19 Apr 2010

Love poetry 06

Because Of You

Because of you
my world is now whole,
Because of you
love lives in my soul.
Because of you
I have laughter in my eyes,
Because of you
I am no longer afraid of good-byes.
You are my pillar
my stone of strength,
With me through all seasons
and great times of length.
My love for you is pure
boundless through space and time,
it grows stronger everyday
with the knowledge that you'll always be mine.
At the altar
I will joyously say 'I do',
for I have it all now
and it's all because of you.

by: Amy S. Bedford

Love poetry 05

Love Me

Love me in the Springtime,
when all is green and new,
Love me in the Summer,
when the sky is oh so blue,
Love me in the Autumn,
when the leaves are turning brown,
Love me in the Winter,
when the snow is falling down.

Love me when I'm happy,
and even when I'm sad,
Love me when I'm good,
or when I'm oh so bad,
Love me when I'm pretty,
or if my face is plain,
Love me when I'm feeling good,
or when I'm feeling pain.

Love me always darling,
in the rain or shining sun,
Love me always darling,
after all is said and done,
Love me always darling,
until all our life is through,
Love me always darling,
for I'll be loving you!

Love poetry 04

I Will Love You Forever

I love you so deeply,
I love you so much,
I love the sound of your voice
And the way that we touch.
I love your warm smile
And your kind, thoughtful way,
The joy that you bring
To my life every day.
I love you today
As I have from the start,
And I'll love you forever
With all of my heart.

Love poetry 03

Never Have I Fallen

Your lips speak soft sweetness
Your touch a cool caress
I am lost in your magic
My heart beats within your chest

I think of you each morning
And dream of you each night
I think of your arms being around me
And cannot express my delight

Never have I fallen
But I am quickly on my way
You hold a heart in your hands
That has never before been given away

Love poetry 02

You are my mighty king

You're my man, my mighty king,
And I'm the jewel in your crown,
You're the sun so hot and bright,
I'm your light-rays shining down,

You're the sky so vast and blue,
And I'm the white clouds in your chest,
I'm a river clean and pure,
Who in your ocean finds her rest,

You're the mountain huge and high,
I'm the valley green and wide,
You're the body firm and strong,
And I'm a rib bone on your side,

You're an eagle flying high,
I'm your feathers light and brown,
You're my man, my king of kings,
And I'm the jewel in your crown.

Collected love poetry


What I Love About You

I love the way you look at me,
Your eyes so bright and blue.
I love the way you kiss me,
Your lips so soft and smooth.

I love the way you make me so happy,
And the ways you show you care.
I love the way you say, "I Love You,"
And the way you're always there.

I love the way you touch me,
Always sending chills down my spine.
I love that you are with me,
And glad that you are mine.

17 Apr 2010

Donne and Marvell's contribution to love poetry

John Donne and Andrew Marvell were both great metaphysical poets. Their contribution to love poetry in English literature is outstanding.

"To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell is often linked with John Donne’s "The Flea": they are both witty poems of seduction which display their authors’ passion and erudition in equal measure. But they are also very different works, and employ distinct rhetorical and poetic techniques.

Whereas "The Flea" depends upon the central “conceit” of the insect, which is then applied to the situation, Marvell’s poem employs an urbane and direct appeal, beginning “Had we but world enough, and time/ This coyness, lady, were no crime.” He is drawing on the classic topos known as carpe diem, or “seize the day”, closely to related to the memento mori, the reminder that we shall all die (“But at my back, I always hear/ Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.”) Though the memento mori is often employed in a serious context in order to provoke grave thoughts, such as the anamorphic picture of a skull which cuts across Holbein’s famous portrait known as “The Ambassadors”, Marvell uses it here to encourage his mistress to enjoy his love whilst they are still both young and alive.

There are obvious differences in the poem’s techniques as well: whilst "The Flea" employs an irregular, ingenious rhyme scheme, "To His Coy Mistress" uses elegant couplets, emphasizing Marvell’s poise and balance over the jagged enthusiasm of Donne’s lines. There are touches of self-mocking humour as well, linking his mistress with the exotic Ganges River in India, whilst he consigns himself to “complain” “by the tide of Humber”, a more prosaic river in the North of England. Likewise he describes his “vegetable love” which, if they had all eternity would “grow/ Vaster than empires and more slow.” There is a definite touch of self-deprecation in this image of the poet’s all-consuming passion spreading over like a prize marrow.

