2. What can people learn from
When might nature provide comfort? When might it
create anguish? Romantic writers idealized nature
and promoted the idea that humans could learn
simple truths from nature. Humans are inherently
good, it is society that creates evil in humans; in the
wild, humans would be “noble savages.” What can
people learn from the harsher aspects of nature?
3. Is emotion stronger than
In contrast to the writers from the Age of Reason,
romantic writers saw emotions as the core of human
experience and viewed literature as a means of
expressing that emotion. Do you think that emotion
trumps reason when it comes to behavior? Do you
think the best writing focuses on personal feelings, or
do you prefer writing that examines less personal
4. When is the
Romantic writers celebrated the
charm of everyday objects and
experiences and the glory
commonplace people. Ordinary
interactions with people and
nature were worthy of poetry.
What can you find that is special
in the everyday? (treasured
objects, or simple pleasures)
Sublime - awe at the infinity and
grandeur of nature; respect and
fear of the unknown.
5. Historical Background
idealization of human beings and nature, as opposed to divine subjects; focus on the
individual, the personal, and the emotional; opposed to society and science of
neoclassical thought of the Enlightenment
* a movement of protest against conservative, wartime Britain - a desire for personal
freedom and radical reform
* period of crime and poor sanitation; child labor and factory abuses; denied rights to
many religious groups; loss of American colonies (an inspirational fight for freedom);
social corruption and the slave trade
* imagination - focus on mystery and supernatural
* poetry defined as the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” by Wordsworth
* Neoclassical - political and religious topics that concerned and criticized society at
large; common sense and reason; respected human institutions of church and state;
believed in order in all things; maintained traditional standards; adult concerns of the
ruling class; controlled wit; formal rules and diction in poetry
* Romantics - emotions and imagination; subjective experiences of the individual, such
as desire, hopes, and dreams; exalted nature in all its creative and destructive forces;
spontaneity of thought and action; experimentation; reflected on experiences of
celebrated intense passion and vision
6. Trends in Romantic Poetry
Emphasis on personal experience and glorification of
individual; intricate workings of the mind and the
complexities of emotion
* Spontaneity; critical of artificiality; emotional outbursts;
free play of imagination
* Love of nature; nature as stimulus for human thought,
occasion for spiritual contemplation
* Importance of commonplace
* Fascination with the supernatural and exotic; mystery and
magic; strange journeys; terror of the unknown
* Later Romantics: dark, brooding, romantic hero (anti-hero,
Byronic hero - restless, a bit diabolical)
7. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Coleridge was part of the “first wave” of Romantic
-He was a close friend of William Wordsworth
-Together, they co-authored Lyrical Ballads
Coleridge added lines to Wordsworth’s poetry, and
Wordsworth came up with the idea for the
albatross in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
-He wrote the essay Biographia Literaria, which
outlined some of the central formulations of
Romantic literary theory
-During the peak of his literary career, he was
addicted to opium
8. “Rime of the Ancient
Considered a literary ballad: a songlike poem that tells a
story. It is written in imitation of the traditional folk ballad in
that it blends the real with supernatural events.
It is told as a frame story.
Frame story: a story told within a story. In other words, one
story is told during the action of another story.
The inner stories usually act as an example to the other
characters (it teaches them something).
The Mariner’s story teaches people a lesson since it is a tale
of crime, punishment, and redemption.
12. The Ancient Mariner began
his story : “Our ship left the
port...” At first, everybody
seemed to be in a joyous
mood. They sailed out and
watched the church, the
hill, and the town
lighthouse. But then, a
14. An albatross bird appeared – a
sign of life and hope. The sailors
were happy to see another
living creature except them .
They hailed it in the name of
15. The ice that had
trapped them splits
wide enough apart
for the ship to sail
through. The sailors
feed the bird, and it
16. The ancient Mariner
inhospitably killed the pious
bird for good omen –
everyone on the ship went
against the Mariner. However,
the weather suddenly
improved, the fog and mist
went away. The sailors began
to blame the bird for past
19. About, about, in reel and rout The
death-fires danced at night; the
water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt
green, and blue. The Ancient
Mariner was blamed for this
change and the dead bird was
hung around his neck as
20. Theancient mariner
saw a sail coming
mouth was too dry to
uttereven a single
word. It was actually a
21. As the ship approached ,the
mariner saw the crew
consists of only two people:
Death and Life-in-Death.
