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Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

  • Epic poem in terza rima (tercets or groups of three lines with interlocking rhymes: aba, bcb, cdc, etc.). Italian original. A trilogy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. Each volume divided into sections called Cantos.
  • Dante sets himself as the narrator and main character of this epic poem. The Inferno is an account of Dante's own journey, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil, through the nine levels of hell. During this journey Dante encounters and holds conversations with the souls of the damned. At the end of the journey, at the bottom of hell, Dante must face Satan and confront the problem of how to escape from the underworld.
  • Beatrice serves as Dante's muse and inspiration. In The Divine Comedy it is Beatrice who, out of love for the poet, initiates Dante's journey because she believes that he has strayed from a righteous path and she thinks that this divine journey will save him from himself. Thus, she leaves her seat in Heaven to descend to Hell where she asks Virgil to serve as Dante's guide. Beatrice meets Dante in Earthly Paradise (Purgatorio) and acts as his guide through Heaven.


Sherwood Anderson: (1876-1941)

  • Writer whose prose style, derived from everyday speech, influenced American short story writing between World Wars I and II. Anderson made his name as a leading naturalistic writer with his masterwork, WINESBURG, OHIO (1919), a picture of life in a typical small Midwestern town, as seen through the eyes of its inhabitants. Anderson's episodic bildungsroman has been compared often to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. "primal forces cannot be denied even though the machine-age wants them to be." Encouraged both Faulkner and Hemingway.
  • "The young man's mind was carried away by his growing passion for dreams. One looking at him would not have thought him particularly sharp. With the recollection of little things occupying his mind he closed his eyes and leaned back in the car seat. He stayed that way for a long time and when he aroused himself and again looked out of the car window the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint his dreams of his manhood." (from Winesburg, Ohio)


Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

  • The most poignant image is the sea. The sea includes the visual imagery, used to express illusion, as well as the auditory imagery, used to express reality. A vivid description of the calm sea in the first eight lines allows a picture of the sea to unfold. However, the next six lines call upon auditory qualities, especially the words "Listen," "grating roar," and "eternal note of sadness." The distinction between the sight and sound imagery continues into the third stanza. Sophocles can hear the Aegean Sea, but cannot see it. He hears the purposelessness "of human misery," but cannot see it because of the "turbid ebb and flow" of the sea. The allusion of Sophocles and the past disappears abruptly, replaced by the auditory image, "But now I only hear/ Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar/ Retreating to the breath/ Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear/ And naked shingles of the world" (Lines 24-28). The image is intensely drawn by Arnold to vividly see the faith disappearing from the speaker's world. The image of darkness pervades the speaker's life just like the night wind pushes the clouds in to change a bright, calm sea into dark, "naked shingles."
  • In the final stanza, the speaker makes his last attempt to hold on to illusion, yet is forced to face reality. John Ciardi affirms, "Love, on the other hand, tries to imagine a land of dreams and certitude" (196). Humanitarian sympathy becomes distinct in the spiritual image of love, even though the love which the speaker refers to is the unseen second person to which he communes.

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!...

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light..


WH Auden, In Memory of WB Yeats

Three different sections memorializing Yeats: Repeating line -- Today was a cold, dark day.

He disappeared in the dead of winter:

The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,

And snow disfigured the public statues;

The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.

What instruments we have agree

The day of his death was a dark cold day.


You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:

The parish of rich women, physical decay,

Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.

Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,

For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives

In the valley of its making where executives

Would never want to tamper, flows on south

From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,

Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,

A way of happening, a mouth.

(this is the whole of part II)

Earth, receive an honoured guest:

William Yeats is laid to rest.

Let the Irish vessel lie

Emptied of its poetry.


In the nightmare of the dark

All the dogs of Europe bark,

And the living nations wait,

Each sequestered in its hate

In the deserts of the heart

Let the healing fountain start,

In the prison of his days

Teach the free man how to praise.


