periphrasis of the sun setting.
(Tora tkee greete, causeth thee weep and complain.
Forlorn,- left and forsaken.
Attempered to the year, agreeable to the season of the year, that is April, which
month is most bent to showers and seasonable rain : to quench, that is, to delay the
drought, caused through dryness of March winds.
The lad,- Colin Clout.
The lass,- Rosalinda.
Tressed locks,- wreathed and curled.
7s he for a lad ? a strange manner of speaking, s. what manner of lad is he ?
The Widow's,- he calleth Rosalind the widow's daughter of the glen
Fren,- a stranger. The word, I think, was first poetically put, and afterwards used in
common custom of speech for foreign.
Dight,- adorned.
Lay,- a song, as roundelays and virelays.
Virgins,- the nine Muses, daughters of Apollo and Memory, whose abode the poets
feign to be on Parnassus, a hill in Greece, for that in that country specially nourished
the honour of all excellent studies. Helicon is both the name of a fountain at the foot
of Parnassus, and also of a mountain in Bceotia, out of which floweth the famous
spring Castalius, dedicate also to tlie Muses : of which spring it is said that when
Pegasus the winged horse of Perseus (whereby is meant fame and flying renown)
struck the ground with' his hoof, suddenly thereout sprang a well of most clear and

pleasant water, which from thenceforth was consecrate to the Muses and Ladies of
Your silver song,- seemeth to imitate the like in Hesiodus
Syrinx is the name of a nymph of Arcadie, whom when Pan being in love pursued,
she, flying from him, of the gods was turned into a reed. So that Pan catching at the
reeds, instead of the damsel, and puffing hard (for he was almost
out of wind), with his breath made the reeds to pipe ; which he seeing, took of them,
and, in remembrance of his lost love, made him a pipe thereof. But here by Pan and
Syrinx is not to be thought that the shepherd simply meant those poetical gods ; but
rather supposing (as seemeth) her grace's progeny to be divine and immortal,and in
some place Christ Himself, who is the very Pan and god of shepherds.
Embellish,- beautify and set out.
Phcebe,- the moon, whom the poets feign to be sister unto
Phoebus,- that is, the sun.
Medled,- mingled.
Yfere,- together.
Calliope, one of the nine Muses, to whom they assign the honour of all poetical
invention, and the first glory of the heroical verse. Others say, that she is the goddess
of rhetoric ; For there, in his epigrams, that art seemeth to be attributed to The Graces
be three sisters, the daughters of Jupiter (whose names are Aglaia, Thalia,
Euphrosyne ; and Homer only added a fourth, s. Pasithea), otherwise called Charites,
that is thanks : whom the poets feigned to be the goddesses of all bounty and
comeliness, which therefore (as saith Theodontius)
they make three, to wit, that men first ought to be gracious and bountiful to other
freely ; then to receive benefits at other men's hands courteously ; and thirdly, to
requite them thank-fully ; which are three sundry actions in liberality. And Boccace
saith, that they be painted naked (as they were indeed on the tomb of C. Julius
Caesar) the one having her back to- ward us, and her face fromward, as proceeding
from us ; the other two toward us, noting double thanks to be due to us for the benefit
we have done.
Dejfly,- finely and nimbly.

ftoote,- sweet.
Merriment,- mirth.
Bevy,- a bevy of ladies is spoken figuratively for a company or troop : the term is
taken of larks. For they say a bevy of larks, even as a covey of partridges, or an eye
of pheasants. Ladies of the Lake be Nymphes. For it was an old opinion
amongst the ancient heathen, that of every spring and fountain was a goddess the
Sovereign. "Which opinion stuck in the minds of men not many years since, by
means of certain fine fablers and loud liars, such as were the" authors of King Arthur
the Great, and such like, who tell many an unlawful leasing of the ladies of the lake,
that is, the nymphs. For the word Nymph in Greek signifieth well water, or
otherwise, a spouse or bride.
Behight,- called or named.
the name of a nymph, and signifieth greenness ;is said, that Zephyrus, the western
wind, being in love witii her, arid coveting her to wife, gave her for a dowry the chief
dom and sovereignty of all flowers and green herbs growing on earth.
Olive baif,- the olive was wont to be the ensign of peace and quietness, either for that
it cannot be planted and pruned, and so carefully looked to as it ought, but in time of
peace ; or else for that the olive tree, they say, will not grow near the fir tree, which
is dedicate to Mars the God of battle, and used most for spears and other instruments
of war.
Bind your,- spoken rudely, and according to shepherd's simplicity. Bring, all these be
names of flowers. Sops in wine, a flower In colour much like to a carnation, but
differing in smell and quantity. Flower delice, that which they use to misterm flower
deluce, being in Latin called Flos delitiarum.
A Bellibone, or bonibel,- homely spoken for a fair maid or bonny lass.
Forswonck, and forswat,- overlaboured and sunburnt.
When damsons,- a base reward of a clownish giver.
Y blent,- Y is a poetical addition ; blent,- blinded.
Bloncket liveries,- gray coats.

Ydad, arrayed, Y redoundeth, as before.
In everywhere a strange, yet proper kind of speaking.
Buskets,- a diminutive, s. little bushes of hawthorn.
Kirk,- church.
Queme, -please.
A shoal,- a multitude, taken of fish, whereof some, going in great companies, are said
to swim in a shoal.
Yode,- went.
Jovyssaunce,- joy.
Swinck,- labour.
Inly, -entirely.
Faitours,- vagabonds.
Great Pan,-is Christ., the very God of all shepherds, which Call Himself the great and
good shepherd.
Algrind,- the name of a shepherd.
Men of the lay,- Laymen.
Enaunter,- least that.
Sovcnaunce,- remembrance.
Mi.wMnw,- despair, or misbelief.
Chevisaunce,- sometime of Chaucer used for gain : sometime of other for spoil, or
booty, or enterprise, and sometime for chief dom.
Pan himself, God : according as is said in Deuteronomy, that, in division of the land
of Canaan, to the tribe of Levi no portion of heritage should be allotted, for God
himself was their inheritance.
Source,- wellspring and original.
Borrow,- pledge or surety.

The giant is the great Atlas, whom the poets feign to be a huge giant, that beareth
Heaven on his shoulders : being indeed a marvellous high mountain in Mauritania,
that now is Barbary, which, to man's seeming, pierceth the clouds, and seemethto
touch the heavens. Others think, and they not amiss, that this fable was meant of one
Atlas king of the same country (of whom may be that that hill had his denomination),
brother to Prometheus, who (as the Greeks say) did first find out the hidden courses
of the stars, by an excellent imagination : wherefore the poets feigned that he
sustained the firmament on his shoulders. Many other conjectures needless be told
Warke,- work.
Encheason,- cause, occasion. Dear borrow, that is our Saviour, the common pledge
of all men's debts to death.
Wyten,- blame.
Nought seemeth,- is unseemly.
Conteck, -strife, contention.
Her,- their, as useth Chaucer.
Han,- for have.
Sam,- together.
This tale is much like to that in ^Esop's fables, but the catastrophe and end is far
different. By the kid may be understood the simple sort of the faithful and true
Christians. By his dam Christ, that hath already with careful watch- words (as here
doth the goat) warned her little ones to beware of such doubling deceit. By the fox,
the false and faithless Papists, to whom is no credit to be given, nor fellowship to be
The Gate,- the goat : northernly spoken, to turn O into A.
Yode,- went : aforesaid.
She set, a figure called Fictio, which useth to attribute reasonable actions and
speeches to unreasonable creatures.The blossoms of lust be the young and mossy
hairs, which then begin to sprout and shoot forth when lustful heat begin-
neth to kindle. And with, a very poetical Trados.

Orphan,- a youngling or pupil, that needeth a tutor and governor. That word,a
pathetical parenthesis, to increase a careful hyperbaton. The branch, of the father's
body, is the child. For even so, Alluded to the saying of Andromache to Ascanius in
Virgil. "Sic oculos, sic ille maims, sic ora ferebat." A thrilling throb, a piercing sigh.
Liggen,- lie.
Maister of collusion, s., coloured guile, because the fox, of all beasts, is most wily
and crafty.
Sperre the gate,- shut the door.
As bells, by such trifles are noted, the relics and rags of popish superstition, which
put no small religion in bells and babies, s. idols, and glasses, s. paxes, and such like
trumperies. Great cold, for they boast much of their outward patience, and voluntary
sufferance, as a work of merit and holy humbleness.
Sweet S. Charity, The Catholics' common oath, and only speech, to have charity
always in their mouth, and sometime in their outward actions, but never inwardly in
faith and godly zeal.
Clincke,- a keyhole. Whose diminutive is clicket, used of
Chaucer for a key.
Stounds, fits : aforesaid.
His lere,- his lesson.
Meddled,- mingled.
Jjcastlihead, agreeing to the person of a beast.
Sibbe, of kin.
Newell* a new thing.
To forest- to prevent.
Glee, cheer : aforesaid.
Dear a price,- his life which he lost'for those toys.
Fain,- glad or desirous. Owr Sir John, a Popish priest. A saying fit for the gross-
ness of a shepherd, but spoken to taunt unlearned priests.

Dismount,- descend or set.
Nigh,- draweth near.
Site,- situation and place.
Paradise. A Paradise in Greek signifieth a garden of pleasure, or place of delights.
The dales.- The south parts, where he now abideth, which though they be full of hills
and woods (for Kent is very hilly and woody ; and therefore so called, for Kantsh in
the Saxon tongue signifieth woody), yet in respect of the north parts
they be called dales. For indeed the north is counted the higher country.
Night ravens.- By such hateful birds he meaneth all misfortunes (whereof they be
tokens) flying everywhere.
Frendly faeries.- The opinion of fairies and elves is very old, and yet sticketh very
religiously in the minds of some.
Peeres. Equals,- and fellow-shepherds.
Queen-apples unripe,
Calliope, aforesaid. This staff is full of very poetical in-
Tamburines,- an old kind of instrument, which of some is supposed to be the clarion.
Pan with Phoebus, the tale is well known, how that Pan and Apollo, striving for
excellency in music, chose Midas for their judge. Who being corrupted with partial
affection, gave the victory to Pan undeserved: for which Phoebus set a pair of ass's
ears upon his head, &c. Tityrus, that by Tityrus is meant Chaucer hath been already
sufficiently said ; and by this more plain appeareth, that he saith he told merry tales.
Such as be his Canterbury Tales,
whom he calleth the god of poets for his excellency ; so as Tully calleth Lentulus,
Deum vitce suce, s. the god of his life.
To make,- to versify.
Discourtesy : he meaneth the falseness of his lover Rosalind, who forsaking him had
chosen another. Point of worthy wight, the prick of deserved blame. Menalcas,- the

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…5
name of a shepherd in Virgil; but here is meant a person unknown and secret, against
whom he often bitterly inveigheth.
Underfong,- undermine, and deceive by false suggestion.
A Goatherd : by goats, in Scripture, be represented the wicked and reprobate, whose
pastor also must needs be such.
Bank,- is the seat of honour.
Straying herd,- which wander out of the way of truth.
Als,- for also.
Climb,- spoken of Ambition.
Great climbers, according to Seneca his verse. "Decidunt celsa graviore lapsu. "
Mickle, much. The sun, A reason why he refuseth to dwell on mountains, because
there is no shelter against the scorching sun, according to the time of the year, which
is the hottest month of all. The Cap and Diadem be two signs in the Firmament,
through which the sun maketh his course in the month of July.
Lion, This is poetically spoken, as if the sun did hunt a Lion with one dog. The
meaning whereof is, that in July the sun is in Leo. At which time the dog star, which
is called Syrius, or Canicula, reigneth with immoderate heat, causing pestilence,
drought, and many diseases.
Overture,- an open place. The word is borrowed of the
French,- and used in good writers.
To holden chat,- to talk and prate.
fever Lurdane.
Recks much of thy sifink, counts much of thy pains.
Witless,- not understood.
St. Michel's Mount is a promontory in the west part of England.
Pan,- Christ.

Dan,- one tribe is put for the whole nation, per Synecdochen. Where Titan, the sun.
Which story is to be read in Diodorus Siculus of the hill Ida ; from whence, he saith,
all nighttime is to be seen a mighty fire, as if the sky burned, which toward morning
begins to gather into a round form, and thereof riseth the sun, whom the poets call
Titan. The Shepherd is Endymion, whom the poets feign to have been so beloved of
Phoebe, s. the Moon, that he was by her kept asleep in a cave by the space of thirty
years, for to enjoy his company. There, that is, in Paradise, where, through error of
the shepherd's understanding, he saith that all shepherds did use to feed their flocks,
till one (that is Adam), by his folly and
disobedience made all the rest of his offspring be debarred and shut out from thence.
Sinah, a hill in Arabia, where God appeared.
Our Lady's lower,- a place of pleasure so called.
Fauns,- be of poets feigned to be gods of the wood. Medway, the name of a river in
Kent, which, running by Rochester, meeteth with Thames, whom he calleth his elder
brother, both because he is greater, and also falleth sooner into the sea.
Mcynt,- mingled. Mclampode and Terebinth be herbs good to cure diseased
goats ; of the one speaketh Mantuan, and of the other Theocritus.
Nig her heaven : Note the shepherd's simpleness, which supposeth that from the hills
is nearer way to heaven.
Lorretl,- a losell.
A borrcll, -a plain fellow.
fiarre,- nearer.
Hale,- for hole.
Yede,- go.
Frowye,- musty or mossy
Of yore,- long ago.
forewent,-gone afore.

The first shepherd was Abel the righteous, who (as Scripture saith) bent his mind to
keeping of sheep, as did his brother Cain to tilling the ground. His keep, his charge,
s. his flock.
Louted,- did honour and reverence.
The brethren, -the twelve sons of Jacob, which were sheep-masters, and lived only
thereupon. Whom Ida, Paris, which being the son of Priamus king of Troy, for his
mother Hecuba's dream, which, being with child of him, dreamed she brought forth a
firebrand, that set all the tower of Ilium on fire, was cast forth on the hill Ida, where
being fostered of shepherds, he eke in time became a shepherd, and lastly came to the
knowledge of his parentage.
A lass, Helena, the wife of Menelaus king of Lacedemonia, was by Venus, for the
golden apple to her given, then promised to Paris, who thereupon with a sort of lusty
Troyans, stole her out of Lacedemonia, and kept her in Troy, which was the cause of
the ten years' war in Troy, and the most famous city of all Asia lamentably sacked
and defaced.
Argus, was of the poets devised to be full of eyes
Belts,- girdles.
Their Pan, that is, the Pope, whom they count their God and greatest shepherd.
Palinode,- a shepherd of whose report he seemeth to speak all this.
W'izards,- great learned heads.
Welter,- wallow.
Kerne,- a churl or farmer.
Bike mister men,- such kind of men.
Surly,- stately and proud.
Melting,- meddling.
Sett,- better.
Bynempt,- named.
Gree,- for degree.

Algrind,- the name of a shepherd aforesaid, whose mishap he alludeth to the chance
that happened to the poet Eschylus, that was brained with a shell fish.
Bestad,- disposed, ordered.
Peregall,- equal.
WJiilome,- once.
Reft,- bereft, deprived.
Miswent,- gone astray.
lU may,- according to Virgil.
" Infelix o semper ovis pecus."
A mazer : So also do Theocritus and Virgil feign pledges of their strife.
Enchased,- engraved. Such pretty descriptions everywhere useth Theocritus to bring
in his Idyllia. For which special cause, indeed, he by that name termeth his
^Eglogues ; for Idyllion in Greek signifieth the shape or picture of anything,
whereof kis book is full. And not, as I have heard some fondly guess, that they be
called not Idyliia, but Hsedilia, of the goat- herds in them.
Entrailed,- wrought between.
Harvest Queen,- the manner of country folk in harvest-time.
Pousse,- Pease.
It fell upon : Perigot maketh all his song in praise of his love, to whom Willie
answereth every underverse. By Perigot who is meant, I cannot uprightly say ; but if
it be who is supposed, his love, she deserveth no less praise than he giveth her.
Greete,- weeping and complaint.
Chaplet, -a kind of garland like a crown.
Leven,- lightning.
Cynthia-, was said to be the moon.
Gride,- pierced.

But if,- not unless.
Squint eye,- partial judgment.
Each have,- so saith Virgil,
" Et vitula tu dignus, et hie," &c.
So by interchange of gifts Cuddie pleaseth both parties.
Dempt, for deemed,- judged.
Wite the witeless,- blame the blameless.
The shepherd of Ida, was said to be Paris.
Beauty's Queen, Venus, to whom Paris adjudged the golden apple as the price of her
Bid her,- Bid good morrow. For to bid is to pray, whereof cometh beads for prayers,
and so they say, To bid his beads,to say his prayers.
Wightly,- quickly, or suddenly.
Ckaffred,- sold.
Dead at mischief, an unusual speech, but much usurped of Lydgate, and sometimes
of Chaucer.
Leef,- dear.
Ethe,- easy.
Thrice three moons') nine months.
Measured,- for travelled.
Eeked,- increased.
Carven,- cut.
Ren- know.
Crag,- neck.
State,- stoutly.
Stanck,- weary or faint.

Lome,- left.
Soote,- sweet.
Uncouth,- unknown.
As the bright,- translated out of Mantuan.
Emprise, -for enterprise. Per Syncopen.
Conteck, -strife.
Trode,- path.
Marry that, that is, their souls, which by popish exorcisms and practices they damn to
Gang, -go.
Mister,- manner.
Mir fee,- obscure.
Waur,- worse.
Crumenall,- purse.
Brace,- compass.
Encheason,- occasion.
Overgrast,- overgrown with grass.
Galage,- shoe.
The gross,- the whole.
Buxom and bent,- meek and obedient.
enavntcr,- least that.
Inly, inwardly ;- aforesaid.
Privily or pert,- openly, saith Chaucer.
Roffi/, the name of a shepherd in Marot his Eglogue of Robin and the king, whom he
here commendetli for great care and wise governance of his flock.

Wormed,- haunted.
Welkin, sky; aforesaid.
A ivcancll waste, a weaned youngling.
Hiddcr and shidder, he and she, male and female.
Steven,- noise.
Belive,- quickly.
Forehaile,- draw or distress.
Vetchie, -of peas straw.
Whilom,- sometime.
Oaten reeds,- Avena.
Ligge so laid, -lie so faint and unlusty.
Dapper,- pretty.
The shepherd that, Orpheus : of whom is said, that by his excellent skill in music and
poetry he recovered his wife Eurydice from hell. Argus eyes : Of Argus is before
said, that Juno to him committed her husband Jupiter his Paragon lo, because he had
an hundred eyes ; but afterwards Mercury, with his music lulling Argus asleep, slew
him and brought lo away, whose eyes it is
aid that Juno, for his eternal memory, placed in her bird the peacock's tail ; for those
coloured spots indeed resemble eyes.
Woundless armour,- unwounded in war, do rust through long peace. Display, a
poetical metaphor, whereof the meaning is, that if the poet list show his skill in
matter of more dignity than is the homely The worthy,- he meaneth (as I guess) the
most honourable and renowned the Earl of Leicester, whom by his cognisance Slack,
that is when thou changest thy verse from stately discourse to matter of more
pleasance and delight.
The Millers',- a kind of dance.
Ring,- company of dancers.

The Romish Tityrus, -well known to be Virgil, who by Mecsenas' means was brought
into the favour of the Emperor Augustus, and by him moved to write in loftier kind
than he erst had done.Whereon, in the three verses are the three several works of
Virgil intended, for in teaching his flocks to feed is meant his eglogues. In labouring
of lands is his Bucolics. In singing of wars and deadly drede is his divine JEneis
In derring do, -in manhood and chivalry.
Pent,- shut up in sloth, as in a coop or cage.
Tom Piper,- an ironical sarcasmus, spoken in derision of these rude wits, which make
more account of a rhyming ribald than of skill grounded upon learning and judgment.
Ne breast,- the meaner sort of men.
Her pieced piniom, unperfect skill : spoken with humble modesty.
As soote as Swan : The comparison seemeth to be strange, for the swan hath ever
won small commendation for her sweet singing ; but it is said of the learned that the
swan a little before her death singeth most pleasantly, as prophesying by a secret
instinct her near destiny
Wild ivy,- for it is dedicated to Bacchus, and therefore it is said that the Msenades
(that is Bacchus' frantic priests) used in their sacrifice to carry thyrsos, which were
pointed staves or javelins, wrapped about with ivy.
In buskin,- it was the manner of poets and players in tragedies to wear buskins, as
also in comedies to use stocks and light shoes. So that the buskin in poetry is used for
tragical matter
Quaint,- strange.
Bellona,- the goddess of battle,
Equipage,- order.
Tides,- seasons.
Charm,-temper and order
Jouisance,- mirth.

Sovenance,- remembrance.
Hcrie,- honour.
Wdked,- shortened or impaired. As the moon being in the wane is said of Lydgate to
welk. In Fish's haxk, the sun reigneth, that is, in the sign Pisces all November : a hask
is a wicker pad, wherein they use to carry fish.
Virelays,- a ligjit kind of song.
Drear iment,- dreary and heavy cheer.
The great shepherd is some man of high degree, and not, as some vainly suppose,
God Pan.The person both of the shepherd and of Dido is unknown, and closely
buried in the author's conceit. But out of doubt I am, that it is not Rosalind, as some
imagine : for he speaketh soon after of her also.
Sheen,- fair and shining.
May,- for maid.
Teen,- sorrow.
Guerdon,- reward.
Byncmpt,- bequeathed.
Cosset, -a lamb brought up without the dam.
Unkempt, incompti.- Not combed, that is rude and unhandsome.
Melpomene, the sad and wailful Muse, used of poets in honour of tragedies
Waste of,- decay of so beautiful a piece.
Cark,- care.
Moweret, a diminutive for a little flower. This is a notable and sententious
comparison, " A minorc ad majus."
Reliven not,- live not again, s. not in their earthly bodies : for in heaven they enjoy
their due reward. The branch, he meaneth Dido, who being as it were the
main branch now withered, the buds, that is, beauty (as he said before) can no more
flourish. With cakes, -fit for shepherds' banquets.
Heame,- for home, after the northern pronouncing.

Tinct,- dyed or stained.
The gaudy : The meaning is, that the things which were the ornaments of her life are
made the honour of her funeral, as is used in burials.
Lobbin,- the name of a shepherd, which seemethto have been the lover and dear
friend of Dido.
Rush rings,- agreeable for such base gifts.
Faded locks,- dried leaves. As if Nature herself bewailed the death of the maid.
Source,- spring.
Mantled meadows, for the sundry flowers are like a mantle or coverlet wrought with
many colours. The fatal sisters, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, daughters
of Erebus and the Night, whom the poets feign to spin the life of man, as it were a
long thread, which they draw out in length, till his fatal hour and timely death
become ; but if by other casualty his days be abridged, then one of them, that is,
Atropos, is said to have cut the thread in twain Eternal night,- is death or darkness of
Betight,- happened.
Elysian fields, be devised of poets to be a place of pleasure like Paradise, where the
happy souls do rest in peace and eternal happiness.
Die would,- the very express saying of Plato in "Phsedo."
Astert,- befall unawares.
Meint,- mingled.
Cabinet,- Coll net, diminutives.
Mazy, -for they be like to amaze whence it is hard to get out again.
Peers,- fellows and companions.
Mnxic,- That is poetry,

Lion's house : he imagineth simply that Cupid, which is love, had his abode in the
hot sign Leo, which is in the midst of summer ; a pretty allegory ; whereof the
meaning is, that love in him wrought an extraordinary heat of lust.
His ray,- which is Cupid's beam or flames of Love.
A cornel,- a blazing star, meant of beauty, which was the cause of his hot love.
Venus,- the goddess of beauty or pleasure. Also a sign in heaven, as it is here taken.
So he meaneth that beauty, which hath always aspect to Venus, was the cause of his
unquietness in love.
Lording : spoken after the manner of paddocks and frogs sitting, which is indeed
lordly, not removing nor looking once aside, unless they be stirred.
Then as : the second part, that is, his manhood.
Cotes,- sheepcotes, for such be the exercises of shepherds.
Sale,- or sallow, a kind of wood like willow, fit to wreath and bind in leaps to catch
fish withal.
Phoebe fails,- the eclipse of the moon, which is always in
Cauda, or Capite Draconis, signs in heaven. Venus, s. Venus star, otherwise called
Hesperus, and Vesper, and Lucifer, both because he seemeth to be one of the
brightest stars, and also first riseth, and setteth last. All which skill in stars being
convenient for shepherds to know, Theocritus and the rest use. Raging seas : the
cause of the swelling and ebbing of the sea Sooth of birds, a kind of soothsaying used
in elder times, Of herbs : That wondrous things be wrought by herbs
Kydxt,- knewest.
Ear, -of corn.
Scathe, -loss, hindrance.
Careful cold,- for care is said to cool the blood.
Glee,- mirth,
Hoary frost,- a metaphor of hoary hairs scattered like to a grey frost.
Breme,- sharp and bitter.

Adieu delights, is a conclusion of all, where in six verses he comprehendeth briefly
all that was touched in this book. In the first verse his delights of youth generally; in
the second, the love of Rosalind ; in the third, the keeping of sheep, which is the
argument of all the Eglogues ; in the fourth, he complaints; and in the last two, his
professed friendship and good will to his good friend Hobbinol.

2.1.6 Check Your Progress

A) Complete the following sentences by choosing correct alternative:
1. The Shepherd’s Calendar, a poetic work of Edmund Spenser consisted
with……. books.
a. eight b. ten c. eleven d. twelve
2. Edmund Spenser dedicated The Shepherd’s Calendar to……..
a. William Shakespeare b. Chaucer
c. Philip Sydney d. Harvey
3. The persona, Colin Clout resembles to……..
a. Edward Kirke b. Harvey
c. Bishop Grindal d. Edmund Spenser.
4. ………remained true to Colin in The Shepherd’s Calendar.
a. Rosalind b. Hobbinol c. Menalcas d. Willie
5. Pan is referred in The Shepherd’s Calendar as the God of …..
a. Love b. Flowers c. poetry d. Shepherds
B. Answer the following questions in one word or sentence each:
1. In which eclogues the idea of love is presented prominently?
2. Does the eclogue, Februarie deal with the matter related to morality and
3. Who is Rosalind?
4. How did E.K. classify the eclogues?
5. Which eclogue is in praise of the shepherdess Elisa, really the Queen
Elizabeth I ?

2.1.7 Critical Appreciation of the Shepherd’s Calendar
The Shepherd’s Calendar is a poetic work that consisted of twelve books. Each
is prefaced with a woodcut art that represent the story and the appropriate sign of
Zodiac. The poem is an allegory symbolizing the state of humanity at large in a
universal sense as implied by its cyclical structure. The diversity of forms and
meters, ranging from accentual syllabic to purely accentual, and including such
departures as the sestina in “August”, gave Spenser’s contemporaries a clue to the
range if his powers had won him praise in his day .
The interest of The Shepherd’s Calendar is mainly personal to Spenser. Its
twelve poems continue to be read chiefly because they were first published essays of
the Faerie Queene, the poems in which he tried and disciplined his powers. The
shepherds in each poem were believed to depict people from Spenser’s life including
himself.It is believed that Hobinol, the character was his friend, Gabriel Harvey. The
character Roffy was John Young, the character Algrind was the Archbishop of
Canterbury Frindal and Collin Clout was believed to be Spenser himself. These
poems were the stories about various characters or shepherds through the seasons.
The Shepherd’s Calendar deals with various subjects-the conventionalized love
of the poet for certain Rosalind; current religious controversies in allegory; moral
question; the state of poetry in England; and the praise of Queen Elizabeth. Spenser
has confined himself to a rendering of the traditional idea of pastoral love adapted to
the changes of the different seasons. The idea of love is presented prominently in
four of the eclogues, viz. those for January, March, June, and December. Of the rest
four, those for February, May, July and September, deal with matters relating to
morality or religion. The other two, April and November, are complimentary or
elegiac. One that for August, describes a singing match pure and simple. One that for
October is devoted to a lament for the neglect of poetry.
For designing The Shepherd’s Calendar, Spenser choose, as the basis of his
entire work, an allegory founded on the widely popular French Kalendrier des
Bergers- a almanac describing the tasks of shepherds in different months of the year-
and resolved to include within his poetic edifice the various subjects hitherto handled
in the eclogue. In dealing with the subject of love, he naturally took as his models the
Greek and Latin idyllists, who had preceded him with many complaints of shepherds
unfortunate in their wooing. Colin Clout, the love-lorn shepherd, whose lamentations

run, more or less, through all seasons of the year, has been treated by Rosalind,“the
widowe’s daughter of the glenne,” with the “cruelty” prescribed to ladies in the
conventional rules of the courts of love and utters his despair, in the winter months of
January and December. His feelings are much more complex than those ascribed for
example, by Theocritus to the lover of Amaryllis. In the following stanza, it is plain
that the pastoral sentiment has been transferred from the fields to the artificial
atmosphere of court life:
A thousand sithes I course that carefull hower
Wherein I longed the neighbor towne to see,
And eke tenne thousand sithes
I blesse the stoure
Wherein I sawe so fayre a sight as shee:
Yet all for naught: such sight hath bred my bane.
Ah, God! That love should breede both joy and payne!
Again, in the complaint of Colin in December, the essential motive is distinctly
literary. It lies much less in the lover’s pain than in the recollections of his
untroubled youth. So also, in the March eclogue, where the dialogue is carried on
between two shepherds called Thomalin and Willie, the real motive is to express the
pagan conception of love
In “January,” the plaintive lover is young, in “June” he has attained to the
middle years, and in “December” he is old. Crossing their arrangement according to
the month is E.K.’s classification of the eclogues as Plaintive, Recreative, and Moral.
Of the four plaintive eclogues, the “January”, “June”. And “December” may be
considered together. Making the beginning, the middle, and the end of the Calendar.
They also follow a progression from the youth to the old age of Colin with particular
reference to his love for Rosalind and his friendship for Hobbinol. In “January”, the
shepherd’s boy is “but newly enamoured of a countrie lasse called Rosalinde”. In the
winter landscape he complaineth him of his unfortunate love, comparing “his carefull
case to the sadde season of the yeare’. By “June” the little drama of friendship and
love has been complicated by the entrance of a rival, Menalcas, and Hobbinal has
developed from the hopeless suitor into the sympathetic counsellor, actively
interested in his friend’s poetry and advising him to “forsake the soil that so doth

thee bewitch.”Hobbinol laments Colin’s disappointment in love and blames Rosalind
as faithless and void of grace. Hobbinol is here more than a guide and a friend. He is,
further, in the moral eclogues, a philosopher of the Calendar.
In “December”, Colin has grown old:
And my face deepe furrowes eld hath plight:
My head besprent with hoary frost I fynd,
And by myne eie the crow his clawe dooth wright.
No longer does he seek to please Rosalind, and it is Hobbinol, the rejected one
of “January”, who is preferred. In contrast with “the loser lasse” is “Hobbinol that
was so true.”
The remaining eclogue of the plaintive group is “November”. But here the plaint
is not of love but of death. To the Rosalind theme there is a passing allusion –
Thy Muse to long slumbreth in sorrowing,
Lulled a sleepe through loves misgovernaunce.
Or honor Pan with hymnes of higher vaine.
Besides this allusion to Rosalind, “November’s” praise of Colin’s poetry serves
to connect it with the other plaintive eclogues. Further the autobiographical interest is
developed in the elegy commemorating Dido. Dido is “closely buried in the author’s
conceipt.” The Lobbin of the elegy, is, “seemth to have bene the lover and deere
frende of Dido,”
Of the recreative eclogues- “March”, “April”, and “August”-the last two connect
with the previous group through their praise of Colin’s poetry. “April” is connected
through the presence of Hobbinol. “March”, though it makes “purpose of love,”
contains no mention of either Collin or Hobbinol. But “April”is woven into the
pattern of the plaintive sequence by the introduction of Colin’s friend recalling the
gifts with which he had tried to win his wanton heart and lamenting that “ fayre
Rosalind hath bredde hys smart.” The hymn of praise addressed to Elizabeth gives us
another example of the poet’s art. Likewise, “August” repeats the theme of “January”
in the love lament of Colin recited by Cuddie.

From the eclogues dealing with love and friendship, let’s turn to those
designated Moral, “which for the most part be mixt with some satirical bitternesse”.
The intention of the calendaris stated in Epilogue- To teach the ruder shepherds how
to feede his sheepe, And from the falsers fraud his folded flocke to keepe. The Moral
eclogues, “February,” “May”, “July”, and “September” achieve a kind of unity by
centering interest in traditionally contrasted themes as youth and age, pride and
humility, restless ambition and contentment. In “September” eclogue, Harvey
appears as the moral Philosopher of the second group, who Sitting like a looker-on
Of this worlds stage, doest note with critique pen The sharp dislikes of each
condition. “February,” like “May”, “July”, and “September”, begins with a debate
and concludes with an illustrative fable. The fable conveys that there is a pride of
youth as well as a pride of age. But in maintaining that youth needs the protection
of age. The new poet would seem to argue that new and radical movements need the
shelter of old traditions.
Spenser, in “May” develops the theme of “February”. Palinode is only another
Cuddie . He speaks very much like the Brier in the fable. Piers may be compared
with Thenot and the oak. However, “May” does not duplicate “February”. In its
treatment of the theme of sobriety and worldliness, it marks a distinct advance over
the earlier eclogue. It differs from “February” in developing the ecclesiastical
allegory. Unlike Cuddie and Thenot, Piers and Palinode are pastors as well as
shepherds. It criticizes the corruption of the church. Palinode is a man of elder wit,
who should have outgrown the follies no doubt suitable for younkers. The sobriety of
age is associated with the Puritan cause and not with the catholic tradition.
“Moral” eclogue “October” stands apart from the other eclogues in structure and
in metrical form. There is a poet-patron theme in “October”. The decline in the
poetry is due to its neglect by princes-But ah! Mxcenas is yclad in claye, And great
Augustus long ygoe is dead.
“October” also philosophizes the poet-lover theme in the Platonic speeches of
Piers. The poets love has not after all blighted his poetry. With respect to both poetry
and love Piers takes high ground in maintaining that it is not the reward or the
attainment that counts but the glory of true fame and the inspiration of ideal love.
“October” has an important structural place in the organization of The Shepherds’
Calendar. As it unites the critical and romantic vein of the two series of eclogues.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…6
The homoerotic theme of the Calender goes beyond the mechanics of literary
imitation. The immediate motivation behind the work was Spenser's need to discover
himself as a poet, and even within this context the contrast between pederasty and
gynerasty is importantly linked to the source of literary creativity. In December
Colin falls in love with Rosalind and is rejected, and therefore breaks his pipe and
ceases to sing. In April Hobbinol sings the song in praise of fair Eliza which Colin
had written before he had fallen in love with Rosalind. The meaning, later made
explicit, is that poetical talent is lessened by heterosexual love. The two songs that
Colin does create are about Eliza and Dido, the first a virgin queen, manly-woman
warrior, and Amazonian statesman, the second a dead queen: both women are
unavailable for gynerasty. The elegy for Dido in November appropriately follows the
discussion in October concerning heroic rather than pastoral verse, and Cuddie
observes that Colin, "were he not with loue so ill bedight, / Would mount as high,
and sing as soote as Swanne." Piers argues that love inspires poetry, but Cuddie
contends that
All otherwise the state of Poet stands
For lordly loue is such a Tyranne fell:
That where he rules, all power he doth expell.
In November Thenot complains that Colin's Muse has been "Lulled a sleep
through loues misgouernaunce," and asks him to sing again. It is significant that
when Colin agrees to take up his pipe again, his elegy on the death of a great lady
will foreshadow the death of his love for Rosalind. Colin's last statement in
December is that he was a good poet until (heterosexual) love led his astray, which
resulted in his spring being blasted, his summer being wasted, his autumn reaping
only cares, and his winter enveloping this very spirit.
Only Hobbinol remained true to Colin, and most of the positive elements in the
Calender focus upon him. Hobbinol's love for Colin is referred to in the very first and
very last lines of the entire work, and his constancy is contrasted with the
faithlessness of Rosalind. Just as Rosalind and winter form the negative framework,
so Hobbinol's love forms the positive framework. He appears or is referred to at
structurally significant points, and appears in one of each kind of eclogue: recreative,
plaintive, and moral.

In April, Hobbinol appropriately recounts Colin's former recreative pastimes and
follows this up by proving Colin's "excellencie and skill in poetrie" by reciting the
song of fair Eliza. The plaintive eclogue in which Hobbinol appears, June, is the
climax and turning-point of the cycle as Colin and Hobbinol are brought together
again, and Hobbinol is again the positive point of reference against which all others
are measured:
O happy Hobbinoll, I blesse thy state,
That Paradise hast found, whych Adam lost.
Colin's pagan earthly Eden is where Colin was inspired to compose his joyful
song of Eliza, "where Byrds of euery kind / To the waters fall their tunes attemper
right." As several critics have suggested, the Calender is an allegory on the fall of
man, and because of the paradox of felix cupla Hobbinol's Eden can be
simultaneously very positive and yet inadequate; in order for Colin to be saved, it is
necessary that he fall. In his supposed maturity he abandons Hobbinol's "shepherd's
Pan" for "the Great Pan," i.e. the Christian god.
The moral eclogue, in which Hobbinol appears, September, is a polemic on the
abuses of Popish prelates, which curiously establishes sympathetic and complex
nature of Hobbinol's personality. Colin and the other shepherds are mere figure with
one-dimensional concerns, whereas Hobbinol has a multi-layered personality.
Say it out Diggon, what euer it hight,
For not but well mought him betight,
He is so meeke, wise, and merciable,
And with his work his worke is conuenable.
Colin clout I wene be his selfe boye,
(Ah for Colin he whilome my ioye)
Shepheards sich, God mought vs many send,
That doen so carefully theyr flocks tend.

