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  III Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  1.一般识记 His Life & Literary Career

  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), poet & critic, was born in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, the son of a clergy man. He received education at Cambridge but left without a degree. Inspired by the radical thinkers with their idealism, Coleridge joined Robert Southey in a utopian plan of establishing an ideal democratic community in America, named "Pantisocracy." In the spring of 1797, Coleridge met & began his long friendship with William Wordsworth. The following year, they published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, which become a landmark in English poetry. Coleridge''s poem, " The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," was included in the volume. The years 1797 &1798 were among the most fruitful of Coleridge''s life. In addition to " The Ancient Mariner," he wrote " Kubla Khan," began writing " Christabel," & composed "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison," "Frost at Midnight," & " The Nightingale", which are considered to be his best "conversational" poems.

  In 1798, he traveled with the Wordsworths to Germany. In 1810, Coleridge quarreled seriously with Wordsworth. Although they reconciled with each other later on, their friendship had never reached its former intimacy. In 1813, his tragic drama Remorse received popular welcome. In 1816, he wrote his major prose work, Biographia Literaria (1817), a series of autobiographical notes & dissertations on many subjects, including some brilliantly perceptive literary criticism.

  2.识记 His Literary Outlook & Philosophy

  Philosophically & critically, Coleridge opposed the limitedly rationalistic trends of the 18th-century thought. He courageously stemmed the tide of the prevailing doctrines derived from Hume & Hartley, advocating a more spiritual & religious interpretation of life, based on what he had learnt from Kant & Schelling. He believed that art is the only permanent revelation of the nature of reality. A poet should realize the vague intimations derived from his unconsciousness without sacrificing the vitality of the inspiration.

  3.识记 His Major Works

  (1)"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," told an adventurous story of a sailor. By neglecting the law of hospitality, the mariner cruelly shot an albatross which flew to the ship through thick fog. Then disaster fell onto the ship. The breeze died down; the ship stopped; the hot tropical sun shone all day long. The other sailors died of thirst one after another, while the mariner alone was alive, being tortured all the time with thirst & the horror of death. Only when the mariner finally repented & blessed for the water snake did the spell break & the ship was then able to go back home. The story moves on through a world of wonder, from mysterious preface to inevitable close. Each incident stands out clear & vivid; each corresponding change in the soul of the mariner is registered. The whole experience is an ordeal of oppressive weariness.

  (2) "Kubla Khan" was composed in a dream after Coleridge took the opium. The poet was reading about Kubla Khan when he fell asleep. The images of the river, of the magnificent palace & other marvelous scenes deposited in his unconsciousness were expressed into about two or three hundred lines. But when he was writing them down, a stranger interrupted him & the vision was never recaptured. Only 54 lines survived.

  (3) "Christabel" uses a freer version of the ballad form to create an atmosphere of the Gothic horror at once delicate & sinister. The tale is an old one of a serpent disguised as a beautiful lady to victimize an innocent maiden. The standard trappings of Gothic horror——the remote castle & the wood, the virgin Christabel in peril & the subtly wicked Geraldine —— dramatize a confrontation with evil through disturbing suggestions of the sexual, supernatural & fantastic elements of dream. The moaning of the owl & the crowing of the cock, together with the response of the dog to the regular strokes of the clock, produced the effect of mystery & horror in the dead night. Opposed to the nightmarish are images of religious grace & the spring of love that had gushed from the poet''s heart. It has been said that the thing attempted in "Christabel" is the most difficult in the whole field of romance, & nothing could come nearer the mark. The miraculous element, which lies on the face of " The Ancient Marines," is here driven beneath the surface.

  (4) Biographia Literaria, his major prose work is a series of autobiographical notes & dissertations on many subjects, including some brilliantly perceptive literary criticism. The sections in which he expresses his views on the nature of poetry & discusses the works of Wordsworth are especially notable.

  4.领会 Characteristics of His Poems

  Coleridge was esteemed by some of his contemporaries & is generally recognized today as a lyrical poet & literary critic of the first rank. His poetic themes range from the supernatural to the domestic. His treatises, lectures, & compelling conversational powers made him one of the most influential English literary critics & philosophers of the 19th century.

  5.领会:His Achievements

  His actual achievement as a poet can be divided into two remarkably diverse groups: the demonic & the conversational. The demonic group includes his three masterpieces: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Christabel" & "Kubla Khan." Mysticism & demonism with strong imagination are the distinctive features of this group. Generally, the conversational group speaks more directly of an allied theme: the desire to go home, not to the past, but to " an improved infancy." Each of these poems bears a kind of purgatorial atonement, in which Coleridge must fail or suffer so that someone he loves may succeed or experience joy.

  Coleridge is one of the first critics to give close critical attention to language, maintaining that the aim of poetry is to give pleasure "through the medium of beauty." In analyzing Shakespeare, Coleridge emphasizes the philosophic implication, reading more into the subject than the text & going deeper into the inner reality than only caring for the outer form.