23. Everyone on the ship
except the ancient
mariner died...the eyes
of the dead sailors
emanate terrible curse
which was worse than
the curse of a little
24. The sail went away...At
night, the moon rose
again, and the moonlight
fell on the ship like frost.
25. He looked at the water
snakes swimming in the
shadow of his ship. He
kind of got excited
watching the snakes.
He realized that those
hideous snakes were
knowing it, he blessed
the wriggly little
creatures in his heart.
26. The curse on the mariner broke and
the albatross dropped off his neck.
“ The selfsame moment I could pray; And from my
neck so free The Albatross fell off, and sank Like lead
into the sea.”
Not only can he pray again, but he can also sleep
Exhausted from all the endless cursing and dying of
thirst, he falls asleep.
When he woke up it rained.The Mariner had all the
water he needed.
27. The angels fill the bodies
of dead sailors. The dead
sailors rose up amid the
thunder and lightning.
They looked like zombies
and didn't say a word but
all did the jobs they were
supposed to do, helping
to sail the ship.
40. Coleridge felt a deep sense of sin,
for his opium addiction and
The poem could be his way of fathoming his
The “strange power” of the Ancient Mariner, as his difficult feelings.
“mingled strangely with my fears”
“I know that man … must hear me” / “To him my tale I teach”
Hence, his sensitivity and saying that the poem
should not be analysed…?
(“poetry gives most pleasure when only
generally and not perfectly understood“)
41. “Instead of the cross, the Albatross/
About my neck was hung”
“I had killed the bird / That made
the breeze to blow”
“Hailed it in God’s name”
“Crimson red like Gods own head”
- “Hid in mist”
Some critics maintain that this ballad was an exploration, by
Coleridge, into the science vs. spirituality debate:
There are many mysterious fantastical images,
the “glittering eye” with its “strange
the “polar spirits” and “seraph band”
The Latin preface says, “Human cleverness
has always sought knowledge of these
things, never attained it”.
He was at a point in his life where he was more
concerned with the rational than the empirical, this
poem was an exploration of the former.
43. Reality and Dream – the world of "The
Rime" is a juxtaposition of ordinary
experience and supernatural events.
Examples of ordinary experience:
the fury of the storm
the world of ice, snow and mist
Examples of supernatural events:
A spirit follows the ship.
The albatross falls from the mariner’s neck as soon as he repents.
The Mariner has a ghostly appearance and exerts a hypnotic power on the
The dead on the ship do not rot.
•All elements belonging to the world of nature (the sun, the
sea, the storm) are vividly described and evoke real images in
the reader’s mind but ….
they are also charged with a deeper symbolic meaning:
•the Sun = severe divine justice.
•the Calm = the desolation of a sinful soul.
•the Rotting sea = the Mariner’s soul troubled by his
•the Moonlight spreading a sort of white frost =
the refreshing coolness of forgiveness
The dominant atmosphere is:
•uncanny and eerie
•full of strange, mysterious, supernatural and frightening
•built up through the accumulation of strange and
mysterious incidents :
•the Mariner has a ghostly appearance
•he exerts a hypnotic power on the wedding guest
•the ice is a threatening presence
•the dead bodies of the Mariner’s shipmates curse him
with their eyes ……
the killing of the albatross is a sin against nature or God ;
the Mariner’s sufferings are a form of purgatorial fire and …
the return to his country represents salvation.
the Mariner is seen as an artist who ….
breaks the bounds of conventions in his search for beauty and self-knowledge,
he passes through a terrible period of trial, and
is eventually saved by his power of imagination (watching the beautiful sea-
his mission is to pass his discovery of truth to ordinary men, but…
he only finds a largely uncomprehending audience (the wedding guest).
47. The Vision of Sea
The first imprisonment: a sea of ice
The crew at the first time encounter the malice of nature operating as a prison.
The mariner: on less than a member of human community
The imprisonment is temporal; Albatross frees the ship.
The second imprisonment: a silent sea
Visionary elements: physical è psychological imprisonment
“a painted ship in the painted sea”
The splitting of the mariner: the poem now is dealing with the fate of an individual
Albatross hanging on the mariner’s neck
48. The Outcast Hero
Shooting Albatross: the gratuitous act
This motiveless act heightens a sense of identity:
“motive has no concern; the person who performs it
the mariner apart from his crew
The motiveless malevolence positions mariner in the
genealogy of literary figures: Shakespeare’s Iago,
Milton’s Satan . . .
a wanderer, a man with chain, a rule breaker
In the pure but emptied act, the mariner is deprived of
his “guilt,” the pure crime of a pure murderer.