This reply of Hobbinol to Diggon concerning Roffyn illustrates a man who
relates everything to his main interest in life, i.e. Colin, but at the same time shows
his moral integrity and his human sympathies.
The central paradox of the Calendar is "that love should breede both joy and
payne" (January, 54). This paradoxical emotion is experienced by Hobbinol in his
pederastic love for Colin as well as by Colin in his gynerastic love for Rosalind. This
joy- pain, fire-ice paradox is a standard convention in the lover's complaint tradition,
originating in glukupikron, yet the whole tenor of the Calender suggests that
Hobbinol's pederastic love is fundamentally joyful whereas Colin's gynerastic love is
fundamentally painful. Hobbinol's diction abounds in terms such as "pleasant,"
"gentle," "calm," "friendly," "delight," "chereful," and "pierlesse pleasures," while
Colin's diction abounds in terms such as "unhappy," "angry," "lucklesse," "plaintive,"
"weary," "carefull," "piteous," and "woe." Within a religious context, Hobbinol's love
for Colin symbolizes the grace of God's bounty, whereas the pain caused by Colin's
love for Rosalind symbolizes damnation; Hobbinol says she is "void of grace." He
also calls her a "witche" who has "bewitched" Colin (just as Mantuan in his third
eclogue portrays all women as "sorceresses") and led him into the dark night of the
soul, a realm of night ravens, elvish ghosts and ghastly owls. Colin's emblem, Gia
spema spenta, indicates, as E. K. suggests, that Colin's hopes for salvation are
"cleane extinguished and turned into despeyre." The argument put forward by some
modern interpreters that Hobbinol's Pan is not the true deity is based upon Colin's
rejection of "The shepheards God (perdie was he none)" (December. 50). But
"Tytrus" (i.e. Virgil) is also called "The god of shepheardes" (June, 81), and it is
possible that Colin is rejecting him. The real meaning of his statement may be that he
should have worshipped Pan rather than the archpoet of heterosexual love. Colin, the
fallen Adam., has misdirected his love, his faith, hope, and charity, towards the
witch-Eve Rosalind rather than towards the unfallen Adam-Christ Hobbinol.
It is curious that the major metaphor of supposedly heterosexual love - being
shot with Cupid's arrow - is most vividly expressed in the Calender by an
ambiguously erotic ritual combat between Thomalin and Cupid in the March
eclogue. This eclogue begins with a eulogy on the sacred precinct as though it were a
place in which a shepherd sports with his shepherdess, with references to the phallic
pride of the budding "tender head" of the "hawthorne studde," to "flora's flowers," to
"Maia's bower," to dancing with Lettice and awakening Love from Lethe, and, in

general, "sporten in delight." But there are in fact no women in this eclogue. As it
opens, an older man named Willllye comes upon Thomalin, who is "overwent with
woe." Thomalin says that this is the third day in which he has "chaunst to fall a
sleepe with sorowe, / And waked againe with grief" because three days ago an ewe
had fallen into a dell and "unjoynted both her bones." This symbolic episode is
recounted as a parallel to a more specifically castration-like event that happened to
Thomalin several days ago, indicating a symbolic identity between himself and the
ewe (equivalent to Hylas as the fawn). His story is modeled upon a similar story in
Theocritus' third idyll: one day, while hunting for birds, he heard a rustling within
ivy cope (the sacred precinct) and saw something moving about. "But were it faerie,
fiend, or snake," he could not tell. In spite of his ignorance, he "manfully thereat
shotte," and there "sprong forth a naked swayne, / With spotted winges like peacocks
trayne." Naked Eros or Cupid then leaped into a tree, and Thomalin, even though he
now recognized him, kept shooting arrows at the boy. His "manly sport" is that of
male orgasm: "So long I shott that al was spent: / The pumie stones I hastly hent."
Cupid, unheart, playfully leaped from bough to bough for awhile, but then he let
loose his own arrow in earnest. The shaft hits Thomalin in the heel - the basic
castration motif associated with figures such as Achilles, a symbol recognized by E.
K. in his gloss long before Frazer or Freud: "by wounding in the hele is meant lustful
love. For from the heele (as say the best phisitions) to the previe partes there passe
certain veines and slender synnewes . . . so that (as sayth Hipocrates) yf these veynes
there be cut asonder, the partie straighte becometh cold and unfruiteful." The eclogue
ends without a resolution, with Thomalin's wound festering and "rankling more and
more," just as Colin "rankles" with love for Rosalind.
Hobbinol's Edenic garden, like Maia's bower, is rightly called by Colin a
"Paradise" lost by Adam, whereas Rosalind's realm is that of the witch, of night
ravens, of ghosts and black night where she wipes away his "wanton toyes."
"Wanton" means both "foolish" and "erotic"/"amorous" in Spenser's diction, and
these "wanton toyes" are the same love-tokens which Hobbinol had given to Colin.
Since Hobbinol already receives from Colin all the elements requisite for even the
strongest form of friendship according to friendship theory and spiritual love,
respect, and trust and his desire to "win his wanton heart" is a desire to receive
amorous love in all its aspects. In the Calendar itself there is no explicit
condemnation or praise of amorous love between men.

Spenser used a variety of stanza forms. Among these are stanzas of four, six,
and eight lines: and the verses which constitute the stanzas are sometimes of equal
and again of different length. Among the familiar forms employed are the two ballad
stanzas of “March” and “July”, the sixain of “January” and “December” and the
elegiac quatrains in the dialogues of “April” and “November”. Of these sixain, the
concluding couplet was the mark of both Spenserian sonnet and Spenserian stanza.
Further, speeches of Hobbinol in “April” are found in linked quatrains. From the
metrical point of view, the Calendar is interesting not merely on account of its
variety, but because it shows the poet reaching out for metrical forms which were
later to be closely associated with his name.
Spenser uses unrhymed sestina in “August” and the forms of the ode or hymn in
“April”, and “November”. He arranges abcdef fabced efabed defabc bcdefa with
internal and final rhyme. In “November” dirge, we are near the province of music.
The poem is especially important for its naturalization in English of a variety of
poetic forms-dirges, complaints, poems-and for its attempt to enrich the English
poetic vocabulary through foreign borrowings and through the use of archaic and
dialect words The significance of The Shepherds’ Calendar lies partly in its genuine
feeling for external Nature, which contrasts strongly with the hollow conventional
phrases of the poetry of the previous decade, and especially in the vigor, the
originality, and in some of the eclogues, the beauty of the language and of the varied
verse. Spenser deliberately employed the rustic and archaic words, especially of the
Northern dialect. He introduced them partly because of their appropriateness to the
imagining characters, and partly for the sake of freshness of expression.
In a general sense, “Calends” means “the beginning” or “the prelude”. Since, the
pastoral is the beginning of the poet’s career “in imitation Vergilii”, the title of the
calendar is appropriate. The calendar also announces Spenser’s arrival on the poetic
scene and serves as a prelude to The Farrie Queen.

2.1.8 Exercises
I) Answer the following questions in 250 words:
a. Discuss the pastoral aspects reflected in The shepherd’s Calendar.
b. The major themes in The Shepherd’s Calendar.
c. Discuss Edmund Spenser as a stylistic innovator.

II) Write short notes in 150 words:
a. The allegory in The Shepherd’s Calendar
b. The homoerotic theme in the poem.
c. The use of archaic words in The Shepherd’s Calendar.
d. Comment on E.K’s arguments before each eclogue.
2.1.9 Keys to Check Your Progress
A. 1. ----- d 2. ------ c 3. ----- d 4. ------ b 5. -------d
B. 1. The idea of love is prominently presented in the eclogues Januarie,
Februarie, June and December.
2. Yes. Februarie deals with the matter related to morality and religion.
3. Rosalind is the Widowe’s daughter of glenne to who Colin loves.
4. E.K. classified the eclogues as Plaintive, Recreative and Moral.
5. Eclogue April is in praise of the shepherdess Elisa, really the Queen
Elizabeth I.

2.2 Epithalamion

2.2.0 Objectives
2.2.1 The text Paraphrase Check your progress
2.2.2 Summary
2.2.3 Keys to check your progress
2.2.4 Exercises
2.2.5 References for further study

2.2.0 Objectives
After working with this unit you will be able to understand :-
 The event of spenser’s marriage with Elizabeth Boyle
 The Versification and diction of Epithalamion
 The music and melody of spenser’s Epithalamion
 The pictorial quality of spenser’s Epithalamion
 The blending of the classical with the realistic in Epithalamion

2.2.1 The Text

Epithalamion is a poem of 433 iambic lines of varying lengths divided into 23
stanzas and an envoi - twenty four sections in all. The title means, literally, ‘at the
nuptial chamber’, from the Greek Cepi and Thalanos. The poem celebrates the 24
hours, of the poet’s wedding day. The poem is written in the first person and much of
it is addressed to the muses, nymphs, other bridal attendants, and wedding guests.
The twenty four sections do not correspond precisely to the 24 hours of the wedding

The poem begins in a traditional style with an invocation to the Muses whose
aid he seeks in order to celebrate the happiest occasion of his life. It is their blessing
which has enabled the union of poet and his beloved.
The poem inspite of its mythological inventory of charms is a “characteristic
blending of mythology and realism”. The remarkable feature of the poem is its
sincerity. The feeling and emotion behind the poem have a purity, a chastity, which
is exampled by his beloved. Hence a symbolic spiritual identity of the chastity of the
lovers. This idea enhances the ritualistic mood of the poem and adds to its nobility
and sublimity. Paraphrase:-
Epithalamion (Greek) : Nuptial song or poem. The event of Spenser’s
marriage with Elizabeth Boyle inspired his Epithalamion, the finest of all his minor
poems and by common consent, the noblest wedding hymn in the English language.
He wrote this poem as a wedding gift “Song made in lieu of many ornaments” for the
bridge he had wooed in Amoretti and he drew upon all the decorative resources of
the Elizabethan lyric for its composition.
Stanza 1
The poet invokes the Muses to come to his aid to sing wedding song. Muses, in
Greek Myth are the goddess of literature and the arts. The original seat of their
worship was Pieria, at the foot of Mt. Olympus and Mt. Helicon in Boetia. They were
nine in number, severally associated with the different arts. Variously stated e.g.,
Calliope (epic poetry) Clio (history), Euterpe (Flute playing), Melpomence (tragedy),
Terpsichore (dancing), Urania (astronomy), Thalia (Comedy), Erato (the lyre) and
Polymnia (sacred song).
Stanza 2
The poet asks his lady love to rise up and cast off her sleep, for Hymen the God
of marriage is awake long since and ready for the mask with his bright torch. He asks
her to dress herself tastefully for wedding day. It will provide her joy and comfort, by
singing a melodious song that all the woods may answer and her echo ring.
Stanza 3
The poet requests the turtle dove to bring with it all the Nymphs of the rivers
and green forests with them the choicest of blossoms for adorning the bridal bower

and for strewing them on the ground for strewing them on the ground for the bridge
to tread.
Stanza 4
The Nymphs of the forests and the rivers invoked to offer garland to the bride,
are none but the nymphs of mulla, a river on the boundary of Kilcolman and the
Dryads of its mountain. Classical mythology was a living background for
Renaissance poets and its figure carried wide emotional associations but for Spenser
they adorn one particular wedding.
The poet addresses the nymphs of mulla here in this stanza and enjoins to be
present in the bride’s chamber to be assistance to her to dress and decorate herself
and help her to sing.
Stanza 5
The poet asks the bride to wake up for, the sun is slowly rising in the east to the
accompaniment of the Matins of the birds and it is proper that she wakes up and
looks forward to the company of her mate (the poet). This is a brilliant stanza making
a musical announcement of the dawn.
Stanza 6
Spenser invokes the aid of a number of the local nymphs, Graces, Hours and
Maids, to aid in the decoration of his bride. First he invites the Fair Hors, Who were
born of Day (father) and Night (mother) in the Paradise of Jupitor, to come forward
and help his beloved. The poet addresses the Graces who are handmaids of Venus,
the goddess of beauty and invites them to come to the assistance of his beautiful
bride to deck her and adorn her as they used to do in the case of Venus. ‘The three
handmaids of the Cyprian Queen’ is a poetic veil to conceal the bridemaids who
attend upon the bride.
Stanza 7
The poet asks the bride - maids and the boys who attend upon him to get ready
for the bride is coming forth there. He requests Apollo to be the presiding - deity of
the day so that he can sing love’s sovereign praises afterwards. This imploration is
really very beautiful and in tune with the occasion.

Stanza 8
The bridegroom himself with a company of young men, comes to seek her, and
the little town resounds with the ministrels music - a wonderful stanza full of the
liveliness of the country wedding, with only just a touch of classical reminiscence to
enhance and ennoble the sun.
Stanza 9
At the call of the minstresly the bride comes out of her bower, as beautiful as
phoebe and, like all arrayed in white. With the green garland round her yellow locks
she seems “a maiden queen” but, so modest in her bearing withal, that she blushes no
hear her praises sung aloud and bends her eyes to the grand for fear of meeting the
gaze of the admiring people.
Stanza 10
This is a true - Spenserian stanza providing us a pictorial description of the
bridal procession passing along the main street and the people gazing on the bride in
dumb admiration. The voluptuous description of the bride’s beauty described here in
this stanza is finally interpreted by the poet as the mere outward sign of her perfect
virtue. In the lines 177-180, we find the most admirable expression of Spenser’s
Platonic conception of outward beauty which leads the mind with many a stately stair
to the seat of perfect, divine virtue.
Stanza 11
This is a continuation of previous stanza. Here the poet extols the virtues of his
bride has all virtues which man likes in a woman.
Stanza 12
His lady love comes before the crucifix of lord Jesus Christ. Here we see the
bride standing in the church, chorister sing a joyous anthem in a harmonious manner
that all the woods in the vicinity answer and ring their echo.
Stanza 13
The poet gives a beautiful description of the maidenly blushes of his bride at the
church when the priest addresses her and blesses her with happy hands of his
companion on their wedding day.

Stanza 14
After betrothal ceremony the pagan mood of Festival breaks out once more. We
have the banquet full of true rustic profusion of meat and wine and boundless
Stanza 15
Here Spenser gives an exact account of his wedding day - the 11th of June, 1594
a day sacred doubly holy for him. It was holy, first of all, being his marriage day and
secondly it was St. Barnabas day sacred to the patron saint of that name. The poet
goes on to describe the position of the sun on that day. The sun on that day, usually,
is in his “Meridian tower” with Barnaby the bright from where declining slowly by
degrees, he loses his heat and light till he moves into the sign of concern on the 21st
of June.
Stanza 16
Yet the joyful marriage day - the longest of the year - puts the bridegroom on
pins and needles. He chides the sun for being so slow to plunge in the western waves.
He welcomes the evening star, the fore-runner of night, when it first appears the east
leading a host of stars.
Stanza 17
The poet describes his bride lying in proud humility in her nuptial bed like Mia
who was taken away by Jupiter while she was dozing on the green me dow in Tempe
after tiring herself bathing in the nearby Acidalian brook. In order to describe the
bride in proud humility, in her lying nuptial bed the poet introduces a fine simile.
This stanza is noted Tempe, Spenser also is going to visit Elizabeth Boyle in her
bridal bower to share the secret joy of love’s felicity.
Stanza 18
Spenser describes the region of night silence on his wedding day. The poet
bridegroom invokes the protection of might from all evils of and the dangers
attending upon it. He prays for a calm and quiet night (without any storm or tempest
or sad riot causing breach of peace), like the one when Jupiter shared the bed of a
Lemena to whom she bore Hercules or again like that night when night herself begot
Majesty by sharing the bed of Jupiter.

Stanza 19
Spenser desires that the might of his meeting with his bride should perfectly
calm and quietsome. Let no cries of sorrow or of mourning be heard throughout the
night within or around the bridal chamber. Let there be no false whispers or unknown
shrieks of fear that may disturb the peaceful sleep. Again Spenser wishes that there
should be no deluding dreams, no dreadful sights which cause sudden alarm. Nor let
the house fires, nor harmful lightning of the sky be there. He further desires that
Poake or malicious goblin or other evil spirits or even mischievous witches be
allowed to fray or frighten him and his bride with unreal thing. Here Spenser gives
along list of night fears from which he desires to be protected.
Stanza 20
The poet invokes absolute silence to keep watch throughout the night and assure
him and his bride sacred and undisturbed peace. Let hundreds of little - winged doves
fly over their bed and flutter around with their gentle wings.
In these lines, Spenser addresses the sons of Venus, the goddess of love, and
exhorts them to indulge in sports at their will. The poet is anxious to have an
absolutely blissful and peaceful nuptial time. Therefore, he invokes the aid of all
aspects of night to create an atmosphere of complete peace and quiet. It is interesting
to note how the poet refers to only heart quelling sonne’ in line 196 of Prothalamion
while here he refers to the same in plural number.
Stanza 21
The poet feels that someone with bright shining face, has been peeping at his
window. He wonders who she is. He feel, that she is Cintha or the Moon - goddess,
who, it is said, never sleeps and moves in the celestial sky all through the night.
Addressing her as the fairest goddess, Spenser asks her if she does not envy to spy
his love-lying with him. This is a highly fanciful idea. Cinthia is the moon. It is also
a surname to Artemis or Diana.
The Roman Diana who represented the Moon was called Cynthia from Mount
Cynthus in Delos, where she was born. (Apart from referring to the goddess moon, it
also symbolises the Maiden Queen Elizabeth and her affair with Lord Leicester).

Stanza 22
The poet asks for the blessings of the goddess. Juno who strictly supervises the
laws of wedlock and patronizes the religion of fidelity. The poet also invokes, Hebe,
Hymen and the domestic genius to make his wedlock blessed and fruitful.
Stanza 23
The end of the Hymn connects together, the deities of Olympus with the
Christian God and the saints whom he really worshipped. This last stanza Justifies
Milton’s remarks “Our Sage and Serious Spenser” for it has a religion ring.
Stanza 24
This is an Envoi attached at the end of the ode Epithalamion. The bridegroom
offered this poem as a wedding gift to fair Elizabeth in place of jewels he could not
give her, owing to some unexpected accident. Check your progress
I choose the most correct alternative from the ones given below each sentence.
1) The event of spenser’s marriage with ______ inspired the poem Epithalamion.
a) Elizabeth b) Victoria
c) Elizabeth Boyle d) Mary
2) Turtle dove is symbol of ___________
a) Death b) Beloved
c) love d) Fidelity and true love.
3) The poet invokes the classical deities ______
a) Juno, Hebe and Hymen b) Venus, Zeus and Hera
c) Olympus, Jesus and God d) Hebe, Apollo and Zephyrus
4) Cynthia is _______
a) goddess of love b) wife of Juno
c) the goddess of the moon d) queen
5) Spenser invokes the learned___________ to help him in writing his love’s
a) sisters of Jove b) Muses c) daughters d) mother

2.2.2 Summary
Epithalamion is an intensely personal poem. It is a poetical gift of the poet to his
bride on the day of wedding. This marriage - ode has its own Italian and Latin
affinities, but it is highly lyrical, and after the manner of Pindar. Its theme is
celebration of his own wedding with Elizabeth Boyle, in Ireland, probably in 1594.
Spenser keeps up the conventional elements, namely the bringing home of the bride,
the bridal - song, the dance of young men and maidens, the light of blazing torches
and the accompanying music.
The poem reveals the poet’s wealth of fancy and the range of his music. The
poet announces his subject, describes the preparation for the wedding, invites the
nymphs to bring garlands and sing the bride’s praises, then describes the dawn and
the bride’s waking up and follows it up with a description of the bride’s beauty both
physical and spiritual.
Then the poet describes the wedding procession till it reaches the church and the
bride enters into it. Then the ceremony and after that the bringing of the bride home
follow. The poet longs for the end of day. There is marking of time at every turn and
now night descends. The attendants are sent away and the poet invokes peace and
blessing on his bride. The moon, Juno and glad Genuis are invoked to bless the
marriage. And the poet commends his song to the love.
The poet asks the learned sister to wake themselves up before the sun spreads
his golden beams, i.e. in the early morning and then go to his bride’s bed-room and
bid her awake and then dress her up. He further wishes delightful music to be sung
while his bride puts on her dress.
The poet also makes summons to the nymphs of the local woods, streams and
mountains to come with flowers to cover the ground where his bride treads and with
garlands to honour her. Then he asks them to wait at her door and sing till the
Nymphs of Mulla to bind up their locks and appear without a blemish before his
love. Then he addresses the light - footed maids who protect the dear and requests
them also to be present at his bride’s chamber.
Now it is morning. The sun begins to spread his glorious light. The cheerful
birds (the lark, the thrush, the mavis, the ouzel, the ruddock), all sing in sweet
consent to the day’s mirth. And the bride is now awake. So the poet requests the
damsels, daughters of delight, to help her ‘to delight’.

He invites the fair Hours and the three hand-maids of the Cyprian Queen and
asks them to adorn his most beautiful bride. After this, the bride is ready to come
forth. So, the poet asks all the virgins and boys to get ready and be prepared for it. He
requests the sun god to be favorable and grant him that one day exclusively for
The procession starts. The pipe, the tabor, the croud and the timbereele give the
merry music without any discordant note, and dancing party accompanies. The boys
run up and down the street in great jubilation, shouting “Hymen to Hymen”. The
shouts reach the sky and all stand in great applause. The bride comes along with a
dignified bearing and looks like an angel with long, loose yellow locks with look like
golden wire and sprinkled with pearl like flowers. Crowned with a garland. She looks
like a maiden Queen. The poet then asks the local merchant’s daughters if they have
ever seen so fair creature, with spphire - like eyes, ivorywhite. forehead, apple - like
neck, and palace - like body.
The poet then describes her inward beauty, the splendour of her lively spirit.
Sweet love and constant chastity dwell in her and she has unspotted faith and
womanhood and also regards of honour and mild modesty. The poet then becomes
eloquent in asking for the temple - gates to be opened for her entrance. The bride
now comes before the Almighty’s view, in such an humble and reverential way that
the virigins there have something to learn of obedience. She is then brought up to the
high altar, and then sacred matrimonial function is celebrated in the midst of roaring
organs and praises of the lord. The choristers who sing their delightful anthems while
the holy priest. Blesses her red roses flush up on her cheeks, but she stands with
goodly modesty and grace that do not allow even one look awary, nor one thought
unsound on the part of the no-lookers. The poet then asks his bride to give him her
hand, as pledge of love.
After the wedding, the bride is to be brought home. And the poet asks this to be
done in the midst of jollity. A feast is, therefore, ordered. God of wine is invoked.
Wine is poured out in plenty, without any restraint and Graces are invoked to do the
dancing. The poet then wishes church bells to ring and the day to be recorded as the
longest holy day of the year.
After this, he wishes the day to end and welcomes the night. The evening star
appears in the Eastern horizon and smiles with its twinkling light as if delighted with

the wedding. Then the poet wishes that the bride to brought into bridal bower and
laid in her bed in the midst of lilies and violets.
The long expected might is now welcome the poet wishes that the safety of their
joy be assumed by being protected from horror, storms and so on. He wishes the
night to be calm and as happy as when Jove lay with Akmena. He further wishes that
no lamenting cries and no false whispers should be heard; no ghosts, no owls, no
storks and no vultures and frogs be heard or seen to spoil the occasion.
During this nuptial time, the poet wishes silence to be vigilant and assure them
sacred peace. He further wishes the sons of Venus to play their sports for greedy
He fancies Cynthia or the Moon to be spying all through the nuptial night and
asks if she does not envy his love lying with him. He points out how she has also
once love Endymion the Latimian Shepherd, who secretly brought to her a fleece of
wool and enjoyed pleasures with her. So, he now prays to Cynthia to be kind to him
and his bride and bless them with fruitful progeny.
The poet then invokes the aid of Juno, the venerable wife of Jupiter, as she is the
special protectress of marriage and of women. With her great strength, she believed
to patronize the laws of wedlock. So the poet prays for her blessings. Then he
invokes the glad Genius to protect the bridal bower and genial bed, and help bring
forth fruitful progeny. Then he addresses Hebe and Hymen and requests them to
grant the same blessing. He wishes that all the powers that be, pour our their
blessings on him and his bride for a lasting happiness and prosperity.
Epithalamion consists of 23 stanzas or call them strophes and a final seven line
coda in which the poet commends his hymn to his love. Its form is based upon the
Italian canzone. The short concluding stanza is called the tornato or commiato.
Spenser wrote 23 stanzas and concluded his poem with a seven-line tornato. Spenser,
however does not concern himself with the subdivisions of the Italian conzone.
Spenser’s Epithalamion is much longer than the Italian pattern which extends form 4
to 10 stanzas only. Further, Spenser’s stanzas have lines up to 20, whereas Italian
models have fewer lines. Normally, the stanza has nineteen lines but has some
variation now and then. There are nine stanzas of eighteen lines and one of seventeen
lines. There are also delicate variations in the arrangement of rhymes. This song is
Spenser’s highest poetic achievement.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…7
2.2.3 Keys to Check your progress:
I) 1) c 2) d 3) a 4) c 5) b
II) 1) Nuptial song
2) Apollo
3) The longest day Barnaby bright was a proverbial phrase for 11th June
4) Silence to be vigilant and assure them sacred peace.
5) Nymphs of Mulla

2.2.4 Exercises:
1. Does the Epithalamion establish Spenser as the poets’ poet?
2. “Epithalamion is a characterstic blending of mythology and realism”
3. Give a critical appreciation of Epithalamion.

2.2.5 References for further study:

W.L. Renwick : Edumund Spenser : An Essay on the Renaissance Poetry,
(Edward Arnold (publishers) Ltd.,
R.W. Church : Spenser (E.M.L.) (Macmillan)
W.L.Renwick: Spenser (Selections) (Oxford, at the clarend on Press, 1959).
H.S.V. Jones : A Spenser Handbook C.F.S. Crotts and Co., New York, 1930.
S.E. Winbolt : Spenser and His Poetry, (Harrap)

William Wordsworth

i) ‘Tintern Abbey’
ii) ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality’
iii) ‘Michael’
Contents :
3.1.0 Objective
3.1.1 Introduction
3.1.2 Summary
3.1.3 Analysis of the Poem.
3.1.4 Check Your Progress
3.1.5 Glossary and Notes
3.1.6 Key to Check Your Progress
3.1.7 Exercises
3.1.8 Further Reading.

3.1.0 Objectives
After studying these poems you will be able to :
  know William Wordsworth as a Nature poet.
 understand the language and features of the Romantic period.
 observe the poet’s love for sensuous picture of Nature.
 study the elements of Romanticism in these poems.
 know pastoral elements in his poetry.
 know the poet’s doctrine of reminiscence.
 know Wordsworth is seen as an ardent worshipper of nature.

3.1.1 Introduction
William Wordsworth (1770-1850), a famous English poet is one of the greatest
lyrical poets of the 19th century. He is one of the major poets of the Romantic
Movement. He was born in Cumberland and had his education at the Grammar
School of Hawkshead and St. John’s College, Cambridge. He visited France in 1792,
welcomed the French Revolution, and was enthusiastic of the new movement. In
France, he had a love-affair with Annette Wallon. Afterwards, he lost his enthusiasm
for the revolution and became in later years increasingly conservative in his political
views and orthodox in his religion. In 1795, he received a legacy which made him
adopt literature as his profession. He married his cousin Mary Hutchinson and settled
down at Rydal Mount near Grasmere in the Lake District, a beautiful area in the
north-west of England. In 1843 he was appointed Poet Laureate of England and he
died in 1850.
The poetical output of Wordsworth was enormous. Some of his well known
poems are The Prelude, The ode on Immortality, To the Cuckoo, Lucy Gray, The
Solitary Reaper, Ode to Duty etc. He wrote some lovely sonnets, which contain
much of his best work. Many of his poems describe the beauty of Nature in the Lake
District and the lives of the ordinary people there.
As a poet Wordsworth is noted for his extraordinary love of nature and country
life. He did not love nature for her beautiful sounds and sights, but for the feelings of
joy and calmness and spiritual strength which she roused in him. He hated the
artificial life of the cities and loved the simple life of the rustics. He is also known
for his humanitarianism, his early sympathy with democratic liberalism and his
interest in the common speech of the common people. He loved and worshipped
nature as a goddess and hence he is called the high priest of nature. He believed that
there was essentially no difference between the language of poetry and that of prose.
His style, at its best, is noted for its extreme simplicity and naturalness.
Wordsworth’s output of poetry was so vast.. His most famous works are Lyrical
Ballads (jointly with Coleridge), in which Tintern Abbey was included.
Tintern Abbey was written in 1798 when Wordsworth was on a walking tour in
the Wye Valley with his sister Dorothy.

Tintern Abbey is a poem which presents no story but it is the direct expression
of the poets innermost thoughts and feelings. It throws light on what Wordsworth
thought of nature, man and also himself, in relation to nature.
This poem is about William Wordsworth and his desire to return to this special
place a few miles above Tintern Abbey which he loves very much. We can see he
has been away from this place for five years, and he always thinks about this magical
place with steep lofty chiffs and beautiful scenery. He loves the mountain chiffs and
springs. He loves the quiet, it gives him a chance to stop and think of seclusion.
Here, Wordsworth talks about how five years passed since he visited this
magical place. He longs to visit the waters from the mountain springs, to hear their
soft inland murmur. He wants to see the steep and lofty chiffs that rise up from the
ground. He talks about how the day has come when he will return to this wonderful
spot. He loves the way that the cottages are, “Mid groves and copses, these pastoral
farms, green to the very door”. He loves the way that the greenery goes up to the
very doors of the little cottages, and also the way that the wreaths of smoke from the
fires in the cottage are sent up in silence from among the trees.
William then goes on in the second stanza to explain how he has longed to
return to this place. He has had a long absence from these ‘beauteous forms’. He says
how amidst the stress and noise of towns and cities, in hours of weariness, he has
only to think about this wonderful place and he immediately refreshed.
Wordsworth talks about how his heart is lightened with the thoughts of this
place. He talks about how when he thinks about his place, all the weary weight of
this unintelligible world is lifted from him. He is being lead by his affections for this
place, and it is affecting how this place is like daylight in the darkness of the world.
When he can stand the world no longer, he turns his thought to the place he loves. He
talks about how he often turns his spirit to this wondrous place and the repetition of
‘spirit, turned to thee’ emphasises that this beautiful area is incredibly important to
him, it always refreshes him.
Then poet says about the pleasures he had when he went there, the picutres his
mind revives in times of sadness. He came over the hills and bounded over the
mountains. By the sides of the deep rivers and the lonely streams, wherever nature

led him. This shows that this young man is entranced by the beauty of nature, it is
almost too much for him to take onboard all at once. He ran from the city, he hates it,
all noisy and horrible. He would rather have the blue sky and the images of nature.
Wordsworth would rather have the beautiful things of nature than anything that man
could make.
Poet says that how he would love to take his dear friend along, his sister. He
longs to take his sister to this wonderful place he loves his sister very much and
wants her to experience the joy and happiness of this place, a few miles above
Tintern Abbey. The last stanza has a somewhat sadder tone as it talks about how he
would love to take his sister to this wonderful area, to show her the same wonderful
things that he himself enjoys.
Wordsworth contrasts his reaction to nature when he was a young man to when
he was an old man. When he returns to this beautiful place, he finds that his “coarser
pleasures of his boyish days” are over. William loves this place so dearly, he calls it
the “guardian of my heart”, it keeps him sane during the times away from it, he just
has to think about this place and his heart is refreshed.
Wordsworth finds that when he is stressed out or worried, he just has to think
about this beautiful place and all his worries disappear, he finds himself day
dreaming about this wonderful place. Wordsworth uses a number of alliterations to
emphasize how much he loves this little area that he loves to go to Sensations sweet.
This shows how he thinks about it when he is stressed and his thoughts refresh him,
because he remembers what it was like, weary weight. This emphasizes how
depressing the cities and towns that he is in are and how he longs to free himself
from these towns and return to the country where he loves.
“Tintern Abbey’ is one of the greatest and most important poems of William
Wordsworth. It’s real importance is in its use of the autobiographical element in it.
Because of it we can understand the poem properly and appreciate it. The
autobiographical element helps us to understand different stages of his love of
Nature. His attitude towards Nature is expressed much more clearly than in any other
poem. It also shows the gradual development of his love of Nature.
Wordsworth twice visited the area of Tintern Abbey in 1793 and in 1798. On his
first visit, he was alone but on his second visit, he was accompanied by his sister

Dorothy. He went to the spot a few miles away above Tintern Abbey. He visited the
river Wye in that area. He saw the beautiful scene and praised it once again. He was
highly fascinated by the beauty of the landscape and described it in this poem.
Even after the five years since his first visit, the poet had not forgotten the
beautiful spot. The memory of that beautiful landscape had always given him
pleasure and peace of mind. It had created in him a very divine feeling that had a
consoling and ennobling effect on his mind and character. He had always tried to
remember his first visit to the river Wye for relief from the troubles and pains of his
His second visit to the spot revived his memories of the beautiful landscape. It
gave him pleasure by relieving him of his pressures of life. It also ensured a constant
source of pleasures for his future.
In his youth Nature was everything for him. Its colour, sound and external form
made him very happy. But on his second visit his adolescent attitude was completely
changed. As he had become conscious of the sorrows of humanity and discovered the
divine Law in Nature, his attitude changed. The beauty of the land used to give him
satisfaction but on his second visit he got spiritual satisfaction. The poet addressed to
his sister Dorothy. He encouraged her to understand Nature. He hoped that her love
of Nature would help her very much and in her later life, she would remember his
This poem is very important because it reveals many aspects of the poet’s mind.
He was a poet of Nature and this poem expresses his view of Nature very forcefully.
It shows him to be the lover and a true worshipper of Nature. In other poems too, he
expressed his love of Nature but in this poem there is an attitude of respect and
homage. He expresses a total dedication to Nature.
Nature gives him peace and joy. It also teaches him the subtle meaning of life. It
inspires him and enlightens him. It reveals the three stages of his love of Nature. It
gives us deep knowledge of the development the poet’s attitude to Nature. In this
poem, the poet has opened his mind and showed the stages in his attitude towards
Nature. It shows that how Nature became the sources of inspiration and how the poet
discovered the universal spirit and amoral guide in Nature.
The poet suggests that we should not simply look for sensuous beauty and
delight but we must understand that Nature inspires us for future contemplation.

Nature comforts human beings. It has a great healing power and man must learn to
get the benefit of it.
The most important point that must be noted is that the poem reveals a very
personal note. He expresses his feelings towards his sister and her influence on him
in a very sweet language.
“Tintern Abbey” is a monologue. It is imaginatively spoken by a single speaker
to himself. The speaker refers to the specific objects, of its imaginary scene and
occasionally addressed to the spirit of Nature and Dorothy. The language of the
poem is simple and straight forward. The young poet wants to speak from his heart.
He is honest in his view of Nature. The poem’s imagery is taken from the natural
world in which he moves. The metaphors such as the memory is “the anchor” of the
poet’s “purest thought” and the mind is a “mansion” of memory etc. make the poem
very interesting.
The poem has a subtle strain of religious sentiment. The idea of the abbey – of a
place of the holy spirit of Nature – makes the scene beautiful. It appears as if the
forest and the fields were themselves the speakers of abbey. The description of the
power of the setting sun suggests this. The ideas of God, Nature and the human mind
are linked together by the poet’s description of the place. This poem reminds us of
Wordsworth’s another famous poem, “Intimations of Immortality”.
In this beautiful lyric Wordsworth revealed the gradual change and development
in his attitudes towards Nature. He tells us that during his boyhood he had an
adolescent love of Nature. During his youth he was attracted by the physical beauty
of Nature but in his adult age he found a deeper spiritual meaning in the beauty of
Nature. He admits that there is a divine spirit beyond the physical form of Nature. On
his first visit to the river Wye at the Tintern Abbey, he was full of hope and
optimism. Because the French Revolution had created them. Therefore, the beautiful
scene and melodious sounds in the area had made him very happy. But when he
returned to that place five years later, he found an echo of his sorrows and sufferings
in the sounds of Nature. As a mature adult, he found a spiritual meaning in it. He
tries to revive memories of his first visit to the place. He tries to look at Nature
through the eyes of his sister Dorothy and refresh himself. He advises her to
understand the benevolent side of Nature.

3.1.4 Check Your Progress :
I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase or sentence each.
1. When did the poet first visit to the river Wye?
2. What is the theme of the poem?
3. How many stages of Wordsworth’s love of nature are described here?
4. Who was with Wordsworth on his second tour to the river Wye?
5. What do we find in Wordsworth’s third stage?
II) Rewrite the following sentences by choosing the correct alternative.
1. The Tintern Abbey is situated in ________
a) Dorsetshire b) The Lake District
c) Monmouthshire d) Wiltshire
2. In Tintern Abbey Wordsworth does not describe ________
a) Beautious farms b) a mansion for all lovely forms
c) a Place of quietness and beauty d) the ruins of Tintern Abbey
3. The opening line of the poem “Five years have passed” refers to ____
a) the French Revolution
b) his first swimming experience in the river Wye
c) the change of Wordsworth’s attitude towards nature between his two
visits to the Tintern Abbey.
d) his first visit to the Tintern Abbey.

3.1.5 Glossary and Notes :

 Tintern Abbey – a monastery in Gloucestershire, near the river Wye
 Orchard – fruit garden
 Transcendental – beyond the physical nature
 Pantheism – saying that God and the creation are one.

3.1.6 Key to Check Your Progress :
I) 1. In 1793
2. The influence of nature on the boy, the growing youth and man.
3. Three stages.
4. His sister Dorothy.
5. Pantheism
II) 1. Monmouthshire
2. The ruins of Tintern Abbey
3. The change of Wordsworth’s attitude towards nature between his two visits
to the Tintern Abbey.

3.1.7 Exercises :
I) 1. Write a note on the poet’s personal experience in Tintern Abbey.
2. What are the three stages of Nature in Tintern Abbey.