In making his conclusion, Marvell doesn’t depend on the same kind of logical “trap” which snaps shut at the end of the "The Flea". Rather than deploying a cunning twist of logic, Marvell depends on his heightened and poetic language, sweeping the listener along with references to the couple’s chances “Now...while thy willing soul transpires/ At every pore with instant fires” to “Tear our pleasures with rough strife/ Through the iron gates of life.” "The Flea" might amuse or impress its listener with ingenuity and wit, but "To His Coy Mistress" depends on its ability to inspire and stir with such heightened language.

15 Apr 2010

Pahela Baishakh celebrated

The nation on Wednesday celebrated Pahela Baishakh, the opening day of the Bangla year 1417, in the midst of tight security with traditional songs, music, fanfares and colorful processions.

Thousands of people from all walks of the society dressed in traditional costumes thronged the streets, parks and open spaces across the capital.

Tight security measures were taken in and around the traditional venue of the carnival, Ramna Park in the capital, to avert any untoward incident.

The day was a public holiday.

Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the tradition of celebrating the Bangla New Year in relation to closing of the annual tax collection. Traditionally, traders and shopkeepers open halkhata (fresh accounts) on this day and serve sweetmeats to clients.

Accordingly, Fatehullah Shirazi, a renowned scholar and astronomer, formulated the Bengali year on the basis of the lunar Hijri and Bengali solar calendars. The new 'Fasli San' (agricultural year) was introduced on March 10, 1584, but was dated from Akbar's ascension to the throne in 1556. The New Year subsequently became known as 'Bangabda' or Bengali year.

The historical importance of Pahela Baishakh in the Bangladesh context may be dated from the observance of the day by Chhayanaut, a cultural troupe, in 1965. In an attempt to suppress Bengali culture, the Pakistan Government had banned Tagore songs. Protesting against this move, Chhayanaut opened their Pahela Baishakh celebrations at Ramna Park with Tagore's song welcoming the month.

The day continued to be celebrated in East Pakistan as a symbol of Bengali culture. After 1972 it became a national festival, a symbol of the Bangladesh nationalist movement and an integral part of the people's cultural heritage.

To enable the people to celebrate the occasion without any detriment by evil forces, the government raised security bulwark in the capital with 12,500 police and RAB to ensure safety of the revellers.

Some 6,500 police and RAB had performed their best at Ramna Park and Dhanmondi Lake where the celebrations has organized. Other venues were covered by 3,500 police and RAB personnel.

In the course of time, it evolved into a day of celebration and an integral part of the Bangalee culture and tradition and has been considered as the spirit of a non-communal festival as people irrespective of religion, sect and creed celebrate the day.

President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia in separate messages greeted the nation on the occasion.

The festivity in the city began after sunrise with the gathering of thousands of people under the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan where artistes of cultural organisation Chhayanaut sang the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore--"Esho hey Baishakh"--to welcome the day.

The students of the Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University brought out the decorated procession called Mongol Shovajatra in the morning to welcome the Bangla New Year.

Tens of thousands of people joined the Shovajatra dancing along the beats of traditional musical instruments.

The state-owned BTV, Bangladesh Betar, and all private TV channels broadcasted special programmes and the newspapers brought out special supplements marking the day.



13 Apr 2010

Summary of "The definition of Love" by Andrew Marvell


Fate: Love's Nemesis in "The Definition of Love"

Summary: In his poem "The Definition of Love," Andrew Marvell writes about unrequited passions, insisting that Fate itself acts against true love. Instead of Fate matching people up, Marvell believes that fate only tears people apart.


Andrew Marvell's The Definition of Love is the epitome of irony. Marvell takes the feelings often associated with love and drowns them in a cool, lucid, dispassionate tone that borders on self-mocking. Marvell writes about unrequited passions, insisting thatFate itself acts against true love. Mentioned first in the third stanza, Marvell introduces the idea of Fate as the reason for his rough history with love:

"And yet I quickly might arrive

Where my extended soul is fixed

But Fate does iron wedges drive,

And always crowds itself betwixt" (lines 9-12)

Taking this into consideration it is not surprising why the hatred that Marvell has for Fate flows into the next two stanzas. In the third stanza, Marvell explains how Fate becomes jealous when she sees two lovers engulfed in one another, and dissolves their relationship in a "tyrannic power depose" (line 16). He goes on to explain the idealistic nature of love:

"As lines (so loves) oblique may well

Themselves in every angle greet:

But ours so truly parallel,

Though infinite, cannot meet" (lines 25-28)


Marvell believes love is something that people think they can possess but it's really an unattainable goal. Instead of Fate matching people up, Marvell believes that fate only tears people apart.