“The mariner is a killer” “The mariner is an outcast”
The mariner: a victim as Albatross
The prison works in concert with Albatross whose
blood reddened the sea
“The bloody sun” “water…still and awful red”
The mariner “bit my arm, I sucked the blood”
The mariner: embodiment of crucifixion
Albatross on the mariner’s neck as Jesus on the
Albatross: a holy bird, an “Christian Soul”
Mariner: a container, a presence of crucifixion
Transfiguration of Life-in-Death
mariner turns to be Life-in-Death, a emptied self
human body (Life-in-Death) as prison-measure
50. William Blake
* his illustrated books were not read during his time since he was believed to be a
* inspired by the Bible and the works of John Milton
* saw visions - angels, ghostly monks, the Virgin Mary and various historical figures;
works of the interaction of his imagination with the world and infinity of God, not
supernatural in origin
* a child’s unfettered imagination is a state of grace
* believed church doctrine was used as a form of social control
* a mystic that spent a great deal of time in his private Paradise (withdrawn into his
* developed illuminated printing - combined illustrations and text
* Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience - two contrary states of the human soul
If we see with our imaginations, we see the infinite; if
we see with our reason, we see only ourselves
Believed everything in life (every object, every event)
was a symbol with a mystical or spiritual meaning
His poems spoke out against social injustice
His poetry and art reflect his struggles with the big
Why is there evil?
Why do evil people sometimes prosper?
Why do the innocent suffer?
Subtitle: “The Contrary States of the
Thematically addresses the concept that Nature in
some ways has to reflect the Creator.
Innocence: genuine love, trust toward humankind,
unquestioned belief in Christianity
Experience: disillusionment with human nature and
society; illuminates sin and cruelty
Poems in either “Innocence” or “Experience” are
colored by the speaker’s state
54. The Lamb - Paraphrase
The poem The Lamb, by William Blake is a meditation
poem written in 1789. It is about a physical object, an
animal, but it addresses the much grander topics of
God and creation. It asks rhetorical questions to a
lamb in the first half and then answers the questions in
the second half of the poem. The author begins the
questions in the second voice, “Little Lamb, who made
thee” and then ends in the first voice, “Little Lamb I’ll
tell thee.” It is an inquisitive poem in which the author
explains how a higher power has created something.
55. “The Lamb”
The words of the poem are expressed in a way as to show reverence in the magnificence of Jesus.
Words we don’t use anymore: Thee, Thy, Thou, Dost, Mead, O’er
It has an uplifting feeling, innocent, reverence. The uplifting, joyful tone contrasts with “The Tyger.”
ex: “Softest clothing, woolly, bright;/ Gave thee such a tender voice, / Making all the vales rejoice”
Uplifting, Peaceful, Calm, and soothing.
He speaks to the lamb and asks about his creator, “who made thee”, when the creator is The Lamb.
Repetition: “Little Lamb, God bless thee/Little Lamb, God bless thee!”
“Softest clothing, Woolly,” Touch
Rhyme Pattern: aaaabbccaaaadeffedaaaa
What Kind of Poem:
Lamb = Jesus (“Lamb of God”)
Jesus is also known as a shepherd who leads stray sheep (sinners) back to the flock (humanity)
• Companion piece to “The Tyger.” The natural world
contain much that is gentle and pure.
• Connotations of innocence. Emphasizes the
connectedness of all living things.
• Uses a “Lamb” as a symbol of God and creation.
• Asks “Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know
who made thee? ” in the first half of the poem and
then answers it with a response of God.
• Spiritual, creation, and peaceful theme.
• Relates the lamb’s “clothing of delight, softest
clothing wooly bright” with God.
• Can imagine the lamb “by the stream” where
William describes it as “such a tender voice.”
• Blake capitalizes the word “Lamb” because he refers
the lamb as Christ and says, “For he calls himself a
56. “The Lamb” – line
Lines 1-2 : One of the most famous poems in Blake's collection Songs of
Innocence, "The Lamb" establishes its theme quickly in the first two lines. When
the narrator asks the lamb if it knows who created it, it is not calling attention to
the biological parents. The narrator specifically asks about the nature of creation
in the divine sense. The narrator doesn't think the creator is a what, but a whom,
and this whom has the power to actually create life.