3.1.8 Further Reading :

1. Dwivedi A.N. : William Wordsworth : Selected Poems, Delhi : Doaba
House Publishers, 1983.
2. Sherry, Charles : Wordsworth’s Poetry of Imagionation. Oxford :
Clearndon Press, 1980.

ii) Michael

Contents :
3.2.0 Summary of the Poem
3.2.1 Analysis of the Poem.
3.2.2 Check Your Progress
3.2.3 Glossary and Notes
3.2.4 Key to Check Your Progress


Michael is concerned with man’s endless struggle against the forces that pull
him down and sooner or later reduce all life to a dead leaf. It is a story of man’s
struggle to maintain himself and his values in a hostile universe. Michael is an old
shepherd, ‘stout of heart, and strong of limb’. He has a wife, twenty years younger to
him. They have a son. The life of the family is described as a round of humble takes,
all of them are playing their part in sustaining life against that Nature makes on it.
Michael falls on evil days and is called upon to discharge a debt which he has
guaranteed. He, therefore, decided to send his son Luke to work for a kinsman in the
city. This prospect fills the mind of Michael and his wife with new hopes. The son
departs for the city and all goes well for some time. But Luke begins to ignore his
parents and ‘slacken in his duty’ and begins to follow ‘evil courses’ in ‘the dissolute
city’. The old shepherd is not able to complete the sheepfold and its unfinished walls
collapse into a shapeless heap of stones. The ordered life of the old man, under the
pressure of change, breaks up into disconnectedness and chaos. Thus, the poem
reveals not the tragedy of Michael only but the tragedy of man


This poem is written in 1800 at Grasmere and published in the second edition of
the Lyrical Ballads. Michael is described by Wordsworth as a ‘pastoral’. The poem
deals with the condition of human life, of which Michael is a representative, chosen
because in his isolation as a shepherd and among the hills he has an elemental

Michael is a story of man’s struggle to maintain himself and his values in a
hostile universe. As Wordsworth says, this tale of Michael, heard when he was a boy,
led him to feel for other men and to think ‘on man, the heart of man, and human life.’
It is the story of an old shepherd, his wife and their son. As the son grew up, he
became his father’s comfort and his daily hope’. When the boy grew to be eighteen,
Michael had to discharge the debts of a nephew for whom he had stood surety. He
decided to send Luke to one of his prosperous relations, in whose employment, he
thought, he would be able to retrieve the loss. Before his departure, Michael
reminded Luke of his obligation towards his forefathers. He asked Luke to lay the
corner-stone of a sheep-fold as a sacred promise to fulfil his duty. After making a
promise, the boy left. But the temptations of the outer world changed his eyes. He
fell into dissolute ways of leaving Michael and his old wife to care for themselves.
According to Bernard Groom regarding this poem, “Wordsworth’s picture of
rural life in Michael is less idyllic and nearer to historical truth than some readers
may suppose.”
In the lonely valley of Greenhead Ghyll, there is an utter solitude. Only a few
sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites sailing overhead in the sky can be seen.
Beside the brook, there can be seen a straggling heap of unknown stones.
Wordsworth tells that this place is associated with rich and strange events as well as
some tales of shepherds. The poet was yet a boy, careless of books, yet having felt
the power of natural objects. He had begun to feel for the passions that were not his
own and had begun to think ‘on man, the heart of man and human life’. Therefore,
the poet says that he is going to narrate a ‘homely and rude’ tale ‘for the delight of a
few natural hearts’.
In the Grasmere valley, there lived a shepherd, Michael. He was an old man,
‘stout of heart, and strong of limb’. In his occupation he was prompt and watchful
more than ordinary men. He could understand the nature of winds. When the south
wind blew, he anticipated the storm and so he hurried to the mountain top to bring
his sheep to safety. He had in his memory many incidents of hardship, skill or
courage, joy or fear. For him the hills were a book in which he would read many
experiences. He had a pleasurable feeling of blind love for the fields, hills and sheep.
He had a wife twenty years younger to him. She was a homely woman fully
conscious of her domestic duties, She had two wheels, one for spinning wool, the
other for flax. They had a son, born in their old age. The boy, with two brave

sheepdogs, helped his parents in domestic duties. The family was an example of
‘endless industry’ in the village. When the day was gone and the father and the son
returned home, they did not sit idle. After taking their meals, Luke and his father
engaged themselves in repairing plough or sickle or cleaning wool. The cottage stood
on a huge projected piece of land. When the sun set, the housewife Isabella lighted a
lamp which was an old piece hanging from the ceiling. This lamp had served them
for years as a signal of their industry. By the side of this lamp the father and the son
sat till late night when the mother did her own peculiar work, i.e. working at the
spinning wheel which made a murmuring sound as did the summer flies. The lamp
shone in the evening like the evening star and gradually the cottage itself came to be
called by the neighbours as the ‘Evening Star’.
Michael loved his wife Isabel, but he loved his son more. he loved him so much
not merely with the instinct of a father, but in his son he saw a hope for his future.
Above all the gifts ‘that earth can offer to declining man’ a son is the most important
because he brings the hope of a continuance of life when man himself ‘by tendency
of nature needs must fail’. When Luke was a baby, Michael gave a mother’s care to
his son. When Luke was still a boy, Michael would take him to fields or under the
old oak tree in front of the cottage, which was known as the ‘clipping tree’ as the
sheep were shorn under it. There Michael would strictly check the boy if he disturbed
the sheep by catching at their legs or scared them with his shouts. When Luke grew
up to be a healthy lad of five, Michael gave him a ‘shepherd’s staff’ to equip the boy
to guard the flock. Sometimes the boy was placed as a watchman at gate or gap to
check the flock. The boy assisted his father as best as he could, although his work
was at times more of the nature of a hindrance than a help. When Luke was ten, he
could face the mountain blasts and was not afraid of any kind of hard work. He went
daily with his father as a companion. The father was greatly satisfied with the
growing son. Thus, in his father’s loving sight, the boy grew to be a young man of
eighteen. He was his father’s hope and comfort.
The simple routine of the household was disturbed by a distressful event.
Unfortunately Michael was called upon to discharge a debt which he had guaranteed.
Many years ago Michael had stood a surety for his nephew, an industrious young
man. But his business failed and Michael was required to pay a large sum amounting
to half the worth his property. It was a serious blow to the old man. After consulting
his wife, the old man decided not to sell his property, since the loss of the fields

would be for him equivalent to betrayal in any other profession or trade. Therefore he
decided to send his son to work for a kinsman in the city. This prospect filled the
mind of Michael and his wife with new hope. Other young men had gone to the city
and had prospered and grown ‘wondrous rich’, and the pair were so delighted at the
prospect that they wished to send the boy that every night. Michael asked Isabel to
get Luke’s best clothes ready. For five days the mother worked very hard to prepare
things for Luke needed by him in the journey. But she was aware of Michael’s
troubled mind. She told Luke not to go, for his departure would break his father’s
heart. But Luke spoke to her reassuringly which eased her heart and mind. Soon they
got the expected letter from their kinsman who assured that he would do his utmost
to help the boy and that the boy should be soon sent to him. This filled the heart of
Isabel with pride and joy. Now finally they decided to send the boy the next day.
Michael had planned to build a sheepfold near the brook in the valley. For this
purpose, he had collected a heap of stones. When he took Luke to that sight that
evening, he explained to him how much he loved him ever since he was born. He
told him how he had played with him among the hills. On hearing about his father’s
affection, the son began to sob.
Meanwhile Mischael told Luke that he gave him only that which he had
received from his father. He told how his parents also lived on that field and died
when he was forty. The land was encumbered when he received it but by sheer hard
labour he freed it. He told his son that he did not want him to go but it was only for
his good. He asked Luke to lay one stone for the sheepfold and he would continue
the work with his own hands. He wished that his son would remember the sheepfold
and also his father. He himself would remember and love Luke to the last. Luke laid
down the corner-stone. Michael wept over him. He embraced his son and together
returned home. The night passed quite peacefully. Next morning Luke left for the
city. As he passed their doors, all the neighbours wished him good luck. After some
time a good report came from the kinsman about Luke’s well-being. Luke himself
wrote loving letters. Isabel considered them as ‘the prettiest letter that were ever
seen’. Both Michael and his wife read the letter with delight. The old man continued
with his work, including the building of the sheepfold. But gradually Luke began to
slacken in his duty and in the dissolute city he followed evil courses. Ignominy and
shame fell on him. At last he was driven to hide beyond the seas.

In the course of time the old man bore this blow with strength of love. He had
ever been a man of unusual strength. He went on working hard and did all the tasks
at the sheepfold. He responded to his misfortune with an elemental strength and
dignity. He went to the dell to build the sheepfold but this was the task which he
could no longer continue. At times he was found with his dog sitting by the side of
the sheepfold. After seven years he died a lonely death and Isabel died after another
three years. At her death the land went into a stranger’s hand. The cottage ‘Evening
Star’ was gone but the remains of the unfinished sheepfold could be seen beside the
boisterous brook in the valley of Greenhead Ghyll.
Michael is a simple, pathetic pastoral poem of Wordsworth. It is the story of a
poor shepherd whose expectations are thwarted by the ways of the world. The poem
is the story of man’s struggle to maintain himself and his values in a hostile universe.
“It is based upon the story of a family to whom Dove Cottage, Town End, Grass
mere, had belonged many years before. The main incidents centre round the remains
of a ruined sheepfold in the valley of Greenhead Ghyll. It is the story of an old
shepherd, his wife and their son. As the son grew up, he became his father’s ‘comfort
and his daily hope’. When the boy was eighteen, Michael had to discharge the debts
of a nephew for whom he had stood surety. He decided to send Luke to a prosperous
tradesman of his kindred, in whose employment he would be able to retirrve this
loss. The night before he left home, Luke was reminded by his father of his
obligation towards his forefathers and asked to lay the corner-stone of a sheepfold as
a sacred promise to fulfil his duty. The boy gave his promise and went away. But the
temptations of the world outside his native valley were too strong for him. He fell
into dissolute ways of living, and Michael and his wife were left in their lonely old
Michael is steeped in the deep pathos. The tragic end of the old shepherd and his
wife leaves an impression of man’s helplessness at the hands of worldly
circumstances. This universe, in which all life is subject to fixed laws which must
sooner or later bring about its end, is one is which it is not easy for man to live.
Michael is blessed with a son whom he has ‘one foot in the grave’. The shepherd
family performs all the humble tasks. Michael loves his ‘helpmate’ and the ‘son of
his old age’ is even more dear to him. He had brought up the child with a mother’s

Pastoral convention in poetry was set by Bion and Moschers who were followed
by the great Latin poet Virgil. This poetry sings of shepherds and shepherdesses and
their activities. Michael is a pastoral poem, but not in the conventional sense of the
term. It deals with the shepherd family of Cumberland. Its setting is also pastoral,
but it lacks the artistic mode of the typical pastoral poem. According to Durrant,
“This poem, though Wordsworth says it is ‘homely and rude’ is of course only so as
part of the convention by which all pastoral poetry since. Theocritus has proclaimed
itself to be artless. A pastoral poem is usually the product of a sophisticated mind,
and this is no exception. Wordsworth’s triumph in this great poem is that he has have
used the pastoral mode of Theocritus, Virgil, Spenser and Milton, and yet to make
the result appear to be simple and natural. Only repeated and careful reading can
reveal both how deep the currents of thought and feeling run in this poem, and how
masterly is the art by which they are controlled.”

3.2.2 Check Your Progress :

I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase or sentence each.
1. What is the theme of the poem?
2. When it was written?
3. Which is the name of valley in the poem?
II) Rewrite the following sentences by choosing the correct alternative.
1. _________ is concerned with man’s endless struggle against the forces.
a) Michael b) Luke c) Wife d) Michael’s relative.
2. Michael was an ________ man.
a) young b) old c) adult d) middle aged
3. Michael is a_________ poem
a) Pastoral b) Elegy c) Pathetic d) Tragic

3.2.3 Glossary and Notes :

 Greenhead Ghyll – a Ghyll is a revine
 Solitude – loneliness
 Natural hearts – simple people who love and worship nature.

 Shepherd’s calling – the occupation of a shepherd.
 Dumb animals – sheep
 Easedale – a valley North West of Grasmere.
 Shears – scissors used to shear wool from the sheep.

3.2.4 Key to Check Your Progress :

I) 1. Michael is concerned with man’s endless struggle against the forces that
pull him down and sooner or later reduce all life to a dead level.
2. 1800
3. Grasmere valley.
II) 1. Michael
2. Old
3. Pastoral

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…8
iii) Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of
Early Childhood

Contents :
3.3.0 Summary
3.3.1 Analysis of the Poem.
3.3.2 Check Your Progress
3.3.3 Glossary and Notes
3.3.4 Key to Check Your Progress

3.3.0 SUMMARY OF THE POEM – “Intimations of Immortality

from Recollections of Early Childhood”
The Immortality ode is one of the noblest poems of William Wordsworth. This
great ode is actually the result of a spiritual crisis that the poet was facing around the
year 1802. The ‘visionary experience’ that he had come across and which were the
source of his ‘deepest illumination’ were gradually losing their glory. The poet now
did not experience with the same former creative receptivity the ‘glory and freshness
of a dream’ and the ‘celestial dream’ as he had experienced earlier. Nature, the
source of his poetic inspiration seemed to lose its magic for him. In the ode he cries
with an anguished heart :
“Wither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where it is not, the glory and the dream?”
The Immortality Ode gives expression to the poet’s spiritual crisis, the causes of
the lost glory and the resolution of the poet’s problem. About the composition of this
great ode, Wordsworth’s own views are worthy to be studied.
This was composed during my residence at Town-End, Grasmere. Two years at
least passed between the writing of the first four stanzas and the remaining part. To
the attentive and competent reader the whole sufficiently explains itself; but there
may be no harm in adverting here to particular feelings or experiences of my own
mind on which the structure of the poem partly rests. Nothing was more difficult for

me in childhood than to admit the notion of death as a state applicable to my own
The poem is based on the doctrine of reminiscence. Childhood is idealized in
that during that period everything in Nature seemed to the poet ‘apparelled in
celestial light’. It is so because the child remembers his pre-natal existence. This
rememberance lends a divine light to all objects of Nature. But as the child grows
up, ‘the glory and freshness of a dream’ gradually vanish away. The heavenly
memories get dimmed and ultimately fade away from the mind. The grown-up man
begins to feel that ‘there hath past away a glory from the earth’. But Wordsworth
feels compensated in the thought that the child remembers the prior state of existence
in heaven. Heaven lies about the man in his infancy. As the child grows up, the
shades of ‘prison-house’ begin to close upon him. The child is superior to grown-up
man. Wordsworth calls the child a prophet, a seer and a philosopher. However, just
as the child has occasions of intimations of immortality based upon his recollections
of heavenly life, in the same way, the grown-up man experiences these intimations
by his recollections of childhood.
The grown-up man does not need to grieve on account of the loss of former
glory of childhood. Rather he should find strength in what remains behind. Maturity
has its own compensations. Out of human sufferings spring soothing thoughts.
Maturity brings faith in a life after death. Therefore, the poet can still find pleasure in
Nature, though he does not now experience a dream-like charm of Nature as he used
to do in his childhood. But now, his sympathies are widened and now even the
meanest flower arouses in him thoughts that are too deep for tears. The poet is sorry
that he does not find the divine glory in nature that he used to see in the childhood.
In his childhood, the meadow, grove, stream, the earth, and every common object
seemed to him appareled in heavenly light. The dream-like freshness and glory is
now no more. Wherever he goes, he does not find former splendour in objects of
Nature is still full of beauty. The rainbow appears again and again. The rose is
still lovely. The moon shines brightly in the cloudless sky. The waters of the lakes
are beautiful and fair. The bright rays of the sun are still glorious. But the poet feels
a kind of vacuum. He finds that a glory has passed away from the earth. The poet is
filled with a thought of grief. While the birds are singing joyous songs, the young
lambs are leaping about, the poet is engrossed in melancholy broodings. But he feels

recovered when he notices joyous Nature. He does not like to spoil the mirthful
season with his grief. He hears the echoes through the mountains. The pleasant
winds are blowing and the whole earth is full of gaiety. The spirit of the spring
season is seen everywhere, wild animals are seen indulging in mirthful sports. The
poet addresses the shepherd boy and asks him to shout around so that he may enjoy
his joyful mood. Wordsworth refers to an inter-communion in objects of Nature. He
feels envious of the objects of Nature who are merry while he himself is sad. Even
the sky seems to be rejoicing. Wordsworth wants to share their merriment. Rather he
longs to become one with their joyousness. He condemns his gloomy mood when the
whole earth his looking bright and gay. Children are picking fresh flowers in valleys
situated far and wide. When the sun is warm enough and the baby leaps up on his
mother’s arm, Wordsworth is overjoyed to hear the sweet sounds around him. But a
tree or a plot of green field reminds him that some charm has been lost. The same
tale is repeated by the pansies. With the sad heart, the poet asks where the gleam of
the inner vision has disappeared. Where is the glory and the dream?
Wordsworth further says that our birth is a temporary forgetfulness as in sleep.
Life is only a process of forgetting. Our soul, which guides us all through our life,
has a prior existence in heaven. When we come into this world, we do not completely
forget our pre-natal existence in heaven. The infant is not devoid of visions of his
divine origin. In other words, heavenly glory lingers about us. In infancy, we have
clear visions of heavenly glory, but as we grow up from infancy to boyhood, from
boyhood to youth, the heavenly visions get fainter and fainter. Earthly attachments
begin to impair heavenly visions. But still the youth can behold the light of heaven
with feelings of joy. The youth who moves farther and farther from his heavenly
state, i.e., infancy, is still the high-priest of Nature. As he progresses through life he
is accompanied by the heavenly light that illuminates Nature. But in manhood, this
heavenly glory completely vanishes away and it is replaced by sober light of the dull
routine of the world.
The earth is full of her own pleasures. She has strong feelings which belong to
her own nature. But the earth has a kind of maternal affection for the child. She
makes the child fall in love with earthly things and this aim is not a bad one. The
simple Nurse, that the earth is, does the best that she can for the child so that he may
forget the former glories of heaven. She makes the man a sojourner of this earth and
forget all about his permanent abode, i.e., Heaven. Wordsworth describes a vivid

picture of a playing child. Perhaps keeping in his mind Coleridge’s six year-old
child, Hartley Coleridge, Wordsworth refers to the child engrossed in playing with
toys which are a sources of delight to him. Only the child with loving care.
Describing the various amusements, Wordsworth tells that the child has made his
own plan with his toys. He is arranging the toys according to his own image of
human life. Sometimes, he tries to imitate a marriage, a festival, a mourning, or a
engrossed in some other thing. Sometimes the child will speak words about business,
love or quarrel. But soon he will shift his attention to some other subject. With a
renewed feeling of confidence, he begins to play some other part. Like an actor, the
little child plays several roles. It appears that the whole vacation of the child is just
imitating various roles of life.
The outward appearance of the child belies the infinite greatness of his soul.
The child, who is the best philosopher, retains the divine glory. He can see the
celestial light and is unmindful of the worldly calls. He only hears the profound
mysteries of the universe. He is a mighty prophet and a blessed seer who knows all
about the ultimate truths of life which we are fruitlessly striving all our lives to find
out. We are enveloped both with spiritual and physical darkness. But divinity
envelops the child like daylight. The presence of glory round the child cannot be laid
aside as insignificant. The child is small in stature, but mighty in glory. He enjoys
heaven given freedom at the most glorious period of his life. Wordsworth asks the
child who is engrossed in childish games. Why he intentionally anticipates the cares
and anxieties of life which are bound to come in course of time. Why is he striving
against his own blessedness? Very soon his soul will have to carry the load of
worldly anxieties. He will be weighed down by the burden of earthly cares and
anxieties. This weight will lie upon the soul as heavily as frost lies upon the soil.
How joyful it is to think that even in our grownup age we do have dim memories of
childhood days. There is still something of divinity that continues to live with us in
our mature years. Our human nature has recollections of the short-lived heavenly
memories. The thoughts of the past year produce feelings of constant gratefulness to
God. But Wordsworth makes it clear that this gratefulness to God is not for the
blessings enjoyed in childhood, such as delight and liberty, nor is it for the new
budding hopes. But the poet sings this hymn for the sake of those persistent
misgivings about objects perceived by our senses and vague doubts about the reality
of the natural world. These vague doubts are cherished by the person who moves in

a mysterious world which he actually does not understand. He is greatful for the high
instincts before which the baser human nature is dismayed. The poet is grateful for
the emotions of childhood, those faint reminiscences of immortality which, whatever
they be, are the guiding light of human life. They are the main spring of all out
intellectual perception. They support us, sustain us and have the power to convert the
noise and fury of our life into eternal calm and serenity. This truth is deeply rooted.
Neither apathy, nor any kind of restlessness of life can belie this truth. Hence when
man is advanced in years, the soul has the glimpse of the sea of immortality which
helped us in coming to this world. Our soul can in a moment recollect the
experiences of childhood. In our imagination we can once again feel our existence as
children sporting upon the sea-shore and hearing the sounds of the waves of Eternity.
Wordsworth wants the birds to sing joyously. Let the young lambs frisk about to
the sound of the tabor. The poet would join this singing and playing crowd in
imagination and through their hearts, he would feel the jollity of the spring season.
What does it matter if he does not now possess the clear vision of childhood.
Nothing can bring back to the poet the happy time of childhood; nothing can lend the
grass and flowers the divine glory once again. The poet does not feel sorry of these
things. He rather wishes to find strength in what has remained behind, in the early
sympathy for Nature, which having existed once during childhood must remain for
ever in memory. He also wishes to have faith in soothing thoughts that arise out of
human sufferings. He would seek strength in the faith that life is immortal and finally
in the mature years that make our mind philosophical.
Addressing the fountains, meadows, hills and groves, Wordsworth assures that
his love of Nature will never cease to exist. In his heart of hearts, he owns the
influence of Nature. He has only given up one delight to live under the customary
influence of Nature. He still loves the brooks even more than he did in his childhood.
The innocent brightness of the dawn is still lovely. But now his love for Nature has
turned more philosophic. The clouds that gather round the setting sun fill him with
sobre ideas. The poet feels thankful to the human heart which makes life worth
living. Human heart is capable of feeling sympathy, joy and fears. The poet is now
so full of these feelings that even the most ordinary flower fills him with thoughts
which are too deep even for the tears to express them.

The ode Intimations of Immortality is one of the greatest and noblest of
Wordsworth’s poem. It was written in two stages. Wordsworth’s own remarks about
the back-ground of the poem throw sufficient light on the general scope of the poem,
“Nothing was more difficult for me in childhood than to admit the notion of death as
a state applicable to my own being … I used to brood over the stories of Enoch and
Elijah, and almost persuade myself that, whatever might become of others, I should
be translated in something of the same way, to heaven. With a feeling congenial to
this, I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence, and I
communed with all that I saw as something not apart from, but inherent in, my own
immaterial nature. Many times while going to school have I grasped at a wall or tree
to recall myself from this abyss of idealism to the reality.
The ode is a poetic account of immortal nature of the human spirit, intuitively
known by the child, partly forgotten by the growing man, but to be known once more
in maturity through intense experience of heart and mind. In childhood, the poet
enjoyed the ‘celestial light’ playing over the earth. But in the grown-up years of
manhood ‘the glory and freshness’ is not seen by him. The meadow, the grove and
the stream seem to have lost their grandeur. Wherever the poet goes, he finds that
‘there hath past away a glory from the earth.’ He feels isolated even on a happy May
day. He tries to share the joys of birds and lambs and children, but a tree and a field
remind him of something that is gone. With an anguished heart the poet cries in the
following way.
“Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Thus everything around the poet is gay, but he himself is lonely and sad at heart.
The second part of the poem opens with a different note. The poet gradually
grows meditative and philosophical. He tries to explain the passing away of the
glory from the earth by means of the doctrine of Reminiscence. In the words of
Durrant, this latter part of the poem is ‘an attempt to come to terms with man’s
condition once this primal splendour has deserted him. The next four stanzas make
use of the myth of pre-existence, not only to explain what has been described in the
first three stanzas – the loss of childhood joy but also to show how the business of

living, of learning and of coming to terms with the world of the senses, imposes an
increasing burden on the soul.
Wordsworth considers our birth as ‘a sleep and forgetting’. The soul, our ‘life’s
star’, has its home in heaven, and the child comes to this world with divine visions,
though gradually the ‘shades of the prison-house begin to close’ upon him.
Immortality that broods over the child is a truth for him, a truth which we are toiling
all our lives to find, lost in gloomy obsession of mortality – ‘in darkness lost, the
darkness of the grave’. But the poet finally feels satisfied that ‘something’ lives even
in our grown-up years. He gives all thanks and praise for the childhood, not for the
simple innocent pleasures of this period, but for ‘obstinate questioning of sense and
outward thing’, and for the feeling of pure spirituality. This spiritual revelation can
give us sight of that immortal sea that brought us hither. It is at this stage that the
clouds that gather round the setting sun take a sober colouring from his eyes and the
meanest flower can arouse in him profound thoughts which cannot be expressed even
by tears. The ode is based on the doctrine of pre-existence of souls. This doctrine
originated from Plato’s theory of reminiscence. Wordsworth himself said about his
acquaintance with Plato, “Though the idea is not advanced in revelation, there is
nothing there to contradict it and the fall of man presents an analogy in its favour. A
pre-existent state has entered into the popular creeds of many nations; and among all
persons acquainted with classic literature, it is known as an ingredient in the Platonic
Wordsworth makes use of the doctrine that man is born into this world from a
pre-existent state of greater perfection and happiness. But his purpose was not to
translate Platonic doctrine in verse. He used this doctrine. Wordsworth had a very
high conception of the child. In the ode, he considers the child as the ‘best
philosopher’ who not only reads ‘the eternal mind’ but also knows the truths which,
‘we are seeking all out lives to find’. “It was not by an acquaintance with Platonic
philosophy”, says Raleigh, “that he (Wordsworth) arrived at his glorification of
childhood, but by looking at Nature and life with an open mind.”
In the Intimations of Immortality, Wordsworth calls the child.
“Mighty prophet, seer blest
On whom those truths to rest
Which we are toiling all our lives to find.”

It is so because the child is nearest to divinity. “Heaven lies about us in our
infancy”, says Wordsworth. The child brings heavenly glory with him
“But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home,”
It is the vision of this glory that enables the child to enjoy the inherent glory of
the objects of Nature. The child retains memories of his pre-existence in heaven.
These memories invest Nature with a dream-like splendour. As the child grows up,
he is ensnared by worldly occupations. He becomes more and more absorbed in
worldly pursuits.
In the ode, Wordsworth is seen as an ardent worshipper of Nature. As a child he
saw even ordinary objects ‘apparelled in celestial light’. He could see a dream-like
splendour pervading the earth, the meadow, the stream and every common object.
But when he grew up, he missed the divine radiance in Nature. The objects of Nature
are still beautiful, but the ‘glory’ is gone.
“The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair.
Wordsworth’s attitude towards Nature was changed when he grew up. Now he
becomes conscious of human sufferings. Maturity has brought a deeper knowledge
of these sufferings. He does not now lament for the loss of divine radiance in Nature.
The poem has an unusual form. Wordsworth’s other poems are more regular and
formal. Though written in imitation of the Pindaric Ode, the lines are not regularly
structured and stanzas do not follow a fixed pattern. The Pindaric Ode was
considered suitable to lofty and dignified themes. Wordsworth selected this form for
his great theme. The ode is not free from structural defects, yet it has a majestic
sweep and its form is eminently suitable for the theme taken up by the poet.

3.3.2 Check Your Progress :
I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase or sentence each.
1. What is the theme of the poem?
2. Which things the poet seemed in his childhood days?
3. What is the poet wants from birds?
4. What is the meaning of the line “There was a time” in the first stanza?
II. Rewrite the following sentences by choosing the correct alternative.
1. The growing man does not need to grieve on account of the loss of former
glory of _______
a) childhood b) adult c) young d) middle aged.
2. The poet is sorry that he does not find the divine glory in ______
a) nature b) farm c) pond d) valley
3. Wordsworth says that our birth is a temporary forgetfulness as in ____
a) dream b) sleep c) conscious mood d) subconscious
4. According to the poet life is only a process of ______
a) forgetting b) remembering c) understanding d) murmuring

3.3.3 Glossary and Notes :

 The Glory of freshness of dream – Here Wordsworth refer to the
vividness of a dream. He means to say that the radiance or the splendid
beauty which he saw in nature appeared to him as vivid and lifelike as in a
 Joyous - light hearted.
 Alone - the poet feels lonely
 Child of joy - joyful shepherd boy
 Vision splendid - the glorious vision of heaven.
 Primal sympathy - the first sympathy felt for nature in childhood.
 Meanest flower - ordinary flower.

3.1.4 Key to Check Your Progress :
I) 1. The poem is based on the doctrine of reminiscence.
2. In childhood the meadow, grove, stream, the earth and every common
object seemed to him appareled in heavenly light.
3. Wordsworth wants the birds to sing joyously.
4. Wordsworth refers to his period of childhood.
II) 1. Childhood
2. Nature
3. Sleep.
4. Forgetting.

Matthew Arnold

i) ‘Dover Beach’
ii) ‘The Scholar Gypsy’
iii) ‘Rugby Chappel’
iv) ‘The Forsaken Merman’
4.0 Objectives
4.1 Introduction
42 Subject Matter
4.2.1 Matthew Arnold: Life and Career:
4.2.2 Dover Beach
4.2.3 The Scholar Gypsy
4.2.4 Rugby Chapel
4.2.5 The Forsaken Merman
4.2.6 Arnold as a poet of Nature:
4.2.7 Arnold as a writer of Elegies:
4.3 Key to Check Your Progress:
4.4 Glossary and Notes:
4.5 Exercises:
4.6 References for further reading:

4.0 Objectives:
After studying this unit you will be able –
 To know Mathew Arnold as a poet
 To understand the central ideas of the prescribed poems
 To interpret and analyze his poems
 To understand the poetic devices used in his poems
 To understand the structure of the poems

4.1 Introduction:
Dear students, in this paper, you are studying the contribution of poets from
different countries in the field of literature. You have already studied one poet
Edmund Spenser and his poems. Now, you will study the Victorian poet Matthew
Arnold who is popularly known for his ‘Touchstone Method’. The literature is an
expression of the writer’s experience. The writer’s personality is formed and molded
by the times in which he/she lives. The Victorian era is known for scientific and
technological progress resulting in widespread faith in unlimited progress. The nation
was progressing and becoming richer and richer day by day. It was the period of
prosperity, aggressive nationalism and rising imperialism. In England, the Industrial
Revolution gradually destroyed the old agricultural, resulting migration on a large
scale from the villages to the cities. The people started keeping faith in science and
simultaneously losing faith in religion. The very existence of God was challenged by
new man of scientific temperament. Man had lost his faith in God, religion and even
in nature. We observe the great influence of these changes on Arnold’s poetry. The
man was caught between two worlds- dying old and a new one, not yet born. The age
in which Mathew Arnold was matured and produced was an era of social change
observing the very unrest condition of every man. He is a sensitive soul in whose
poems we observe the spiritual unrest of his age.

4.2 Subject Matter:
4.2.1 Matthew Arnold: Life and Career:
Matthew Arnold was born at Laleham, near Staines, in the country of
Middlessex, on Christmas Eve, 1822. His father, Dr. Arnold of Rugby, the famous
schoolmaster, had nine children, of whom Matthew was the eldest son. His mother,
Mary Penrose, was a woman of remarkable character and intellect. Matthew Arnold
has been characterized as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs
the reader on contemporary social issues. The Reverend John Keble, who would
become one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, stood as godfather to Matthew.
In 1831, Arnold was tutored by his uncle, the Reverend John Buckland, at Laleham,
Middlesex. In 1834, the Arnolds occupied a holiday home, Fox How, in the Lake
District. William Wordsworth was a neighbor and close friend. Fox How then
became the family home after Dr. Arnold's untimely death in 1842.
Although remembered now for his elegantly argued critical essays, Matthew
Arnold began his career as a poet, winning early recognition as a student at the
Rugby School where his father, Thomas Arnold, had earned national acclaim as a
strict and innovative headmaster. Arnold also studied at Balliol College, Oxford
University. In 1844, after completing his undergraduate degree at Oxford, he
returned to Rugby as a teacher of classics. After marrying in 1851, Arnold began
work as a government school inspector, a grueling position which nonetheless
afforded him the opportunity to travel throughout England and the Continent.
Throughout his thirty-five years in this position Arnold developed an interest in
education, an interest which fed into both his critical works and his poetry.
Empedocles on Etna (1852) and Poems (1853) established Arnold's reputation as a
poet and in 1857 he was offered a position, which he accepted and held until 1867, as
Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Arnold became the first professor to lecture in English
rather than Latin. During this time Arnold wrote the bulk of his most famous critical
works, Essays in Criticism (1865) and Culture and Anarchy (1869), in which he sets
forth ideas that greatly reflect the predominant values of the Victorian era.
Literary career:
Arnold wrote the greater part of his poetry before he was thirty-three and
practically all of it before he was forty-five. In the main, it is conspicuously the work
of a young man suffering from a painful sense of limitation, finding it difficult to
adjust his longings and expectations to the despotism of fact. His poems turn very
largely on conflict between desire and necessity. Arnold is sometimes called the third
great Victorian poet, along with Alfred Tennyson, and Robert Browning. In 1852,
Arnold published his second volume of poems, Empedocles on Etna, and Other
Poems. In 1853, he published Poems: A New Edition, a selection from the two earlier
volumes famously excluding "Empedocles on Etna", but adding new poems, "Sohrab
and Rustum " and "The Scholar Gipsy". In 1854, Poems: Second Series appeared;
also a selection, it included the new poem, "Balder Dead ". Arnold was elected
Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857. On Translating Homer (1861) and the initial
thoughts that Arnold would transform into Culture and Anarchy were among the
fruits of the Oxford lectures. In 1866, he published Thyrsis, his elegy to Clough who
had died in 1861. His 1867 poem "Dover Beach" depicted a nightmarish world from
which the old religious verities have receded. It is sometimes held up as an early, if
not the first, example of the modern sensibility. In a famous preface to a selection of
the poems of William Wordsworth, Arnold identified himself, a little ironically, as a
"Wordsworthian." The influence of Wordsworth, both in ideas and in diction, is
unmistakable in Arnold's best poetry.
Some consider Arnold to be the bridge between Romanticism and Modernism.
His use of symbolic landscapes was typical of the Romantic era, while his skeptical
and pessimistic perspective was typical of the Modern era. The rationalistic tendency
of certain of his writings gave offence to many readers, and the sufficiency of his
equipment in scholarship for dealing with some of the subjects which he handled was
called in question, but he undoubtedly exercised a stimulating influence on his time.
His writings are characterized by the finest culture, high purpose, sincerity, and a
style of great distinction, and much of his poetry has an exquisite and subtle beauty,
though here also it has been doubted whether high culture and wide knowledge of
poetry did not sometimes take the place of true poetic fire. Henry James wrote that
Matthew Arnold's poetry will appeal to those who "like their pleasures rare" and who
like to hear the poet "taking breath."
The mood of Arnold’s poetry tends to be of plaintive reflection, and he is
restrained in expressing emotion. He felt that poetry should be the ‘criticism of life’
and express a philosophy. Arnold’s philosophy is that true happiness comes from
within, and that people should seek within themselves for good, while being resigned
in acceptance of outward things and avoiding the pointless turmoil of the world.
However, he argues that we should not live in the belief that we shall one day inherit
eternal bliss. If we are not happy on earth, we should moderate our desires rather
than live in dreams of something that may never be attained. This philosophy is
clearly expressed in such poems as "Dover Beach". Arnold valued natural scenery
for its peace and permanence in contrast with the ceaseless change of human things.
His descriptions are often picturesque, and marked by striking similes. However, at
the same time he liked subdued colours, mist and moonlight. He seems to prefer the
‘spent lights’ of the sea-depths in "The Forsaken Merman" to the village life
preferred by the merman’s lost wife. In his poetry he derived not only the subject
matter of his narrative poems from various traditional or literary sources but even
much of the romantic melancholy of his earlier poems from Senancour’s
“Obermann”. His greatest defects as a poet stem from his lack of ear and his frequent
failure to distinguish between poetry and prose.
Literary Criticism:
Arnold's work as a literary critic began with the 1853 "Preface to the Poems". In
it, he attempted to explain his extreme act of self-censorship in excluding the
dramatic poem "Empedocles on Etna". With its emphasis on the importance of
subject in poetry, on "clearness of arrangement, rigor of development, simplicity of
style" learned from the Greeks, and in the strong imprint of Goethe and Wordsworth,
may be observed nearly all the essential elements in his critical theory. Criticism
began to take first place in Arnold's writing with his appointment in 1857 to the
professorship of poetry at Oxford, which he held for two successive terms of five
years. In 1861 his lectures On Translating Homer were published, to be followed in
1862 by Last Words on Translating Homer, both volumes admirable in style and full
of striking judgments and suggestive remarks, but built on rather arbitrary
assumptions and reaching no well-established conclusions.
Although Arnold's poetry received only mixed reviews and attention during his
lifetime, his forays into literary criticism were more successful. Arnold is famous for
introducing a methodology of literary criticism somewhere between the historicist
approach common to many critics at the time and the personal essay; he often moved
quickly and easily from literary subjects to political and social issues. His Essays in
Criticism (1865, 1888), remains a significant influence on critics to this day. In one
of his most famous essays on the topic, “The Study of Poetry”, Arnold wrote that,
“Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes
with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry”. He considered the
most important criteria used to judge the value of a poem were “high truth” and
“high seriousness”. By this standard, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales did not merit
Arnold’s approval.
Social Criticism:
He was led on from literary criticism to a more general critique of the spirit of
his age. Between 1867 and 1869 he wrote Culture and Anarchy, famous for the term
he popularised for the middle class of the English Victorian era population:
"Philistines", a word which derives its modern cultural meaning (in English - the
German-language usage was well established) from him. Arnold's "want of logic and
thoroughness of thought" as noted by John M. Robertson in Modern Humanists was
an aspect of the inconsistency of which Arnold was accused. A Few of his ideas were
his own, and he failed to reconcile the conflicting influences which moved him so
Religious Criticism:
His literary career — leaving out the two prize poems — had begun in 1849
with the publication of The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems, which attracted little
notice — although it contained perhaps Arnold's most purely poetical poem "The
Forsaken Merman" — and was soon withdrawn. Empedocles on Etna and Other
Poems (among them "Tristram and Iseult "), published in 1852, had a similar fate. In
1886, he retired from school inspection and made another trip to America. Arnold
died suddenly in 1888 of heart failure, when running to meet a tram that would have
taken him to the Liverpool Landing Stage to see his daughter, who was visiting from
the United States where she had moved after marrying an American.
 Check Your Progress-1
1. Where was Matthew Arnold born?
2. What was Arnold’s father?
3. What were his most famous critical works?
4. In what year, his poem “Dover Beach” was published?

