William Wordsworth (1770-1850)1770 He was born in the family of an attorney. He was educat…

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

1770 He was born in the family of an attorney. He was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge.

1790-92He traveled to France and sensed the filthiness of the French Revolution

(Slogan “liberty, fraternity, and equality”)。 He saw that Jacobite took the power from Gironde, who was radical. Lewis XIIII was killed. He became conservative in politics.

1795 A gentleman friend gave him some money that enabled him to live in Great Lake with his sister Dorothy who never got married and live with William Wordsworth of all her life.

1798 The beginning of the Romantic period. He lived by the riverside with his sister writing poems for 8 years.

1813 Wordsworth received a sinecure as a distributor.

1843 He succeeded Southey as Poet Laureate.

William Wordsworth is the best-known and oldest poet among the Lake Poet.

3 groups of his poetry

1. Simple, rural folk: wrote when he lived in Great Lake district.

e.g. “Lucy Poem”: full of innocence and simpleness.

2. Childhood: beautiful and instructive.

e.g. “We are seven”, a short poem in the form of a dialogue between the poet and a 8-year-old girl. The poem reveals Wordsworth’s philosophy of pre-existence of soul. The girl is too innocent to recognize death.

“Ode: Intimations and Immortality”, explains his philosophy of pr-existence, explains the from childhood to manhood.

3. Nature – the most important part

About animals, plants, emotions.

e.g. “To a butterfly”, “To a skylark”,

“My heart leaps up”, expresses the joy of seeing rainbow.

The major works of William Wordsworth.

Tintern Abby, it combines his feelings as worship of nature, with his impression gathered during his second visit. In this poem, Wordsworth reveals his innermost thoughts and emotions with regard to the natural world.

The Prelude, (1805) contains 14 books. His autobiographical poem. The first 8 books tell about his early life. The last 6 books tell about his growing maturity. Importance of the poem: it’s a heart-pouring expression of Wordsworth’s own spiritual development.

The Preface, (1800) added to the Lyrical Ballads (1798)。 It brought success to Lyrical Ballads. Importance: it’s a piece of literary criticism which shows Wordsworth’s theory of poetry writing.

1. Theme of poetry: incidents and situations chosen from common life.

2. Language: really used by common people.

3. Ordinary things are to be presented in an unusual way. (”We are seven”)

4. Trace the primary laws of human nature.

Why Lyrical Ballads is a landmark in English poetry?

1. It’s a collaboration of Wordsworth and Coleridge. (who are the major representatives of the Romantic Movement.)

2. In the book, they explored new theories and innovated new technologies in poetry writing. (New: break away with traditional writing style)

3. They saw poetry as a healing energy. They regard poetry could purify the souls of inspaniduals and society.

4. The Preface to the 2nd edition is a manifesto of the Romantic Movement.

5. Lyrical Ballads uses simple language to show strong sympathy with the poor, and it’s the fusion of natural ascription with expression of inward state of mind.

The importance of William Wordsworth.

William Wordsworth is the leading figure of the English romantic poetry.

His is a voice of searchingly comprehensive humanity and one that inspires his audience to see the world freshly, sympathetically and naturally.

The most important contribution he has made is that he has not only started the modern poetry, the poetry of the growing inner self, but also changed the course of English poetry by using ordinary speech of the language and by advocating a return to nature.

Selected Reading of William Wordsworth: [P179] I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

George Cordon Byron (1788-1824)

1788 He was born lame. Father died when he was 3 years old. He inherited the title of Baron and a large estate. He received his education at Harrow then Cambridge.

1809-11 He had a grand tour around Europe.

1811 23y, he took his seat in the House of Lords. He tried to show his sympathy for working class, esp. the Luddites. He made a speech at the House of Lords to attack royal people.

1815 He got married to Anna Isabella Milbanke. A year late, his wife left him and refused to return. His political enemy attacked him by saying his wife’s leave was caused by his numerous love affairs with other women, esp. his half-sister Augusta.

1816 He exiled himself to Europe. He left England and never returned. In Italy, Byron joined the Carbonari, a secret Italian revolutionary organization. He assisted the Italian patriots in an uprising against the Austrian rule.

In Greece, he not only gave financial support to Greek revolutionists, but also took part in the fight as commander in chief to attack the Turks.

1824 He died of disease in Greece at the age of 36.

Throughout his life, Byron is very revolutionary, reactionary, and always fights for freedom.

Byronic Hero [P195]

1. A proud, mysterious rebel figure of noble origin.

2. A Byronic hero would carry on his shoulders the burden of righting all the wrongs in a corrupt society, and would rise single-handedly against any kind of tyrannical rules either in government, in religion, or in moral principles with unconquerable wills and inexhaustible energies.

3. The conflict is usually one of rebellious inspaniduals against outworn social systems and conventions.

4. The figure is, to some extent, modeled on the life and personality of Byron himself.

Byron’s Major Works

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

There are 4 cantos. First 2 cantos were written 1809-1810, England. Last 2 cantos were written after he exiled himself.

Childe is the hero of the poem. He is a young aristocratic. The poem is about his observation and reflection of his extensive travel to Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy.

Pilgrimage: a religious tour. Childe: Knight.

Writing style of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

1. Spenserian Stanza: 9 lines in a stanza. First 8 lines are written in iambic pentameter 五步抑扬格, and the 9th line in iambic hexameter 六步抑扬格。 Rhyme scheme: aba b bcbcc.

2. Grand epic style.

3. Byron wrote this poem to satirize Spenser’s Fairie Queen.

The most important theme of the poem:

Byron’s consistent attitude of the antagonism towards tyranny and his enthusiasm for freedom.

Don Juan

1818-1823 written for 5 years. It contains 16 cantos. A few stanzas in the 17th canto. The poem isn’t finished because of his death.

Don Juan is Byron’s masterpiece, a great comic epic of the early 19th century. It’s a poem based on a traditional Spanish legend of a great lover and seducer of women. Juan is immoral, yet Byron takes this poem as the most moral.

Byron invests in Juan the moral positives like courage, generosity and frankness, which, according to Byron, are virtues neglected by the modern society.

In the poem, Byron intends to present a panoramic view of different types of society. It presents brilliant pictures of life in its various stages of love, joy, suffering, hatred and fear. Byron is here attacking not a personal enemy but the whole hypocritical society.

Byron’s Writing Style:

1. His poetry was popular at home and abroad and exerted great influence on the Romantic Movement.

2. Byron’s diction, though unequal and frequently faulty, has on the whole a freedom, copiousness and vigor.

3. His description is simple and fresh, and often brings vivid objects before the reader.

4. His poetry is like the oratory.

5. The glowing imagination of the poet rises and sinks with the tones of his enthusiasm, roughing into argument, or softening into the melody feeling and sentiments.

6. Byron employed the Octave Stanza from Italian mock-heroic poetry.

Importance of Byron:

Byron’s poetry has great influence on the literature of the whole world. Byron has enriched European poetry with an abundance of ideas, images, artistic forms and innovations. He stands with Shakespeare and Scott among the British writers who exert the greatest influence over the mainland of Europe.

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