Marvell ends the poem with a small shred of hope:

"Therefore the love which us doth bind.

But Fate so enviously debars,

Is the conjunction of the mind,

And opposition of the stars" (lines 29 - 32)

Though this sounds as if it would be in a typical love poem, the reader must look closely at the final two lines. The word conjunction means to coming together in the same sign of the zodiac, however, stars are diametrically opposed to one another. This last line, though it sounds as if Marvell sees a chance for lovers to remain together, it's clear that he believes Love is a completely unnatural idea.



To his coy mistress by Andrew Marvell


Poem Summary

Lines 1-2

The basic theme of the poem is announced from the beginning, that time lays waste to youth and life passes quickly, so people should enjoy youth now and “seize the day.” In the first section of the poem (to line 20), the speaker uses subjunctive mood verbs such as “would” and “were” that give a delicacy and tentativeness to his style. The speaker presents his “argument” to a listener, a young woman who holds back from reciprocating with her expression of love. The speaker says that coyness would be acceptable if time were in endless supply and if the world was big enough to accommodate all of his admiration for her.

Lines 3-4

Assuming time continues forever, the poem describes the leisurely pace of life spent in courtship and praise of the beloved, silent mistress.

Lines 5-7

Beginning with line 7 and continuing to line 20, the speaker embarks on some remarkable hyperbole to describe the praise he wants to bestow upon his mistress. He selects two rivers, India’s Ganges, which is sacred to the Hindu religion and thought of as the earthly embodiment of a goddess, and England’s Humber, which flows past Marvell’s hometown of Hull. The wide distance of two hemispheres separating the rivers compares with the time needed to spend adequately in courtship. That the mistress would find rubies in the Ganges underlines the exotic nature of a river in India. The Humber river in England, by comparison, is a slowmoving, dirty estuary where one is more likely to find old shoes than precious stones. The distance between the speaker (by the Humber river) and the mistress (by the Ganges river) is a metaphor for the luxurious, leisurely consumption of time spent in praise.

Lines 8-10

In these lines, the speaker describes the amount of time it would take to love his mistress and how much time she would be allowed to turn his love aside. The poem invokes eschatological or “end of the world” events to compare the allotted time — the great Flood by which God cleanses the earth in the Bible or the conversion of the Jews popularly thought to happen immediately prior to the Last Judgment. These excessive comparisons stress the unimaginably large amount of time it would take to adequately define the speaker’s love for his mistress.

Lines 11-12

The speaker creates the metaphor of “vegetable love” that grows very slowly but amasses enough bulk to be larger than a great dynasty or colonial empire. Because of the depth of his love, the speaker’s “vegetable love” covers much of the earth’s surface, as did the British empire during its peak in the nineteenth century.

Lines 13-18

The speaker fills out the hyperbole begun in line 7. This catalogue of the amount of years devoted to worship of each of his mistress’s physical attributes is outrageous; we find staggering overstatement in the 100 years for her face, 200 years for each breast, and 30,000 years devoted to the rest of her body — an exponential increase! The speaker devotes at least one generation to praise of each part of his mistress, especially to praise of her pure heart, which is saved for last because of its special place as the seat of amorous passion. This catalogue resembles and perhaps parodies the style of Petrarchan sonnet writers, who used standard metaphors to describe their mistresses. However, Marvell’s comparisons are notable for their excessiveness and originality.

Lines 19-20

In this close of section I, the speaker introduces a monetary metaphor: loving at a certain “rate,” like an interest rate charged by a bank for lending money. The speaker implies that the mistress deserves this “state” of lavish praise because of her beauty.