  6. 应用Selected Reading

  Kubla Khan (1)

  "Kubla Khan" is one of the best-known poems written by Coloridge. It is a vision, a fragment painting, a gorgeous Oriental picture. When the poem was published in 1816, Coleridge prefaced it explaining that the poem came to him in 1797, as he lay asleep at the moment when he was reading a story from Maco polo in an old travel book named Purcha''s Pilgrimage. Though the poet calls this poem a fragment, there is a wholeness in the poem & it is highly symbolic. The places symbolize conflicting forces ——Xanadu, which represents a beautifully cultivated & ordered product of the rational will, is opposed to Alph''s wild & savage chasm which represents an irrationally mysterious creative energy or inspiration. The speaker realizes that the opposites can be reconciled through the creative imagination. "Ancestral voices prophesying war" confirms that the conflict is always present; the "pleasure-dome," the product of human imaginative vision is the device (poetry) which will reconcile the opposites; & "a damsel with a dulcimer" is anything which releases the poetic vision.

  Either ways, however, the description of Xanadu, the pleasure dome, the chasm the sacred river Alph bursts out of, along with the speaker''s reaction to this revision of them is exotic & vivid. This poem can be a source of pleasure of verbal music or of freely associated & impressive images. Notice how the meter of the poem supports its shifting ideas: lines 1 through 11 are orderly Iambic tetrameter broken only in line 5; lines 12 through 30 are iambic pentameter which is poly-rhythmic in its diversity; lines 31 through 34 are in a lilting iambic tetrameter shifting to a couplet of iambic pentameter in lines 35 & 36. The poem ends with tetrameter iambic occasionally interrupted by trochaic. The rhymes are also arranged haphazardly to accommodate the idea.

  IV George Gordon Byron

  1. 一般识记 His Life

  English poet, born George Gordon Byron, in London, England, Jan. 22, 1788, and died in Missolonghi, Greece, April 19, 1824.

  Lord Byron was perhaps the most fascinating & influential literary personality of the Romantic age. An eloquent poet, handsome nobleman, & political rebel, he was one of the most popular & notorious figures of the 19th century.

  He was educated first at Harrow & then Cambridge. In 1807, a volume of Byron''s poems, Hours of Idleness, was published. A very harsh review of this work in the Edinburgh Review prompted a satirical reply from Byron in heroic couplets, entitled English Bards & Scotch Reviewers (1809), in which Byron lashed not only his reviewers, but also the conservative schools of contemporary poetry, showing his lasting contempt for what he considered the commonplace & vulgarity of the " Lake Poets."

  In 1811, Byron took his seat in the House of Lords, & made vehement speeches, attacking the reactionary policy of the English government, & showing his great sympathy for the oppressed poor. At the news of the Greek revolt against the Turks, Byron not only gave the insurgent Greeks financial help but plunged himself into the struggle for the national independence of that country. In July 1823, Byron joined the Greek insurgents at Missolonghi. The Greeks made him commander in chief of their forces in January 1824. Because of several months'' hard work under bad weather, Byron fell ill & died. The whole Greek nation mourned over his death.

  2. 识记 His Literary Career

  In 1807, a volume of Byron''s poems, Hours of idleness, was published. In 1809, he wrote a satirical reply to a harsh review in the Edinburgh Review in heroic couplets, entitled English Bards & Scotch Reviewers. The publication in 1812 of the first two cantos of Childe Harold''s Pilgrimage, a poem narrating his travels between 1809 & 1811 in Europe, brought Byron fame. In the following two years. He had written a number of long verse-tales, generally known as the Oriented Tales, with similar kind of heroes. In 1816, he wrote the third canto of Childe Harold & the narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon. From 1816 to 1819, he produced, among other works, the verse drama Manfred (1817), the first two cantos of Don Juan (1818-1819), & the fourth & final canto of Childe Harold (1818)。 In 1821, Byron wrote the verse drama Cain & the narrative poem The Island. He published, in 1822, one of the greatest political satires, The Vision of Judgment, with its main attack on Southey, the Tory Poet Laureate. Don Juan, a mock epic in 16 cantos, was finished in 1823.

  3. 识记His Major works

  (1) Childe Harold''s Pilgrimage

  The poem is about a gloomy, passionate young wanderer who escaped from the society he disliked & traveled around the continent, questing for freedom. It teems with all kinds of recognizable features of Romantic poetry —— the medieval, the outcast figure, love of nature, hatred of tyranny, preoccupation with the remote & savage, & so on. It also contains many vivid & exotic descriptive passages on mountains, rivers & seas. With his strong passion for liberty & his intense hatred for all tyrants, Byron shows his sympathy for the oppressed Portuguese under French occupation; he gives his strong support to the Spanish people fighting for their national independences; he laments over the fallen Greece, expressing his ardent wish that the suppressed Greek people should win their freedom; he glorifies the French Revolution & condemns the despotic Napoleon period; & he appeals for the liberty of the oppressed nations while exalting the great fighters for freedom in history.