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…9
Introduction to his poems:
After knowing the autobiographical sketch and career of the poet, Matthew
Arnold, we will set some information about his poems, prescribed in the syllabus one
by one. There are four poems in total prescribed in the syllabus. The poems are:
1. Dover Beach
2. The Scholar Gypsy
3. Rugby Chapel
4. The Forsaken Merman
Arnold, as a poet was neither a God nor a giant, but much of his poetry is
qualified for great appreciation. The reader can enjoy his poems. All these poems are
very popular one. In these poems, we observe the reflection of Arnold’s personal life.
All poems are written in an elegiac form, as the poet mourns either his personal or
public loss.
Dover Beach is not an elegy, in the sense that in it the poet does not mourn the
loss of some close friend or relative. It is elegiac in tone, for in it Arnold has poured
all his melancholy and pessimism. The poet has expressed the view that this world is
without joy or religious faith, and is full only of sorrow and suffering. It is a fine and
well-known lyric of Arnold. It was first published in 1867. In this well-known lyric,
Arnold seems to be addressing his beloved, Marguerite, or his wife, or some other
imagined person. By using the style of Free-Verse, Arnold has achieved supreme
success in this elegiac lyric. Dover Beach provides a lovely picture of married love.
The poet looking out on the calm, moonlit straits speaks over his shoulder to his
Dover beach is free from poeticality as it is very short poem. It embraces a great
range and depth of significance. Here he discloses his melancholy with the thought
of the inevitable decline of religious faith; and he expresses the belief that in a
successful love-relationship he may realize values to which ‘the world’ is hostile. In
the last part, he appeals to his companion saying since, the loss of religious faith
makes it impossible to believe that the universe is in some degree adjusted to human
needs, that it is ‘peopled by Gods’, he must seek in human love for those values

which are undiscoverable elsewhere. Moreover, the lovers must support each other if
they are to live in the modern world without disaster.
The poem opens with a scene of pure natural loveliness, the sea calm, the tide
full, and the moon lying far upon the straits. There is no sign of man except a single
light which gleams for a moment and then is gone, and the great reassuring cliffs of
England stand, glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. It is like a field
enveloped in darkness; “where ignorant armies clash by night.” In this poem, the
poet has expressed his view that the world is without joy or religious faith, and full
only of sorrow and suffering.
Here, Arnold presents the comparison between the religious faith and a sea. He
states that the religious faith was once full and perfect like a sea at full tide. But now
it is receding and as it recedes, it produces a sad sound. Similarly man has lost faith
and has become a skeptic in his outlook, full of doubts and disbeliefs. There is only
misery and sadness left for him. The sea of faith has ebbed and there is nothing but
sadness and misery. The image, ‘naked shingles’ refers to bare stones or pebbles. He
points out that the doubt and disbelief have combined to force back the wave of faith
from the shore of the world, and the world is now like a coast on which cold pebbles
lie about in complete desolation.
Finally, Arnold states that the world is without Faith. Human life is full of
misery. In a world with no faith, there can be no real happiness. There can be some
consolation only through sincere and true love. Only such love can sustain their
spirits in a world where people are like confused soldiers, having no knowledge or
understanding of their own actions.
Critical Comments:
Dover, on the south-eastern coast of England, is an old port, well-known for its
Roman lighthouse and Norman castle. The town marks the ferry-point for the
shortest route to France across the English Channel. The short distance (21 miles)
even makes it possible, on a clear day, for tourists at Calais, on the French coast, to
see the famous white chalk cliffs of Dover, a fascinating sight.
Soon after his marriage on 10 June, 1851, Arnold spent a few days in Dover,
and the poem ‘Dover Beach’ is largely believed to have been composed around that
time., though it was published in New Poems (1868), the last volume of poems to
appear in Arnold’s life-time.
Son of a Headmaster, himself an inspector of schools, and professor of Poetry at
Oxford for ten years, Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) was chief among those Victorian
writers who were deeply disturbed by new trends (like Darwin’s theory of man’s
ancestry and natural selection, for example) in religion, society, literature, and
culture in general. Although a writer of several long poems, and numerous well-
known shorter ones, his interests were wider and covered criticism, philosophy,
religion, and society. He wrote essays, and also gave talks.
The diverse cultural pursuits which Arnold followed in his life-time tended to
make his poetry rather unequal in quality. But at his best, he produced poetry which
can place him on a par with the best poets in English. Dover Beach provides a fine
example of this type of poetic excellence. Written in lines of unequal length and
irregular rhymes, which seems to echo the ebb and flow of the sea it describes, the
poem effectively expresses, and also embodies, Arnold’s unease and sadness,
verging on melancholy, at the thought of man’s loneliness in a strife-torn society and
a hostile universe. These gloomy Sophoclean reflections, prompted by the sound of
the sea at night, are artistically interfused with various descriptive details, rhythmic
modulations, and complex emotions, both personal and universal, which, together,
make up an admirably integrated elegiac poem.
In this poem, he speaks of a sea which rolled between them (he and his
beloved), and of the darting river of life which bore him away from her. This
obstacle seems to have been the different pasts of the individuals. Here he gives a
meditative and melancholic cast to his classical theme. This poem resembles with of
Thomas Gray’s poems in its subdued melancholy resignation. This poem marks his
scholarly and workman-like qualities.
 Check Your Progress:
1. Whom did Arnold address in this poem?
2. What is the form of the poem, Dover Beach?
3. Why was Matthew Arnold sad?
4. What did the ‘Naked shingles’ refer to?

The Scholar Gypsy is one of the finest elegies of Arnold. There are 25 stanzas in
total in which the poet experiments very nicely to depict the character of his friend
Scholar-gypsy. The poem is rather long one of 25 stanzas, each of 10 lines. The poet
does not observe the rhyme-scheme in the poem. This is originally a legend that he
got from Joseph Glanil’s book The Vanity of Dogmatizing. This legend is woven into
the fabric of the poem. In order to prove his point of view, he narrates the legend of
the Oxford Scholar who left the University and joined a group of gypsies. The poem
is presented in the form of the conventional pastoral form, in which one shepherd
mourns the death of another shepherd. It is not an expression of personal grief as
there is no personal loss. Here he mourns for the vanished age, the golden age. He is
not happy with the present world where people are crazy for worldly power. His
descriptions of the Oxford countryside, pen-pictures of the beautiful nature and his
decorative diction are the noteworthy features of his poem.
The Scholar-Gypsy is a pastoral elegy, but it is quite different from the other
pastoral elegies. No doubt, the poet, in a guise of a shepherd, addresses another
shepherd and asks him to take out his sheep to graze. The Scholar-Gypsy is died long
ago, but the poet speaks of him as if he is still living. The poet is searching him and
he assures that he will wait for him at the place mentioned where from the towers of
Oxford can be seen. But when the day is over he should return and renew his search
for the scholar gypsy who is still said to haunt the Oxford-countryside. We also get
in it charming pen-pictures of the pastoral setting, and of the simplicity and
innocence of an idyllic, pastoral rural life, which is contrasted with materialistic
modern (urban) life, with its sick hurry and divided aim. But the poet does not mourn
in it the death of some friend or relative. Rather, he expresses his grief at the passing
away of the good old days, and the advent of the ugly, materialistic modern age, in
which man grows old and exhausted before his time, dies unhappy and frustrated.
There is no procession of mourners as in the conventional pastoral elegy. But there is
denunciation of the modern age, and the note of consolation is struck when the poet
expresses the hope that the scholar-gypsy would continue his quest, avoid contact
with modern life, and so escape old age and death. Such idealists are the only hope of
mankind. During this time the poet himself would wait for him in a quiet corner of a
high field sitting under a lime tree and listening of the bleating of the sheep and the
conversation of the reapers at their work. He would look at the scenes and sights
around him. He would enjoy the beauty of the nature, and watch the distance towers
of the Oxford.
The book sets the imagination of the poet working, and he narrates the story
coloured and heightened by his imagination. The poet remarks that the scholar-gypsy
is not dead. He was not tainted by the disease of modern life; his energy has not been
exhausted as he had, ‘one aim, one business, and one desire’ and therefore he must
be immoral and exempt from age and death. The scholar-gypsy lived in a golden age
when men’s wits were fresh and clear, when life was gay and sparkling. The poet
advises the scholar-gypsy to avoid all contact with modern man and his life, so that
he may not be infected by the disease of modern life. The scholar-gypsy thus
becomes a symbolic figure, symbolic of man’s eternal quest for Truth, for knowledge
and for wisdom.
The note of hope is also the outstanding feature of this poem. Here the poet
remarks that the scholar gypsy is not dead as he was the victim of ever-changing
desires, passions and frustrations. The poet points out that his logo was ‘one aim, one
business and one desire’ which could keep him away from age and death to prove
him the immortal. His friend did not share the worldly ambitions as his desires lack
regular fluctuations as like common people. His single-minded quest was firm as he
had sought the spark from the heaven.
Critical Comments:
The poem presents a memorable series of intimate pictures of the Oxford scene
through which the scholar-gypsy is imagined as roaming, now, as in his own days.
The poem is also remarkable for its numerous word-pictures of the beauty of nature.
Arnold regarded poetry as ‘criticism of life’ and the poem is a remarkable piece of
social criticism. H. C. Duffin regards it as one of the masterpiece of the 19 th century,
though Arnold himself did not rank it so very high.
Literature is an expression of the personality of the writer, and that personality is
formed and moulded by the times in which he lives. Arnold is very sensitive writer
who contributed great bulk of poems being affected by his age. In his The Scholar
Gypsy, the nobly pessimistic poem, he excels in the description of typical English
scenery. The Scholar Gypsy tells us of a scholar who had left Oxford quite early to
join the group of gypsies in whom he found the secret of good living. In the first part
of the poem, he deals with the nature round Oxford, its meadows and rivers. The
second part forms the main thesis of the poem. It embodies a criticism of 19th century
life, ‘with its sick hurry and divided aims, its heads over-taxed and palsied hearts.
The note of melancholy colours the entire poem.
The mellowing of spirit is discernible in his poem, The Scholar Gypsy. He states
that the living world was fit only to be shunned, and modern life was in itself a
‘strange disease’ which would infect the free spirit with doubt and despair. In this
poem, we observe that he is passing judgment on ‘the life of his age, the life of his
country, and the lives of individual men’ very effectively. This poem is a fine
example in which he presents ‘the battle with worldliness, the worldliness in
ourselves, and the worldliness in the world.’ In this poem, he very nicely highlights
the growing conflict between science and religion, doubt and faith.
The Scholar Gypsy is remarkable for the minute pen-pictures of the Oxford
countryside. It is also remarkable as we observe his appreciation of the beauty of
nature. It reveals his classical learning as well as Shakespearean type of felicity of
diction and phrasing. The music, freshness and reality of the poem create interest
among the readers very much. The poet minutely depicts the scenery of the academic
city with all its spires and towers, the centre of all thought, the fresh and fragrant
hillsides and dewy fields surrounding it. Many critics admire his skill of landscaping
and depiction of nature as it minutely relates to the truth. We could observe the
‘English coloured’ sense in this poem. The poem springs from the intense memories
of Oxford, and friendship. The tone, spirit and treatment of the poem relate with his
another poem Thyrsis. The stanza form is highly artificial and complicated one. The
poem is also remarkable for its felicity of diction. He uses many beautiful
compounded words to describe nature as well as the qualities of Scholar Gypsy.
 Check Your Progress-3
Fill in the blanks with appropriate alternative given in the bracket.
1. Scholar-Gypsy is ---------of the author. (enemy, friend, father)
2. The form of The Scholar-Gypsy is ------------. (lyric, sonnet, elegy)
3. The poet mourns the death of ---------- in this poem. (friend, mother, sister)
4. Arnold defines poetry as Criticism of ----------. (society, life, death)

‘Rugby Chapel’ is one of Arnold’s most famous poems. It manifests all the
finest qualities of the poet’s art. The poem is a pastoral elegy, a sad song concerning
a sad event in poet’s own life. It was written in the memory of his dead father, Dr.
Arnold, who been the famous principal of Rugby school, in whose chapel he lies
buried. It was written fifteen years after the death of the poet’s father.
The poet visits Rugby School some fifteen years after his father’s death on an
autumn evening. Arnold remembers that during his father’s lifetime, even during
gloomy autumn evenings, he and his students had never felt sad, depressed or
gloomy because his father had always been cheerful, enthusiastic, full of spirits,
happy. His father’s cheerfulness had been like a ray of light that filled the dark
atmosphere. He also feels that his father had been like a great, large, shady oak tree
under whose wide branches everyone had lived secure and protected. But during the
last fifteen years everyone had been deprived of this shade, this security. Though the
people of this world are facing lot of problems helplessly, his father may be serving
in the other world to fulfill God’s will. The poet hopes that he must be encouraging
and helping the humble people to be good, and firmly repressing evil people from
doing evil. He may wake the people up with his firm voice and make them see the
In this world, people work hard in life, but they achieve nothing and as soon as
they are dead, everyone forgets them. But his father was uncommon, unusual, who
inspired by a great thirst, the desire to be good, to help others, to serve suffering
humanity. He was a man, who has a goal that is Heaven, which he wants to attain
after a good, virtuous, decent and moral life. He always sought to help the weak, the
helpless, and the disabled. He never lost his cheerfulness and firm determination
even when he faced the greatest difficulties. Arnold also points out that the larger
part of humanity has to struggle with difficulties all through life. He expects men like
his father, to guide others, to show them the way, to help the weak, to encourage the
This beautiful elegy shows all the finest qualities of Arnold’s art. Arnold was a
classicist, and this is seen from the quiet, self-controlled way in which emotions are
expressed. He has arranged his thoughts and ideas in a very logical and attractive
manner. The gloom of the evening reminds him of his father’s abilities to cheer and

brighten the atmosphere. The matter and the manner of the poem are perfectly suited
to each other. The subject is serious, and so is the tone of the poem. The rhythm
moves with majestic stateliness and steadiness. Arnold’s choice of similes and
metaphors is also very appropriate. The comparison is very proper because his father
served and protected human beings just as the tree protects travelers from sunshine
and rain. The poem contains a serious, moral message. This gives us a good idea of
Arnold’s serious approach to life, his profound philosophy. It also brings out
Arnold’s pessimistic view of man and his life.
Critical Comments:
Arnold’s father, Dr. Arnold, being a man of powerful, dominating personality
influenced his son very much. He owes much of his knowledge of the Greek and
Latin masters to his father. In this poem the poet is inspired be believe in the possible
greatness of man and to see the race marching on: ‘On to the bound of the waste, On
to the City of God’. In this poem, he is willing to admit that though most men live
wasted lives and die forgotten, some strive after an ideal that is fruitful and
memorable, but even these would fall by the wayside unless upheld by strong souls
like his father, through whom he can at least believe that there were men in the past,
great and good, servants and sons of God.
Rugby Chapel is a fine example of Arnold’s serious approach to life. It is also a
fine model of his profound philosophy. This poem views the real condition of human
life with many problems and difficulties. He tries to present the possible solution
over these human problems. This poem seems to be a fine model of guideline for
every kind of human. He remembers his father’s great energy which was a guiding
light for all. His father was so cheerful and happy even the sad situation. The happy
mood of his father used to play the role of ray of light to school children. So the
image of his father was so brave, happy and loving that every student used to be his
The image of shady tree used for his father seems to be appropriate as he used to
protect and give safe and secure life to those who come in his contact. His father’s
death is symbolically called as loss of protection and guidance for common people.
He was the model of active human who was ready to perform any kind of required
action for well-being of the community. He used to encourage weak but good and
humble people whereas discourage the evil people. According to poet, the journey of

human life is very long; and everyone has to travel much before one reaches to one’s
aim or goal. Arnold points out that after facing the difficulties in life, many people
lose their courage. They find virtuous life very difficult as they forget their goal that
God has given to each of them.
The poet appeals his father like men to keep all human beings combined, and
prevent them from fighting with each other. So he expects his father like men to
guide them to reach the way to heaven without losing the path. He also requests such
father like men to provide energy to people, facing difficulties to keep the track and
reach their goal of heaven. They should be the energy and light for those who are
 Check Your Progress-4
1. What did the Rugby Chapel stand for?
2. What is the form of the poem, Rugby Chapel?
3. What did poet mourn in this poem?
4. What did Arnold compare his father with?
This is one Arnold’s early poems, included in ‘The Strayed Reveler’ (1849)
volume and among the most popular of his poems. The source of this poem is the
Danish Ballad- ‘A Deceived Merman’, newly translated in Romantic Ballads. In that
original poem, there is a familiar legend, that a beautiful mermaid who comes from
the sea and lives for time with people on land. The Danish ballad inverts the story
and Arnold obviously preferred this inversion.
The poem is nothing but a story that deals with Margeret’s marriage with a
Merman, her life with him for a time in his submarine residence with luxury,
comforts and children. One day, she hears the Church Bell and leaves the submarine
dwelling with her husband’s permission to go to the church to offer prayers. Finally
she forsakes her husband and children. In this poem, the speaker is a Merman who is
seen on the seashore with his children. The Merman recalls and rehearses the happy
days when he, his children and his Margaret all lived together in the waters of the
sea. At the end of the poem, he is about to return to the sea, having failed to retrieve
Margaret. He calls her the king of the sea as became one with the sea and its life. He

knows that she went for not to return again. All her memory that he had stored comes
out instinctively. Due to her disappearance, everything that he sees seems to be
gloomy and sad. His mind responds all these scenes very nervously.
There does not seem to be any other meaning beyond the pathetic situation
conveyed in the poem. There may be some connection, in the personal terms, to the
girl named Margaret whom Arnold had loved and lost. In more general terms, there
must be a connection to Arnold’s usual melancholy about modern man and his
Critical Comments:
The poem, The Forsaken Merman, is remarkable alike for its pathos and its
metrical skill. This poem helped him to secure a place among the greatest English
poets. Prof. Saintsbury regards this poem as a great poem- one which finds and keeps
its own place in the fore-ordained gallery or museum, with which every true lover of
poetry is provided. It is not the perfect example of narrative poetry. Here, Arnold
describes with great pathos the disappointment and helpless state of the Merman and
his children. The language and the metre used in this poem create good effect as it
changes as per the mood.
The speaker addresses his beloved to come back. When he fails to get her he
nervously call his sons to return home. He tries to say that the voice of the children
will be dearer to the mother. She may understand the critical situation of her children
and force her to return for them. He observes that she may not come so he asks his
sons to return home. His asking to children whether it was yesterday, points out
intensity of detachment. Before her departure she was busy with nurturing and caring
her children. When she heard the bells, she went to pray in the church. Her husband
permitted her to do so but expected her return as early as possible. Then he and his
children went to the church where she prayed for a long period. He tried to fetch her
attention but failed. His nervousness points out the severe shock that he had received
by her departure.
`There dwells a loved one,
But cruel is she!
She left lonely for ever
The kings of the sea.'

The above last four lines of the poem point out that she had proved her cruelty
when she had left him and his children lonely. The speaker remarks himself as the
king of the sea who helpless to call his wife back. The king of the sea remained
lonely due to his wife’s absence. Here the poet focuses that nothing is permanent in
this universe. Everything is for short time and bound to be mortal.
 Check Your Progress-5
1. What is the source of the poem?
2. Who is the speaker in the poem?
3. What is the location of the poem?
4. What melancholy does this poem express?
4.2.6 Arnold as a poet of Nature:
Arnold is a great poet of Nature. He seeks the company of nature with devotion
like that of Wordsworth. William Wordsworth lives and thinks with the hills for his
sole companion, but Arnold never rests in nature alone. To Arnold like Wordsworth
does not provide joy, but it intensifies his native melancholy by its lonely scenes and
sights. He finds in nature the same loneliness as he finds in human society. Nature
provides him peace and calm and it teaches to him the lesson of labour. He selects so
many scenes of nature to highlight his strong feelings and emotions. The calm sea,
the full tide, the bright moonlight, high mountains, snowfields, gorges, ravines,
mighty torrential rivers, beautiful bays, gleaming rows of houses etc. are some of
them. We observe lot of influence of nature on the mind of Arnold as he depicts it in
different angles. His study as a nature poet can be done with following points: His
perception of nature, reference of Birds, Flowers, Rivers, Lakes, Colours etc. He has
used many symbols of nature to decorate his language as well as depicted pictures.
Arnold does not learn any moral lesson from nature. He frequently contrasts the
permanence of nature with the transitoriness of human life in his poems- Dover
Beach, The Youth of Nature, and Self-dependence. Arnold’s observation and
delineation of nature are more accurate and precise than those of Wordsworth or
even Tennyson. He dwells on each details of nature with a quiet joy in her beauty,
colour, form or sound. He has portrayed the locations such as- mountains, lakes,
roads, rivers with precision. Arnold’s poetry includes the depiction of many more
rivers with their minute details. He refers the Thames, the Nile, the Aar, the Rhone,
the Oxus, the Helmond, the Kohik, the Moorghab, and the Indus to focus his thought
including the lakes.
Arnold extends special love towards birds and flowers. The birds that he
lovingly introduces in his poetry are the swallow, the rook, the nightingale, the black
bird and the cuckoo. The poet has keenly admired and praised the beauty of flowers
like blue convolvulus, the scented poppy, the white roses and lilies, the musk
carnation, sweet Williams, primroses etc. in his many poems. We could observe his
depiction of rivers equally delightful and precise. To brighten and beautify the
background, he frequently has nicely introduced rivers, lakes and seas in his poems.
He regularly imparts a symbolic significance to his depiction of landscapes and
objects of nature.
Arnold keeps continuity in using nature as a means of decoration and adorns his
ideas. In his famous poem, Dover Beach, he used sea as the emblem of declining
faith. The Oxus is used as a symbol of evil less life in his poem Sohrab and Rustum.
The signal of elm tree in Thyrsis is the symbol of changeless truth. The landscape,
depicted in the poem, The Scholar Gypsy symbolizes the calm feature of nature. He
uses the subdued colours to depict the scenes of landscapes. He is more attracted by
moonlight than the sunlight. He is attracted by soft and mild colours such as grey and
pale more than dark yellow or red. He imitates the style of Wordsworth to describe
the nature of adoration. More than that, he attributes the human qualities to nature.
Arnold is the master of figurative language. He frequently uses various figures
of speech to beautify his poems and it’s thought. The Personification is the dominant
figure of speech in his poetry. We also observe the descriptive powers of Keats and
Tennyson in his Oxford poems as well as in his lyrical passages. It is easy to find that
he lacks Wordsworth’s sensuous contact with nature. He finds in nature solace and
companionship and also inspiration. Arnold’s reaction to water was strange and it is
mystic one. In one form or another, he makes water play a great part in conveying his
sense of the character and quality of life, its meaning and its issues especially in the
depiction of sea, rivers and lakes. In Arnold, the sea may stand for death or for
eternity, and in one celebrated instance it is the sea of faith. The most often it is the
sea of life. In short, he as a nature poet continues the tradition of Wordsworth but
with certain difference.

4.2.7 Arnold as a writer of Elegies:
The form, elegy is very significant in total literature, which gives scope to
express your personal as well public grief. In elegy, the author sings a song to mourn
the death of someone the closest. In short it is song of mourning. The elegies can be
classified into two groups: The personal elegy and the other impersonal elegy. In the
personal elegy, the author laments the death of someone close relative or friend. On
the other hand, in the impersonal elegies the writer mourns over human destiny or
over some aspects of contemporary life and literature. Through writing the elegies,
the writer succeeds in presenting his philosophy of life and death.
The Romantic poets, Shelley and Keats have proved them as the master of lyric
and ode respectively. Like the same, Matthew Arnold has proved his mastery in
elegy writing. The critic, Hugh Walker comments that nothing in Arnold’s verse is
more arresting than its elegiac note. We can agree that his best elegies are: Thyrsis,
The Scholar Gypsy, Rugby Chapel and Dover Beach. In his elegies we mainly
observe his personal expression of grief. He also tries to present his philosophy
regarding the fate of humanity in general. He expresses his inherent pessimism and
sense of loneliness in his dominant elegies. Disappointment in love, an uncongenial
occupation which put a severe strain on him, contemporary conflict between science
and religion, the conflict within his own soul, and above all his thoughtful, lonely
temperament, made him take a dark, gloomy view of man’s journey on this planet.
The central ideas that he tried to present in his elegies are his sadistic reactions to the
either the deaths or losses in his personal life. The death of a brother, friend,
contemporary or any pet animal motivated him to write elegies. He also expresses his
sadness over the grievances of humanity in general.
If we study the elegies of Matthew Arnold, we can classify his work of elegies
into different categories. The categories can be as: Personal Elegies and Pastoral
Elegies. His major personal elegy is Rugby Chapel. Here, he mourns the death of his
beloved father. In this elegy, he tries to recollect the memories of his dead father who
was the headmaster in the Rugby School. Matthew Arnold declares that man is the
puppet in the hands of destiny. He also points out that the journey of each human is a
struggle for existence. He states that the life’s journey is very rough and tough,
where each one has to cross many difficulties to succeed in the life.

Matthew Arnold’s major pastoral elegies are- Thyrsis and The Scholar Gypsy. In
Thyrsis he mourns the death of his close friend Arthur Clough. Though he weeps
over his great loss, friend, he end the elegy by making us believe to accept calmly the
severe reality and console our mind thereafter. In another elegy, The Scholar Gypsy,
the poet presents very pathetically the tragedy and pathos of man’s lot in the
universe. Here he strongly asserts that man is not the master of his life but the very
puppet in the hands of destiny or fate. He makes us believe the strong power of the
universe. Matthew Arnold very effectively succeeds in depicting the modern
melancholy. He presents that this modern melancholy itself is universalized and
spiritualized to make man subordinate. The man is asked to read his own mysterious
surrounding to become successful in the life.
In the conclusion, Matthew Arnold proved himself as the great writer of elegies.
All his Elegies express Arnold’s lifelong attachment to the countryside which he had
explored in his youth with Arthur Hugh Clough and other Oxford companions. They
provide many vivid and attractive glimpses of the well-loved scenes. The whole
landscape, rendered here suggests his longing for a freshness and spontaneity. By his
contribution in the elegies, he could get the place in the ranks of dominant elegy
writers such as- Milton, Shelley, and Keats. The every reader of English literature
could keep him in the memory for his elegies. Through elegies he succeeds in
highlighting the sad scene of the Victorian era.
 Check Your Progress-6
Complete the sentences choosing the correct alternative form the given list.
1. As a Nature poet, Arnold is compared with ------------.
a) Shakespeare b) Wordsworth c) Keats d) Milton
2. Arnold does not learn any ---------- lesson from the nature.
a) intellectual b) emotional c) moral d) logical
3. Arnold extends his special love towards --------------.
a) birds b) humans c) rivers d) trees
4. Arnold is the master of ------------ language.
a) slang b) city c) figurative d) rustic

5. ---------- elegy is written to mourn his father.
a) Dover Beach b) Rugby Chapel c) Thyrsis d) The Scholar Gypsy

4.3 Key to Check Your Progress:

1. 1. Laleham near Staines Middlessex.
2. A famous headmaster at Rugby School
3. Essays in Criticism and Culture and Anarchy
4. 1867
2. 1. Arnold seems to be addressing his beloved, Marguerite, or his wife, or
some other imagined person.
2. It is a fine and well-known lyric.
3. Arnold feels sad because the world is without joy or religious faith, and full
only of sorrow and suffering.
4. The image, ‘naked shingles’ refers to bare stones or pebbles.
3. 1. friend 2. elegy 3. friend 4. life
4. 1. Rugby Chapel stands for his father’s memory.
2. A pastoral Elegy
3. Mourns the death of his own father.
4. Tree that protects travelers from sunrays and rain.
5. 1. The Danish Ballad- ‘A Deceived Merman’
2. Merman
3. Seashore
4. Melancholy about modern man and his desolation.
6. 1. b) Wordsworth
2. c) moral
3. a) birds
4. c) figurative
5. b) Rugby Chapel

4.4 Glossary and Notes:
 Cliffs: steep, high rocks, at the edge of the sea.
 Moon-blanched: whitened by moonlight.
 Sophocles: (496-406) one of the three great Greek tragedians who lived in
Athens, the capital of Greece.
 Grueling: trying or taxing to the point of exhausting, punishing.
 Dispotism: State of high position, authority
 Turmoil: a state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation, or
 Subdued: to conquer and bring into subjection: Vanquish
 Rigor: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable
 To recede: to move back or away: withdraw
 To ebb: to fall from a higher to a lower level or from a better to a worse
 Merman : a fabled marine creature with the head and upper body of a man
and the tail of a fish.
 Discernible: to come to know or recognize mentally.
 Mellowing: pleasant, agreeable.

4.5 Exercises:
1. Matthew Arnold is poet of pastoral elegies. Explain.
2. The Scholar Gypsy is a pastoral elegy. Explain.
3. ‘Matthew Arnold is Nature Poet’ Explain it with the help of poems that you
have studied.
4. Dover Beach is a love poem. Explain.
5. A Forsaken Merman reflects sadness and sufferance of poet. Illustrate.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…10
Write Short Notes
1. Nature: Source of Poetry.
2. Merman
3. Poet’s Father –Rugby Chapel.

4.6 References for further reading:

1. Albert, Edward. History of English Literature, (5Th Ed.) Oxford University
Press, 2002.
2. Arnold, Matthew. Dover Beach and Other Poems, Dover Publications Inc. 1994.
3. Delaura, David. (Ed) Matthew Arnold: A Collection of Critical Essays, Prentice
Hall, 1973.
4. Ford, Boris. (Ed) The Pelican Guide to English Literature Vol. 6, Penguin
Books, 1958.
5. Long, W. J. English Literature, A. I. T. B. S. Publishers and Distributors, Delhi,
6. Wimsatt, W. and Brooks, C. Literary Criticism, Oxford Uni. Press, New Delhi,

T. S. Eliot

‘The Waste Land’

Contents :
5.0 Objectives
5.1 Introduction
a) About the poet
b) About 'The Waste Land'
5.2 The Text : The Waste Land
5.2.1 The Burial of the Dead
5.2.2 A Game of Chess
5.2.3 The Fire Sermon
5.2.4 Death by Water
5.2.5 What the Thunder Said
5.3 Exercises
5.4 Further Reading

5.0 Objectives :
After studying this part of unit you will be able to :
 study T.S. Eliot as a modern poet
 acquaint with Eliot's classicism.
 know the simplicity of theme and language of poetry.

5.1 Introduction
A) About the poet
Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) possessed an impressive personality. He was
a versatile writer. During his long creative career, he wrote poetry, prose, drama,
critical and social essays, etc. He also worked as a journalist and editor. His career
as a poet may conveniently be divided into five phases or periods :
(1) The First Phase (1905-1909) : It was the experimental period. He began
writing quite early in life while still a school boy at Smith's Academy. The
poems were published in the various college and school magazines, as the Smith
Academy Record and Harvard Advocate.
(2) The Second Phase (1909-1917) : This is the period of urban poetry of Eliot.
The collection entitled Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917 came out.
The most important poems of this collection are :-
1. The Love - Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
2. Portrait of a Lady
3. The Preludes
4. Rhapsody on a Windy Night.
5. The Boston Evening Transcript
6. Mr. Apllinax
(3) The Third Phase (1918-25) : The most significant poems of this phase are :
1. Gerontion 2. Burbank with a Baedekar 3. Sweeney Erect
4. A Cooking Egg 5. Sweeney among the Nightingales
6. The Waste Land, 1922 7. The Hollow Men
(4) The Fourth Phase (1925-35) : This is the period of Eliot's Christian poetry. The
most important poems of this period are :
(1) Ash Wednesday (2) Journey of the Magi (3) Animila
(4) Marina (5) Choruses from "The Rock" (6) Coriolanous
(7) A number of minor & Unfinished poems.

(5) The Fifth Phase (1935-43) : This is the period of the Four Quartets, which were
published as follows :
1. Burnt Norton, 1936 2. East Coker, 1940
3. The Dry salvages, 1941. 4. Little Gidding, 1942.
He was a great poet-critic. He is in the line of such great poet-critics as Ben
Jonson, Dryden, Dr. Johnson, Coleridge and Mathew Arnold. He developed his own
poetic theory and put it into practice in his poetry. As a poet, Eliot is a classicist. His
classicism was nurtured by an impact of such classical writers as T.E. Hulme, Ezra
Pound, Irving Babbitt.
B) About the Waste Land:-
The Waste land has a wider theme. It can be studied as a bitter criticism of the
hollow and rootless modern civilization. The ravages caused by the world wars form
the basic theme of this poem. ‘The Waste Land’ like Mathew Arnold's ‘The Scholar
Gipsy', offers a criticism of life in the sense of an interpretation of its problems. He
began writing ‘The Waste Land’ at Margate and completed it at Lausanne in the
Autumn of 1921. It was published in 1922. He got inspiration from other writers like
Ezra Pound, Miss Weston, Stravisky etc. When he was writing ‘The Waste Land’, he
had been reading two important mythical anthropologies - Jessie Weston’s ‘From
Ritual to Romance’ and James Frazer’s ‘The Golden Baugh’.The poet himself has
acknowledged that he was deeply influenced by these works or anthropology, and the
ancient and primitive myths and legends which form the mythical background to the
poem are derived from these books.
The Waste Land was divided by T.S. Eliot into five sections, namely,
1. The Burial of the Dead,
2. A Game of Chess,
3. The Fire Sermon,
4. Death by Water, and
5. What the Thunder Said.
Eliot has called these sections as 'parts’.

5.2 The Text: The Waste Land
5.2.1 The Burial of The dead
1. Summary
The opening section of ‘The Waste Land’ is entitled ‘The Burial of the Dead’. It
refers to a) the burial of the dead fertility god, b) the burial service for the dead
performed by the Christian church. In both the cases death is believed to be followed
by rebirth. But the inhabitants of the contemporary waste land are spiritually dead
and the very thought of rebirth or spiritual re-generation is painful to them. April, the
month of rebirth, is not the most joyful season but the cruellest. The sweet showers
of April offer no glad welcome to the spring. The poet's feelings towards both Winter
and April, towards the stagnation of the life which he is living and towards a rebirth
is doubtful, mixing memory & desire.
He is impelled to apathy and oblivion by winter. The protagonist, Tiresias, the
representative of humanity, surveys the panorama of modern civilization and finds it
spiritually barren and dead. The stones, dead trees, dry stones without any sound of
water, the hot sun, all symbolize spiritual desolation. The protagonist then surveys
the 'unreal city', London, and the crowd that moves over London Bridge. The
'Unreal City' may be any city in the spiritual waste land.
In the first part the general theme of 'The Waste Land' has been stated. It has
been stated that life in the contemporary world is a life-in-death. It is a living death,
for man has lost faith in spiritual values. There is general decay and decomposition.
Love has degenerated into lust, sex has lost its proper function, and is no longer a
source of life and vitality.
2. Analysis of the Poem
The conflict in the poem is presented in the opening lines where in image, rhythm
and association, the themes are given their first statement. The theme of the
attractiveness of death or, of the difficulty in rousing oneself from the death in life in
which the people of ‘The Waste Land’ live, is developed in this first section. Nature
awakens to new life and fertility in its eternal cycle. April is the cruelest month for
the denizens of the modern waste land, for it signifies re-birth, and they prefer winter
or spiritual death, for re-birth implies some effort on their part and any spiritual effort
is hateful to them. The poet asks in a language resonant of Biblical echoes, his first

question and the answer is cryptic and interms of doom. The myths of the ancient
world are 'a heap of broken images', the land is barren. Death is prophesied or rather
suggested, a death, when fears shall be in the way … and desire shall fail. And man
shall return into the dust from which he came.
"And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you,
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust". (Lines 27-30).
A hand full of dust, though it may be symbolic of death, can at the same time become
fruitful soil with the help of 'Spring rain'.
We are then introduced to two episodes of guilty love which are Eliot's comment
on the sexual act. The extract in the German language is from Wagner's famous
opera Tristan and Isolde, a story of guilty love. That the other love-episode is also of
a guilty nature is shown by the fact that the other extract from the German opera
(‘Empty and blank the sea’) is placed at the end of the second episode. The Hyacinth
girl may be the German princess herself recounting a moment of passionate intensity
in her youthful love or Tiresias remembering on episode of youthful love in his long
career. But love, both of Tiresias and of the Hyacinth girl, is guilty and hence
instead of bringing a sense of fulfillment, it brings a sense of futility. The words, "I
was neither living nor dead" (Lines 39-40), signify a moment of ecstasy and "In to
the heart of light, the silence", bring out the futility sex outside marriage.
With the entrance at Madame Sosostris and her 'wicked pack of cards' we are
introduced into a variation of the same life-death theme. Madame Sosostris with her
name suggesting Greek or Egyptian origin, who professed to control fertility and to
forecast the rising and falling of the waters of the Nile through the Tarot cards. The
various cards in the Tarot Pack represent the different personages which are to figure
in the following sections of the poem. They are as follows:
(1) The drowned Phonecian sailor. He symbolizes the fertility God whose image
was thrown into the sea every year to symbolize the end of summer. Drowning
is a process of transformation & so his eyes have been transfigured into pearls.
The line, 'Those are pearls that were his eyes, Look!’ is reminiscent of Aerial's
song in 'The Tempest'.

(2) Belladonna, i.e. beautiful lady, Lady of the Rocks. She is the Lady of
Situations, and she symbolizes womanhood.
(3) The man with three staves is the king Fisher himself, symbol of degenerate
humanity, requiring a three-fold remedy-to give, to sympathize, and to control.
(4) The wheel symbolize the flux of life and the cycle of seasons.
(5) The one-eyed merchant is the Smyrna merchant who in the past brought both
religion and sexuality to Europe. His "one-eye' symbolizes the contempary
decay & dissolution.
(6) The Hanged Man stands for the dead fertility god or Christ crucified.
(7) The crowds of people 'walking in a ring' are the London crowds going through
their daily of round existence, dull, boring.
The protagonist then surveys the 'Unreal city', London and the crowd that moves
over London Bridge. The 'Unreal city' may be any city in the spiritual waste land.
The crowds moving over London Bridge are the spiritually dead citizen of the waste
land going their daily round of dull routine. They put us in mind of similar crowd in
Dante's Inferno' and, "I had not thought death had an done so many" (Line - 63) is
also from 'Inferno'. Tiresias now stops one Stetson, an acquaintance of his, whom he
had first met at Mylae, an important naval battle. In the last line it includes also the
'hypocrite reader' and the poet himself. All these have buried the priceless treasure
of the truth about themselves, as an in convenient thing, lest the friend of mankind,
his dog, may dig it up again. The Quotation,
"Oh, keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men," is an adaptation from
Webster's drama 'The White Devil'.
 Check your progress

I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase or sentence each.

(1) Who is Tiresias?
(2) What is the source of the extract in the German language?
(3) Who is Belladonna?
(4) What is meant by 'Unreal City'?