Lines 21-22

This is the logical turn of the poem, shifting from wild exaggeration to somber images of the grave. The subject of death intrudes into this love poem, turning the mood away from the subjunctive to focus on the limitation of time. Time is personified as a driver in a chariot. In popular culture, Time is usually pictured as a robed old man holding a scythe — a sinister figure inspiring fear. The verb choice of “hurrying” introduces anxiety and darkness into a formerly light and extravagant, lyric poem.

Lines 23-24

The image of vast deserts begins a macabre list of comparisons having to do with sterility. Deserts are hot and barren, a denial of the life-giving processes of love and sexual activity. No wet, living “vegetable love” can be found in Marvell’s desert.

Lines 25-27

These lines emphasize the loss of beauty that happens to all people over time, especially pertaining to the mistress. The “marble vault” is the resting place for the deceased mistress’s corpse. The speaker’s song of praise will go unheard and unsung when death levels them both; thus the implication is that death is a final stopping place beyond which no magnificent love can escape.

Lines 28-30

The speaker’s grotesque image of the worm penetrating the virgin corpse as it consumes the rotting flesh shocks many readers. The point is that such preserved virtues mean nothing when stretched over the expanse of time. Thus, the speaker offers another persuasive reason for the mistress to give in. “Quaint honor” reflects that fact that virginity will seem a quaint but useless treasure at the end of life. The speaker alludes to the Biblical phrase of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (commonly used at funerals) to emphasize his thriving, passionate lust being reduced to oblivion, just like the mistress’s virginity.

Lines 31-32

With the close of section II, the poem uses understatement and irony, praising the grave as a “fine” and “private” place. This is a perfect transition to the carpe diem theme of section III. The speaker uses a grammatical pause to interrupt line 32, making him seem humble and modest. The speaker’s charm and tactfulness are implied by the restraint he uses to punctuate line 32. (In poetry, taking a pause in the middle of a line is a called a caesura.)

Lines 33-34

Section III returns to the theme of youthful lust. The speaker uses imperative mood verbs that give commands, exhortation, and urgent directions to his mistress. While youth is present, the mistress’s skin glows in vitality like the morning dew. This simile as originally published used the word “glew” instead of “dew.” Some scholars suggested that “glew” was a dialectal form of “glow,” as in “the skin’s healthy glow.” The alternative possibility that “glew” means “glue” is not attractive to the tone of the lover’s argument. Probably the best choice in modernizing a seventeenth-century poem would be to substitute “dew” as in the present text.

Lines 35-37

The speaker says that the young soul of his mistress breathes out through her beautiful skin in “instant fires” of enthusiasm and passion for love. The speaker wants his mistress to yield to his lust now while she can still respond before time takes its toll.

Lines 38-40

The speaker makes use of a set of harsh images that lend intensity and force to his expression. The simile of “birds of prey” is an unexpected choice for a love poem; some might consider it bizarre for the poem to compare a lover and his mistress to birds of prey who want to eat, not be eaten by Time. The comparison says that the speaker wants to devour Time like a hawk devours a rabbit caught in the fields — rapidly, in the heat of the moment, unthinkingly and instinctively. Time with his “slow-chapt power” is imagined as slowly chewing up the world and its people; thus the speaker implies he and his mistress are in a desperate fight against Time.

Lines 41-44

In these lines, the poem uses the metaphor of a cannonball of “strength” and “sweetness” rolled into a concentrated package of energy that “tears” through the barriers of restraint. The juxtaposition of “strife” with “pleasures” indicates the ferocious breakthrough of the speaker’s argument winning over his mistress.

Lines 45-46

In the concluding couplet, the speaker and his mistress triumphantly turn back the destructive forces of Time, avidly eating Time instead of being eaten by it. The speaker and his mistress force the sun to race them instead of passively begging the sun to stand still like Joshua did in the Bible, when he pleaded with God to make the sun stand still so the Israelites might defeat the Amorites in broad daylight.