Honore de Balzac

  • French journalist and writer, one of the creators of realism in literature. Balzac's huge production of novels and short stories are collected under the name La Comedie humaine, which originated from Dante's The Divine Comedy. Among the masterpieces of The Human Comedy are Le Pere Goriot, Les Illusions Perdues, Les Paysans, La Femme de Trente Ans, and Eugenie Grandet. In these books Balzac covered a world from Paris to Provinces. The primarly landscape is Paris, with its old aristocracy, new financial wealth, middle-class trade, demi-monde, professionals, servants, young intellectuals, clerks, criminals... In this social mosaic Balzac had recurrent characters, such as Eugene Rastignac, who came from an impoverished provincial family to Paris, mixed with the nobility, pursued wealth, had many mistresses, gambled, and was a successful politician. Henry de Marsay appeared in twenty-five different novels.
  • Selected Novels:

An Old Maid
The Country Doctor


Samuel Beckett

  • Samuel Beckett was born to a Protestant family near Dublin, Ireland. He moved to Paris and become good friends with Joyce. Samuel Beckett's first play, Eleutheria, mirrors his own search for freedom, revolving around a young man's efforts to cut himself loose from his family and social obligations. His first real triumph, however, came on January 5, 1953, when Waiting for Godot premiered at the Theatre de Babylone. He wrote all his major plays in French even though English was his native language. Other notable play: Endgame

Characters from Godot:





a boy

Characters from Endgame:






Aphra Behn (1640-1689)

  • The first professional woman writer in English, lived from 1640 to 1689. After John Dryden, she was the most prolific dramatist of the Restoration, but it is for her pioneering work in prose narrative that she achieved her place in literary history.
  • Her Satyr on Doctor Dryden is a harsh, reflexive critique on Dryden's conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism. A Satyr on Doctor Dryden is the Protestant rebuttal to Dryden's anti-Protestantism seen in MacFlecknoe. Behn begins the poem by getting right to her point, "Scorning religion all thy life time past, / And now embracing popery at last.

Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave

  • Oroonoko, an African prince and later a slave to the English who called him "Caesar"; Imoinda, his lover, also enslaved and sometimes called "Clemene"; Jamoan, an opposing warrior chief who, conquered by Oroonoko, becomes his vassal; the King of Coramantien, whom Oroonoko serves and later betrays, and who betrays him; the slave-running English ship captain; and various English colonists, especially the supposedly sympathetic plantation overseer named Trefrey, the colony's deputy governor named William Byam, the gallant Colonel Martin, and "Bannister, a wild Irishman
  • Synopsis: The prince, who has gotten to know Behn while he is a slave in Guiana and she is a sympathetic listener, tells her his story.  Successful in battle, he falls in love with a young woman who also catches the eye of the king.  Having pursued their love surreptitiously, the couple is discovered and Imoinda is sold into slavery.    Oroonoko, a slave-owner himself, despairs and nearly is defeated in battle by Jamoan's army, but he is roused to martial prowess by the pleas of his own troops.  Lured upon an English ship by a captain with whom he previously had bought and sold slaves, Oroonoko and all his men are betrayed and taken as slaves to Guiana.  There he is reunited with Imoinda, and his noble bearing attracts the praise of all who know him.  However, circumstances force him to rebel against his masters and to lead an army of ex-slaves to seek their freedom.  His capture, his murder of his own wife, and his torture and execution by the English slave-owners end Behn's narrative.


Robert Browning

  • English poet, noted for his mastery of dramatic monologue. Browning was long unsuccesful as a poet and financially depenent upon his family until he was well into adulthood. He became a great Victorian poet. In his best works people from the past reveal their thoughts and lives as if speaking or thinking aloud.
  • A man can have but one life and one
    One heaven, one hell.

Fra Lippo Lippi (First and Last)

I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave!
You need not clap your torches to my face.
Zooks, what's to blame? you think you see a monk!
What, 'tis past midnight, and you go the rounds,
And here you catch me at an alley's end
Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar? [...]