II) Fill in the blanks.
(1) -------------is the cruelest month.
(2) I will show you fear in a --------------.
(3) Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's ---------------to men.
 Glossary & Notes.
 Breeding - causing to grow.
 The Starnbergersee - The lake, situated near Munich in Germany
 Colonnade - The column of trees standing along the margin of the
starnbergersee lake.
 Hofgarten - A public park in Munich
 Sled - Sledge.
 Marie - The name of the woman.
 Stony rubbish - barren matter of The Waste Land.
 Frisch - fresh
 Der wind - the wind.
 Heimat - Homeland.
 Hyacinth - a spring flower of the lily family.
 Madame Sosostris - a fictitious woman introduced as a psychich fortune-
 A wicked pack of cards - The reference is to Tarot cards which were
meant for fortune-telling.
 Belladonna - In Italian, 'Belladonna' means a 'beautiful lady', but in English
it stands for a deadly flower.
 Blank - blurred
 Mrs. Equitone - an imaginery character.
 Unreal City - Her, London stands for any great city.
 Undone - ruined
 Infrequent - Unusual, rare.

 King William Street - a business street in London
 Stetson - a fictitious figure.
 Nails - Here it stands for arguments.
 Hypocrite lecteur - hypocrite reader.
 Key to check your progress.
I. 1. Tiresias is the protagonist, the representative of humanity.
2. from Wagnor's famous opera Tristan & Isolde.
3. Belladonna is a beautiful lady, Lady of the Rocks.
4. The 'Unreal City' may be any city in the spiritual waste land or Eliot's
II. 1. April
2. handful of dust.
3. friend
5.2.2 The Text : A Game of Chess
1. Summary
The second part entitled ‘The Game of Chess’ deals directly with the artificiality
and lack of human or mythical meaning in the central fertility symbol, in the
marriage relation of men and women. It explores the failure of sex relationship in
the modern waste land. Sex has become a matter of intrigue, a matter of moves and
countermoves between men & women. It has become a mere source of pleasure and
has lost its spiritual significance.
There is the contrast between high life and low life. However, the deeper contrast
lies between the life in the past and the life in the present. The title comes from
Middleton's play ‘Women Beware Women, Part II'. It symbolizes the perversion of
sexual values in the contemporary world of desolation.
2. Analysis of the poem
The opening scene is a mosaic of quotations, phrase and allusions from various
authors woven into a pattern. The lady Mrs. Equitone, sat in the chair which looked
like a burnished throne. In the very opening line, "The chair she sat in, like a

burnished throne”, (line.77) reminds one of Cleopatra in her barge, and the
connection is reinforced by the mention of carved dolphins a few lines later. The
description of her dressing table, cosmetics, etc. reminds one of the toilet table in
Pope's ‘Rape of the Lock’. The current of air carries away the perfumes in the form
of vapour to the well-ornamented ceiling reminds the description of Imogen's
bedroom in ‘Cymbeline’ and of the festal hall of Dido in Virgil's ‘Aeneid’. But the
lady has nothing in common with Dido and Cleopatra. The greatness and intensity of
whose passion, though guilty, is contrasted with the pettiness and triviality of love in
the waste land. The use of the word ‘synthetic’ is significant in this connection.
Over the fire-place is carved the picture of Philomela telling how she was raped,
her tongue cut, and how finally she was transformed into the nightingale of golden
voice. The poet evokes :
" The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced ; yet there the nightingale
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice." (Lines 99-101)
Her song filled the waste land in antiquity with melody and it echoes still. But to the
dirty ears of modern man it is a meaningless, ‘Jug Jug!’. The last line describing her
hair brings out the nervous excitement of the lady. They glow into words and are
then savagely still.
The conversation between the lady and her lover with repeated question,
"Think?" " thinking" etc. and further, “Nothing, Nothing", etc., bring out the
complete nervous breakdown of the lady. "What is that noise ?". “The wind under
the door," emphasise further her nervousness and echo similar words in Hamlet,
Macbeth, etc. When pressed further by the lady to speak, the lover indifferently
quotes the famous lines from 'The Tempest,’ "Those are pearls that were his eyes,"
(Line-125) without understanding their significance. The nervousness of the lady
finds a hysterical outburst in her desire to 'rush out as I am, and walk the streets.' She
wants to break the narrow cage of routine to which she is tied and which is
symbolized by the description of their daily life which follows.
Then we get a picture of stalemate, resulting from a perversion of sexual values.
It is a friend of Lil who tells some women assembled in a city pub that Lil's husband,
Albert, has been demobilized, and he would be returning home after a long time. He

would like to have a good time, but Lil has grown prematurely old, because she took
pills to dissolve a pregnancy, and if she doesn't take care and improve her looks,
Albert would certainly turn to other women. When the ladies are conversing, the
tavern keeper asks them to leave, for it is time for him to close the tavern. But his
call to hurry up is not heeded and any amount of discussion remains futile. The last
line, 'Good night, ladies,' etc. reminds one of poor Ophelia's last farewell. The
suggestion is thrown out that not only is Lil old and ill, but perhaps she is on the
verge of death.
 Check your progress
I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase or sentence each.
1. From which play, the title comes?
2. Which line reminds one of poor Ophelia's last farewell ?
3. Who is Albert ?
4. Who sat in the chair like a burnished throne ?
II) Fill in the blanks.
1. The chair she sat in, like a ------------------.
2. Those are --------------------that were his eyes.
3. The hot water at ----------------------.
 Glossary and Notes
 She - refers to Mrs. Equitone or the Lady of Rocks or the Lady of stuations.
 A burnished throne - a bright throne.
 Candelabra - Ornamental holders with branches for candles.
 Vilas - small bottles
 Unguent - ointment
 Freshened - made fresh
 Laquoria - a ceiling consisting of compartments with bends between the

 The charge of Philomel - refers to the story of Philomel, a Greek myth, as
described in Latin by the Roman poet Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, Book
 Barbarous King - Tereus.
 Inviolable voice - Chaste voice
 Jug jug - John Lyly, the Elizabethan dramatist wrote about the song of the
 Fiery Points - the hair shone like points of fire.
 De mobbed - demobilised
 Gammon -bottom piece of Pig's flesh.
 Key to check your progress
I 1. The title comes from Middleton’s play 'Women Beware Women, Part II'
2. Good night, Ladies, good night, sweet Ladies, good night, good night.
3. Albert is Lil's husband
4. Mrs. Equitone/the Lady of Rocks/the Lady of Situations .
II 1. burnished throne
2. Pearls
3. ten
5.2.3. The Text : The Fire Sermon
1. Summary
This part is a sermon, but it is a sermon by examples only. The sterile burning of
lust is brought out by different sex experiences in the contemporary waste land. The
broken prayer of the protagonist that he may be a brand, plucked from the burring,
leads on naturally to the next part, the possibility of the purification.
Sexual perversion and lust are the causes of spiritual death and degeneracy in the
modern world. This degeneration is to be seen in all sections of society, the rich, the
middle class, and the poor. Regeneration can come about only if the modern
humanity heeds the teachings of the great moral and religious teachers, both of the

East and the West. This is emphasized by references, both to the teachings of St.
Augustine in his 'Confessions' and of Buddha in the 'Fire Sermon'.
2. Analysis of the poem
The title of this part was suggested by the famous ‘Fire Sermon’ of Lord Buddha
in which man is shown burning in the fire of lust and other evil passions. St.
Augustine, too, in his 'Confessions' writes. “To Carthage then I came, where a
cauldron of unholy loves sang all about mine ears."
The poem opens with Tiresias surveying the Thames scene in the autumn. The
Thames is deserted. In the summer it had been the haunt of nameless ladies in search
of momentary pleasure, and the rich sons of business directors equally in need of
pleasure. After having their round of pleasure, they have all left. The river is strewn
all over with empty bottles, cigarette cases, papers etc. The pollution of the river
symbolizes spiritual degeneration. The river-scene puts us in mind of a similar scene
in Spenser's ‘prothalamion’.
The protagonist mourns the pollution of the river water. As he sits on its banks
fishing in the dull canal near the gas-house, a cold wind blows. It brings to him the
sound of senseless laughter of London crowds who move about rattling like dried
bones. The degeneracy is further symbolized by the fact that Mrs. Porter, a brothel
keeper and her daughter wash their feet in soda water, not for their spiritual
purification, but to make their flesh fairer to attract more males.
Eliot’s pre-occupation with vulgarisation of spiritual values is further seen in the
reference to Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant, the one-eyed merchant of the
Tarot Pack. He brought both merchandise and religion and fertility cults to Europe.
But now his function has degenerated. He has only one eye. This symbolizes the loss
of his religious function. In the contemporary waste land, relations even between the
two sexes are also sterile. This is brought out by the famous seduction-scene. The
mating of the typist with the youngman, ‘Carbunacular’ is merely mechanical,
indifferent, symbolising the physical sex-relationship in the waste land. Sex has
degenerated to mere animal-like, mechanical. There is no love, no pleasure and the
typist is indifferent to what happens, and glad when it is all over.
The mechanical, animal-like nature of sex relationship in the contemporary waste
land is emphasised further by the actions of the lady after mating with her lover. The
line, “when lovely woman stoops of fally,” is from a song in Goldsmith’s ‘Vicar of

Wakefield’. Here, the woman, the typist, indifferent 19 turns on the gramophone.
Eliot waves the very rhythm of modern life into the fabric of his master piece in
expressions, such as, “Like a taxi throbbing waiting,” and, “puts a record on the
gramophone”. With the sound of music in his ears, Tiresias goes along the Strand
and Queen Victoria street, and reaches the lower end of Thames street. This is the
part of the city where the poor live. There he hears, coming out of a tavern, the sweet
music of a mandoline, and the chatter of fishermen and sailors who are resting in the
tavern. Then is described a voyage undertaken in the past by Queen Elizabeth with
her favourite Leicester in her decorated pleasure boat. This is revealed by the three
songs which the three Thames daughters sing separately. The first one doesn’t like
Highbury with its trams, symbolizing the ugliness of modern civilization. Richmond
and Kew are picnic spots, and it was here that she was violated; she lost her virginity
in a boat. The second Thames daughter feels extreme, humiliation after the loss of
her virginity. “What should I resent?,” expresses her frustration and dejection. The
third girl was undone on “Margrate sands”, a sea-side pleasure spot in London. She
is utterly frustrated and her life is equal to nothing.
 Check your progress
I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase, sentence each?
1) Who is Mrs. Porter ?
2) What is the condition of the river, Thames in autumn ?
3) In which expressions, Eliot waves the rhythm of modern life ?
4) Who sings the three songs separately ?
II) Fill in the blanks
1) He, the young man . . . . arrives.
2) And puts a record on the . . .
3) Like a . . . throbbing waiting.
 Glossary and Notes
 Fingers - the leaves hanging on the branches are likened to fingers.
 The loitering heirs of the city directors - the dawdling successors of great
business magnates of London.

 Rattled - troubled
 Rat - ‘rat’ has been used as a symbol of misery.
 Unreal city - sophisticated city. (Ref. to London city)
 Smyrna - an ancient port city with nearly 3000 years of history in the
middle east. Now it is in Turkey and is known by the name of Izmir.
 Currants - Small, sweet, dried grapes from Greece.
 Demotic French - vulgar French
 Violet hour - evening time
 Foretold - imagined
 Expected guest - the typist’s lover
 Carbuncular - red faced, looking inflamed like a fiery red precious stone.
 Propitious - favourable
 Unlit - without light
 Wash - carry
 Leicester - Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester
 Stern - the hind part of the queen’s barge
 Rippled - caused ripples in the water
 La, La - exclamation of disgust
 Pluckest - rescue me
 Key to check your progress
I. 1. Mrs. Porter is a brothel-keeper
2. It is deserted
3. “Like a taxi throbbing waiting”, and “puts a record on the gramophone’
4. The three Thames daughters
II. 1. Carbuncular
2. gramophone
3. taxi

5.2.4 The Text : Death by Water
1. Summary
Water is the traditional symbol of purification, and regeneration, but in the
modern land of desolation it has lost its functions and has become a source of
destruction. This is so because man has become beastly, given to the pursuit of
wealth and sensuous pleasures. The phonecian sailor, Phlebas was young, tall and
handsome, but he was drowned because his life was a sordid round of business
activity (profit and loss) and pleasure without any spiritual motivation. He was
caught in a whirlpool and passed the various stages of his “age and youth”. There is
no re-birth for the phonecian sailor or modern humanity because of their moral
2. Analysis of the poem
‘Death by water’ is a brief part of ‘The Waste Land’. Tiresias addresses the
materialists as Christians or Jews and says that they are turning the steering wheel of
ships in the ocean. They are looking towards the side of old age, the side from where
the wind of Death blows. Tiresias asks the materialist men to consider the fate of
Phlebas who was hands one and tall as any one of them Phlebas was a Phoenician
merchant-sailor who was dead a fortnight ago. He ignored the cry of sea-gulls and
disregarded also the deep sea of life and remained, engrossed only in thoughts of
profit and loss. Then a current of the stream of death running under the sea separated
his moral body from his soul in the midst of whispers. When he entered the
whirlpool of death, his body rose up and sank down and the visions of his youth and
old age flashed through his mind. The reference is to the ritual immersion of the
effigy of the vegetation god, Osiris, who was supposed to pass the various stages of
life in the reverse order. Here, complete secularisation and rejection of the supernal is
at the root of the contemporary decay and disintegration.
 Check your progress
I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase, sentence each?
1. To whom Tiresias addresses ?
2. Who was Phlebas ?
3. What is ignored by Phlebas ?

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…11
4. Who is Osiris?
II) Fill in the blanks
1. Consider Phlebas, who was once . . . . . and . . . . .
2. He passed the stages of his . . . . and . . . .
3. A current under . . . . picked his bones in whispers.
 Glossary and Notes
 A fortnight dead - drowned not long ago.
 Cry of gulls - the cry of sea-gulls
 Sea swell - the heaving of the deep sea.
 Picked his bones - separated his body from the soul.
 Entering the whirlpool - being thrown into the eddy of life Gentile - non
 Look to windward - are anxious about safety.
 Key to check your progress
I) 1. the materialists as Christians or Jews
2. a phoenician merchant sailor
3. the cry of seagulls
4. The vegetation god.
II) 1. handsome and tall
2. age and youth
3. sea

5.2.5 The Text : What the Thunder Said

1. Summary
The title of this last part is quite appropriate. Eliot shows the way of spiritual re-
birth, and his teaching is based on the wisdom of India. Spiritual regeneration is
possible, and the poet points out the way which can lead to it. This part ends not on a

note of despair, but with a message of hope for the inhabitants of the modern
desolate land. Eliot offers an advice to the modern people to regulate their life with
the principles of Datta, Dayadhvam and Damyata. The first means the principle of
charity, The second means the principle of compassion and the third is the principle
of self-realisation / self-control.
2. Analysis of the poem
In the first passage, we get an account of the scene of Christ’s arrest at the hands
of his enemies. There was a death-like silence everywhere after his arrest. Christ was
then crusified. However, says the poet, his crusification was not his real death. But
we in the modern world have killed him in-reality, by our indifference. We are living
only physically and we are dead spiritually.
In the passage beginning, “Here is no water but only rock” (line 331), the
reference is to the journey of Sir Percival or Parsifal, the Quester (searcher for the
Grail) to the kingdom of the Fisher king in search of the Holy Grail. There is no
water at all and the rocks are cracked. There is not even silence but dry sterile
thunder without rain. The path of spiritualism is difficult. The repeated cry of ‘water,
water’ brings out the intensity of the suffering. The next passage narrates another
experience by the disciples of christ during their journey to Emmaus, the evil land of
‘The Bible’. ‘The hooded hordes’ symbolize the modern humanity, ‘the murmur of
maternal lamentation’, may be the mourning of Europe herself over their pitiable
plight. The city on the mountain seems to crack and reform itself, and the towers are
falling i.e. old values are loosing their hold on the people. He says :
“what is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air”.
Civilisation itself seems to be coming to an end. Eastern Europe is represented as a
woman fiddling music on her own black hair. Bats symbolize desolation and decay.
Real faith in the church is no more. This is symbolized by ‘empty cisterns’ and
‘exhausted wells’.
Eliot recommends the wisdom of India for the spiritual salvation of modern
humanity. Once there was total failure of rain in India and when the confused people
prayed to the Divine or God, He spoke to them in thunder, ‘Da, Da, Da’, indicating
the three-fold way of deliverance and spiritual salvation. First Da means Datta, ‘to

give’. We must give ourselves over to some noble cause. Such dedication is a
spiritual satisfaction in itself. Second Da means Dayadharm, i.e. ‘to sympathise’.
Sympathy means going over to others or spiritual harmony with others and this is
essential for spiritual salvation. Third ‘Da’ means, ‘Damyata’, i.e. ‘self-control’ and
discipline. A disciplined heart is like a boat that sails easily under expert guidance on
a calm sea. In the last passage, the poet strikes a personal note and tells the spiritually
dead humanity how he hopes to achieve spiritual salvation. The falling of the
‘London Bridge’ symbolises spiritual and social disintegration in the waste land. He
has also learnt that absolute detachment is necessary for spiritual salvation. In the
end he reminds humanity of the teachings of the Upanishadas It is in this way alone
that absolute peace, can be achieved.
 Check your progress
I) Answer the following questions in one word, phrase, sentence each?
1. In which three principles, Eliot does offer and advice to the modern people?
2. What is Emmaus ?
3. Who is Sir Percival ?
II) Fill in the blanks
1. Here is no water but only . . . .
2. Then spoke the thunder . . . .
3. . . . . and reforms and bursts in the violet air.
 Glossary and Notes
 Sweaty faces - anxious faces of the disciples of Jesus Christ.
 Stony places - Stony prison cells
 Reverberation - echo
 winding - moving by turns and twists
 Silence - peace of mind
 Sterile - unfruitful
 Thunder - cloud

 wrapt in - covered with
 Hordes - huge crowds
 swarming - moving in large numbers
 Stumbling - falling
 Tolling - sounding
 Reminiscent - suggestive
 Himavant - the Himalayas
 Da - the Sanskrit syllable ‘da’ representing a root, comprises a message.
 Gaily - cheerfully
 Arid plan - the waste land
 London Bridge - here the British Christian culture
 Shantih- ‘May God give us the mental peace which leads to
 Key to check your progress
I. 1. Datta, Dayadhvam, Damyata
2. The evil land of ‘The Bible’
3. the searcher for the Grail / The Quester
II. 1. Rock
2. DA
3. Cracks

5.3 Exercises
I. 1. Discuss T.S. Eliot’s use of symbolism in ‘The Waste Land’
2. What are the various themes in ‘The Waste Land ? Discuss
3. ‘The Waste Land’ shows Eliot’s power of word music. Discuss
II. Write short notes
1. Tiresias

2. The use of literary allusions
3. Indian thought in ‘The Waste Land’
4. The mythical background of ‘The Waste Land’

5.4 Further Reading

1. Brooks, Cleanth : Modern Poetry and the Tradition, Oxford, 1963
2. Williams, Helen : T.S. Eliot : The Waste Land, Cambridge, 1967
3. Haldar, Santwana : T.S. Eliot : A Twenty-first Century View Atlantic
Publishers, 2005.

Arun Kolatkar

‘Kala ghoda Poems’

6.0 Objectives
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Subject Matter
6.2.1 Structure of Kala Ghoda Poems
6.2.2 Meera
6.2.3 Breakfast Time at Kala Ghoda
6.2.4 Kala Ghoda Poems: General Observations
6.3 Keys to check your progress
6.4 Terms to Remember
6.5 Exercise
6.6 Reference for further Reading

6.0 Objectives
The unit acquaints you with:
 the biographical details of Arun Kolatkar
 Arun Kolatkar’s literary career
 the structure of Kaka Ghoda Poems
 Arun Kolatkar’s major concerns as manifested in Kala Ghoda Poems
 imagery in Kala Ghoda Poems
 ironic tone in Kala Ghoda Poems and
 the language in Kala Ghoda Poems

6.1 Introduction to Poet
A) Arun Kolatkar’s biographical details
Arun Kolatkar is widely considered as one of the important Indian poets. He is a
bilingual poet who inherits both, the Indian and the western poetic traditions. He
writes in Marathi and English. He was born in 1931 in Kolhapur. He took the
primary education in Modern High School, now known as Branch Rajaram High
School, Kolhapur. After completion of the matriculation from Bombay University in
1947, he was enrolled at Vadangekar Art School, Kolhapur. He was interested in
drawing sketches. In 1949 he was admitted to J. J. School of Art, Mumbai which he
left midway, and joined a school in Pune as an art teacher. To earn money, he did
varieties of jobs from painting wooden toys to the assistant artist. In 1957, he
returned to Bombay and completed his diploma at J. J. School of Art where he stood
first. Then onwards he joined the advertising world as an artist. His career in the
advertising field as a visualizer and designer helped him to develop a totally different
perspective in the art of poetry. In 1968, he joined Kersy Katrak’s advertising
agency, Mass Communication and Marketing (M.C.M.), which is supposed to have
revolutionised the Indian advertising world. At MCM, like Kersy Katrak, who also
was a poet, Kolatkar met and befriended Kiran Nagarkar, a well known Indian
English novelist. In 1987, Kolatkar joined Lintas Advertising Agency and worked
with it up to 2003. During all these years, along with reading extensively from
various literary traditions, Kolatkar was actively engaged in writing poetry
consistently. He died on 25 September 2004 due to stomach cancer.
B) Arun Kolatkar’s literary career
Arun Kolatkar’s literary career as a poet started in the decades of the 50s. It is a
period where Kolatkar’s poetry at one level shows the impact of the works of the
Indian saint poets and at another level, exhibits the use of the techniques that have
been evolved through European Modernism. Different poetic forms, new ways of
poetry writing were introduced through a movement called avant-garde. The features
of the European modernism are predominantly present in the various writers and the
literary forms of the age. The sense of modernism is apparent in the movement of
avant-garde. The avant-garde movement celebrated the spirit of rebellion. It resulted
in violating the accepted conventions and practices in art as well as social discourse.
It had set out to create new artistic forms and styles. The avant-garde, in return, then

provided a spirit of revolution and freedom that was the most suitable to the
temperament of the artists of the 50s and 60s in India. Under its impact, many Indian
poets started experimenting with poetic form.
Arun Kolatkar, from the beginning of his career, shares such a dual poetic
heritage. His poetry exemplifies the avant-garde sensibility. It manifests the use of
free verse, made popular by the modern poets like Eliot and Pound. His poetry shows
the experimentation with different poetic forms that resulted in his handling of
Concrete poetry or Surrealistic poetry.
The Concrete poetry or ‘Visual’ poetry is a form of poem which is based on the
typographical arrangement of words. It sees the poem as the ‘concrete’ object and
presents on the page, the arrangement of the letters to suit the content of the poem.
Kolatkar’s “boatride” is an example of such kind of poetry.
In a surreal poem, the poet deviates from the conventional logical poetic
structure and brings out the juxtaposition of irrational elements. The unusual images
are brought into the context of the poem that blurs the lines of fact and fantasy.
Kolatkar makes an extensive use of such surreal elements in his poems where an
inanimate world of objects becomes alive and demands the cognizance by the
In short, Kolatkar’s impersonal point of view, ironic tone and minute details of a
graphic artist have provided his poetry the unique way of expression.
Kolatkar’s Marathi poems are published in the works namely, Arun
Kolatkarchya Kavita (1977), Chirimiri (2003), Bhijki Vahi (2003), Droan (2004),
and Arun Kolatkarchya Char Kavita. Kolatkar’s works in English include Jejuri
(1977), Sarpa Satra (2004), and Kala Ghoda Poems (2004). He had been awarded
the Commonwealth Poetry prize for Jejuri in 1977. Similarly, he was conferred with
the Kusumagraj award in 1994, the Bahinabai Chaudhari Kavya Puraskar in 1995
and the Bank of India Excellence Award for literature in 1999. He participated in
various poetry events held at different places in different nations. His Jejuri is
translated into German language. Kolatkar’s English translations of Tukaram,
Namdeo, Janabai and Eknath reveal his roots connected to the Indian heritage of
poetry which is assimilated in his distinct way of writing poetry.

 Check your progress-1
1. Name the literary influences present in Kolatkar’s poetry.
2. What is meant by Concrete poetry?
3. What is meant by a Surreal poem?

6.2 Subject Matter

6.2.1 Structure of Kala Ghoda Poems
Kala Ghoda is a famous city square in Mumbai with which Kolatkar was
associated almost for thirty years. During his busy schedule in the advertising
agency, Kolatkar used to visit Wayside Inn in Rampart Row. It was his routine to be
in this restaurant around the breakfast time and also in the late afternoons from where
he could view the hustle-bustle of the city life. It was the same place where on
several Thursday afternoons Kolatkar shared his time with some of his friends. The
whole world around this locale with all its intricacies appears on the canvass of Kala
Ghoda Poems. Somewhere in the early 1980s, Kolatkar conceptualized the idea of
writing a sequence of poems on the street-life of the Kala Ghoda square. While
appreciating Kolatkar’s artistic recreation of the Kala Ghoda square and the
environment surrounded by it, A. K. Mehrotra rightly argues,” [Kala Ghoda Poems]
gave a picture of Kala Ghoda so complete that if it one day suddenly disappear from
the earth, it can be reconstructed out of [his] book”.
Published in 2004 by Pras Prakashan, Mumbai, Kala Ghoda Poems includes the
sequence of 28 poems. Based on the street-life of Mumbai, the poems encompass
varied persona of the city, the birds, animals, old and new constructions, and the
cosmopolitan world which projects the metro life throbbing every second.
Many of the poems in Kala Ghoda Poems appear in sections. Through these
various sections gradually evolve a kaleidoscopic world of numerous characters and
events. Kolatkar’s technique of division of a poem into sections exhibits a typical
modernistic style of presentation where a concrete world emerges through its
The poems generally present a very compact structure that marks the exactness
of line numbers. Many of the poems in the collection form a two lined or three lined
stanza with a very few punctuation marks. Written in a free verse form, every stanza
appears a self-content expression. See, for instance, the following lines from the
poem, “Parameshwari”:
The faint but unmistakable smell
of cheap tobacco in the air
betrays the presence of Parameshwari,
the pipe-smoking mama,
the old lavatory attendant
sitting all by herself (p. 25)
It is interesting to observe that the characters emerge through these poems are the
marginalized voices. These are the downtrodden individuals who are striving hard
their life’s battle. These are the individuals who have no sense of past, nor do they
aspire for future. They live essentially in the moments of present which is the only
reality for them. Kolatkar captures in his poetic vision the temporality of the time and
the everlasting faith in present. Obviously, the narration in the poem extensively uses
the present tense. Similarly, Kolatkar exhibits his graphic artist’s eye and catches the
ordinary qualities of common objects in the most enchanting way. For instance, see
the lines from the poem, “Knucklebones” where a woman is playing with the
pebbles, throwing them up, and catching them swiftly as they came down:
You pick up the North star and toss it up.
sweep up the remaining six off the ground
in the time it takes-no more than a sec
for it to come down like a falling star
in the hollow of your hand with a click,
to meet its mates already nestling there. (p. 68)
 Check your progress-2
Answer in one word/Phrase/sentence only.
1. How many poems are there in Kala Ghoda Poems?
2. What is Kala Ghoda famous for?
3. What is the general stanza structure of Kala Ghoda Poems?
4. Whose world Kolatkar depicts in Kala Ghoda Poems?

Introduction to text :
So far we have discussed Arun Kolatkar’s biographical details and his literary
career. Similarly, we have talked about the structure of Kala Ghoda Poems. Let’s
now discuss some of the representative poems from this collection.
 “Pi-dog”
A) Introduction
The poem is divided into nine sections. It presents the early period of the
morning at Kala Ghoda square. In its autobiographical mode, the dog, the narrator of
the poem depicts the picture of the Kala Ghoda square. He is a pariah dog that “lies
down at the exact centre of the traffic island” in the early morning who sees himself
as “the only sign of intelligent life on the planet” at this hour of time. Living among
the human beings he has adopted human ways of speaking and thinking. He is a dog
that is proud of his royal ancestry. He traces the genecology of his race and relates
himself maternally,
to the only bitch that proved
tough enough to have survived
imported all the way from England (p. 17)
whereas paternally he is linked to the family of the royal dog that followed
Yudhishtira on his last journey. He even boasts the fact that “his ancestor became the
only dog / to have made it to heaven /in recorded history”.
He exemplifies his intelligence by offering the linguistic explanation of his
name and the associations of his name. He recites Gayatri mantra to amplify the
powers of his mind. The dog exhibits his artistic sensibility by saying that he is
involved in composing his magnum opus a ‘triple sonata’. Even he has a good
knowledge of history that he exhibits when he gives the account of the changing
phases of Mumbai. He knows literature, tribal history and several other subjects that
he manifests in his monologue. However, he also has a very practical knowledge that
when the day breaks in its daily routine, he has to wind up his idle moments of the
morning hours and must “surrender the city to its so-called masters”.

B) Theme
The poem criticizes modern man’s pedantic boastfulness through the depiction
of a pi-dog. Through the metaphorical representation of a pariah dog Kolatkar
exposes the hypocrisy of the so-called white collar man. Pi-dog’s attempts to relate
himself to the royal ancestry, Rig Vedic tradition reveal his snobbish pseudo-
intellectuality. He is indulged in his own world of art and literature, in his love for
playing with the words when surrounded world of human beings is striving hard to
manage their livings. To exhibit his learnedness the pi-dog cites ample references
widely ranging from mythology, history, music, literature or religious texts. For
instance, when he tells his name, he says:
I answer to the name of ugh
not the exclamation of disgust;

but the U pronounced as in Upanishad

and gh not silent
but as in ghost, ghoul or gherkin.

It’s short for Ughekalikadu

famous dog I was named after (p. 20)
Thus, through the pomposity of the dog, Kolatkar criticises the hollowness of the
modern man. In the cosmopolitan environment, the modern man who has lost the
meaning of his existence makes futile attempts of filling up this vacuum with
intellectual snobbery. In a typical Kolatkar tone, the poem ironically comments on
the hollowness of the human existence in the metropolitan world.
C) Imagery
Varieties of images associated with the metropolitan world appear in the poem
“Pi-dog”. For example, in the section 1 of the poem, there is an image of ‘the traffic-
island’ and ‘a coral for cars’. Even the image from the nature world in the section 8
has a cosmopolitan touch in its depiction. The mahogany tree and falling of its leaves
is described as “an inexperienced thief / drops stolen jewels / at the sight of a cop”.
Through images such as – ‘St. Anderws Church’ which ‘tiptoes back to its place’, a
‘leggy young girl’ with violin case in hand going for the music class, trees which
arrive at themselves to give an account of its leaves, etc. - emerge the morning time
of Mumbai. All these images project the pi-dog as an extended image of the modern
man living in the metropolitan world.
D) Ironic tone
Kolatkar presents modern man and his snobbish behaviour through the figure of
a pi-dog essentially, in an ironic tone. In a mocking way he presents the dog as a
wise, learned, versatile figure who is a connoisseur of art. He is an artist who at the
undisturbed time of the morning desires to compose a sonata based on three distinct
one suggested by a magpie robin,
another by the wail of an ambulance,
and the third by a rockdrill (p. 22)
The dog exhibits his wit where he cuts jokes or uses short forms of words and has
sharp senses to grasp the world around. In a very humorous way, Kolatkar exhibits
the figure of a wise dog who prays God, who knows syllables, metre and number of
verses in the Rig Veda, who knows the story of Yudhishthira from the Mahabharata
and so on.
 Check your progress-3

Answer the following questions in one or two sentences.

1. In what way does the pi-dog trace his genealogy?
2. What is the name of the pi-dog?
3. What is the tone of the poem?
4. Which god does the pi-dog pray to?
5. What time of the day is described in the poem?
3.2.2 “Meera”
A) Introduction
The poem” Meera” gives an account of a street-sweeper, who cleans the
Mumbai city in the early morning hours. As a member of municipal street-cleaning
team, she collects the garbage around Jahangir Art Gallery. She is called “our Lady
of Dead Flowers”. With her swift broomstick that is made up of coconut frond, she
collects the piles of rubbish into the rickety trolleys that the narrator thinks have been
imported from the foreign land, with the noble mission of cleaning this city. When
all the rubbish is cleaned together in the trolley, “she climbs to the top / and begins to
dance within the narrow compass / of the wicker bin”. As a skilled dancer she bears
down on the load of rubbish, treads on it and with her cracked heels tramples it to
sink deeper in the trolley.
B) Theme
You can see that through this poem the poet deconstructs the image of Meera.
Meera is a legendary figure in the Indian tradition. She was a saint poet. She was a
princess and known for her love and devotion for Lord Krishna. However, Kolatkar’s
Meera intersects the conventional image of Meera. She is a sweeper who carries in
her hand the broomstick and is engaged in the daily work of sweeping. She is a very
common woman who is surrounded by marelial swamps, salt marshes, dry leaves,
melon rinds, breadcrumbs and eggshells. She sees no god present before her but
confronts with the trolleys full of garbage. If saint Meera was an artist who wrote
several devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna, Meera in the present poem also is
an artist. Seen by none in the early hours of the day, she displays her art. Of course,
her art is not exhibited in the Jahangir Art Gallery, but outside it. Everyday, she
presents “a fresh new series of installations” in the form of the modest piles of
rubbish, consisting of dry leaves, scraps of paper, prawn shells, onion skins, potato
peels, dead flowers etc. Kolatkar thinks that it can be titled as, “Homage to Bombay,
one”, “Homage to Bombay, two”, and so on. As she clears the collected piles of
debris her art disappears within moments. Kolatkar feels that this is essentially the
celebration of the impermanence of all art. In her frenzied devotion, she worships her
god of work and as Kolatkar states it:
begins to dance
within the narrow compass
of the wicker bin

like a Meera before her Lord

a Meera
with a broomstick for a lute

to genuflect and offer
to all the cardinal points (p. 32)
Thus, Meera, contrary to the ancient princess represents a common woman of
modern time who is busy in her daily work.
C) Images
The images of the metropolitan world are abundantly used in the poems of this
collection. The present poem also reveals the metropolitan sensibility through a
variety of images. For instance, the boredom of this world is depicted through the
following image of ‘the coconut frond’:
A footloose coconut frond
a dropout
bored with life at the top

with nothing to do up there

except twiddle
its three hundred fingers

all day long and through the night,

or tickle the moon
now and then (p. 26)
The act of sweeping is presented in a series of images through which emerges the of
‘broomstick’ that appears as a great performing artist. As an energetic dancer it:
circles around her,
vaults over her from side to side
stops when she stops

it lunges and takes sidesweeps

at erant scraps of paper
chases the riffraff of dry leaves off the road. (p. 27)

Even the trolleys that collect the garbage are described by the poet as a child’s
drawing done in black crayon. These trolleys dream hoof-friendly roads of
Mayhew’s London and shudder at the noises they make. Through the images of
‘broomstick’, ‘garbage trolleys’ and ‘the street-sweeper’ Kolatkar, depicts the dirty
and squalor world of Mumbai city where piles of rubbish overflow and the place
turns into a malarial swamp.
D) Ironic Tone
Irony is a tool that Kolatkar uses to bring out the contrast and discrepancy
between the two sides of life. He presents the darker side of life in his mocking,
ironic tone. He comments on the hypocrisy of the art and artist as well as those art
critics that enjoy more the materialistic world than the art. In the following lines he
communicates their ignominy:
when most art critics are still in bed,
sleeping off
the effects of last night’s free drinks,

A fresh new series of installations

goes on display
in front of the Jehangir Art Gallery

in the form of modest piles of rubbish (p. 28)
Very ironically, he also points out the encroachment of the world of nature by the
dirt of the city:
more and more of Bombay
keeps mushrooming
on land wrested from the sea


with the result, that

the more you clean Bombay
the more Bombay there is to clean. (p. 31)
M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…12
By providing these details ironically, Kolatkar thus, deconstructs the image of
ancient Meera in the contemporary context.
 Check your progress-4
1. What name does the poet suggest for Meera’s art?
2. Where does Meera display her art?
3. With what name Meera is addressed in the poem?
4. What kind of broomstick Meera prefers to use?