12 Apr 2010

Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”

Andrew Marvell’s speaker in “To His Coy Mistress” summons Petrarchan convention, a poetic approach originating in the fourteenth century in which a male lover uses exaggerated metaphors to appeal to his female beloved. Yet Marvell alludes to such excessive—and disempowering—pining only to challenge this tradition of unrequited love. Instead of respectful adulation, he offers lustful invitation; rather than anticipating refusal, he assumes sexual dominion over the eponymous “mistress.” The poem is as much a celebration of his rhetorical mastery as it is of his physical conquest. Through his verbal artistry, the speaker—perhaps a figure of the poet Marvell himself—manipulates his female subject, rendering her both as his idealized beloved and, eventually, as his vision of impending death. In the course of his invitation, he portrays her as alternately desirous and repulsive, but ultimately he identifies the female body itself as a loathsome symbol of human decay.


further reading on: www.eng4sub.blogspot.com


"To His Coy Mistress" as a Metaphysical Poem

"To His Coy Mistress," acclaimed long after Marvell's death a masterly work, is a lyrical poem that scholars also classify as a metaphysical poem. Metaphysical poetry, pioneered by John Donne, tends to focus on the following:

* Startling comparisons or contrasts of a metaphysical (spiritual, transcendent, abstract) quality to a concrete (physical, tangible, sensible) object. In "To His Coy Mistress," for example, Marvell compares love to a vegetable (Line 11) in a waggish metaphor.
* Mockery of idealized romantic poetry through crude or shocking imagery, as in Lines 27 and 28 ("then worms shall try / That long preserved virginity').
* Gross exaggeration (hyperbole), as in Line 15 ("two hundred [years] to adore each breast].
* Expression of personal, private feelings, such as those the young man expresses in "To His Coy Mistress."
* Presentation of a logical argument, or syllogism. In "To His Coy Mistress," this argument may be outlined as follows: (1) We could spend decades or even centuries in courtship if time stood still and we remained young. (2) But time passes swiftly and relentlessly. (3) Therefore, we must enjoy the pleasure of each other now, without further ado.The conclusion of the argument begins at Line 33 with "Now therefore."

To His Coy Mistress

Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

8 Apr 2010

The Duchess of Malfi as Revenge Tragedy

Introduction:

The Duchess of Malfi is a deadly, tragic play written by the English dramatist John Webster. The Duchess was Giovanna d'Aragona, whose father, Arrigo d'Aragona, Marquis of Gerace, was an illegitimate son of Ferdinand I of Naples. Her husbands were Alfonso Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi, and (as in the play) Antonio Bologna.

The play begins as a love story, with a Duchess who marries beneath her class, and ends as a dreadful tragedy as her two brothers harsh their revenge, destroying themselves in the course of action.

The play is sometimes scorned by modern critics for the excessive violence and horror in its later scenes. Nevertheless, the complexity of some of its characters, particularly Bosola and the Duchess, and Webster's poetic language, give it a continuing interest, and it is still performed in the 21st century. The Duchess of Malfi can not be reduced to a dramatic subgenre, but its kinship to revenge tragedies written during the same politically turbulent years of the early seventeenth century is immediately striking.

Revenge tragedy:

According to, The book of literary terms (Lewis Turco: 103), revenge tragedy is an Elizabethan tragedy that contained elements similar to those of the chronicle play and usually concerned itself with the protagonist’s pursuit of vengeance for the loss of loved one.

Revenge tragedy, a kind of tragedy popular in England from the 1590s to the 1630s, following the success of Thomas Kyd’s sensational plays The Spanish Tragedy (c. 1589). Its action is typically centered upon a leading character's attempt to avenge the murder of a loved one, sometimes at the prompting of the victim's ghost; it involves complex intrigues and disguises, and usually some exploration of the morality of revenge. Drawing partly on precedents in Senecan tragedy, the English revenge tragedy is far more bloodthirsty in its explicit presentation of premeditated violence, and so the more gruesome examples such as Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus are sometimes called ‘tragedies of blood’. Notable examples of plays that are fully or partly within the revenge tradition are Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, Cyril Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy, John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, and John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. A more famous play drawing on the revenge conventions is Shakespeare's Hamlet. For a fuller account, consult John Kerrigan, Revenge Tragedy (1996).

Characteristics of revenge tragedy:

* A secret murder, usually of a benign ruler by a bad person

* A ghostly visitation of the murder victim to a younger kinsman, generally a son

* A period of disguise, intrigue, or plotting, in which the murderer and the avenger scheme against each other, with a slowly rising body count

* A descent into either real or feigned madness by the avenger or one of the auxiliary characters

* An eruption of general violence at the end, which (in the Renaissance) is often accomplished by means of a feigned masque or festivity

* A catastrophe that utterly decimates the dramatis personae, including the avenger.