  2) Don Juan

  Don Juan is Byron''s masterpiece, a great comic epic of the early 19th century. It is a poem based on a traditional Spanish legend of a great lover & seducer of women. In the conventional sense, Juan is immoral, yet Byron takes this poem as the most moral. He invests in Juan the moral positives like courage, generosity & frankness, which, according to Byron are virtues neglected by the modern society. In addition, though Don Juan is the central figure & all the threads of the story are woven around him, he & his adventures only provide the framework: the poet''s true intention is, by making use of Juan''s adventures, to present a panoramic view of different types of society.

  4. 领会Characteristics of Byron''s Poems

  Byron''s poetry, though much criticized by some critics on moral grounds, was immensely popular at home, & also abroad, where it exerted great influence on the Romantic Movement. This popularity it owed to the author''s persistent attacks on "cant political, religious, & moral," to the novelty of his oriental scenery, to the romantic character of the Byronic hero, & to the easy, fluent, & natural beauty of his verse. Byron''s diction, though unequal & frequently faulty, has on the whole a freedom, copiousness & vigor. His descriptions are simple & fresh, & often bring vivid objects before the reader. Byron''s poetry is like the oratory which hurries the hearers without applause. The glowing imagination of the poet rises & sinks with the tones of his enthusiasm, roughing into argument, or softening into the melody feeling & sentiments. Byron employed the Ottva Rima (Octave Stanza) from Italians mock-heroic poetry. It was perfected in Don Juan in which the convention flows with ease & naturalness, as Colonel Stanhope described "a stream sometimes smooth, sometimes rapid & sometimes rushing down in cataracts-a mixture of philosophy & slang-of everything."

  5. 领会 Byronic Hero

  As a leading Romanticist, Byron''s chief contribution is his creation of the " Byronic hero," a proud & mysterious rebel figure of noble origin. With immense superiority in his passions & powers, the Byronic hero would carry on his shoulders the burden of righting all the wrongs in an evil society, & would fight single-handedly against any kind of tyrannical rules either in government, in religion or in moral principles with unconquerable wills & inexhaustible energies. The conflict is usually one of rebellious individuals against outworn social systems & convention. Such a hero appears first in Childe Harold''s Pilgrimage, & then further developed in later works such as Oriented Tales, Manfred, & Don Juan in different guises. The figure is, to some extent, modeled on the life & personality of Byron himself, & makes Byron famous both at home and abroad.

  6. 领会 His influence

  For a long time, there existed two controversial opinions on Byron. He was regarded in England as the perverted man, the satanic poet; while on the Continent, he was hailed as the champion of liberty, poet of the people. Byron''s poetry has great influence on the literature of the whole world. Across Europe, patriots & painters & musicians are all inspired by him. Poets & novelists are profoundly influenced by his works. Actually Byron has enriched European poetry with an abundance of ideas, images, artistic forms & innovations. He stands with Shakespeare & Scott among the British writers who exert the greatest influence over the mainland of Europe.

  7. 应用 Selected Readings

  1) Song for the Luddites

  Luddites named after Ned Ludd, a late 18th-century workers'' leader, were craftsmen who deliberately smashed machinery in the industrial centers of the East-Midlands, Lancashire & Yorkshire, because they believed that machinery was a cause of their unemployment. On February 27, 1812, Byron in the House of Lords made his famous parliamentary speech, showing his sympathy for the Luddites & indignation at the Frame-breakers Bill(《破坏织机者法案》) which would induce capital punishment to the destroyers of machines.

  The poem selected here was written in March 1817. It shows his sympathy & support for the workers in their struggle against the capitalist oppression & exploitation. It is composed of three 5-lined stanzas, each with a rhyme scheme of abaab, all of which are strong & vigorous masculine rhymes. The general metrical movement is anapestic trimeter & dimeter with line 3 in iambic dimeter……

  2) The Isles of Greece (from Don Juan, III)

  Don Juan, the masterpiece of Byron, is a long satirical poem. Its hero Juan is an aristocratic libertine, amiable & charming to ladies. Byron puts into Don Juan his rich knowledge of his world & his wisdom. It presents brilliant pictures of life in its various stages of love, joy, suffering, hatred & fear. The unifying principle in Don Juan is the basic ironic theme of appearance & reality, i.e. what things seem to be & what they actually are. The selected section, "The Isles of Greece," is taken from Canto III, which is sung by a Greek singer at the wedding of Don Juan & Haidee, the pure & beautiful daughter of a pirate. In the early 19th century, Greece was under the rule of Turk. By contrasting the freedom of ancient Greece & the present enslavement, the poet appealed to people to struggle for liberty.


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