6.2.3 “Breakfast Time at Kala Ghoda”

A) Introduction
This poem reveals Kolatkar’s great skill of presenting human life with his
artistic perception that includes his graphic artist’s vision at its best. In a finely
woven series of 31 short poems Kolatkar depicts the breakfast time at the Kala
Ghoda square. Yet, it is interesting to note that, though Kolatkar’s poem deals with
the locale of the Kala Ghoda square, it does not confine to this specific location. In
real sense, it encompasses the wider canvass and Kolatkar contemplates about the
marginalized populace in the global context.
In the morning period, there arrives a woman with jumbo aluminium box that
contains idlis and a bucket full of sambhar. The narrator calls her Annapurana. At her
arrival, the whole square comes into life. Everyone around the square gravitates
towards this place to receive the sacrament of idlis. “Each and every hungry and
homeless soul” gathers there to celebrate anew, every morning, the seduction and
death of the demon of hunger at the hands of Gauri in the form of a humble idli. Both
human and the animal world partake in this sacrament and when Annapurana leaves
the place the whole charm of a place disappears as a castle in a fantasy tale. The
island, the poet says returns to its flat, old boring self.
B) Theme
In the intersecting point of time and space, Kolatkar portrays host of individuals
that live in different places though in a same moment of time. Each one’s life brings
out its intricacies and like a painter’s brush work, Kolatkar presents them with fine

strokes. With brilliant sense of time and space, Kolatkar relates lives from the
different spheres of the world. The recreation of these moments and places exhales
the sorrows, sufferings and several other nuances of human lives through various
figures. For instance, read the following lines where Kolatkar juxtaposes different
places of different nations at the precise time of breakfast at the Kala Ghoda square:
I think it’s tonight already
in Tokyo,
where they’ve busy polishing off
sliced rawfish,
sushi balls and tofu with soy sauce
In a restaurant in Seoul,
a dog is slowly being strangled
before it’s thrown into a cooking pot (p. 80)
In a series of short poems that follows, Kolatkar depicts the cooking of different
dishes in America, Texas, Peru, Alaska or Olympia.
However, very wittily, Kolatkar bring out the other dimensions of human life
that are reflected in this moment of time. Kolatkar imagines that somewhere in
Baniocha, near Warsaw, the ninety years old woman, Leja, dreams of her childhood.
She recollects in her dream:
The streets of Kora Kalvaria
where she grew up.
The sky is full of angle in dive bombers. (p. 82)
The night reminds her horrible sense of bomb explosion and the exploitation of Jews
that makes her aware that she is the only Jew left in this place.
It is also a time where fifteen year old Nagamma, a Gola woman, gives birth to a
baby. She herself cuts the birth string as all mothers in their tribe do, and crawls in
the direction of two idlis placed on a Jackfruit leaf. She intends to turn these idlis into
milk – “a miracle / she alone / can perform”.
Kolatkar criticizes the prison world and the futile attempts of educating the
prisoners by describing the breakfast time at Byculla jail. He states that if in India at
this very moment of time, some are getting puri-bhaji at Kailash Parbat, upama at
Swagat [hotel], shira at Anand Vihar and fried eggs and bacon at Wayside Inn,

prisoners or suspects get kanji in the jail. After that they are herded together an hour
of force-fed education and are made to listen to a one-page biography of Jawaharlal
Through the depiction of various places, in a particular moment of time in India
Kolatkar comments on the social system and the deterioration of the human world.
He perceives that, in India, this is also the time, not only of breakfast but of that
event, where
thirteen high-caste Hindus
are forcing four dalits to eat
human excreta

which is to say
right now,

for letting their cattle graze

in the jowar fields
of an upper-caste landlord, say

if not for
some other
reason. (p. 85)
Thus, it can be seen that, through the depiction of all these events, Kolatkar, in a
kaleidoscopic vision exhibits the lives of the multitude trapped in their fatal lives,
captive of time, irrespective of their nation or place. The sorrows of the oppressed,
marginalized multitude, is the major concern reflected in this poem. The multitude,
that includes the blind man, paralytic pirate, shoeshine boy, rat-poison man and all
such unnoticed human beings, each, carrying his / her own fate in this captured
moment of time. All of them, in spite of their sorrows, manage to take pleasure in the
temporality of time which illustrates their unshaken faith in the present-ness of the
time. Kolatkar brings out the contrast of the two worlds of these people through this

C) Imagery
In Kolatkar’s poems images always appear in a distinct way. The inanimate
world is made alive and as in surreal world this world asserts its presence, by
involving in the action. It may be a coconut frond and trolleys in “Meera” or trees,
square or blocks in pi-dog; these inanimate objects come to life in the hands of
Kolatkar. Here, in this poem also, we see examples of such imagery treated by
Kolatkar. He describes the idlis as
a landslide of fullmoons
past each other (p. 95)
Idlis, in the aluminium box, like the people in Mumbai trains, buses are suffocated of
each others’ presence. The crowdedness of this city thus, is described very wittily
through the images of ‘idlis’:
Idlis pair off
extricate themselves
from the promiscuous heap
lie gasping
belly to belly
or hump each other
only to be swamped
by tidal waves
of sambhar. (p. 103)
He presents the image of ‘a jumbo aluminium box’ on the head of the woman as a
‘lying infant Krishna, roly-poly and rocking gently on a bed of almond leaves’. The
mad woman in the poem appears as the laughing Buddha, that narrator says has born
again in a ‘turnip-headed woman’s body’. She, he thinks is “a benevolent blubber
mostly; / who never gets / involved in an argument with sari”.
Through such images, the world of Kala Ghoda square emerges in an
enchanting way. Herein lies the greatness of Kolatkar’s art.

D) Ironic Tone
The poem shows Kolatkar’s subtle ironic tone present in the depiction of the
characters involved in a particular moment of time. Let us see some examples of
such irony. Kolatkar comments on the upper - lower caste rift in Indian social
system. In a subtle ironic tone he points out the humiliation of the lower caste people
by the Hindu upper caste ones for one or the other reason. If they find no particular
cause to insult them, then it is for letting their cattle graze on Jowar fields of an upper
caste landlord, say:
if not for
some other
reason. (p. 85)
The poverty, hunger and backwardness of human being is ironically mentioned in the
event where woman cuts the birth string and converts the idlis into milk which
Kolatkar calls a ‘miracle’ only a mother can perform.
The materialism of Mumbai city, where each place is grabbed by consumerism
is communicated in an instance where narrator says:
Boy, am I glad they’ve left
at least
this one tiny traffic island alone;
haven’t landscaped it to death,
put a fence around it,
and slapped logos all over it. (p. 108)
All these instances reveal Kolatkar’s ironic tone used to communicate the harsh
realities of life.
 Check your progress-5
Q. 1 Fill in the blanks with appropriate words.
1. Idli selling woman is called ….. by the poet.
2. Mad woman is described as ….. .
3. Leja dreams of her ….. life.
4. ….. people are humiliated for grazing their cattle.

5. Idlis are compared with ….. .
6. Breakfast of ….. is served at Wayside Inn.
7. Prisoners in the Byculla jail are forced to listen to ….. biography.

6.2.4 Kala Ghoda Poems: General observations

In the preceding section, we discussed three representative poems from this
collection. With the help of this discussion we can make the following observations
on Kala Ghoda Poems.
 Themes
In the poems discussed earlier, we find that Kolatkar deals with the metropolitan
world of Bombay, specially, the lives of the people surrounding the Kala Ghoda
square. He delineates the white collar’s pomposity, in contrast to the world of
downtrodden, common people. They live unnoticed, marginalized world. Kolatkar
also points out the various other social issues faced by the common people in this
modern world. The dirt and filth of Mumbai city that he talks about in “Meera” is
also described in an intense ironic tone in the other poems like “Song of Rubbish” or
“A Note on the Reproductive Cycle of Rubbish”. If at one side the city is proud of its
shining aspect, at another side city makes the piles of rubbish outcast in the
‘wilderness of a landfill’. Through the character of a drunken man in the poem, “The
Shit Sermon”, Kolatkar points out the dirt of the city. The man in a drunken state
calls this city a “big high-rise shit”, waiting for God / to pull the flush. In another
poem “David Sassoon” the city is mentioned as a sick city that is pissing silver,
shitting gold and choking on its vomit.
Kolatkar presents the changing phases of Mumbai city through the various
poems of this collection. The city of seven islands has witnessed the years of
transition. It has seen how the Prince Wales Museum has grown like a monster
bubble or how gaslights have given way to tiresome lady Electricity, where horse
drawn trams have been replaced by a plaque of choking motor cars. The
overcrowded city is now growing fast by wresting the sea and it has become merely a
cement-eating, blood-guzzling city without a soul.
The lives of these people in this overpopulated, overcrowded, filthy Mumbai are
deprived of basic necessities of human life. The poverty of these people surrounds

the whole square. People are starved and famished. In these poems the poet depicts
such figures. He presents before us one fisherwoman who is no more than just ‘an
armload of bones grown weightless over the years’. Or there is a rope-dancing man
who is ‘just an outline’. Even the moth-eaten kitten is so famished that it can barely
stand on its feet.
Besides, in a poem “Man of the Year” Kolatkar very aptly brings out the
degradation of this modern world at all frontiers of life. In his typical style, with
subtle irony he points out the events of the passing year. The year it is said was
unremarkable, all in all. Nothing much happened to remember in this year except
“Himalayas rose by another inch”, “fewer flamingos came to Kutch”, “the hole in the
ozone layer widened” and “the earth became poorer by two thousand seven hundred
plant species”. Through a series of such events the speaker indicates the destruction
of the nature world for which man is responsible.
Thus, through all these poems, very explicitly Kolatkar brings out the social
world of the metropolis. In them he speaks of those common men otherwise easily
neglected by the society. Their ways of living, their moments of grief and happiness,
their pleasures in trivial things and the easy ways of lives are all captured
comprehensively by Kolatkar.
 Imagery
The images in these poems communicate the metropolitan sensibility. In
Kolatkar’s poetic art, his treatment to the images always amuses the readers. His
images evolve through the minute delineation of the concrete objects that he sees in a
totally new context. By providing new set of connotation to the daily, routine objects,
his-poetry manifests the distinct images and their use in the poems. For instance, read
the following lines where the image of a ‘banyan tree’ emerges in a new set of
associations that at once captures the routine cutting of its branches and
communicates encroachment of nature by human world.
That grand old banyan tree
Which has started looking youthful
With unhappy results
Ever since the merry
Municipal axe men
Went on one of their periodic sprees
Yesterday and (sacrilege)
Hacked its yahwist beard
And wild hair:
Kolatkar’s imagination destructs and reconstructs the objects around and puts forth a
totally new world of these objects to the readers. His image of ‘watermelons’ as
‘frightened fellow-menons’, dreaming of blood, sweat and syrup or the image of ‘the
potato peelers’ that hunch over potatoes rotating slowly in their hands , ‘whose dark
side of mind is faintly visible’ and ‘whose thoughts are always unspoken’,
communicate very directly the existence of common man under the burden of some
fear of tention. Throughout the poems this crowded, faceless, dirty, famished world
of people living the oppressed and neglected lives is made alive. Through the images
of ‘ogress’, ‘bicycle tyre’, ‘idlis’, ‘lepers’, ‘crows’ ‘rats’, ‘pinwheel boy’, ‘charas
pills’ and others, Kolatkar’s conscious art depicts the reality of their lives into the
very apt images. The image of the ‘Kala Ghoda’ talks of Bombay of the past where
as ‘the square’ that has crowed communicates the transition of Bombay From years
into a corrupt, detoriated metropolis world. These images at one level bring the
contrast of the two worlds Bombay lives in and at another level complement each
other to provide the representative picture of ‘New’ India where many major cities
are turning into metropolitan places. Kolatkar in very precise and exact images
recreates the world of Modern India. His concern, however, for the objective
presentation of the world around always results in a conscious ironic depiction of this
 Ironic vision of Kolatkar
From the beginning of his career, Kolatkar’s art presents the sceptical, ironic
attitude towards the world. In a witty, comic manner, Kolatkar exposes the harsh
reality of the world. His poetry, yet, never results in a serious note, though it does
talk seriously about the serious issues. The poems of this collection also reveal the
same poetic technique. Basically, the poems appear in a narrative form by achieving
the dramatic effects. This narration brings out the wide gap between the real and the
unreal for which Kolatkar uses ironic tone. Due to such ironic treatment to the
subject, the poems succeed in avoiding the sentimental projection of the facts. It is a
success of Kolatkar that even though he comments on the several social issues very
explicitly and in a direct manner, his poetry hardly becomes sentimental in its mode
of presentation. There is never a place for the melodramatic exhibition of emotions,
though the poems reveal the dramatic elements in the depiction of several personas
or even the inanimate objects. Naturally, Kolatkar has concern for these socially
outcastes, the unheard voices. His treatment to them is never subjective or
sentimental. Instead, Kolatkar’ ‘escapes’ from such kind of emotionalism. His irony
does not allow him to give the account of suffering and troubles of the unprivileged
society in a pathetic way. We find that Kolatkar’s poetry never exhales the pathos but
manifests the clever, alert and accurate observation of man who is at ones insider and
outsider to the world he presents. For instance, in a poem” Bon Appetit” he as an
observer of the street- life at the Kala Ghoda square, wishes a ‘ bon appétit to the
frail, old fisherwoman, whom he describes in a very detached manner. He brings out
her poverty and her helplessness to work even in her old age. In the same role, he
identifies himself with her where the scene of her breakfast makes him realize the
taste of her saliva in his mouth; the identification that borders at the representation of
man’s hunger and utter helplessness. And yet we can perceive that Kolatkar succeds
in keeping his observer’s role intact.
Thus, through the ironic tone, Kolatkar brings out the degraded metropolitan
world with its darker side of reality.

6.3 Keys to check your progress:

1. 1. Tradition of Indian saint poetry and the Western poetic tradition.
2. Typographical arrangement of the words in a poem suitable to the content.
3. Where the surreal imagery juxtaposes the irrational elements and objects
from the world of the subconscious.
2. 1. 28 poems.
2. Famous city square in Mumbai.
3. Three lined or two lined.
4. Marginalised world of the unheard voices.
3. 1. Matri.
2. Ughekalikadu.
3. Ironic.

4. Sun.
5. Early morning period.
4. 1. Homage to Bombay 1, 2.
2. In front of Jehangir Art Gallery.
3. “Our Lady of Dead Flowers”.
4. Broomstick made of coconut frond.
5. 1. Annapurna
2. Laughing Buddha
3. Childhood
4. Low caste
5. Sliding moon
6. Fried eggs and bacon
7. Jawaharlal Nehru’s

6.4 Terms to remember

 Surrealism (Super Realism): it is an artistic movement that was launched in
France in the early decades of the 20th century, with the publication of
“Manifesto of Surrealism, “written by Andre Breton. The main objective of this
movement was to revolt against the rules and regulations compelled on the
imagination of the artist by the conventional means of writing. The movement
emphasized the freedom of creation and imagination. It considered the role of
subconscious world important in the creation of any art. In poetry, it rejected
conventional modes of artistic organization, such as rhyme, metre, and proposed
experimentation with syntax. In this attempt, it emphasized the juxtaposition of
seemingly unrelated images and objects. The dream world, childhood world and
the world of fantasy was regarded the true world that a poet should depict
without any control of conscious world over it.
 Modernism: The term modernism refers historically to the period of late 19th
century and the early decades of the 20th century of Europe. It involves a modern
attitude towards the traditional modes of social organization, religion, art and
culture. Modernism as a sensibility reflects the conscious revolt against the
traditional conception of the world, culture, art and human being too. In case of
literature, it brought a change in the depiction of human world in the novel,
organizational patterns of poetry and in the presentation of drama on the stage.
These new forms of construction in poetry, novel and play violated the
conventional modes and popularized free verse, concrete form of surreal
elements in poetry, stream of consciousness techniques in narrative and
expressionist, epic theatre in drama. In poetry, ironic depiction with wit became
a major mode of communication, in the poetry of T. S. Eliot. The foremost
practitioners of modernism in Europe were Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James
Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. In India, in the decades of the 1940s, the modernism
as a movement was spreading widely. We find its appearance in regional and
English literature of the time. Raja Rao, Nissim Ezekiel, Vijay Tendulkar, B. C.
Mardhekar and others associated themselves with the modernist movement of
 avant-garde: It is a prominent Feature of Modernism. Avant-garde (military
metaphor for “advance-guard”) as a representative movement of modernism
tried to bring a newness in art by discarding the accepted ways of art, social
discourse and the traditional outlook.

6.5 Exercises
A) Short answers type questions.
1. Discuss Kala Ghoda Poems as a criticism of the metropolitan world of
2. Explain the Major themes handled by Kolatkar in Kala Ghoda Poems.
3. Comment on Kolatkar’s objective perception of reality as reflected in Kala
Ghoda Poems.
B) Write short notes on the following.
1. Depiction of the figure of pi-dog in Kala Ghoda Poems.
2. Kolatkar’s ironic vision in Kala Ghoda poems.
3. Images in Kala Ghoda Poems.

6.6 References for further reading
King, Bruce. (2001). Modern Indian Poetry in English: Revised Edition. New Delhi:
Oxford University Press.
-----. “Asia and the Pacific review of Sarpa Satra and Kala Ghoda Poems”. World
Literature Today. Vol. 79, No. 3 – 4, Sept. – Dec. 2005.
Mehrotra, A. K. (2009). Arun Kolatkar: The Boatride and Other Poems. Mumbai:
Pras Prakashan.
Sarang, Vilas. (n.d.). Arun Kolatkaranchi Bilori Kavita. Aurangabad: Chakshu
De Souza, Eunice. (1999). Talking Poems: Conversations with Poets. New Delhi:
Oxford University Press.

Unit - 7
Derek Walcott

i. ‘A City’s Death by Fire’

ii. ‘The Yellow Cemetery’
iii. ‘The Midsummer-LIV’
iv. ‘The Season of Phantasmal Peace’
v. ‘Elsewhere’
vi. ‘The Hotel Normandie Pool’
7.0 Objectives
7.1 Introduction to the poet and his literary career.
7.2 Walcott’s Poetry: The Text and the critical commentary.
7.2.1 A City’s Death by Fire
7.2.2 The Midsummer-LIV
7.2.3 The Season of Phantasmal Peace
7.2.4 Elsewhere
7.2.5 The Hotel Normandie Pool
7.3 Summary
7.4 Keys to check your progress
7.5 Exercises
7.6 References for further reading

7.0 Objectives:
After reading this unit you will be :
 familiar with the life and letters of Derek Walcott, the Nobel Prize
winning Caribbean Poet and dramatist,
 able to understand Walcott’s post-colonial experience as a poet,
 able to understand Walcott’s double heritage -- Caribbean and European –
reflected in his poetry,
 familiar with the themes and issues such as poverty, racial and social
problems reflected in Walcott’s poetry.

7.1 Introduction: Derek Walcott:

Derek Walcott was born in 1930, in the town of Castrites, St. Lucia (West
Indies). Walcott was of mixed blood, of Black, Dutch and English descent. Both his
grandmothers were said to have been the descendants of slaves. His father, a
Bohemian water-colourist, died when Derek and his twin brother, Roderick, were
only a few years old. His mother ran the town’s Methodist School. After studying at
St. Mary’s College in his native island, and at the University of the West Indies in
Jamaica, Walcott moved in 1953 to Trinidad, where he worked as theatre and art
critic. At the age of eighteen, he made his debut with 25 poems, In a Green Night
(1962). In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop which produced many
of his early plays. He was a teacher and a journalist. He taught at the Universities of
Colombia, Yale and Harvard. He has also been a Professor of English at Boston
University, teaching writing courses in poetry and drama. While in the West Indies,
he used to contribute to The Sunday Guardian, Trinidad, as an art critic. In 1957, he
was awarded a fellowship by the Rockfeller Foundation to study the American
Theatre. This brought him to New York.
His Literary Career:
Walcott began writing poetry at an early age. He published his first poem in the
local newspaper at the age of 14. Five years later, he borrowed $200 to print his first
collection of 25 poems, which he distributed on street corners. Walcott’s major
breakthrough came with the collection In A Green Night : poems of 1948-1960,

published in 1962, a book which celebrates the Caribbean and its history as well as
investigates the scars of post-colonialism. His early poetry celebrates the Caribbean
landscapes, their natural beauty and the life in the Caribbean. The poems that
appeared in his Selected Poems (1960), The Castaway (1965) and The Gulf (1969),
are full of lush descriptions of nature. In these poems, he expresses his feelings of
isolation. He is caught between his European cultural orientation and the black folk
culture of his native Caribbean region. Even in his early poetry, he showed his
impressive command of the magic of language, and a novel point of view. Many of
his poems reflect his double heritage: awareness of his African background mixed
with his familiarity with English civilization and culture, which he received as a part
of his education. This awareness often brought him a sense of isolation, which we
find expressed in his poetry. The collection of his poems, Another Life (1973),
contains a number of such poems in which he tries to come to terms with this mixed
heritage. The poems in the collections, Sea Grapes (1976) and The Star-Apple
Kingdom (1979), he examines deep cultural divisions of language and race in the
Caribbean society. The poems in The Fortunate Traveler (1980) and Midsummer
(1984) relate his own situation as a black writer in America, who has become
increasingly estranged from his homeland. In most of his poetry, he appears to be
preoccupied with poverty, racial and social problems. But this does not make him a
local or provincial poet, because his poetry has depth and complexity, which lift him
up to the universal level. Walcott, as a Caribbean poet, is able to look at the West
Indies simultaneously from inside (as the native of the land), and from outside (as a
tourist). Since he belongs to St. Lucia, in the West Indies, he often uses in his poetry
words and expressions from the Creole dialect of the West Indies. As Walcott is
well-read in English poetry, his poetry shows the influence of the English poets such
as W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Dylan Thomas.
He was awarded Nobel Prize in 1992. The Nobel Committee depicted his work
as ‘a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by historical vision, the outcome of
a multicultural commitment.’ As already stated, his poetical work reflects the
Western canon and island influences. He sometimes addresses his West Indian
readers in the Caribbean Creole and sometimes shifts to the universal English
audience. According to Los Angeles Times Book reviewer, Arthur Vovelsang,
‘These continuing polarities shoot an electricity to each other which is questioning
and beautiful and which helps to form a vision altogether Caribbean and

international, personal (him to you, you to him), independent, and essential for
readers of contemporary literature on all continents.’ Another poet and critic, Sean
O’Brien comments that Walcott is ‘one of the handfuls of poets currently at work in
English who are capable of making a convincing attempt to write an epic. ---- His
work is conceived on an oceanic scale and one of its fundamental concern is to give
an account of the simultaneous unity and division created by the ocean and by human
dealings with it.’ Talking about his double heritage reflected in his poetry, Walcott
himself says, ‘--- mongrel as I am, something prickles in me when I see the word
Ashanti as with the word Warwickshire, both separately intimating my grandfather’s
roots, both baptizing neither proud, nor ashamed, bastard, this hybrid, this West
Indian.’ We can see that Walcott accepted and got reconciled to this double heritage,
which enabled him to draw upon both the sources, the African and the Western, to
use them and enrich his poetry. He did not allow the awareness of his double heritage
to cripple his poetic genius.
Though Walcott is known better as a poet, he was also a dramatist of
considerable importance. It has already been pointed out above that he was
responsible for founding a theatre workshop in Trinidad, and later he was given a
fellowship to study the American theatre. He wrote about 30 plays, among them the
best known are Dream on Monkey Mountain, Ti-jean and His Brothers, and
Pantomime. Most of his plays make use of themes from the Black Folk Culture in the
Dear student, Walcott, like our Indian English poets, is a poet writing poetry in a
colonial background, belonging to two cultures and sometimes torn between these
two influences on him. In your study of Indian English Poetry, you must have come
across poets such as Parthasarthy, Ramanujan, Dilip Chitre and others. You are also
going to study Arun Kolatkar’s poetry in this paper. Try to see how these poets faced
the double poetic tradition in comparison with Walcott.
In this book, only six of Walcott’s poems are prescribed for you. One of these,
‘The Yellow Cemetery’, is not readily available to be included in this book. However,
you should read and study the remaining five poems, which are included in this
book, with notes for your guidance.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…13
7.2 Walcott’s Poetry: The Text and the critical commentary.
7.2.1 A City’s Death by Fire:
This poem is written in the form of a sonnet, in which the first eight lines have
the rhyme pattern abab cdcd, but the remaining six lines do not follow any pattern as
such. These fourteen lines are of uneven length.
This poem is apparently a description of a city devastated by fire. But, this is
neither an ordinary city nor an ordinary fire. This poem records Walcott’s response
to the devastation of his native town of Castries by fire in 1948. This catastrophe had
shocking effect on him. But he got over the shock. In this poem he expresses hope
for the renewal and emergence of a new and better society. The poem expresses a
strong religious sentiment. The fire takes the image of Christ ‘the hot gospeller’,
dealing death to the old order. It is a ritual of ‘baptism by fire’. In the first line there
is a reference to ‘that hot gospeller’, which means Christ. This gospeller leveled
everything except ‘the churched sky’. The speaker in the poem, a young man
evidently, wrote the story of this destruction under the light of a candle. The wax
melting down appears to him like ‘shedding tears’. This destruction is really the
destruction of old faiths, which ‘snapped like wire’. Old tales (or myths?) are
reduced to rubbles that is broken stones, among which the poet walked all day. The
walls of this city now appear to him standing like ‘a liar’. The sky is loud with the
noise of the singing birds, and the clouds in the sky are like bales of cotton torn open.
This is a graphic description of the white clouds that look like cotton spun and spread
in the sky. But it is white; the fire has not affected the sky. There is a question the
speaker asks: why should a man shed tears when his wooden world fails? The
speaker does not appear to regret the destruction of this city of ‘old faiths’, which is a
world that has failed. The city here represents the old world ridden in different faiths.
Christ, who walked the shore, and destroyed the old order, creating the new one
actually blessed the city by the baptism of fire. The fire here appears to be the
metaphor for Christ, who taught the new gospel. The poet, or the speaker in the
poem, who walked abroad, discovered new life. It is the regeneration, rebuilding a
love, which he thought, was dead.
The fire here is symbolic of the force creating a new order, and a city stands for
the old world that has got new life through the baptism by fire.

This is one of the very early poems written by Walcott, from his very first
collection, In A Green Night. The old walls of the city stand for the old maxims of
the pagan religion, which now shock ‘the boy’ in the poem as lies.

Words and Expressions:

 gospeller: Christ
 tallow: wax candle
 rubbled tales: tales or stories which are reduced to broken stones
 Baptism by fire: the city is, as if, blessed by fire, (perhaps purified)
Check Your Progress I:
1. Answer the following questions in a word/phrase/sentence each:
(a) Who is the ‘hot gospeller’ referred to in the poem ‘A City’s Death by Fire’?
(b) What do the ‘rubbled tales’ stand for in this poem?
(c) What does the poem ‘A City’s Death by Fire’ signify?
(d) What does the line ‘Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails' Suggest?

7.2.2 The Midsummer-LIV

(Poem No. LIV from the collection ‘Midsummer’)
Walcott’s Midsummer poems mostly deal with the description of the
Caribbean summer, closely describing the forest, the vegetation, the roads winding
through the jungle, the effect of the summer on people, and so on. In one summer
poem, he says:
The sun has fired my face to terra-cotta
And in another poem he describes the atmosphere in these words:
Midsummer stretches beside me with its cat’s yawn.
Trees with dust on their lips, cars melting down
in its furnace.
Heat staggers the drifting mongrels.

Some midsummer poems deal with the memories of the past, of childhood and
its aftermath. This poem No. 54, the last one of the collection, begins with the
description of the summer, giving us a word picture of the midsummer sea, the
jungle, the grass shimmering in the hot sun by the road.
The poem abounds in a number of descriptive phrases. The use of the present
tense gives us the impression that the poet is present there, and giving us the first
hand impressions of what he experiences. He appears to be pointing at the things and
the scene:
The midsummer sea, the hot pitch road, this grass,
these shacks that made me ---
The use of the deictic ‘this’ and ‘these’ tells us that the poet is presenting the
scene to us.
There are a number of descriptive details of the forest in the summer season.
Note the longish noun phrases, which describe the scene:
---the razor grass shimmering by the roadside
--- woodlice humming --- their rose mouths like cherubs –
He feels that the woodlice humming in the jungle are the part of his blood. He
belongs here like the woodlice, which teach him how to live and die here. There is
Forest Reserve, which extends up to the sea, the branches of the trees breaking into
the sea. Through the grass he looks at the trees and thinks of the ‘pine’ trees or
conifers. These trees also must suffer the heat of the sun. They are perhaps
transplanted here from the cold country of Russia.
The idea of the transplanted pines suffering in the tropical heat reminds the poet
of his own state of exile. He too is transplanted culturally. He feels as if he has
betrayed the faith. The poet is thinking of his being Christian. In his book, The Muse
of History, Walcott argues that the African slave’s conversion to Christianity was a
positive strategy for survival and recreation. By becoming Christians, the African
slaves actually appropriated the colonizer’s religion, instead of succumbing to it.
They captured the captor’s God. He notices yellow butterflies rising ‘on the road to
Valencia’. Are these butterflies the uniformed children going to the Christian school
getting English education? These butterflies symbolize resurrection. They are saying
‘yes’ to this new life. Walcott fiercely maintained that he did not consider English to

be only a foreigner’s language. He seems to argue that anyone can possess any
language, making it his own through learning. Acquiring Christian God and the
English language, the natives of the West Indies are resurrecting themselves. The
natives of the West Indies must say ‘yes’ to this new life. The gold-robed Nunc
Dimitis will lead the choir of the boys singing hymns, the Christian religious songs.
The poet himself used to sing hymns from the gold-edged hymn book of his
childhood. Though he said his prayers, he did not have faith in the heaven that he
worshipped. The West Indians had to accept the strange religion and its culture. The
poet does feel torn between two cultures. But he appears to have reconciled himself
to it. He knows the bread of life can be leavened only with love. He loves his
country, and its memory is planted in his heart. Though he lives in a foreign country,
and may even die there, he will forever remain grateful to his own soil. He says so to
his friend, Joseph, (Joseph Brodsky), the Russian exile and a poet, who also is
estranged from his mother country like him.
This poem is the poet’s expression of love for his homeland. He is estranged
from it, yet he is aware that his country has really shaped him, nurtured him, and its
flora and fauna are the integral part of his personality. Walcott, as a poet, has often
ruefully expressed his attachment to two different cultures, and in his poetry he tries
to balance his love for his homeland with his attachment to western poetic tradition
and culture.
Check your progress II:
Answer the following questions in a word/phrase/sentence each:
1. What does the poet describe in the poem?
2. What does the poet feel about the wood lice?
3. What makes you feel that the poet is present at the scene he is describing?
4. How does the poet suggest his love for the land of his birth?
5. Why does the poet feel that he has betrayed the faith?
6. Why did the World turn to poetry?

7.2.3 The Season of Phantasmal Peace:
This poem is a very powerful visual image of ‘the nations of birds’, rising up
into the sky, as if lifting the shadows of the earth. These birds have many different
dialects of their own in which they are twittering to each other. They are stitching
and crossing the huge net. There are shadows of the trees and the towers in the city,
etc. The poet is describing a scene in the evening, the time of dusk, when, before it is
dark, the birds, all of them together, go up in the sky. In the thick forest on the island
of the West Indies, there must be a great variety of hundreds of birds, which must
have made the poet describe them as ‘the nations of birds’ twittering in many
different languages. But these nations of birds are vastly superior to the human
beings living on the earth. The birds carry the net to the world where there is neither
night nor day, nor seasons. There are neither changes of weather nor seasons passing
or coming to an end. These changes happen only on the earth, in the world of the
human beings. The earth is subject to ups and downs, of days passing and nights
engulfing the world. The earth is subject to seasonal changes. But the world of the
birds rises above the frail world, which is subject to declining. The world of men
changes. There is betrayal in that world. There the sun goes down and the darkness
covers the whole world.
The birds take the net higher up, where there is no season, dusk or decline, not
even changes of weather. It is the world of fantasy where the light is so bright that
even the narrowest shadow cannot cut it or pass through it. There are wild geese and
the hunting hawks carrying the net up. The rays of the setting sun look like silver
ropes of the net. The flocks of hundreds of birds flying up together look like drawing
up the net, which has silvery rope in the form of the rays of the setting sun. The men
on the earth look up but cannot see the net, nor can they hear the cries of the
battalions of birds going up. The net looks like the vines of the orchard of grapes. To
describe the net covering the whole world, the poet uses a beautiful image of a
mother drawing a cover over the half asleep child fluttering the eyelids in sleep.
The poet saw this vision in the evening of the month of October. He calls it
yellow October, perhaps because it is the season of the trees shedding yellow leaves
and waiting for the new leaves to sprout. This season is the season of change, which
is noticeable in the cawing of the raven or screeching sound made by the killdeer.
The poet says that these birds appear to express their care and love for the human

beings below, on the earth. The birds pity the human beings, who have no wings, and
are compelled to live in the dark holes, which are their houses with windows. The
birds are the privileged beings that live in the upper world. They live in the world
where there is no change. The change is here contrasted with constancy in love, in
loving relationships. On the earth, the life is full of betrayals. The poet is here
satirizing the world of human beings comparing it with the world of the birds. The
birds live in the world of ‘phantasmal peace’, and feel pity for the human beings
condemned to live in their hole- like houses, with life full of betrayals.
The poem is a description of autumn evening, the time of dusk, when birds
together appear to take a flight to their homes. The October evening in the thick dark
West Indian forest, with hundreds of birds flying up in the sky at a time must have
inspired the poet to write this poem. It is neither dark nor light; it is the time of
mysterious dusk. The net is lifted ‘soundlessly’; the cries of the birds are ‘soundless’,
as they are ‘waging peaceful cries’ and birds lift the net with ‘soundless’ voices.
These are paradoxical expressions, which the poet uses to emphasize the ‘phantasmal
peace’ of the October evening. This is the moment between the dusk, the evening
light, and the darkness of night. The poet uses another pair of expressions to mark
this moment, a moment between ‘fury and peace’. It is the ‘silent’ fury of the
activities of the birds after which the peace of darkness descends on the earth. This
moment is the moment of ‘phantasmal peace’ for the poet.
Walcott’s nature poetry is mainly nostalgic. He is reminded of his home on the
small island, the seashore, the dense forest and the beautiful flora and fauna. But
these reminiscences do not occur without critical awareness of the life of the human
beings on the earth, and more particularly of his countrymen in the West Indian
islands. Walcott has often described landscapes of the Caribbean region in his poetry.
But, his poems tell us much more than what he physically observes. He relates the
world of nature to the world of men often satirizing it.
Words and Expressions:
 ospreys: Osprey- a large hawk (that eats fish)
 raven : a big black, crow-like bird
 killdeer: a small bird
 multitudinous: many

 phantasmal: mysterious
 chough: (pronounced as ch^f) a yellow-billed bird of a crow family, with
black plumage and red legs. Normally breeds in the high mountain
Check Your Progress III:
Answer the following questions in a word/phrase/sentence each:
1. What does the poet mean by the phrase ‘the nations of birds’?
2. How is the world of birds superior to the world of men?
3. What image does the poet use to describe the net covering the world?
4. Why are the human beings unfortunate?
5. What do the birds feel for the human beings?

7.2.4 Elsewhere:
This poem appears to be the expression of colonial brutality suffered by the
West Indian natives under the colonial rule of the Europeans. A white horse
galloping is the image of colonial masters enjoying racing or horse-ride, while the
black natives are breaking stones or binding straw into ricks. The field, around which
the horse goes, is enclosed by barbed wire, and the men and women in the field are
the slaves being watched by the white master. There are tragic stories everywhere.
The fisherwomen somewhere are weeping, worried about their husbands, as the boats
are still going out into the sea (perhaps in search of them). Somewhere, the people
are talking about ‘torture stories’, signifying the brutal and harsh colonial rule. The
result of the torture stories is seen later in the truck-full of dead bodies. The poet
ironically calls it ‘a small harvest’ of bodies in the truck. The colonial rule is full of
the stories of arrests and torture and death of the prisoners.
There are soldiers resting by the roadside or smoking in the forest. The presence
of the soldiers suggests that there is a protest against the brutalities, and the soldiers
are summoned to put down the protesters. The truck- load of (dead) bodies must be
the ‘harvest’ garnered by the colonial masters by killing the protesters. There is a
conference somewhere to express the outrage at this brutality. Somewhere ‘a page is

torn out’ may mean that news is censored or a reporter is not allowed to write by
tearing out a page from his notebook. Somewhere you think there is a thick bush, but
actually it may be soldiers hiding behind the camouflage of the thick foliage. The
presence of the army patrol hiding nearby suggests that the colonial power is bent
upon crushing the protesters or rebellion. The oppressive forces are everywhere.
There is a writer lying with his eyes wide open, which means that he is aware of
what is going on. He is a comrade, a leftist and against the oppressive rule. But he is
neither reading about it nor writing on it. This is suggestive of oppressive censorship.
‘How to make a pen’ means how to express what is going on.
So far the poet has been talking about what is happening in his own country.
‘Somewhere’ is the places in his own country. But ‘elsewhere’ in the world, the
situation may be worse. Here, in his own country, they may be relatively free, but
elsewhere in the world people are being killed with a rifle but without any enquiry.
This ‘elsewhere’ is one third or one seventh of this earth, where there is nothing free.
There is heavy censorship. Whatever you write will have to be submitted to the
government official, who will stamp it and send it to the other one and finally it will
be thrown into the wastepaper basket. The paper-knife of the state means censorship,
which will cut the throat of any report, any kind of writing. There are people in the
prisons. Their thin hollow faces stare through the iron bars. The black letters of the
words in these stanzas appear like bars of iron, which these prisoners seem to grip
and stare through them. These faces finally disappear into oblivion; they are
forgotten. They remain merely faceless numbers in the telephone diary. The poet
refers to the massacres that took place last year. In the colonial rule massacres are
just news items.
Who do you blame in this world? The world is blameless the poet says, because
no one would like to raise a voice against what is happening. The poet criticizes
those people who keep quiet making career of conscience. He perhaps points to those
who are part of the establishment and prefer to remain silent. Walcott here denounces
colonial exploitation, suppression and violence in the Caribbean islands.
Words and Expressions:
 (fishermen’s) dories: dory is a small flat-bottomed fishing boat
 camouflage: disguise

 where blue air is paper-frail: refers to freedom of press that is ‘frail’ or
Check Your Progress IV
Answer the following questions in a word/phrase/sentence each:
1. What does the horse galloping signify?
2. What are the men doing in the field?
3. Why do women tire of weeping?
4. What does ‘the small harvest of bodies’ mean?
5. Why is the writer not reading or writing?
6. What is happening ‘elsewhere’?
7. What does the writer mean by ‘whatever we write will be stamped twice’?
8. What are the black bars and who are the men with ‘hollowed faces’?

7.2.5 The Hotel Normandie Pool:

‘The Hotel Normandie Pool’ starts with the description of the pool’s sight.
There are cast-iron umbrella tables on the pool for the customers to sit and have a
cup of tea or coffee and smoke. The shadow of the hills falls on the pool’s water. The
wall by the side of the pool is reflected in the water of the pool. The poet, choosing
one of the nine umbrellas by the side of the pool, lights his first cigarette, which
makes him cough. He remembers how, last night, he had a vision of a Russian Prince
coming home from war and watching men and women waltzing to the music,
soundlessly. This appears to him like a scene from a Russian novel. The waltzing
men and women appear to him like fishes in an aquarium lighted by lamps. He looks
at a woman fanning herself and the kettledrums are playing the German national
song ‘Auld Lang Syne’. He also dreams of a battalion of drunken married men
swearing by their marriage again. The scene he is describing is that of a posh five
star hotel, where the elites of the society, perhaps the white people, are enjoying
luxurious life, which appears to him artificial, like fishes in an aquarium. The poet, at
the age of fifty, would like to change. He requests his sign, the water, to change him
to someone else.