Clearly, many of these elements are present in The Duchess of Malfi, but it varies from the conventions in important ways. The revenge tragedy has a hero whose honor has been wronged (often it is a son avenging his father); in this play, the brothers seek revenge on the Duchess, who has done them no harm. The Duchess is surely the hero of the play named for her, and yet she does not seek or win vengeance for the harm done to her. The fact that she is killed in act 4 (and does not die in the act of winning revenge) deflects attention away from her as the center of the action and moves the play out of the category of revenge tragedy. The motive for the actions of the two brothers is unclear, but revenge — whatever they may think themselves — is not at the heart of it.

The Duchess of Malfi as revenge tragedy:

The Duchess of Malfi is obviously amusing. Deceptions can be found interspersed throughout the whole play and if scrutiny is conducted thoroughly, one will be able to spot various multitudinous facetious comments made by different characters such as Bosola, Cardinal and Ferdinand. This brings out the theme of appearance and reality, which makes the play laughable, yet morbid at the same time. This can be illustrated at how Ferdinand tries to lure Antonio to return to his castle by offering him forgiveness through the letter sent by Bosola to the Duchess and Antonio.

John Webster’s The Tragedy of the Duchess of Malfi was first staged around 1613-14. Nowadays usually identified as “a revenge tragedy”, its plot, set in Italy, centers on the transgress action of the widowed Duchess in secretly taking a second husband, her steward Antonio. Enraged by her marriage, her two powerful brothers, one a Duke, the other a Cardinal, conspire to have her strangled. The brothers hire a mercenary malcontent named Bosola to do their dirty work. Bosola eventually turns against them and the play ends on a stage littered with their three corpses.

The play has two distinctive features compared with other tragedies of its era. Firstly, the tragic protagonist is a woman. Secondly, the tragic protagonist dies in the fourth act.

Any examination of the critical history of the play quickly establishes that the play is one which has traditionally aroused a great deal of anxiety and hostility among scholars and cultural commentators. The Duchess of Malfi was evidently popular in Jacobean England but has subsequently become grudgingly acknowledged as a classic with many troubling features.

George Saintsbury was typical of generations of critics in objecting to Webster’s characterisation, remarking (in 1887) “we cannot sympathise with the duchess, despite her misfortunes…She is neither quite a virtuous woman (for in that case she would not have resorted to so much concealment) nor a frank professor of ‘All for Love.’ ” He added, “By common consent, even of the greatest admirers of the play, the fifth act is a kind of gratuitous appendix of horrors stuck on without art or reason.”

What this basically amounts to is a whine that Webster failed adequately to represent bourgeois notions of correct behaviour and that his stage practise did not match bookish, scholarly preconceptions of good theatre and good taste. The critic’s narrow subjective assessment of the play is buttressed by the citation of hegemonic values: “we” all agree on how a woman must behave in order to elicit our sympathy, and what “art” and “reason” amount to is agreed “by common consent”.

The reality is that Webster was an accomplished professional who enjoyed a successful career as a dramatist. Records exist of his collaborative work with other dramatists - Munday, Drayton, Middleton, Dekker, Heywood, Chettle - and in 1604 he supplied additional material for John Marston’s The Malcontent. The Tragedy of The Duchess of Malfi was performed by the King’s Servants, who were one of the leading theatrical troupes of the period, and, of course, the one that Shakespeare was involved with. The part of the evil, deranged Duke was played by Richard Burbage, who is often described as the leading actor of the age. The wicked, hypocritical Cardinal was played by Henry Condell, who later co-authored the dedication and address to the reader in the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare’s collected plays. (The actor who first played the Duchess, incidentally, was my distinguished ancestor, Richard Sharp.)

“Webster was much possessed by death / And saw the skull beneath the skin”, wrote T.S. Eliot in ‘Whispers of Immortality’. No, he wasn’t. Webster was producing a commercial product in a competitive market, and grisly representations of killing and corpses proved profitable. Rather than consult Freud to understand what Webster was up to, it makes more sense to look at the history of contemporary theatre. One of the most popular of all plays staged in London (towards the end of the 1580s) was Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy. It was a rip-roaring success with London audiences. Kyd’s innovation was to put conflict, violence and corpses on to the stage, rather than have actors come onstage and make long speeches about fights and deaths which had happened out of view of the audience. He set his play in Spain, which as every red-blooded Englishman knew was a hot place full of filthy, depraved, passionate, treacherous, violent foreigners. He also threw in a ghost and a bloodcurdling figure named “Revenge”.