Your hand, sir, and good-bye: no lights, no lights!
The street's hushed, and I know my own way back,
Don't fear me! There's the grey beginning. Zooks!

Porphria's Lover (First and Last)

THE rain set early in to-night,

The sullen wind was soon awake,

It tore the elm-tops down for spite,

And did its worst to vex the lake:

I listened with heart fit to break.

When glided in Porphyria; straight

She shut the cold out and the storm [...]

Porphyria's love: she guessed not how

Her darling one wish would be heard.

And thus we sit together now,

And all night long we have not stirred,

And yet God has not said a word!


My Last Duchess (first and last)

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will `t please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
[']Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innshruck cast in bronze for me!


Albert Camus

  • Born in Algeria and received a degree in philosophy before relocating to France.' He soon established an international reputation with such works as The Stranger (1946), The Plague (1948), The Rebel (1954) and The Myth of Sisyphus (1955).' 

Albert Camus, Caligula

  • The two most important of Camus' plays are Caligula (performed 1945, written 1938) and Cross Purpose (1944). In Caligula, a young Roman emperor comes face to face with the terrible lack of meaning in the universe after the senseless death of his beloved sister Drusilla. In order to teach the world the true nature of life, Caligula goes on a murderous spree, killing his subjects indiscriminately. After this act of rebellion fails, he chooses to court his own assassination.

Albert Camus, The Plague

  • One April morning in the 1940's in Oran, Algeria, Dr. Rieux, preoccupied with his ill wife's imminent departure to a sanatorium, discovers a dead rat. This unusual event marks the beginning of an epidemic of bubonic plague that will besiege the city until the following February. Over the long ten months Rieux, his acquaintances, friends, colleagues and fellow citizens labor, each in his own way, with the individual and social transformations caused by the all-consuming illness. Separation, isolation, and penury become the common lot of distinct characters whose actions, thoughts and feelings constitute a dynamic tableau of man imprisoned.

Albert Camus, The Stranger

  • At the beginning of the novel, Monsieur Mersault's mother dies. Mersault is then forced to go the home in which he sent her to in order to pay his last respects. After his mother's funeral, Mersault returns home and the next day he begins a relationship with Marie. Shortly after his return home he also befriends Raymond, his neighbor/pimp. Mersault, Marie and Raymond decide to go the beach and it is while at the beach that the group recognizes the brother of one of Raymond's ex-girlfriends. Mersault goes for a walk to the stream and ends up shooting the Arab man 5 times. He is then taken away and put in jail. At his trial, Mersault seals his fate by his existentialistic ways. He is then sentenced to the guillotine and then the novel ends, leaving the reader wanting a bit of closure.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

  • In his Biographia Literaria, the English Romantic poet Samuel T. Coleridge propounded the organic principle as the constitutive definition of the poem: the whole is in every part, and every part can be found in the whole. The poem is that species of composition characterized, unlike works of science, by the immediate purpose of pleasure, and also by special metric and phonetic arrangements; it produces delight as a whole and this delight is compatible with the distinct gratification generated by each component part, which harmonizes with the other elements. T. S. Hulme, a 20th century English thinker, elucidated Coleridge's concept quite graphically in his Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art: unlike mechanical complexity, vital or organic is that kind of complexity "in which the parts cannot be said to be elements as each one is modified by the other's presence, and each one to a certain extent is the whole. The leg of a chair by itself is still a leg. My leg by itself wouldn't be."
  • In Coleridge's view, expounded in Biographia Literaria, a great poem is the product of both the primary imagination. "The secondary imagination" dissolves, disperses, scatters, in order to re-create the material of the primary imagination; it represents creation as against vision.
  • Another important principle which the New Critics borrowed from Coleridge's poetic is contextualism. The English poet viewed the poem as a product of the form-creating man; it had an independent existence, within the organic system of mutual relationships among the terms that made up the context of the poem. Thus the poem was regarded outside any and all non-poetic contexts. ***This piece is very important to the new critics.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel

  • OVERVIEW: This poem, the first part of which was written in 1797, is also a fragment. Coleridge had wanted to include it in the 1800 Lyrical Ballads, but it was not yet finished; it was still incomplete when he finally published it in 1816. As it stands, the poem is the beginning of a medieval tale about a demon or witch.' It is writen in a strange meter of four stresses to a line, and a varying number of unstressed syllables. (Such a meter was used in medieval Anglo-Saxon poetry.)
  • PART 1. At the poem's opening, it is midnight in Landdale Castle. Everyone is asleep except Christabel, the lovely daughter of Sir Leoline, the lord of the castle. Christabel is roaming in the woods, thinking about her lover, a knight to whom she is betrothed but who is now far away. Hearing a moaning coming from the other side of an oak tree, Christabel discovers a beautiful pale lady, barefoot and with jewels in her hair, who begs for help. Her name is Geraldine. She tells Christabel that she was abducted from her home by five warriors, who tied her to a white horse and brought her to this oak tree and left her, vowing to return. Geraldine begs Christabel for help. They walk back to the castle of Sir Leoline, at the entrance to which Geraldine falls down and must be lifted over the doorstep. This is the first of several hints that Geraldine is an evil spirit, because such beings cannot pass on their own through a doorway that has been blessed. Likewise, when Christabel utters a prayer of thanks to "the Virgin" that they are safe inside, Geraldine cannot join in the prayer. The old watchdog does not bark at this stranger; he only mutters in his sleep, and the ashes in the fireplace suddenly flame up as Geraldine passes by. In Christabel's chamber the two ladies undress for sleep. They lie down together, Christabel wrapped in the arms of Geraldine. As Christabel sleeps, the guardian spirit of her dead mother is driven away by Geraldine. Thus, by the end of the first part, the poet has led the reader to the conclusion that Geraldine is entrapping Christabel or trying to seduce her, to capture her soul. But he reminds us that "saints will aid if men will call."
  • PART 2. It is morning. Geraldine and Christabel rise and dress, but Christabel retains an uneasy sense of the sinister influence of Geraldine. They visit Sir Leoline, to whom Geraldine introduces herself as the daughter of Lord Roland de Vaux, a man who had once been Sir Leoline's closest friend but had since become a bitter enemy. Captivated by the beauty of Geraldine, who embraces and kisses him, Sir Leoline tells his bard Bracey to travel to the castle of Lord Roland and invite him to come back to Langdale Castle. Meanwhile, Sir Leoline challenges the five scoundrels who abducted Geraldine to appear at a tournament one week later to defend, if they can, their honor. But, seeing Geraldine's influence over her father, Christabel asks that the guest be sent home at once. Sir Leoline, captivated by Geraldine and in a fury at this breech of hospitality, responds angrily to his daughter. Christabel cannot explain her fears because her tongue has been bewitched by Geraldine. The second part ends with the poet's meditation about the irrational anger of a parent toward an innocent child.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

  • In his introduction to the poem, Coleridge mentions an "anodyne" which he took before he conceived it. The drug was laudanum--opium dissolved in alcohol--and the vision was an opium dream. (This explains so much.) A poem about nothing:


--pleasure dome

--Ancestral voices prophesying war

--Abyssinian maid

--Mount Abora

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.