Sitting by the pool’s side, he has a vision of each of his daughters riding on the
rays coming out of the irises of his eyes. He remembers how his younger daughter
dived into the pool’s water like a dolphin. He prays to the water, his sign, to allow
her head break out of water. In another vision he dreams of his children, Peter, Anna
and Elizabeth sleeping, and his wife, Margaret, curling her one arm around them,
which signifies love. This first section of the poem has an autobiographical element
in it. The poet had, later, divorced his wife, but he appears to have a fond memory of
his first wife and children peacefully sleeping. This vision, however, does not last
long. The poet says the time does not allow man to endlessly go down the memory
lane. His reflections are cut down. He is back again to the fetid atmosphere of the
pool and his cigarettes. He is painfully aware of the fact of his divorce. He cannot
have the luxury of plunging into his past life and brooding over it like Narcissus.
In the second part of the poem, the poet has a vision of the ancient Roman poet,
Ovid, who comes to the pool, draped in his white towel, and a toga slung round the
shoulders in the Roman fashion. Not until the figure whispers the Latin phrase, the
poet realizes who he is. Like Ovid, the poet is also an exile. Ovid was an exile from
Rome as a result of corruption, censorship and arrogance of those in power. The poet
recalls his own connection with the Roman ancestry. (Walcott was a mixed breed –
Negro, Dutch and English blood). Ovid talks to the poet of his own experience of
being exiled. His appearance on the scene (of his vision) extends the pool to the
shores of the Baltic ocean, and the squares and palaces of Rome. But the poet is
aware of how the emerald shores of the West Indies were spoiled by the dirt,
censorship and corruption of Rome. He is also aware of his own relation, though
tenuous, with the black Nero and while Caligula (the Roman emperors). Walcott
feels the days of the Roman Empire were better. Now the slaves in the house and
also in the field scream for revenge as they are treated inhumanly. The poet contrasts
the Roman times and the times now. He says his ancestors were slaves and Romans
also. When Augustus, as a boy, walked through the market place, there was huge
applause to welcome him. Now the military men, with their guns and hand-grenades
go past in roaring trucks, and the people gather in the dark squares afraid to speak
aloud. In the colonial rule there is an atmosphere of terror. This is the difference
between two empires, the ancient Roman one and the British now. In these days,
even lifelong friends whisper in the house for fear of arrest. There is atmosphere of
suspicion and fear. The ancient poet Ovid tells the poet how he missed his language

when he was first exiled. He too dreamed of his child, and he could not call any
bench in the foreign country as his place to sit. Ovid tells the poet, the frontiers of the
Roman Empire enlarged, but his own place, as an exiled Roman, was just the plank
of a table. The poet, Walcott, who inherits the Western poetic tradition, writes his
poetry in that style. But the ancient poet, Ovid, warns him that the Romans would
laugh at his slavish poetry, and the slaves, his own countrymen, would also laugh at
the Roman structures in his poetry. Ovid observes that art is really not a slave to any
tradition; it obeys its own order. And saying this he takes his leave. The poet, steeped
in the western poetic tradition, had this vision of Ovid, because he inwardly finds it
flattering to invoke the image of Ovid. Walcott, as a colonial poet, underlines his
own experience of being torn between the two cultures and traditions. You can read
the poems of Ramanujan and other Indian English poets, who occasionally had the
same feeling and felt torn between two heritages.
In the third part of this long poem, the poet describes the time of dusk, when the
western sky is splashed with orange colour. It looks like a painting without any
painter. And the rippling, murmuring of this pool is not any poem of the invisible
poet (like Ovid) who is exiled. As the darkness falls the trees blacken, the umbrellas
on the pool are also covered in darkness. There is neither image nor voice. The muse
of the poet goes silent as the dusk covers everything.
This long poem expresses mixed feelings of the poet. He is a Negro poet steeped
in the western tradition of poetry and at the same time he is very much aware of his
folk culture, the history of his own people who suffered greatly under the foreign
yoke. He cannot negate one or the other. He has to come to terms with both these
aspects of his life and keep alive his poetic genius. The poem underlines the
experience and the feeling of frustration of the poet writing in the post-colonial era.
The poet, talking to Ovid, complains how there is atmosphere of distrust and
suspicion. ‘A lifelong friend whispers in his own house as if it might arrest him’. In
the olden days when the armies marched through the streets, people in the market
used to clap and applaud them. Now, this is no more the case. Soldiers, with hand-
grenades slung to their belts march through the streets. The ideas are backed by guns,
and there is enmity between one island and the other. Walcott is obviously satirizing
the colonial powers creating divisive atmosphere with the help of their guns.
This poet complains to Ovid how the atmosphere of corruption, censorship and
arrogance in his own country has made him feel happy to be exiled to a foreign land.

The poet is facing the similar circumstances in the present century. This poem is thus
satirical of the present scene, with rueful reminiscences of the poet’s personal life.
Words and Expressions:
 fusillade: outbreak or a bout (of cough)
 gauze of swirling snow: thin cover of snow (on the windows)
 cornet: a small musical instrument (like a trumpet)
 Auld Lang Syne: This is an old Scottish song. The title means ‘times gone by’,
and it is said to be written by Robert Burns in 1778.
 Chrome stanchions: pillars of the metal called chrome.
 obsidian (marble): marble of dark volcanic rock
 Ovidian thunder of surf: the thunderous noise of the surf in Ovid’s poetry.
(Ovid was the ancient Latin poet)
 a speck of spittle from a she-wolf’s tooth: Ovid was then an insignificant
person in the ancient Rome. But now he is the great one throwing a shadow
as big as a palm tree.
 Nero: Nero was the Roman emperor during AD 15 to AD 68
 Caligula: He was also the Roman Emperor ill-famous for his cruelty and
 Camions: (roaring past on camions): a flat four-wheeled horse or motor-truck
 Tomis: It was a Greek colony in the province of Scythia Minor on the Black Sea
shore around 600 B.C. Ovid must have been exiled there.
 Metamorphoses: Latin narrative poem by Ovid, in 15 books.
 Tristia: meaning troubles or sorrows. Ovid’s work of poetry in five books
written in his period of exile.

Check Your Progress V
2. Answer the following questions in a word/phrase/sentence each:
(a) In the poem ‘The Hotel Normandie Pool’ what vision did the poet see
through the window?
(b) What kind of life does this vision suggest?
(c) What does the poet pray to his sign, the water and why?
(d) What vision did the poet have of his younger daughter?
(e) Who is the sandaled man that comes out to the pool in a robe and the toga?
(f) How does the poet come to know who this man is?
(g) What is the similarity between the poet and Ovid?
(h) What did Ovid miss first when he was exiled?
(i) What did Ovid’s detractors accuse him of?

7.3 Summary:
Walcott is essentially a postcolonial poet. In his poetry he tries to explore the
themes of ethnicity, cultural chauvinism, and political inequality. The way he
examines these themes, they become universal expression of the whole colonized
world that has suffered gravely at the hands of the European colonizers. But, you will
notice even from the small selection of his poetry here that Walcott is trying to come
to terms with two cultures in his life. He is aware of his homeland in his blood, as he
tells us in the poem ‘Midsummer – LIV’. But at the same time he has to accept the
English education and the Christian culture, the strange god in whom he cannot put
his faith easily. As already pointed out, Walcott argues that the African slave’s
conversion to Christianity was a positive strategy for survival and recreation. He
talks about this resurrection even in his early poem ‘A City’s Death by Fire’, where
he indirectly shows his acceptance of English education and Christian religion,
which is symbolized by a hymn-book. As he says in his Midsummer poem, either the
faith betrays him or he betrays the faith. These two worlds, the Black and White, are
warring in his literary expression. The British colonial rule in his native land has left
deep scars on his mind. His personal, cultural and political life is deeply touched by

the colonial experiences. In the poem, Elsewhere, he tells us how the colonial
oppression has affected the lives of not only his countrymen but everywhere else.
How the colonial rule has reduced the native population to ‘harvesting bodies’. The
poem ‘Elsewhere’ is a stark criticism of harsh colonial rule, its censorship, its
inhuman prisons and its military hunting the protesters.
The poem like The Hotel Normandie Pool is very much the expression of
personal life. His reminisces about his children, – the daughters and their mother
sleeping peacefully, a bond of love between them, is a very touching expression in
the poem. The poem shifts to the western cultural influence. The poet is reminded of
Ovid, the ancient Latin poet, who was also an exile like him. The poet must be away
from his home country to be so nostalgic about his country and his family.
Walcott is sometimes critical of the world of human beings. In the poem ‘The
Season of Phantasmal Peace’, he presents the world of birds as superior to the world
of the human beings. The birds are privileged in their birth because they live high up
under the sky, while the human beings live in holes that have windows. The birds
feel pity for the human beings, but their pity is mixed with love and sympathy for
In this small selection of barely five poems it is not possible to illustrate all the
aspects of Walcott’s poetry. But, we Indians have gone through the pangs and
sufferings of the colonial rule, which naturally allows us to empathies with Walcott’s

7.4 Keys:
Keys to Check Your Progress I:
1. The hot gospeller is Christ, who taught new religion to the people.
2. The rubbled tales are the stories or legends of the old (barbaric) faith.
3. The City’s death by fire is the rebirth of the people in it; it is the
reawakening into new faith.
4. The line suggests that the new religion taught love, which was almost
forgotten under the modern thought.

Keys to Check Your Progress II
1. The poet describes the jungle, the grass, the hot pitch road and the old
shacks where he might have lived, and the sea.
2. The poet means that the old shacks and the scene around became the part of
his personality.
3. The use of the expressions ‘this, these, etc’ indicate that the poet is present
at the scene.
4. The poet says even if he does not die in his country, he will always be
grateful to his mother land.
5. The word of poetry ‘turns towards grief’ because the poet’s mind is torn
between two cultures.
Keys to Check Your Progress III:
1. The phrase ‘the nations of birds’, indicates the world of birds different from
the world of men.
2. The world of the birds is superior because there is no change, no setting of
the sun, no change of seasons and no betrayals.
3. The image of the net covering the world is like a mother covering her
sleeping children.
4. The birds feel pity for men because men live in the houses like holes.
5. The human beings are unfortunate because their life is subject to change of
seasons, and they are not privileged to live up in the sky like the birds, as they
are wingless.
6. The birds feel pity and sympathy for the human beings.
Keys to check your progress IV:
1. The horse galloping signifies the oppressive rule of the colonial master.
2. The men in the field are cutting grass and binding the sheaves.
3. Women tire of weeping because of the recurring tragedy of the fishermen
going out to the sea and not returning.
4. The small harvest of bodies indicates the protesters killed by the soldiers.

5. The writer is neither reading nor writing because of heavy censorship by
the colonial power.
6. Elsewhere the colonizer’s gun is breaking the skulls of the rebels or
7. The poet means that there is censorship.
8. The black bars are the prison bars and the men with hollowed faces are the
prisoners who have no future.
Keys to Check Your Progress V
1. The poet had a vision of a Russian Prince coming back from war while men
and women were dancing.
2. The poet has a vision of his daughters riding the rays of the sun.
3. The poet prays to his Sign (the water – he being an Aquarian), to allow his
daughter’s head to appear above the surface of water.
4. The sandaled man in a robe is the ancient Roman poet, Ovid.
5. The poet knew that it was Ovid, from the toga slung in Roman fashion and
his whispering a Latin expression.
6. Like Ovid, the poet is also an exile from his land.
7. Ovid says, at first he very much missed his language in the exile.
8. Ovid was exiled on account of his opposition to corruption, censorship and

7.5 Exercises:
1. Explain with reference to the poems prescribed the postcolonial aspects of
Walcott’s poetry.
2. Illustrate, with the help of the poems prescribed, how Walcott expresses his
love for his country.
3. Write short notes on :
a) Walcott’s visions sitting at The Hotel Normandie Pool.
b) Depiction of Colonial in Walcott’s poetry.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…14
c) Walcott’s effort at reconciliation of his native background and the
western culture.

7.6 Further references:

1. James, Louis (Ed) The Islands in Between: Essays on West Indian Literature,
London, OUP, 1968.
2. Brown, Stewart and McDonald Ian, (Ed) The Heinemann Book of Caribbean
Poetry, London: Heinemann; 1992.

Unit 8
Rilke, Rainer Maria

From ‘The Duino Elegie’

i. ‘The First Elegie’
ii. ‘The Ninth Elegie’
From ’The Book of Hours’
i. ‘Childhood’
ii. ‘Autumn Day’
iii. ‘The Spectator’
iv. ‘The Olive Garden’
v. ‘The Poet’s Death
8.0 Objectives
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Life and Work
8.3 Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke
A) From ‘The Duino Elegies’
B) From The Book of Hours
8.4 Glossary and notes
8.5 Key to check your progress
8.6 Exercises
8.7 References for Further reading

8. 0 Objectives
After studying this unit you will be able to:
 Understand poet’s idea about elegy
 Explain the nature of human being
 Find relationship between different similar and opposite things described by
the poet in his poems.
8.1 Introduction
Poetry is a form of literature and it has been flourishing throughout all the ages
and all the countries. Each country has been witnessing the glorious tradition of
poetry. Germany is no exception to it. Rainer Maria Rilke is a representative of
modern German poetry.

8.2 Life and Work

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 –1926) was born on December 4, 1875 in Prague as
the son of Josef Rilke, a railway official and the former Sophie Entz. A crucial fact in
Rilke's life was that his mother called him Sophia. She forced him to wear girl's
clothes until he was aged five - thus compensating for the earlier loss of a baby
daughter. Rilke's parents separated when he was nine. His militarily inclined Father
sent him at ten yesrs old to the military academies of St. Pölten and Mahrisch-
Weisskirchenn. At the military academy Rilke did not enjoy his stay, and was sent to
a business school in Linz. He also worked in his uncle's law firm. Rilke continued his
studies at the universities of Prague, Munich, and Berlin.
His parents pressured the poetically and artistically talented youth into entering
a military academy, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left due to
illness. From 1892 to 1895 he was tutored for the university entrance exam, which he
passed in 1895. In 1895, 1896, he studied literature, art history, and philosophy in
Prague and Munich.
Writer and poet, Rilke was considered one of the greatest lyric poets of modern
Germany. He created the "object poem" as an attempt to describe with utmost clarity
physical objects, the "silence of their concentrated reality." He became famous with
such works as Duineser Elegien and Die Sonette an Orpheus. They both appeared in

1923. After these books, Rilke had published his major works, believing that he had
done his best as a writer.
Figures from Greek mythology (e.g. Apollo, Hermes, Orpheus) recur as motifs
in his poems and are depicted in original interpretations Other recurring figures in
Rilke's poems are angels, roses and a character of a poet and his creative work. Rilke
often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions.
In 1897 Rilke met the 36-year-old Lou Andreas-Salomé, who was already
successful in the literary field and had for example published the first biography of
Friedrich Nietzsche.
The German poet Rainer Maria (René) Rilke was the son of a minor railway
official. His mother, who was of upper-middle-class origin, encouraged him in his
early ambition to become a poet. The years 1886–1891, which Rilke spent at military
academies in Moravia and Austria, had a traumatic effect on him, and not until 1920
was he able to come to terms with his unhappy childhood and family background.
His first volume of poetry, Leben und Lieder, appeared in Prague in 1895.
With a single-mindedness that has rarely been paralleled in modern literature,
Rilke devoted his whole existence to the poetic task he felt called upon to
accomplish, subordinating to it all personal and public considerations.
Two places were of major importance for the fruition of his poetry: Duino (1910
and 1912), a castle on the Adriatic that belonged to the Princess Marie von Thurn
und Taxis-Hohenlohe, where the first Duino Elegy was written, and the little castle
of Muzot in the Swiss canton of Valais. It was at Muzot, in February 1922, as the
guest of Werner Reinhart, that Rilke, in a storm of inspiration, wrote most of the
fifty-five Sonette an Orpheus and several smaller collections of poems; and it was
there, above all, that he completed his greatest work, which had been interrupted by
World War I—the cycle of ten Duineser Elegien, several of which were written in
the span of a few days. Rilke died at Valmont, Switzerland, after a protracted and
painful illness that was diagnosed as leukemia.
Rilke's mature poetry, written after 1907, displays a consistency of attitude and a
coherence of poetic devices that make it representative of a whole era of European

The immensity of the task of creating a new spirituality is betrayed by the
complex, and quite conscious, ambiguities of Rilke's images of transcendence, chief
of which is the image of the Angel, as he appears in the Elegies.
Rilke's poetry is not necessarily esoteric, and the creative activity he extolled is
closely related to the poetic; but he addressed himself to the single individual. The
social sphere of modern life is branded as wholly inauthentic (Rilke either ignored or
briefly satirized it); all concerted action is an escape from defective selfhood. He
understood and expressed velleities supremely well; his poetry hardly offers a
nostrum to cure them.

8.3 Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke

Now study the following poems by Rainer Maria Rilke in detail:
A. From ‘The Duino Elegies’
I. The First Elegie
After a long period of concentration and in a sudden fit of inspiration, Rilke
wrote in January and February 1912 the first two of what he eventually called the
Dino Elegies. The beginnings of some of the other elegies were also written during
this winter in Duino. ‘First Elegy’ is taken from his ‘The Duino Elegies’. It is the
longest poem in elegiac tone.
Once the poet said, if he cried out who would hear him among the angels’
hierarchies? If any one of them suddenly pressed him against his heart, he would be
destroyed in the embrace of his stronger existence. Beauty is nothing but the
beginning of terror which we can barely endure because it calmly destroys us
completely. The poet says:
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure and are awed
because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Each single angel is terrific so he forces himself to swallow and hold back. Then
the poet asks to whom we can turn for help. In our interpreted world we feel little
secure and angels, humans and know animals are aware of it. Tree on hillside and
street remain for us. The wind at night invades our frightened faces. The poet asks,
‘Is it easier for lovers?’
The poet thinks that we need spring time and a star often waited for catching the
sight of it and sense its light. Everyone is always distraught by expectation like the
arrival of a beloved. There is no place to hide her. The poet asks to sing of women in
love because their passion is far from immortal enough. The poet again asks to begin
the praise that cannot attain and remember that the hero lives and survives because
his downfall for him was only an excuse for achiever his final birth. On the other
hand, exhausted nature takes lovers back into itself as if such creative forces could
never be achieved a second time. The poet reminds us of Gaspara Stampa. It means
that any girl abandoned by her lover may feel far intenser (emotional) example of
loving. We freed ourselves from the beloved is like the arrow endures the bow-
string’s tension. This release becomes more than itself because staying is nowhere.
The poet points out that it is strange to live on this earth. We cannot use skills
that we have barely acquired. We cannot observe roses and other things that
promised so much in terms of human future. It is time to discard one’s own name as
easily as a child abandons a broken toy. It is strange to desire to continue best wishes
for others. Being dead is hard work and full of retrieving (restored) and feeling a
trace of eternity. On the other hand, living makes the mistake of drawing too sharp a
distinction. And Angels are often unable to distinguish between alive and dead.
There is a trace of eternity in both realms forever but their voices are lost in its
thunderous roar.
In the last part of the poem, the poet says that those who have left the world
early no longer need us. As a child outgrows the need of its mother’s breasts, one is
gently turned away from this world. But we are in need of those great mysteries.
Grief is often the source of our spiritual growth and we could not exist without it. We
cannot trace the beginning of music and dare to find the first sound of song.
Similarly we cannot assure how godlike youth suddenly left forever and the
emptiness felt for the first time. We remember only glorious memories that fill us
with great delight and comfort and help us:
an almost godlike youth suddenly left forever,
and the emptiness felt for the first time
those harmonious vibrations which now enrapture
and comfort and help us.

As it is an elegy, it mourns on the loss of many things such as springtime, love
of women, earthly things, godlike youth etc. The poem is well-known for contrast.
The poet has contrasted the life of human being with the nature. The nature takes
lovers back into self as a creative force but humans can’t do that. Similarly poet has
contrasted the alive and dead who trace for eternity. The immensity of the task of
creating a new spirituality is betrayed by the complex, and quite conscious,
ambiguities of Rilke's images of transcendence, chief of which is the image of the
Angel, as he appears in the Elegies. This elegy is exception for this. It begins:
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them suddenly
pressed me against his heart, I would perish
in the embrace of his stronger existence.
Check your progress:
Tast 1
Fill in the blanks:
1. ------------ is nothing but the beginning of terror.
2. The poet asks to sing of women in love because --------.
3. ------------ takes lovers back into itself as if such creative forces could never be
achieved a second time.
4. ------------ is hard work and full of retrieving and feeling a trace of eternity.
5. There is trace of --------- in both realms alive and dead forever.
II. The Ninth Elegie
‘The Ninth Elegy’ is one of the ten elegies Rilke included in ‘Duino Elegies’.
After a long period of concentration and in a sudden fit of inspiration, Rilke wrote in
January and February 1912 the first two of what he eventually called the Dino
Elegies. The beginnings of some of the other elegies were also written during this
winter in Duino. Again in a sudden fit of inspiration through the generosity of a
Swiss friend in 1919 Rilke completed the cycle of ten elegies. This elegy is written at
Muzot which is perhaps the fullest and ambitious attempt at an answer. It certainly
contains Rilke’s fullest expression of a gradually and painfully achieved intuition

into the inseparability of uniqueness and transience: into the central and tragic fact
that individual and individual experiences are unique because they are transient and
transient because they are unique. Let us see what Rilke has to say in the poem.
Why and when this span of life might be fleeted away like laurel (like the smile
of a wind). Why human beings long for shunning Destiny? It is not because of
happiness that really exists. But because of that precipitate profit of imminent loss. It
is not out of curiosity and not just to practice the heart that could still be there in
laurel. But because of being here is much and all this require us and strangely
concerns us. We are the most fleeting of all. Ours fleeting is once on the earth but it
can not be cancelled. So we keep pressing on and trying to perform it with our simple
hands. It is done in the more and more crowded gaze and in the speechless heart.
We acquire everything slowly which comes with sufferings that is the hardness
of life. The long experience of love is, in fact, purely untellable thing. We cannot
speak about deeply stars. The wanderer too doesn’t bring anything from mountain to
valley, a handful of earth. We say this and that is ours such as House, Bridge,
Fountain, Gate, Jug, Fruit tree, Window or Pillar, Tower etc. But this saying is
wrong. It is the secret purpose of this sly earth. Even the threshold to a pair of lovers
is a matter of course.
There is home where we can speak and proclaim. We work under crusts that will
readily split as soon as it takes a new outline:
Between the hammers lives on
our heart, as between the teeth
the tongue, which, in spite of all,
still continues to praise.
This world should praise the Angel and not the untellable things. You can’t
impress him with the splendour you have felt in the cosmos. We will feel that you are
only a novice. So you can show him some simple things which were refashioned by
age after age. Tell him things and he’ll stand more astonished as you did beside the
roper in Rome or the potter in Egypt. Show him also how happy a thing can be and
how even the moaning of grief serves as thing to escape to a bliss beyond the fiddle.
There are some things that want us to change them entirely within over invisible
hearts whoever we are.

Earth is not just that you want to arise invisibly in us. It is not your dream to be one
day invisible. Your urgent command is not transformation but Earth. You believe
that you need no more of your spring-time to win over. Your holiest inspiration is
friendly Death and it has been for ages.
Check your progress
Task 2:
Answer the following questions in one word/phrase or sentence each:
1. Where did Rilke complete this elegy?
2. What does laurel mean?
3. Who are the most fleeting of all?
4. Is the long experience of love untellable?
5. What are the things that we claim as our possession?
6. Whom should this world praise?
7. What is your argent command?
8. What is your holiest inspiration?
9. Find out the device used in the following lines:
Between the hammers lives on
our heart, as between the teeth
the tongue, which, in spite of all,
10. Why did poet call this earth as sly earth?
B. From The Book of Hours
Rilke wrote The Book of Hours (Das Stundenbuch) in the autumn of 1899. It is a
cycle of sixty-seven short verse-meditations which are supposed to be those of a
Russian monk, but in which Rilke’s experience of Russia has coalesced with the
scarcely less exhilarating and liberating experience of along stay in Florence during
the spring of 1898, when he had basked in what seemed to him the ‘life-enhancing’
this-worldliness of Italian Renaissance art. Art as a discovery and revelation of the
mystery and wonder of life, poets and painters as the true revealers and, in a sense,

creators, of God – this was the conviction, or intuition, into which Rilke escaped
from the narrow Catholicism of his early years, and this was the characteristically
modified manner in which he accepted that Nietzschean life-worship, insistence on
this-worldliness and rejection of other-worldliness, in which so many of his
contemporaries found release. Nevertheless, although the ‘prayers’, as he called
them, in Rilke’s Book of Hours are not what many Christian readers might easily
suppose them to be, and although what he I celebrating is, to a considerable extent,
the creative energy, the intoxicating sense of power he is aware of in himself, it
would be untrue to assert that the God he so frequently invokes has no relation to the
God of religion and that the ‘prayers’ are addressed only to himself. What he called
his ‘work’ came to mean for him more and more the experiencing and expression of
‘reality’, of intensity of ‘being’ and about his conception of rality and being, as about
his dedicated search for them, there was something which, however much it may
differ from true religion, can only be called religious (Leishman: 1978).
I. Childhood
‘Childhood’ is a poem from The Book of Hours. This little poem deals with the
life of the speaker. On the surface it appears to be a merely descriptive poem and we
are liable to think of the speaker as both child and grown up person. Obviously, the
poem is a statement of an accepted fact.
In childhood age before trying to find words for something it would be good to
give much thought to child. Everyone knows that those long childhood afternoons
have already vanished completely. And there is no reason at all. We are sometimes
reminded by a rain. But we can not understand the meaning of it. The life once we
left we cannot fill again it with meeting, with reunion and with passing on. We lived
the life of childhood as human beings and become filled to the brim with figures.
Nothing happened in that age to us except what actually happens to the things and
other creatures. As a grown up person we become lonely, overburdened, summoned
and bewildered in this age.
The poem is an example of Rainer’s mode of writing. He has achieved a
singular skill of evoking a state of mind through the description of childhood and
grown up condition. When the poet talks of his stirring, loneliness, and
bewilderment, it is a mental state of mind, a loss that emerges through the

description. This effect is achieved through conscious but striking use of images. The
poet tells us how he becomes lonely as a shepherd, overburdened by vast distances.
And became as lonely as a sheperd
and as overburdened by vast distances,
and summoned and stirred as from far away,
and slowly, like a long new thread,
introduced into that picture-sequence
where now having to go on bewilders us.
He looks for himself because he is in bewildered condition. Such striking images
successfully bring the meaning home to us. His images are striking but apt.
II. Autumn Day
‘Autumn Day’ is another poem in the selection that is taken from ‘The Book of
Hours’. The poem describes the autumn season which is season of maturity as well
as fall (autumn).
In autumn, the summer was vast and the shadows of God fall upon the sundials
(an instrument). God should make the winds free upon the open fields. He should
command the last fruits into fullness. He should urge them into completion and press.
It is a last bit of sweetness which turns into the heavy wine. The person who has no
home will not build house in this season. The person who is alone in this season will
remain alone. Such a person will awake in the night and read and write long letters.
And he will wander restlessly along the avenues open for him. He will move
backward and forward as the leaves begin to blow.
In this religious poem the poet has pointed out a great philosophy of life. The
poem is addressed to God:
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let thine shadows upon the sundials fall,
and unleash the winds upon the open fields.
The poet asks the God to do many things in autumn season. It is a period of
maturity. Similarly human life attains maturity after living many things at end of life.
People have to do something in their youth. Otherwise he can not do anything in old
age. The poet has compared old age of human being with the autumn season. The
poet found the similarity between old age of human being and autumn season. In the
last stanza of poem, the poet reminds us that the person who was not able to build
house in his young age cannot build in old age. Similarly, the person who remained
alone in his whole life cannot live in the company of human beings. At this stage he
will only wander restlessly with means of attainment forward and backward:
He who has no house now, will no longer build.
He who is alone now, will remain alone,
will awake in the night, read, write long letters,
and will wander restlessly along the avenues,
back and forth, as the leaves begin to blow.
The poem is divided into three stanzas having three lines in first stanza, four
lines in second stanza and five lives in third stanza. Though it is a small poem, it
gives us moral to work actively when you are young otherwise you will be restless in
your old age as the leaves fall in autumn. The poem is very remarkable for its
Check your progress
Task 3:
Fill in the blanks:
1. The poem ‘Autumn Day’ is taken from____.
2. The autumn season is compared with ____ age of human beings.
3. Moral of the poem is _________.
4. The poem is addressed to _______.
5. The autumn season is a season of ________.
III. The Spectator
It is another poem from The Book of Hours. The poet as a spectator observes the
situation when there is storm and strife. He watched the storms in the trees after days
of mild decay. He heard the distance saying from his windows the feeling of purity,
fineness. He had the feeling of fear and discouragement in absence of a friend and
sister. The storm went to urge and alter through forest and time’s trees. But there was
nothing which became old or which moved in an uncertain manner. The landscape
spoke like an open psatter seriously about eternity.

Strife or conflict is part and parcel of life. It may be very small but it is there in
everybody’s life. All that conflict may be great or not but it makes great efforts to be
within us. The poet says that we let the great storm over ride us, if we might be like
the things outside us. It grows having much space and becomes anonymous. We
always try to conquer only small things which make us small:
We conquer littleness, obtaining
success that only makes us small,
while, unconstrained and unconstraining,
the permanent eludes us all.
Then there is angel who unwillingly lingers to wrestle with mortality. When the
opponents establish their physical strength in strife and stretch themselves to metal,
we can feel like their fingers string in some deep melody.
In the last stanza, the poet says that the challenger who failed to stand constantly
rejects the trial. The challenger who goes forth upright and resurrected achieves
greatness from his hard work keeping two things together about him and completes
the task. Then conquering does not remain a fascination. Such a growth is consisted
in being defeated by some grand great opponents.
Most of Rilke’s poems deal with angel and this poem is no exception to this. He
that angel who, though loath, yet lingers
to wrestle with mortality,
and, when opponent’s sinews settle
can strife and stretch themselves to metal.
The poem describes the human the human feelings at different situations. Sometimes
he has better feelings and sometimes fear or discouragement. There is always conflict
in his /her mind. Everyone tries to come over the conflict by making much space.
Meanwhile there is possibility of great storm to be happen in the life unknowingly.
Some people achieve success over very minor things which make them small. The
person who is defeated never gives up his/her efforts. On the other hand, he brings
back his ideas into reality and achieves great success. For those people conquering is
not fascination. Lastly, the poet tells us that our progress depends on our defeat by
more powerful/grand/great things. The poem is once again remarkable for its striking
images like storm, strife, angel, challenger etc. The title is apt and suggestive.

Check your progress
Task 4:
Fill in the blanks:
1. The spectator watched the storms in ______.
2. He had feeling of _____ and _____ in absence of a friend.
3. The landscape speaks like an open psalter about _____.
4. We always try to conquer only ______ things which make us small.
5. _____ no longer fascinate.
IV. The Olive Garden
‘The Olive Garden’ is a peculiar religious poem of Rilke where he depicts his
loneliness and asks God about His art.
Every person tried to make progress. He climbed up and went through the grey
leaves with a sudden force. The leaves were quite grey and he lost in the grey olive
lands. He laid his burning forehead full of dust deep in the dustiness of burning
hands. This was the end.
Then the poet wants to walk on the same route. He asks God and His art that
makes him blind and still he has to contend. But he does not find the ways of God.
There is no tone of God in him as well as in the rest. Even the presence of God is not
found in stone – the image of God made up of stone. He is unable to find out the
God. So he is alone.
The poet is alone with that human fate. He starts to make him milder or less
severe undertaking the task through God. But he does not understand the art of God.
He feels shame of His being consummate. He hopes the arrival of an angel who will
help him afterwards. But there is no angel anymore. On the contrary, there came the
night which turned the leaves of trees indifferently. The disciples stirred uneasily.
But there didn’t come angel and instead came the night. That night didn’t require any
specification because a hundred of such nights came and went. The dogs are sleeping
and stones are lying. There was melancholy that night with audible breath expressing
sadness or weariness. It lingers till morning mount the sky.
It happens because angels never come to such men’s prayers. Even nights don’t
mix glory with their doom for such people who abandon the task incomplete. The

poet says that forsakenness is the self-loser’s doom. Such people are absent from
their father’s cares and disincluded from their mother’s womb.
The poem is full of melancholy. The poet expresses the futility of life in this
poem. He says that he does not know whether God exists. He is alone. But he has
known fear in the sudden apprehension that His art is complete or skilled. Though
the poet is alone, he is aware of His perfectness:
I am alone with all that human fate
I undertook through Thee to mitigate,
Thou who art not. Oh, shame too consummate…
Rilke’s images are of transcendence. The image of the Angel is the chief image
among others. The other recurring figures in his poem are roses and a character of a
poet. The poet’s character and the image of angel are referred in this poem also:
An angel came, those afterwards relate.
Wherefore an angel? Oh, there came the night,
And turned the leaves of trees indifferently,
And the disciples stirred uneasily.
Wherefore an angel? Oh, there came the night.
Rilke often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions. The present poem
is full with contradictions. The garden described here is of Olive tree which is
evergreen tree common in South Europe. But the poem ends on a note of doom:
For angels never come to such men’s prayers,
nor nights for them mix glory with their gloom.
Forsakenness is the self-loser’s doom,
and such are absent from their father’s cares
and disincluded from their mother’s womb.
The title also hints at this. The poet has chosen the word ‘olive’ with a purpose. The
olive tree is always green but the poet does not think it evergreen.
Check your progress
Task 5:
Choose the correct alternative and complete the following sentences:
1. This is _______ poem.
a. religious b. elegiac c. humorous d. comic
2. I can find _____ no more. I am alone.
a. Thy b. Thou c. Thee d. You
3. The poet is alone with _____.
a. God b. human fate c. human race d. nature
4. As God is not present anywhere, _____ will help the poet.
a. Satan b. devil c. human being d. angel
5. ______ is the self-loser’s doom.
a. disinclusion b. victory c. forsakenness d. fate
V. The Poet’s Death
‘The Poet’s Death’ is one of the few sonnets written by Rilke. It is included in
The Book of Hours (Das Stundenbuch) which is a cycle of sixty-seven short verse-
meditations. The poet describes the poet’s condition at the time of death. The poet
laid his high-propped face that could only peer in pale rejection at the silent cover.
Now that the world and all that knowledge of her which was torn from the senses of
her lover had fallen back to the unfeeling year.
There were some people who had seen him alive. But they saw no trace of his
deep unity with all that passes. All the valleys, meadow-grasses and streams of
running water were his face. That remotest distance was also his face. All these
things seek him still and woo him in despair. His face is tender and open that has no
more consistence than broken fruit corrupting in the air.
This poem of three stanzas gives us a picture of poet. In the first stanza we are
told the condition of poet when he is no more. The second stanza describes his
position when he was alive. The third stanza gives us condition of other people and
poet’s face as mere mask. Thus, the poem gives us a vivid though non-detailed
picture of poet. The poem does not show that ‘the poet’ is a great poet. He is
completely regardless of external nature which is the background against man works.
The poem shows him to be a poet of man only:
and his mere mask, timidly dying there,
tender and open, has no more consistence
than broken fruit corrupting in the air.

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…15
The poem is written in the sonnet form. But it is neither Petrarchain nor
Shakespearean nor Miltonic sonnet. It suffers from some technical defects. Rilke
does not observe the rules of the sonnet writing. The various breaches in the structure
are due to the fact that the powerful thought in the poem flows on with such a mighty
rush of energy that it follows the delicate and artificial checks of form and rhyme
imposed on it from without.
In short, the poet tells us that life is temporary but art is long lived. In other
words, it may be said, ‘Life passes, art remains’.
Check your progress
Task 6:
Choose the correct alternative and complete the following sentences:
1. The form of the poem ________.
a. elegy b. ode c. sonnet d. ballad
2. Poet’s face was only ____ timidly dying there.
a. mask b. cover c. cure d. pale
3. The poem consists of ______ stanzas.
a. two b. three c. four d. five
4. _____ stanza describes poet’s position when he was alive.
a. second b. third c. fourth d. fifth
5. The theme of the poem is that life is temporary but ____
a. art is short lived b. art is long lived
c. art is fine art d. art is temporary.

8.4 Glossary and notes

 Perish(v) : to lose normal qualities, destroy
 Serene (adj) : calm, peaceful
 Disdain (v) : to scorn, contempt
 Annihilate (v) : to destroy completely
 Ferven (adj) : warmth, very earnest
 Espy (v) : to catch sight of, to see

 Pretext (n) : an excuse, an obtensible reason
 Intenser (adj) : emotional
 Gigantic (adj) : very huge, mighty
 Retrieve (v) : to get again, to restore, to make good
 Wean (v) : to turn away from
 Outgrow (v) : to get too big for
 Numbness (n) : having lost the power of feeling or motion
 Enrapture (v) : to fill with great delight
 Brim (n) : the upper edge
 Sundial (n) : an instrument to show time by shadow cast by the sun
 Leash (n) : a strap for holding dogs
 Avenue (n) : a way of approach, means of attainment
 transience (n) : not permanent, brief
 fleeted (v) : run or hurry away
 laurel (n) : evergreen shrub with smooth, shiny leaves (symbol of success
used by Romans & Greeks
 precipitate (aj) : hasty, without enough thought
 threshold (n) : part of an entrance
 sly (adj): deceitful, secretive
 crusts (n) : hard-baked surface of a loaf
 novice (n) : a person who is still learning & who is without experirnce
 bliss (n) : a great joy
 fiddle (n) : very well, in good health
 psalter (n) : musical instrument
 resurrect (v) : bring back into use
 loath (n) : unwilling
 sinew (n) : energy, physical strength
 settle (v) : make one’s home in, to establish or determine
 elude (v) : avoid, escape

 contend (v) : struggle or compete, argue
 consummate (adj): complete, perfect, skilled
 doom (n) : grim fate or destiny
 propped (adj) : depended on for help or support
 peer (v) : appear
 consistence (n): firmness
 breaches (n) : breaking or neglect (of rules, agreement etc.)

8.5 Key to check your progress

Task 1:
1. Beauty
2. their passion is far from immortal
3. Exhausted nature
4. Being dead
5. eternity
Task 2:
1. at Muzot in Duino
2. evergreen shrub
3. we
4. yes
5. House, Bridge, Gate, Fountain etc.
6. the angle
7. earth
8. death
9. simile
10. because of its secretive purpose
Task 3:
1. The Book of Hours
2. old

3. work actively in young age
4. Lord
5. maturity
Task 4:
1. the trees
2. fear & discouragement
3. eternity
4. small
5. Conquest
Task 5:
1. religious
2. Thee
3. human fate
4. angel
5. forsakenness
Task 6:
1. sonnet
2. mask
3. three
4. second
5. art is long lived

8.6 Exercises
1. Bring out the contrast in the ‘First Elegy’.
2. Write a critical appreciation of ‘First Elegy’.
3. What is the loss for which the poet laments on in ‘The Ninth Elegy’? How?
4. What are the tellable and untellable things mentioned in ‘The Ninth Elegy’?
5. Comment upon the language and use of imagery Rilke used in his poems.
6. What are the poems ‘The Spectator’ and ‘Autumn Day’ about? Account for
the titles of the poems.
7. “Rilke appeals to the imaginary figure of the Angel to evaluate the
achievements of humanity”. Discuss.