6 Apr 2010

John Donne as a love poet


Donne was the first English poet to challenge and break the supremacy of Petrarchan tradition. Though at times he adopts the Petrarchan devices, yet his imagery and rhythm, texture and colour of his love poetry is different. There are three distinct strains of his love poetry – Cynical, Platonic and Conjugal love.

Giving an allusion to Donne’s originality as the poet of love, Grierson makes the following observation:

“His genius temperament and learning gave a certain qualities to his love poems … which arrest our attention immediately. His love poems, for instance, do have a power which is at once realistic and distracting.”

Donne’s greatness as a love-poet arises from the fact that this poetry covers a wider range of emotions than that of any previous poet. His poetry is not bookish but is rooted in his personal experiences. Is love experience were wide and varied and so is the emotional range of his love-poetry. He had love affairs with a number of women. Some of them were lasting and permanent, other were only of a short duration.

Donne is quite original in presenting the love situations and moods.

The “experience of love” must produce a “sense of connection” in both the lovers. This “sense of connection” must be based on equal urge and longing on both the sides.

“The room of love” must be shared equally by the two partners.

Donne magnifies the ideal of “Sense of connection” into the physical fulfillment of love.

"My face in thine eyes thine in mime appears"

This aspect of love helps him in the virtual analysis of the experience of love. Donne was a shrewd observer who had first hand knowledge of “love and related affairs. That is why in almost all his poems, he has a deep insight.

His love as expressed in his poetry was based not on conventions but on his own experiences. He experienced all phase of love – platonic, sensuous, serene, cynical, conjugal, illicit, lusty, picturesque and sensual. He could also be grotesque blending thought with passion.

Another peculiar quality of Donne’s love lyrics is its “metaphysical strain”. His poems are sensuous and fantastic. Donne’s metaphysical strain made his reader confused his sincerity.

Donne’s genius temperament and learning gave to his love poems power and fascination. There is a depth and rang of feeling unknown to the majority of Elizabethan poets. Donne’s poetry is startlingly unconventional even when he dallies, half ironically, with the hyperbole of petrarch.

Donne is realistic not an idealistic. He knows the weakness of Flesh, the pleasure of sex, the joy of secret meeting. However he tries to establish a relationship between the body and the soul.Donne is very realistic poet.

Grierson distinguished three distinct strains in it. First there is the cynical strain. Secondly, there is the strain f conjugal love to be noticed in poems like “valediction: forbidding mourning”. Thirdly, there isplatonic strain. The platonic strain is to b found in poems like “ Twicknam Garden”, “The Funeral”, “The Blossoms”, and “The Primroses”. These poems were probably addressed to the high-born lady friends. Towards them he adopts the helpless pose of flirtations and in highplatonic vein boasts that:

Different of sex no more we know
Than our Guardian Angles doe

In between the cynical realistic strain and the highest spiritual strain, there are a number of poems which show an endless variety of mood and tone. Thus thee are poems in which the tone is harsh, others which are coarse and brutal, still other in which he holds out a making threat to his faithless mistress and still others in which he is in a reflective mood. More often that not, a number of strains and moods are mixed up in the same poem. This makesDonne as a love poet singularly, original, unconventional and realistic.

Whatever may be the tone or mood of a particular poem, it is always an expression of some personal experience and is, therefore, presented with remarkable force, sincerity and seriousness. Each poem deals with a love situation which is intellectually analyzed with the skill of an experienced lawyer.

Hence the difficult nature of his poetry and the charge of obscurity have been brought against him. The difficulty of the readers is further increased by the extreme condensation and destiny ofDonne’s poetry.

The fantastic nature of the metaphysical conceits and poetry would become clear even we examine a few examples. In “Valediction: Forbidden Mourning” true lovers now parted are likened to the legs of a compass. The image is elaborated at length. The lovers are spiritually one, just as the head of the compass is one even when the legs are apart. One leg remains fixed and the other moves round it. The lover cannot forget the beloved even when separated from her. The two loves meet together in the end just as the two legs of the compass are together again, as soon as circle has been drawn.