Lines 3-4 :The narrator implies much more than eating and drinking and the
home of this little lamb with these two lines. The fact that the gift of life is
connected to the command to live by natural, instinctual means hints at the
nature of Divine Law. These lines suggest that life, the natural life of a lamb, is a
divine creation. The landscape reinforces the natural over the urban. The fact
that Blake fails to mention any kind of restraint upon the lamb may also be
Lines 5-6 : These lines begin to suggest a second layer of meaning pertaining to
the image of the lamb. They recall the swaddling cloths of the baby Jesus, and
of his hair that was purported to be like "lamb's wool." The brightness of the
lamb, and the brightness of Christ, comes from within, and also demonstrates
their ability to reflect light. The whitest lamb reflects the most light.
57. “The Lamb” – line
Lines 7-8 : The reference to the lamb's voice suggests a double meaning. Of
course, the bleating of lambs sounds very "tender," but Blake refers also to the
voice of Christ. The words and the speech of Christ are often thought of as "tender"
because they acclaim love and "rejoice" in life itself. The "vales" also have an
additional meaning. Vales are valleys, and so here the narrator once again asks us
to think about the concept of landscape, surroundings and how we are influenced
Lines 9-10 : With this new repetition, we have a new perspective on the lamb. This
repetition emphasizes the largess, the grandeur of creativity. Specifically, we are
called upon to contemplate the creation of both a biological lamb and a figurative
lamb. We are asked to consider their relationship to each other, and to the Divine.
Lines 11-12 : Only now does Blake introduce his narrator in the form of "I." We can
guess that this "I" could be Blake, or we could suppose that it is the piper
represented in "Introduction to Songs of Innocence." The identity is probably not as
important as the idea that this person seems to understand at some level the
nature of creation, and is enthusiastic to share with the lamb and with the reader
what he or she knows! The repetition hints once again at the double, subtle nature
of the lamb as a concept.
58. “The Lamb” – line breakdown
Lines 13-14 : Now the speaker brings the double definition of the lamb into a more obvious
light. There can be no mistake that not only does the narrator refer to a biological lamb, but he
also refers to Jesus Christ in the image of the lamb. Since he is writing about the nature of
creation itself, then we can begin to draw conclusions about what Blake believes to be true
about the spiritual as well as the mundane. Why does Blake use the word "call" twice? Perhaps,
it is to illustrate the idea of being "called" into service of the Divine. Since this is a poem about
creation, perhaps Blake hints that to be called to creativity is divine. This is a theme that is seen
again and again in Blake's poetry.
Lines 15-16 : These lines give reference to Christ's message that "the meek shall inherit the
world" and the concept that gentleness and love is the ideal way of behaving in the world.
Blake's narrator also links the behavior of the Divine to the behavior of a little lamb. Then he
makes further connection to the idea that the Creator and the little child are one and the same.
We also can guess that Blake sees creativity as a child-like occupation. Furthermore, the fact
that the Divine decided to actually come into the world, as any child would, gives us an
understanding of our own nature.
Lines 17-18 : Blake has fun with language in these two lines. The mystical relationship between
"I" and "thou" has often been the very definition of God. The equivalent value of the child and
the lamb, suggests a divine connection and comparison between the human being and the
Divine, and the higher consciousness and lower unconsciousness. Remember that psychology
as we understand it in the twentieth century did not exist in Blake's era. This concept of dual
consciousnesses may have surprised Blake's readership. The fact that he emphasizes this idea
with the second of the two lines can only serve to tell the reader that there has been no mistake
in interpreting the connection. Both human child and animal child have an equal relationship to
the Divine in both name and quality.
Lines 19-20 : The repetition here serves to complete this concept with a blessing. The narrator's
revelation is now fully revealed. He blesses the lamb, himself, and the Christ with enthusiasm.
59. “The Tyger” Paraphrase
Blake's "The Tyger" is a poem about the nature of creation,
much as is his earlier poem from the Songs of Innocence,
"The Lamb." However, this poem takes on the darker side of
creation, when its benefits are less obvious than simple
joys. Blake's simplicity in language and construction
contradicts the complexity of his ideas. This poem is meant
to be interpreted in comparison and contrast to "The Lamb,"
showing the "two contrary states of the human soul" with
respect to creation. It has been said many times that Blake
believed that a person had to pass through an innocent
state of being, like that of the lamb, and also absorb the
contrasting conditions of experience, like those of the tiger,
in order to reach a higher level of consciousness. In any
case, Blake's vision of a creative force in the universe
making a balance of innocence and experience is the real
meaning of this poem.