8.7 Further reading

1. Freedman, Ralph (1996) Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, New York.
2. Prater, Donald (1994) A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke,
Oxford University Press
3. Torgersen, Paul (1998) Dear Friend: Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula
Modersohn-Becker, Northwestern University Press
4. Erika, A and Metzger, Michael (2001) A Companion to the Works of Rainer
Maria Rilke, Rochester
5. Engel, Manfred and Lauterbach, Dorothea (ed) (2004) Rilke Handbuch:
Leben – Werk – Wirkung, Stuttgart and Weimar
6. Goldsmith, Ulrich, ed. (1980). Rainer Maria Rilke, a verse concordance to
his complete lyrical poetry. Leeds: W.S. Maney.
7. Leishman, J.B. Rilke: Selected Poems (Translated with an Introduction),
Penguin Books, 1978 (All the citations are from this collection)
8. Mood, John Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties. (New York: W. W. Norton
1975, reissue 2004).
9. Mood, John. (2006) Rilke on Death and Other Oddities. Philadelphia:
10. Mood, John. (2009) A New Reading of Rilke's "Elegies": Affirming the
Unity of "life-and-death" Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
11. Pechota Vuilleumier, Cornelia (2010) Heim und Unheimlichkeit bei Rainer
Maria Rilke und Lou Andreas-Salomé. Literarische Wechselwirkungen.
Olms, Hildesheim.
12. Schwarz, Egon. (1981) Poetry and politics in the works of Rainer Maria
Rilke. Frederick Ungar.

Charles Baudelaire

From ‘Flowers of Evil’

i) ‘Destruction’
ii) ‘A Martyr’
iii) ‘Women Damned’
iv) ‘The Two Good Sisters’
v) ‘The Fountain of Blood’
vi) ‘Allegory’
9.0 Objectives
9.1 Introduction
9.2 The Text : Selected Poems of Baudelaire :
9.2.1 Destruction
9.2.2 A Martyr
9.2.3 Women Damned
9.2.4 The Two Good Sisters
9.2.5 The Fountain of Blood
9.2.6 Allegory
9.3 Summary : The aspects of Baudelaire’s Poetry
9.4 Keys to Check Your Progress
9.5 Exercises
9.6 Further References

9.0 Objectives :
After studying this unit you will be –
 familiar with the life and letters of the French Poet, Charles Baudelaire,
 able to understand Baudelaire’s contribution to the Romantic Movement in the
French Poetry.
 able to study Baudelaire’s selected poems from the collection, The Flowers of

9.1 Introduction :
Dear students,
In this core paper on Literature in English Poetry, you have so far studied poetry
beginning with Edmund Spenser, the English poet of the 16th century, William
Wordsworth, Mathew Arnold and T. S.Eliot (all the poets of Britain), the Indian
English poet Arun Kolatkar, Carribian Derek Walcott and German Rainer Maria
Rilke. In this unit, you are going to study selected poems of Charles Baudelaire,
the19th century French Poet. You will have noticed that, apart from the poets of
Britain, the General Topics stated in the syllabus do not refer to the trends in or the
history of the French or Carribbean Poetry. Nevertheless, it is necessary here to talk
briefly about the place of Charles Baudelaire in the history of the 19th century French
You are familiar with the revival of lyric poetry, or more particularly, Romantic
poetry in England, during the first half of the 19th century, beginning with
Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads, and the poetry of Coleridge, Keats and Shelley. In
France also, there was such revival of lyrical poetry in eighteen-twenties and thirties,
which made a positive contribution to literature. The four major Romantic Poets —
Lamartine, Vigny, Hugo and Musset were responsible for bringing about this
Romantic revival. Lamartine (1790 – 1869), in his first book, Poetic Meditations
brought about a new note of individualistic element in poetry, which is really the soul
of Romantic poetry. It contains monologues expressing the hopes and sorrows of a
young man. Vigny’s poetry was also personal but melancholic and pessimistic in
tone. Victor Hugo wrote ballads and other lyrical pieces as well as poetic drama. He
was influenced by German romantic poetry as well as by Walter Scott’s ballads.

Hugo’s poetry was vigorous and sensual.
Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) was the son of Francois Baudelaire, who was
a priest, a teacher, and also held various administrative posts. At the age of sixty, he
married again (after the death of his first wife). Charles was born of this marriage,
and when Charles was six year old, his father died. His mother married again.
Baudelaire inherited a sizeable amount from his dead father, after he became
eighteen years old. But he was spendthrift and always made financial demands on his
mother. What she paid him was never sufficient. Baudelaire had kept a woman called
Jeanne, who was six years younger than him. Baudelaire had to move from house to
house as he was not able to pay the rent. He had to run away to Belgium to avoid his
creditors. He always complained about Jeanne, but did not leave her.
This Jeanne is one of the three women, whom Baudelaire addresses in his
poetry. He used to send his poems, anonymously, to a woman called Madame
Sabatier. A number of poets and writers, among them Theophile Gautier and the
novelist Flaubert, used to be the guests at her house. He had sent her one of the
poems from his The Flowers of Evil. The third woman, with whom he had a brief
affair was Marie Daubrun, who was actually the mistress of a minor poet, Theodore
de Banville. These three women are indirectly referred to or addressed in his poetry.
The collection of Baudelaire’s poems, Les Fleurs du mal, or in English The
Flowers of Evil, was published in June 1857. In the same year, Gustav Flaubert’s
novel Madame Bovary, was also published. It was challenged in the court of law for
the charge of obscenity, and Flaubert was lucky to get favourable decision. But
Baudelaire was not so lucky. His lawyer was rather weak in argument. And six
poems out of The Flowers of Evil were banned. In fact, the title of this book at first
was The Lesbians, and with this title it was not possible to get it published. Besides,
Baudelaire’s publicity as a bohemian urban ‘dandy’ also went against him. One
accusation against the book was, its ‘realism’ was harmful to public morality.
Baudelaire was fined three hundred francs. Six poems from this collection were to be
omitted. Baudelaire was very unhappy with this decision, because for him the poems
together formed one whole book. It was not mere collection of assorted poems.
Before reading the poems of Baudelaire, you should know his idea about the
terms ‘natural’, ‘Ennui’ and ‘spleen’. The term ‘natural’ has a negative connotation
in Baudelaire’s thinking. Saint Paul once described ‘natural man’ as the one for

whom spiritual is ‘foolish’. From Baudelaire’s point of view, Commerce is also
natural and therefore it is sinful or vile. Marquis de Sade, who was famous for
following his ‘natural’ instinct for sex was, for Baudelaire, an example of vileness,
the evil. According to Baudelaire, the ’natural’ in man is responsible for the sins like
parricide (killing the father), and cannibalism (eating human flesh). He thinks this
category ‘natural’ is against modesty and manners, and even against religion,
because religion teaches us good things like taking care of the poor and of the old
parents. Nature, on the contrary, requires us to protect self-interest and kill those who
come in the way. According to Baudelaire, the things that are beautiful and noble are
the creations of reason. Crime, he says, is ‘natural’, originating in the very womb of
the mother. Virtue, on the other hand, is taught, and therefore artificial and
supernatural. Evil comes naturally, but virtues are taught. Baudelaire’s idea of beauty
is, therefore, related to artificiality, of make-up and beautification. He dislikes
realism in the fine arts like painting.
For Baudelaire, ‘Ennui’ means boredom, and he relates it to the natural world
including human life. This ennui is a force which threatens to destroy the world, but
the remedy or an antidote for ennui is the ‘ideal’ world that can be created with the
help of reason, by establishing the cult of beauty and rejecting the physical world.
The second remedy is to stand apart from this physical world, watch and not get
involved. Baudelaire’s stance as a ’dandy’ is related to this idea of the cult of beauty.
Dandy is supposed to dress well, look well, ‘he must live and sleep before the
mirror’, in other words, the Dandy embraces the cult of beauty, which can be
artificially created. For him, the physical world is ugly and boring. According to
Baudelaire, Dandy is opposite of woman. The woman represents natural while the
dandy represents unnatural and artificial.
Another term Baudelaire uses is ‘Spleen’. It means ‘ennui of all thins, disgust
with life.’ This feeling of ennui can be controlled by religion or philosophy. The
natural inclination of ennui is toward evil. The tedious life can be interrupted by an
evil act or thought. Baudelaire has a fascination for horror. He admired the American
writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe, especially for his Tales of Mystery and
Imagination. It was from Poe’s critical writings that he borrowed the idea of art
independent of social morality. He also realized, on reading Poe, that the beauty is
much more appealing when mixed with strangeness. But Baudelaire’s
supernaturalism is like Poe’s literary device.

Baudelaire was melancholy by temperament. For him, beauty was painful. At one
place he says:
‘I will not insist that joy has no part in Beauty, but I do claim Joy, as among its
most vulgar ornaments; whereas Melancholy is, as it were, its steady companion
____ to the point that I can hardly conceive …… any type of Beauty without
Unhappiness. Supported (some would say obsessed) by these ideas, I would find it
difficult, as you can see, not to conclude that the most perfect type of virile Beauty is
Satan ___ as Milton represents him.’
Baudelaire’s idea of Beauty, his melancholy, and perhaps his cynical
categorizing of woman as ‘natural’ and therefore vile pervade the whole of his
poetry. Like Saint Paul, he belives ‘natural’ man is one for whom spirituality is
‘foolishness’. He condemns commerce also as ‘natural’ and therefore ‘vile’. About
‘natural’man he says:
‘Go through, analyse everything natural, all actions and desires
of the pure natural man. All you find will be atrocious. Anything
beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation. Crime,
a taste for which the human animal has drawn from his mother’s
womb, is natural in origin.’
As already mentioned, Baudelaire says that virtue is to be taught through
religion or philosophy.
You can see that Baudelaire’s idea of natural man is totally different from
Rousseau’s idea of Noble Savage as an innocent and noble being. His idea of nature
is totally different from what you have understood from Wordsworth’s poetry.
You will find Baudelaire’s poems rather obscure and difficult to understand.
But, you will have to read them again and again and try to understand them in the
light of this introduction. Remember, these poems reproduced here are translations
from the original French.

9.2 The Text: Selected Poems of Baudelaire :
Baudelaire was profoundly religious. He believed in God as well as in Devil
with equal conviction. His poems often express, very honestly, the human condition,
tormented between the two forces, Divine and Evil. In this poem, he is struggling to
remain within the limits of his condition as a human being, and cling to his faith in
God, against the powerful Demon trying to drag him away.
The first part describes the influence of the Demon ( or Satan) within him or
beside him, or floating around him like the thin air. The Demon appears to be as
inevitable as the air around, neither seen nor touched, but powerful enough to enter
the lungs, like the air, and awaken sinful desires. These sinful desires are eternally
the part of the human condition. (As pointed out in the introduction, some poets like
Hugo, try to take help of spirituality to escape these guilty desires or the influence of
the Demon. But Baudelaire would like to remain within his human condition, facing
the Evil). Desires of every kind are part of the human life. And these desires are not
holy or wholesome. They are sinful desires, and though one knows they are sinful,
they cannot be easily avoided. The poet is aware of the guilty desires in him, which
lend strength to the Demon.
The Demon cunningly appeals to the poet’s love of Art, and takes the form of
alluring women. Baudelair considers woman to be ‘natural’ and therefore vile, yet he
is aware of the seductive influence of woman’s beauty. This beauty is artificial
(created by the art of make-up, etc.) The Demon not only tries to beguile the poet
with the help of seductive women, he also administers to him some vile drink. Thus,
under the influence of seductive women and the vile drink the Demon tries to take
him away from God. The poet is breathless. His spirit is crushed and he is tired. The
demon drags him across the deserted plains of Ennui, i.e. boredom. According to
Baudelaire, this Ennui or boredom is the essential human condition. The details such
as soiled clothing, open wounds and the instruments of destruction stand for
violence. The Demon here is the Demon of guilty desires in his own mind. The poet
is aware of the conflicting forces of God and Devil, good and evil, working within

Baudelaire’s love of Art is his preference for artificiality over what is ‘natural’.
He believes that Reason, Philosophy, and Religion teach man the manners and
morals. In his struggle against the Demon of desires, it is the Religion and the
Reason that can help him.
Terms and Vocabulary :
 Impalpable : intangible, not easily grasped by mind
 Specious : plausible, appearing to be right or fair (but actually not)
 Pretexts : excuses
 Vile potions : dose of some abominable or poisonous liquid
Check Your Progress I
A) Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each :
1. Why was Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil banned?
2. Why was Baudelaire unhappy about the ban only on his six poems?
3. What is the meaning of Ennui in Baudelaire’s poetry?
4. How does Baudelaire wish to establish the ideal world?
5. What is the cult of ‘Dandy’ that Baudelaire accepted?
6. What does Baudelaire mean by ‘Spleen’?
7. Which American writer influenced Baudelaire? Why?
8. What is Baudelaire’s conception of Beauty?
9. What is Baudelaire’s view of ‘natural' man?
10. How can virtue be taught according to him?
2. Tick the most appropriate alternative from the ones given below each of the
following statements :
i) The theme of the poem Destruction is ---
a) destruction of the world by the Demon
b) Baudelaire’s fascination for Demonic power.
c) the struggle between the Divine and the Evil forces in his mind.

d) helplessness of man while confronting the Evil.
ii) The Demon in the poem Destruction ----
a) represents the problems faced by the poet
b) represents the evil desires of the poet
c) the struggle between the Divine and the Evil forces in the poet’s mind.
d) helplessness of man while confronting the evil.
iii) The Demon takes the poet away from God ------
a) threatening him with the weapon of destruction
b) taking the form of alluring women
c) administering him some poison
d) confusing him with the scene of violence.
9.2.2 A Martyr :
Commentary :
The poem is full of garish visual details. But this is a kind of surrealist
description of a room which is furnished in a rich but voluptuous manner. There are
marble statues, and paintings, and the room is heated. The air in the room is foul.
Even the flowers in the bouquets are dying, and their glass-pots have turned into their
This melancholy description leads to the horror of a headless body of woman,
the blood pouring out on the pillow. The head is on a table, put there like a buttercup,
and its eyes stare vaguely, the luster gone from them.
The trunk (the rest of the body) of the dead woman is lying naked on the bed;
fully exposed. The scene appears to be like a gory portrait of violent love-making,
which must have delighted the evil angels hiding in the pleats of the curtains. The
pose of the lying dead on the bed, her provocative eyes reveal that she must have
enjoyed the sinister kind of love which is reflected in the expression of guilty joy on
her face. It must have been a celebration of guilty love. There is later a suggestion
that her spouse is wandering around in the world. So this must be the scene of an
illicit love affair.

The poet notes the physical details such as elegantly lean shoulder, angular hips,
lively waist, etc, which show that the woman must have been very young. The
question “did they let in a ravening pack of vagrant and displaced desires?” suggests
that the girl was the victim of her own boredom, which gave way to the plundering
and wandering desires. These desires were ‘displace’, which may mean that their
object – the man – was not perhaps a proper choice. When she was alive she offered
much love, but, perhaps, she could not satisfy the man, who turned vindictive. This
man must have been sadistic because he perhaps tried to tear pleasure out of her
‘inert uncomplaining’ flesh.
The poet asks the unclean, dead remains of the woman if this man bid farewell
to her kissing her cold teeth. This ironically comments on the inhumanity of the man.
The woman lying naked and dead, headless in her own blood, is the martyr to the
violent passion of the vindictive man. His act delights the evil angels hiding in the
folds of the curtains.
The poet suggests that the woman has escaped, gone far away from the crowd of
evil people and authorities asking questions. She can now sleep in peace. Her
husband is wandering around in the world, while her ‘immortal form’ (her soul?)
guards the wake (the corpse). The poet ironically says that her husband would remain
constant and faithful to her until death.
The title of the poem ‘A Martyr’ refers to the young woman, who is a martyr to
the violent desires of her lover. She is a martyr, but she has been a party to the
sinister play of desires, which she shared with her lover.
The poet appears to be sympathetic to her. Her ennui, the boredom of her life
must have driven her to this orgy of flesh, which ends in such a tragic manner. She is
rather a martyr to this ennui or boredom of life. As Baudelaire says the tedious can
be interrupted by an evil act. This is one of the poems in which the poet expresses
sympathy and pity for women, who he considers to be prone to vile desires.
Terms and Vocabulary :
 Flagons : pots for wine
 lame (French) : material with gold or silver thread interwoven
 ravening : plundering or preying
 vagrant : wandering

 inert : not moving, dead
 spouse : husband
 wake : watch by a corpse
Check Your Progress II :
A) Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each :
a) Who is the martyr in the poem?
b) Why does the poet say that the love of this woman was sinister?
c) Why should the evil angels be delighted?
d) What, according to the poet, must have awakened wild desires in the
e) What is suggested by the provocative eyes of the dead woman?
f) Why does the poet think that the dead woman is a martyr?
g) What is the irony in the final lines of the poem?
h) What suggests that the dead woman must have been rich?
B) Say whether the following statements are True or False:
i) The dead woman in the poem is an unmarried young woman.
ii) The head of the dead woman is put on the night table.
iii) The woman’s eyes express a wicked love and guilty joy.
iv) The vindictive man mentioned in the poem is the husband of the woman.
v) The room in the poem is poorly furnished.
9.2.3 Women Damned
Commentary :
The whole poem is descriptive. The title tells us that the poem is about women,
who are damned to live their life like docile cattle, having no initiative of action or
any way of changing their present life. There are several groups of them, and each
group is engaged doing different things, seeking solace in their condition. However,
one thing is common to all of them, they are the passive sufferers of their individual

Some of them are lounging on the sands like cattle. Lounging suggests
inactivity, dullness of their life. Are they happy? The adjective ‘pensive’ suggests
that they are in melancholy mood. They are looking at the horizon over the sea,
perhaps they have nothing to look for around them. They are seeking foothold, their
hands are folded and they are tired, and shivering. What are they thinking of? This
group symbolizes women damned to live the life of housewives, imprisoned in their
Another group is wandering by the brook. They seem to be the younger lot, who
are heart-broken, disappointed in love. They carve the names of their childhood
lovers on the soft green shrubs. They too are unhappy.
The young women in another group are walking towards the rocks. They are
like sisters moving together slowly and seriously. The poet is reminded of St.
Anthony whose path was strewn by the naked purple breasts of beautiful women to
tempt away from the way of God. The women here are temptresses. This is what
Baudelaire thinks of women. They seduce men and take them away from God.
There is another group in the ancient caves of the pagans. Their way is lighted
by the crumbling, shining gum from the trees. They are praying the wine god
Bacchus to come and help them in their plight. They need some intoxicant to forget
their old sorrow.
Then there are others who have put on the strips of cloth hanging down from
their shoulders, covering their breasts. They are wandering in the dark wood, in the
night, hiding a whip under their gowns. (This may be a reference to the sadistic
practice among men and women, who enjoyed sexual orgy, whipping being the part
of it. Thus, their pleasure was mixed with torture and tears. Marquis de Sade, the
notorious French nobleman of the 17th century France, was known for practicing
such sadistic sexual games.
The poet addresses these damned or accursed women, who include virgins,
demoniac and monstrous lovers, but at the same time they are martyrs to the lust of
men. The poet says that these women scorn reality. Their journey is unending. They
are frequently crying and shedding tears. They are sirens who beguile men.
The poet claims to have followed these tragic women. Though he considers

M. A. I : Literature in English : Poetry…15
women to be vile, the poet has great fascination for them. He has a mixed feeling for
these women. He loves as well as pities them, because he knows they have great
capacity to love. The poet perhaps refers here to the whole throng of Parisian
prostitutes, can hardly escape the kind of life they live. He pities them for their
suffering and for their unsatisfied thirst for pleasure. As already said, the poet
appears to admire them for the capacity of their great hearts to love.
We have already noted in the introduction that Baudelaire considered women to
be ‘natural’ in the sense that they are prone to vices and physical pleasures. He pities
them because this is how they are created. His comparison of women with the cattle
is significant in the sense that the cattle also live at the physical level. The simile
does not altogether fit, because these damned women cry and shed tears as they
know that the state of their life is painful .The cattle do not have the sense of
suffering or the mind that pines for redress or forgiveness.
Terms and Vocabulary :
  Pensive : melancholy, deep in thought
 Marine horizon : horizon beyond the sea
 Languors : fatigue, slackness
 Apparitions : (appearance) of ghosts or of supernatural beings
 Saint Anthony : Saint Anthony’s temptations include his confrontation
with horrible, ugly animals as well as beautiful naked women and
 Resins : sticky substance, gum oozing from trees like fir or pine
 Bacchus : Greek god of wine (here, he can soften the remorse of the
women with the help of his wine)
 scapulars : two strips of cloth hanging down the breasts and the back,
which women use
 spume (of pleasure): froth or foam (suggesting the joy of sinful love-
 unappeased : not satisfied or soothed

9.2.4 The Two Good Sisters
Commentary :
The two good sisters are two evil things. Debauch is a pervert, one who takes
human beings away from virtue and morality, and seduces men making them do
sinful things. Death is, of course, the companion of debauchery, because it finally
leads to Death. Death and Debauch are personified here as two good sisters. It is
interesting to see that Baudelaire conceives Death and Debauch as female beings
rather than male ones. In his thinking, he categorizes woman as ’nature’, that is vile
inclined to evil things.
Debauch and Death, the affectionate sisters, work together to corrupt men and
women. They can shower kisses, in other words, they can be wanton in their love.
Their loins are clothed in rags, and though they are sexually very active, they have
not yet given birth. In other words both Death and Debauch are the barren sisters.
These two sisters are sinister in their intention. They are inimical to the families.
They are the favourite agents of Hell. They are associated with graveyards and
brothels, the places where there is no repentance for the evil doings.
Coffin and bedroom is another pair which, like Debauch and Death, tell us the
stories or scandals related to the bedroom and coffin. These stories are full of terrible
(sinful) pleasures and ugly things of joy. The poet means to say that man who
indulges in the sinful things, does not repent for what he does. He is prone to enjoy
the terrible pleasures and the ugly delights the coffin and the bedroom offer.
The poet addresses both Debauch and Death in the final stanza. He is aware that
Death is inevitable and Debauch is going to lead him to Death. Myrtle, the flower
that is favourite of Venus, the goddess of beauty, is foul-smelling for him. In other
words, beauty and love cannot offer solace to him. Debauch that has seduced him,
will finally lead him to the cruel death. But the poet appears to welcome these two to
take him to his grave.
Baudelaire was, at his heart, religious and rather conservative. He ironically
describes Debauch and Death as ‘amiable sisters’. Debauchery, representing vices
and sins of all kinds, appears attractive to a man. That is why he uses adjectives
‘terrible’ and ‘hideous’ to describe the pleasures offered by these amiable sisters.

Terms and Vocabulary :
 Debauch : sensual indulgence, (debauch is here personified as the pervert
character that seduces men and women to do sinful things.)
 Debauch and Death : together they represent as the agents of Devil, alluring
men and women to commit sins.
 Amiable : friendly, (Debauch and Death approach men in a friendly
manner disguising their real nature)
 virgin loins : loins which have not yet given birth
 eternally laboring : all the time suffering pangs of birth (without any
 Myrtle : It is a flower plant, evergreen with white scented flowers. (It is
supposed to be the favourite of goddess Venus, the Greed goddess of
Beauty. But, Baudelaire calls it ‘foul smelling’ because here myrtle may
represent sinful love.)
 black Cypress : The cypress tree has hard wood and dark foliage. It is a
symbol for mourning.
Check Your Progress III : (Women Damned & Two Good Sisters)
A) Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each :
i) Who are like the cattle lounging on the sand?
ii) What are they looking at?
iii) Why are some women broken hearted?
iv) What are the women doing with the green wood of young shrubs?
v) Who are the women calling for help in their raging fevers and why?
vi) Why do some women hide a whip in their long gowns?
vii) Why are these women called pilgrims of infinity?
viii) What is the feeling of the poet for these women?

B) Tick the most appropriate alternative from the ones given below each of the
following statements :
1. In ‘The Two Good Sisters’, Debauch and Death are described as ----
(a) sickly women (b) dirty sisters
(c) barren women (d) prodigal women
2. A bed unvisited by remorse means ----
(a) unused bed (b) bed for the two sisters
(c) a bed of unrepentant ones (d) a bed for the ill-paid courtier
3. The coffin and bedroom are alike in offering ----
(a) rest and repose (b) ugly delights
(c) scandalous stories (d) wholesome pleasures
9.2.5 The Fountain of Blood
Commentary :
The Fountain of Blood is a kind of hallucinatory poem. Most of Baudelaire’s
poetry is full of blood and violent details. In this poem, the poet feels that his blood is
gushing forth from a wound which he cannot find. The rhythmic sobs and
murmuring sound of the blood flowing appeal to our ears (the auditory images). In
the next stanza the image is visual. Red blood is flowing across the city, in a rivulet,
and it is forming island round the paving stones. The blood flowing reminds the poet
of similar flowing blood ‘in a field of honor’ The poet perhaps refers here to the
duels fought by the gentlemen to defend their honour or their lady. This rivulet of
blood is ‘quenching every creature’s thirst’. Who can be thirsting for blood? The
poet does not tell us. But, Baudelaire must have seen a lot of bloodshed in the early
part of the 19th century. And the bloodshed during the years of the revolution must
also be fresh in his mind.
The blood gushing forth in a rivulet is thus the result of passions flying high. It
can also symbolize here the evil desires of the poet. They appear to engulf the whole
city. The flowing blood satisfies desires of the creatures who lust for blood.
The poet would like to stop this horrible hallucination. He says he has often
asked for strong wine to numb his mind so that this horrible dream or feeling can be

stopped. The adverb ‘often’ suggests that this is a recurring feeling. The poet is
terrified. But the wine does not help. He finds that the wine makes his senses more
acute. He can hear and see much more clearly after the drink. He tries another
remedy, the remedy of love. He thinks the love might bring him sleep and he would
forget the horrible feeling. But love for him is nothing but torture, a bed of needles.
The ‘love’ here does not appear to involve his heart. He seems to be seeking
forgetfulness in the physical love of the ‘cruel whores’. They need to be given
‘cumshaw’ a gift.
The Fountain of Blood expresses a very disturbed state of mind. Baudelaire, as
already said, was deeply religious. He was acutely aware of the forces of Good and
Evil, God and Satan working in life. He does not take help of spirituality to face the
problem of evil, but chooses to fight it out on his own terms remaining within his
human condition. However, his attitude to women is rather complex. On the one
hand he is attracted to them, he is aware of the allure of their beauty, and he also
feels sympathy for them. But at the same time he calls them whores, thinks that they
are cruel and appears to be displeased with them for their desire to get gifts. His view
of categorizing woman as ‘natural’ and therefore vile and self-seeking is responsible
for this ambivalent attitude to them in his poems.
Terms and Vocabulary :
 Quenching : satisfying
 Cumshaw : gift or present (Chinese Pidgin English)
9.2.6 Allegory
Commentary :
This poem, titled as Allegory, is apparently a sensuous description of a beautiful
woman. As already explained in the introductory remarks, Baudelaire has
categorized woman as ‘natural’ and therefore vile, prone to sin, and satanic.
The woman in this poem is described in terms of her physical beauty. She has
ample breasts, her hair is dipping in her glass of wine. This suggests her intoxicating
beauty. She has granite (white marble like) skin that repels any barbs, or deadens
their edges. She is not afraid of Debauch and Death. She laughs at Death and jokes
with Debauch. These monsters, known for their destructive activities only, have
respect for her magnificent figure.

This woman is aware of her influence on others. She walks like a queen and
reclines on a bed like a great Sultana (the queen of a Sultan – the Muslim emperor).
She has the Muslim belief that heaven is pleasure. She appears to invite the human
race to look at her beauty and forget the world’s sorrows. Her beauty is alluring and
inviting, so the people are mesmerized by her. She is very much aware of the gift of
her physical beauty. She is barren, a childless virgin, and yet she is the necessary part
of this moving world. Her beauty is a kind of license to her to commit any act of sin
or disgrace. She does not know where her soul would go after Death, what Hell or
Purgatory is. In other words, she does not care what would happen after death. She
would face Death (the black night) like a new born baby, without any fear or hatred.
She would face death in the same way she accepted life. She would confront Death
like a new-born child.
As the title expressly tells us, this poem is an ‘allegory’, which says one thing
but means something else. Baudelaire believed woman to be the part of Nature,
which, according to him, is vile and self-serving. The beautiful woman here stands as
a supreme example of an egoistic, self-centered person. She is preoccupied with her
own passions and desires. She possesses earthly beauty, which is at once attractive
and cruel. Nature, as understood by Baudelaire, is like the ‘Original Sin’, the sin
ingrained in the human race. The beautiful woman here signifies this propensity of
mankind to turn towards evil passions and desires. For Baudelaire, Marquis de Sade
was the ‘Natural man’, indulging whole-heartedly in the pleasures of sex and
debauchery. The beautiful woman here, like de Sade, is given to the life of lust, the
pleasures of the body. She laughs at Death. She is not worried about going to Hell,
where sinful people have to undergo horrible punishments, or to Purgatory, where
the sinful souls spend long periods performing penance to wash away their sins.
People like her do not repent for their sins. They face Death, innocently, like a new-
born baby.
This allegory appears to be the creed of those who would like to live life on their
own terms, without bothering about what would happen after death.
Terms and Vocabulary :
 Cleavage : split between the breasts
 Tenderloin toxin : sharp poisonous substance, (tenderloin is a tender piece
of meat)

 gawk : watch bashfully and awkwardly
 Hell and Purgatory : Hell, in Christian mythology, is a place where the
souls of the Dead go to suffer punishments for their sins. And Purgatory is
the place above the Hell, where the souls undergo penance for their sins.
 Black Night : the moment of death
Check Your Progress IV :
(A) Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each :
1. What does the Fountain of Blood signify?
2. What is the significance of the blood painting everything red?
3. What kind of thirst does the flowing blood satisfy?
4. What help does the poet seek to numb his terror?
5. Why is love not able to make him forget and sleep?
(B) Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each :
1. What suggests that love does not affect the beautiful woman in ‘Allegory’?
2. How does the beautiful woman treat Death and Debauch?
3. Why are Death and Debauch respectful to her?
4. What does the beautiful woman believe in?
5. Why is she so confident about herself?
6. What does the black Night mean?
7. How would the beautiful woman face Death?
9.3 Summary : The aspects of Baudelaire’s Poetry
While reading Baudelair’s poetry, we become aware of the themes of Death and
Decay frequently occurring in his poems. He also reveals his sadistic attitude towards
sex. Baudelaire was at heart a very religious poet. He deeply believed in both God
and Devil, but at the same time he had also accepted the strength and weaknesses of
human nature. He would not renounce the human flesh and what desires and passions
go with it. He would not like to become a saint and seek escape into spiritualism. The
human condition, though painful, is acceptable to him. He remains honest to this

outlook. This honesty and directness appeals to the readers, though Baudelaire may
be criticized for his frank references to sexuality and physical beauty of women.
The Imagery in Baudelaire’s Poetry :
You will notice that the images in Baudelaire’s poetry are precise and concrete.
They often have a pictorial quality. See, for example, these lines from his ‘A
‘a headless corpse pours out vivid red blood
in a river to the open pillow which drinks it
in like a parched meadow’

and another from the poem ‘Women Damned’ :

‘Like pensive cattle lounging on the sand, some turn their eyes
to the marine horizon and, feet seeking foot hold, hands folded,
are subject to mild languors and cold shivers.
Or from The Two Good Sisters :
‘Coffin and bedroom, prolific in blasphemies
offer us in turn --- like two good sisters ----
terrible pleasures and hideous delights.’
And from the Fountain of Blood :
‘Sometimes it seems to my blood gushes
like a fountain, in rhythmic sobs, I hear it
flowing with long murmurs ----
Apart from being visual, they also appeal to our sense of hearing as in the
expressions ‘rhythmic sobs’, ‘gushing’ and ‘long murmurs’. There are sensuous
images as in the poem ‘Allegory’ ::
‘A beautiful woman with rich cleavage ----‘
‘her hair trail in wine ----
‘she has a Muhammadan faith in pleasure
her armful of breasts calls the human race to gawk’
Baudelaire uses a number of images of Death and Destruction and Decay. For
example, in the poem ‘Destruction’, the Demon, who is always present beside him,

takes him ----
‘far from the eyes of God, panting, crushed by fatigue,
across the deep and deserted plains of Ennui’
And in ‘A Martyr’, he asks the severed head:
‘Tell me, ghastly head, which my feverish arm lifts
by its stiffened hair, did he fasten his supreme farewell
on your cold teeth?
In the poem ‘Damned Women’, the women are suffering endlessly ---
‘in the gleam of crumbling resins,
in the mute hollow of unique pagan caves’
and some of them wander -----
‘hiding a whip under their long gown,
in dark woods and lonely nights’
And in The Two Good Sisters, the poet courting both Debauch and Death says to
‘when will you bury me, foul-fingered Debauch?
O Death, her charming rival, when will you
come to graft onto her stinking myrtles your black cypress?
The imagery used by the poet is thus rich and varied.
Baudelaire and the Romantic Movement:
In France, there was revival of lyric poetry in the eighteen-twenties and thirties.
It was the most important aspect of the Romantic Movement. (As the students of
English literature, you are familiar with the parallel Romantic Movement in the
history of English Poetry also, which began in 1789 with the publication of
Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads). Baudelaire grew under the influence of the senior
French Romantic poets such as Lamartine, Vigny, Hugo and Musset.
However, Baudelaire is different from these Romantic poets as well as from his
contemporary French poets. One aspect of Romanticism in his poetry is his obsession
with Death and Decay. In addition to this he has sadistic attitude towards sex. There
is also a mood of boredom and disgust expressed in his poetry.

Baudelaire has his own philosophy, which is neither escape into spiritualism nor
renouncing the world and become a hermit. He accepts to remain within the human
condition however painful it is. Women, he considers to be vile and satanic, but he
also acknowledges the influence their beauty and allure. His attitude to women is
complex and ambivalent. In the poem ‘A martyr’, as well as in ‘Women Damned’, he
appears to express pity and sympathy for them. In the poem ‘Allegory’, he
characterizes the beautiful woman flaunting her sensuous beauty and defying both
Death and Debauch. Here the woman stands for sensuous love and the life of
pleasure. If acknowledges the allure of woman’s beauty, he also calls them ‘demons’
‘monsters’ and even ‘grand spirits disdainful of reality’.
Baudelaire, in his life as well as in his poetry, was very individualistic. He
confronted human condition squarely without seeking escape into dreams or
spirituality. It is interesting to see that, though Baudelaire belongs to the Romantic
Movement of poetry, he does not appear to accept Romantic ideas of essential
goodness of man and supremacy of Nature. On the contrary, he thinks that Reason
and Religion teach man the virtue and morality. He is in favour of Art and
artificiality. His ‘dandyism’ is in contrast with Nature.

9.4 Keys to Check Your Progress :

 Check Your Progress I
1. (a) The Flowers of Evil was banned under the charge of obscenity.
(b) Baudelaire had conceived The Flowers of Evil as a whole book So he
was unhappy about the ban only on the six poems.
(c) Ennui is used by Baudelaire in the sense of boredom that is the result
of vile nature.
(d) Baudelaire wishes to establish the ideal world with the help of Reason,
by establishing a cult of beauty and rejecting the physical world.
(e) The cult of Dandy is related to Baudelaire' idea of Beauty artificially
Created (dressing well, etc.)
(f) By spleen, Baudelaire means disgust of all things, disgust with life.
(g) Baudelaire was influenced by the American writer, Edgar Allan Poe
for his stories of mystery and horror.

(h) According to Baudelaire, the natural man has negative connotation,
Vile and sinful.
(i) According to Baudelaire, virtue can be taught by Religion and
2. (i) c (ii) b (iii) b
 Check Your Progress II :
1. (a) The martyr in the poem is a woman beheaded by a vindictive lover.
(b) It was a sinister love because there is reference to the joy of guilt
Written in her face.
(c) The evil angels are delighted because they wish man to commit sin and
indulge in debauchery.
(d) The poet suggests that the wild desires in the woman must have been
awakened by the Ennui or boredom.
(e) The naked dead body of the woman suggests violent and sinister Love-
(f) The dead woman is a martyr to the desires of a vindictive man.
(g) The final lines ironically say that the spouse of the dead woman would
be as faithful to her as she was.
(h) The reference to the precious jewelry suggests that the woman must
have been rich.
2. (i) False, (ii) True (iii) True (iv) False (v) False.
 Answer to Check Your Progress III
(A) 1. The damned women are like the cattle.
2. They are looking at the horizon over the sea.
3. The hearts of some women are smitten by the memories of their past life of
4. They are carving the names of their lovers on the soft green wood.
5. The women are calling Bacchus for help because he is the God of Wine,
who can make them drown their remorse in wine.

6. These women hiding a whip practice sadism, injuring each other in the
game of love.
7. These women are pilgrims of infinity because they represent womankind of
all ages.
(B) 1. c 2. c 3. b
 Answers to Check Your Progress IV :
(A) (i) evil desires and passions of the poet.
(ii) It signifies evil desires spreading all over the place.
(iii) The flowing blood satisfies the thirst for sinister love and violence.
(iv) The poet seeks to drown this horror by drinking wine.
(v) The love itself proves for him a tormenting experience.
(B) (a) There is a reference that the love’s claws lose their edge against the granite
skin of the woman.
(b) The beautiful woman scorns Death and jokes with Debauch.
(c ) Death and Debauch have respect for her beauty.
(d) The beautiful woman believes in pleasure.
(e) She feels confident on account of the divine gift of her beauty.
(f) The ‘black night’ stands for Death.
(g) The beautiful woman would face Death like a new-born baby, who knows
neither hatred nor repentance.

9.5 Exercises :
1. Explain, with reference to the poems prescribed, Baudelaire’s concepts of Ennui
and Spleen.
2. Explain with reference to the poems prescribed, how Baudelaire’s view of
‘natural’ man is different from the Romantic idea of Noble Savage.
3. Write short notes on:
(a) The Beautiful Woman in the poem ‘Allegory’

(b) The women in ‘A Martyr’ as a victim of her Ennui
(c) The groups of women in the poem ‘Damned Women’
(d) Significance of the poem the Fountain of Blood.

9.6 Further references :

1. Brereton Geoffrey, A Short History of French Literature, Penguine Books
Ltd. 1954.
2. Henri Peyre (ed), Baudelaire: A Collection of Critical Essays, 1962.