William Congreve, The Way of the World

  • LADY WISHFORT has a daughter MRS FAINALL, a niece MILLAMANT and a nephew SIR WILFULL WITWOUD. Millamant has two admirers, WITWOUD and PETULANT. Millamant's money is held in trust by her aunt, and if she marries without Lady Wishfort's consent half of it passes to Mrs Fainall. MIRABELL has previously had an affair with Mrs Fainall but is now in love with Millamant. When Mrs Fainall was thought to be pregnant Mirabell arranged for her to marry his penniless friend FAINALL. Mirabell has angered Mrs Marwood by rejecting her advances and Lady Wishfort by flirting with her to gain entry to her house where Millamant and her maid MINCING also live. Mirabell plans to get both Millamant and her fortune by dressing his servant WAITWELL as his uncle Sir Rowland and have him seduce Lady Wishfort ~ she will agree to marry him to disinherit Mirabell, and be publicly embarrassed when he is revealed to be only a servant. Mirabell will then be able to step in to release her from the contract, on condition that he may have Millamant and all her fortune. He has married Waitwell to Lady Wishfort's servant FOIBLE as security that morning. When they discover his plan, Fainall and Mrs Marwood try to turn the tables by revealing Mrs Fainall's affair with Mirabell, on condition that Lady Wishfort turn over all her estate to Fainall.


Hart Crane (1899-1932)

  • American poet whose tumultuous life ended when he committed suicide by jumping from a boat.' Writes about New York a lot in his collection of poems called The Bridge. Always talks about ships and technology.

Crane "At Melville's Tomb"

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge

The dice of drowned men's bones he saw bequeath

An embassy.' Their numbers as he watched,

Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.


And wrecks passed without sound of bells,

The calyx of death's bounty giving back

A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,

The portent wound in corridors of shells.


Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,

Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,

Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;

And silent answers crept across the stars.


Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive

No farther tides . . . High in the azure steeps

Monody shall not wake the mariner.

This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.


Poems about John Donne

Ben Jonson, To Donne

1 Donne, the delight of Phoebus and each Muse
2 Who, to thy one, all other brains refuse;
3 Whose every work of thy most early wit
4 Came forth example, and remains so yet;
5 Longer a-knowing than most wits do live;
6 And which no affection praise enough can give!
7 To it, thy language, letters, arts, best life,
8 Which might with half mankind maintain a strife.
9 All which I meant to praise, and yet I would;
10 But leave, because I cannot as I should!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, On Donne's Poetry

With Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots,
Wreathe iron pokers into true-love knots ;
Rhyme's sturdy cripple, fancy's maze and clue,
Wit's forge and fire-blast, meaning's press and screw.'


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

  • It is the last of Dostoyevsky's famous and well-regarded novels and begins on a bright day in August at a meeting that has been organised to settle the differences of the Karamazov family. Fyodor is an extravagant buffoon and travels with his second son Ivan. Old Fyodor Karamozov's youngest son Alyosha is with the wise Father Zossima, an elder, who he greatly respects and lives with. Dmitri, the oldest son, appears and is soon in a rage with his father over the question of whether he owes Fyodor debts or Fyodor owes him an inheritance. We learn of Katerina Ivanova who has proposed marriage to Dmitri and the shameful way in which both he and his father are in competition for the love of Grushenka, the latter having taken out 3,000 rubles to bribe her away from his son. Dmitri threatens to kill his father but not Grushenka. Throughout Alyosha is the confidante of his brothers, and Ivan tells of his love for Katerina and the poem that he has written showing his pessimism, The Grand Inquisitor, before leaving for Moscow on the advice of Smerdyakov. Father Zossima dies and certain controversy arises at the monastery about his possible sainthood. The tale of the brothers goes on with ever more confused loves and the murder of Fyodor which it transpires that one of the brothers accidentally encouraged. The fate of brother Dmitri in a lengthy trial is finally the issue at stake and a lengthy exile in Siberia awaits him.


John Dryden (1631-1700)

  • The young playwright's reputation grew quickly, and in 1668, only ten years after his move to London, Dryden was appointed Poet Laureate of England. (He was later stripped of the title because of religious differences when William and Mary came into power.) He also adapted a number of Shakespeare's plays icluding The Tempest and All for Love (1677), a retelling of Antony and Cleopatra.