Literal sense of the poem:
God is looking at his creation, which we believe to be angels or Lucifer, like he is very disappointed in their choices. He reiterates that they are his
creation and are meant for one reason, but they don’t choose to follow. Therefore, God sends them down, like a father sends away his betraying
Blake uses a lot of fragment sentences, showing his anger and hurt.
ex: “What dread hand? & what dread feet?/ What the hammer? what the chain”
He also uses old English: thy, thou, thee, thine, sinews
Dark, Fearful, Angry, Hurt, Distrustful/Questioning
Concern, Disappointment, Misguided
He is talking to the Tyger about why he turned his back on God.
“Tyger, Tyger Burning bright” Repetition/ Alliteration
“When the stars threw down their spears” Personification
And water'd heaven with their tears:” Personification
“Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,/ In the forests of the night” Sight
“Thy heart began to beat” Hear
“Burnt the fire of thine eyes” Touch
Rhyme Pattern: aabb/ bbcc/ddeeffgg/ hhiiaabb
The kind of poem is…
Tyger = evil/violence (the orange "flames" of the tiger are symbolic of hell); Blacksmith = Creator/God
• Companion piece to “The Lamb”
• “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
• Questions the reason for the existence of evil in the world;
did God create evil? Blake can’t answer that question.
• Acknowledges that creation contains elements that are
• In the poem, the Tiger is used as a reference of a
creation of God.
• “Did he smile his work to see”
• “Tyger, Tyger burning bright,/ In the forests of
the night:/ What immortal hand or eye…”
• “When the stars threw down their spears/
And water'd heaven with their tears:”
• Blake wrote the poem as if he was an outside
witness to a disappointed father looking down on his
• “On what wings dare he aspire!/ What the
hand, dare sieze the fire?”
• “burning bright”
61. “The Tyger” line breakdown
1-4: Many have considered this tiger representing the dark shadow of the human
soul. This is the beastly part of ourselves that we would prefer to keep only in our
dreams at night. Night in Blake's poetry often seems to suggest this sort of dream
time. The forests might represent the wild landscape of our imagination under the
influence of this beast.
5-8: Blake uses the metaphor of fire to describe the way the tiger sees and is
seen. This is not the vision of the lamb. The tiger has fury and grounds to believe
in its own strength. The tiger could be understood as similar to our psychological
view of the ego. Our ego is the part of us that believes in its own power, in its own
vision. It could be debated that Blake argues here that the Fallen Archangel Lucifer
is the creator of the tiger, or the beastly part of our own nature.
9-12: The first 2 lines speak to the very power and strength of the tiger, and of its
creator. Shoulders and art both carry responsibilities and burdens. Blake seems to
be suggesting that the creator of this powerful creature is awesome in its own
right. The heart represents not only the biological engine of the tiger, but perhaps
its passion for living. Line 11 means the tiger now has a life of its own. Line 12 is
an attempt to reconcile the wild beast with a sense of order about the universe
and its workings. Can God have created a dreadful creature, and if so does this
task make God's hands dreadful?
13-16: These first 2 lines Hammers, chains and furnaces sound like an industrial
factory more than an artist's workshop. One of the themes throughout Songs of
Experience is the condemnation of the Industrial Revolution. These lines could
suggest that the encroachment of industry on the pastoral world of Blake's
childhood was the tangible hell to which Blake was referring. The last 2 lines, The
anvil is a tool of both industry and art. In these lines he confronts his worst fears
about what it means to create. He never suggests however, that the tiger shouldn't
have been created.
62. “The Tyger” line breakdown
17-20: These lines reinforce the idea of defeated and fallen angels.
Lucifer's minions, when defeated and condemned to hell, were thought to
have created the milky way with their tears. In the last 2 lines Blake
finally asks the fateful question. Did the same God who made the lamb
also make the tiger? If it is true, it suggests that God knows something
that we human beings do not. It suggests that God has the capacity for
tenderness and dread, and that neither one or the other is more
21-22: The lines are Blake using repetition to enforce his ideas and to
ask us to take another look at the meaning.
23-24: This is a fearless immortal who made both the lamb, and the
fiery tiger. It is significant that Blake chooses the word "dare" in the last
line, instead of "could" because once again it emphasizes the concept of
courage in relationship to creation. Finally, we must once again compare
and contrast the beast with the tamed one, and consider the proper
balance of nature framed by the hand of the Divine.