At other times, he uses equally extravagated hyperboles. For example, he mistakes his beloved to an angel, for to imagine her less than an angle would be profanity.

In Donne’s poetry, there is always an “intellectual analysis” of emotion. Like a clever lawyer, Donne gives arguments after arguments in support of his points of view. Thus in “Valediction: Forbidden Mourning” he proves that true lovers need not mourn at the time of parting. In “Canonization” he establishes that lovers are saints of love and in “The Blossome” he argues against the Petrarchan love tradition. In all this Donne is a realistic love poet.

Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles": The Peasant World

It cannot be denied that “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” is a social document showing the final tragic stage of the disintegration of the English peasantry but to over-emphasize this aspect and to reduce the importance of the novel as a personal tragedy does not seem to be the correct approach.

It is true that Tess is a peasant girl and that her struggles and misfortunes, to some extent, do represent the sufferings of the peasantry. The accident in which the family horse is killed symbolizes the struggles of the peasantry. Tess’ sense of guilt over this accident forces her to seek the help of the prosperous D'Urbervilles of Trantridge. Her sacrifice to Alec D’Urberville is symbolic of the historical process at work. Tess, as a worker, is handed over by her mother under economic stresses, to the life and the mercies of the ruling class.

Tess’ seduction by Alec, makes her story a hopeless struggle, against strong odds, to maintain her self-respect. After the death of her child she becomes a milk-maid at Talbothays. Here she falls in love with Angel, marries him, and is soon discarded by him. Angel personifies social convention even though he pretends not to believe in it. At the time of his desertion of Tess, Angel symbolizes the rigid, orthodox code of morality with a double standard – one for men and another for women.

Hardy was intensely aware of the changes in the countryside and the effects of economic change on society. Tess is an example of the social mobility of industrialism. But social mobility went two ways. Because of enclosures and industrialism, the traditional shape of the English farm village was changing. Workers were forced off their land and turned into proletarians, either industrial or agricultural.

One of the memorable scenes in the novel is the threshing at Flintcomb-Ash farm, where Tess with other women serves that “red tyrant”. The machine is importunate, inhuman, insatiable. The old workmen sadly recall the threshing work they used to do with their hands. The engineer operating the machine is described as being “in the agricultural world, not of it”. He and his machine are like Alec who is equally importunate, inhuman, and insatiable. The machine is as repetitious and as powerful as Alec.

The threshing scene symbolizes the dehumanized relationships of the new capitalist farms.

The final blow to Tess’ self-respect comes with the death of her father and the consequent expulsion of the family from their cottage. Cottagers who were not directly employed on the land were looked upon with disfavor. It is the need to support her family that finally forces Tess back to Alec.

Certainly Tess of the D’Urbervilles depicts the disintegration of the English peasantry and is certainly a social and industrial tragedy. However, a balance should be maintained between this approach to the novel and the personal tragedy. Hardy’s main emphasis is on Tess, not as a typical peasant girl but as an individual. Hardy deals with the theme of the decline and destruction of the English peasantry by Tess; but it is not the dominant theme. The English peasantry does arouse our sympathy but we think of Tess not as an agent of the peasantry but as an individual girl, for if Tess is typical, she is also unique.

In several ways Tess stands above her peasantry class. In the first place, she has a delicate conscience which disturbs her peace of mind after her seduction. She suffers from a constant sense of guilt because of her past when she has fallen in love with Angel. Secondly, she is a hypersensitive girl. Not every peasant girl thinks that mankind lives on a “blighted” planet and suffers from the “ache of modernism”. This sensitivity makes her, after Angel’s desertion, suffer a mental torture. The difference between Tess as an individual and as a peasant becomes clear when she thinks of her mother’s reactions towards her. Her mother accepts the seduction stoically and urges her not to reveal her past to her husband. The mother is quite thick-skinned.

The true representative of the peasantry is the mother, not Tess. Tess has surely sprung from the peasantry but her thoughts and her feelings lift her far above the peasantry. We think of Tess betrayed by her seducer, betrayed by her husband, betrayed by circumstances; we think of an innocent victim of the dishonesty and traditionalism respectively of two men, and an innocent victim of the hostility of fate. The theme of the disintegration of the peasantry is secondary to the tragedy of an individual woman.