John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel

  • This poem by John Dryden is an allegory, using Biblical characters and environment in place of England in Dryden's time. Here is the 'cast' of equivalent characters: Charles spent so much time with his lovers that he didn't have a legitimate heir so his Catholic brother James became successor to the throne

In pious times, e'r Priest-craft did begin,

Before Polygamy was made a sin;

When man, on many, multiply'd his kind,

E'r one to one was, cursedly, confind:

When Nature prompted, and no law deny'd

Promiscuous use of Concubine and Bride;

Then, Israel's monarch, after Heaven's own heart,

His vigorous warmth did, variously, impart

To Wives and Slaves; And, wide as his Command,

Scatter'd his Maker's Image through the Land.



King Charles II


Katherine of Baragna--Charles' wife, unable to have children


Duke of Monmouth--Charles' oldest son (illegitimate)


Earl of Shaftesbury--a leader of the Whig party



The Jews   

The English

 John Dryden (1631-1700), Mac Flecknoe

  • An attack on Thomas Shadwell, a contemporary of Dryden's. Details Shadwell's (MacFlecknoe's) succession to the throne of dullness. Only 217 lines long MUST READ. Imitates Aeneid.

All humane things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, Monarchs must obey:
This Fleckno  found, who, like Augustus,  young
Was call'd to Empire, and had govern'd long:
In Prose and Verse, was own'd,  without dispute
Through all the Realms of Non-sense, absolute.

John Dryden, All For Love (1631-1700)

  • With "Absalom and Achitophel," (poem) a satire on the Whig leader, Shaftesbury, Dryden entered a new phase, and achieved what is regarded as "the finest of all political satires." This was followed by "The Medal," again directed against the Whigs, and this by "Mac Flecknoe," a fierce attack on his enemy and rival Shadwell. The Government rewarded his services by a lucrative appointment.




Octavia: Antony's wife

Ventidius: Antony's general

Alexas: Cleopatra's servant

Doladella: Antony's friend

Retelling of the Antony and Cleopatra story. (heroic tragedy)


TS Eliot, The Wasteland (1888-1965

  • Look for a poem that's in German, Greek, and many other languages. Broken up into sections, kinda.

O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag


It's so elegant


So intelligent


  • First and last lines:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down


Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina

Quando fiam ceu chelidon O swallow swallow

Le Prince d'Aquitaine la tour abolie

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.

Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

            Shantih shantih shantih

TS Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


LET us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question

Oh, do not ask, What is it?

Let us go and make our visit.


In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.


George Etheridge, The Man of Mode or Sir Fopling Flutter

  • Two interwoven plots:
  • Dorimant rids himself of his mistress Mrs. Loveitt with the aid of Bellinda (whom he seduces in the process). In doing this he meets the wise Harriet Woodvil, whom he appears to fall in love with but she is having none of his games. Even when he proposes marriage she makes him follow her into the country to hear her answer.
  • Young Bellair has been ordered by his father to marry Harriet, but he loves Emilia. With the help of lady Townely, he outwits his father who has also fallen for Emilia. In the end, the man blesses his sons choice.
  • Dorimant is said to be drawn from John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester.


Everyman, Anonymous

  • Everyman is the best surviving example of the type of Medieval drama known as the morality play. Moralities evolved side by side with the mystery plays, although they were composed individually and not in cycles. The moralities employed allegory to dramatize the moral struggle Christianity envisions universal in every individual.
  • Everyman, a short play of some 900 lines, portrays a complacent Everyman who is informed by Death of his approaching end. The play shows the hero's progression from despair and fear of death to a "Christian resignation that is the prelude to redemption."1 First, Everyman is deserted by his false friends: his casual companions, his kin, and his wealth. He falls back on his Good Deeds, his Strength, his Beauty, his Intelligence, and his Knowledge. These assist him in making his Book of Accounts, but at the end, when he must go to the grave, all desert him save his Good Deeds alone. The play makes its grim point that we can take with us from this world nothing that we have received, only what we have given.



William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

  • Faulkner's fourth novel, his favorite, primarily, he says, because it is his "most splendid failure." Depicting the decline of the once-aristocratic Compson family, the novel is divided into four parts, each told by a different narrator.
  • Benjy Compson: Idiot, youngest child. He narrates the first section, and he is the key to the novel's title, which alludes to Macbeth: "It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing." He was castrated after allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl.
  • Quentin: Quentin's section has flashbacks to fewer moments in the past and is less disjointed than Benjy's section, but because he is more intellectual and abstract, his section is much more fragmented. Nearly all of Quentin's flashbacks, except minor memories (such as breaking his leg) and those depicting conversation with his father, concern Caddy's sexuality and/or Quentin's reaction to it. Commits suicide.
  • Compson, Candace (Caddy): Caddy is the veritable centerpiece of The Sound and the Fury and she played a different role in the eyes of her three brothers: a caring, maternal figure to Benjy, a virgin/whore who upset his sense of the propriety of Southern womanhood to Quentin, and an object of envy and detestation, who ruined his one chance at success, to Jason.' Does not have her own section.
  • Compson, Jason: A confirmed sadist, Jason Compson reveled in his cruelty to others, including his mother, their black servant Dilsey. A childless bachelor, Jason thus represented the end of the Compson dynasty, since his older brother, Quentin, committed suicide in 1910 and his younger brother, Benjy, was castrated. In 1933, following the death of his mother, he committed Benjy to the state asylum and sold the Old Compson Place to a man wishing to open a boarding-house.

William Faulkner, A Rose For Emily

  • The story of Emily Grierson, an aging spinster in Jefferson, whose death and funeral drew the attention of the entire town, "the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant - a combined gardener and cook - had seen in at least ten years." The unnamed narrator, which some critics have identified as "the town" or at least a representative voice from it, in a seemingly haphazard manner relates key moments in Emily's life, including the death of her father and a brief fling with a Yankee road paver, Homer Barron. Beyond the literal level of Emily's narrative, the story is sometimes regarded as symbolic of the changes in the South during the representative period.

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

  • Faulkner's first novel published after The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, like the novel before it, is told in stream-of-conscious fashion by fifteen different speakers in some 59 chapters. In its depiction of the Bundren family's quest to Jefferson to bury their dead matriarch, Addie, among her "people," against the threats of flood and fire, the novel explores the nature of grieving, community, and family.
  • Cash Bundren: carpenter, broke his leg trying to get casket across the river, Anse (his dad) almost kills him by making a cast out of cement.
  • Darl Bundren: most prolific voice in AILD. Is clairvoyant. Committed at the end for burning down a barn. Goes crazy and talks about himself in 3rd person.
  • Dewey Dell Bundren: only daughter. Pregnant by Lafe and trying to get an abortion. Pissed at Darl because he figured out she was pregnant ' is the main one that tries to commit him.
  • Jewel Bundren: (think Scarlet Letter), illegitimate child from Addie and Rev. Whitfield. She likes him best. He only has one monologue. Only Darl knows he's illegitimate.
  • Quote: "If it had just been me when Cash fell off of that church and if it had just been me when pa aid sick with that load of wood fell on him, it would not be happening with every bastard in the county coming in to stare at her because if there is a God what the hell is He for. It would just be me and her on a high hill and me rolling the rocks down the hill at their faces, picking them up and throwing them down the hill faces and teeth and all by God until she was quiet...."
  • Vardamann Bundren: youngest child. Catches a fish the day his mom dies and starts calling him mom the fish. (My mother is a fish) Thinks that Dr. Peabody killed his mom.


Gustav Flaubert, Madame Bovary (Madame Bovary c'est moi!)

  • Charles Bovary is a country physician who, after an unhappy first marriage, marries the daughter of a patient. Emma is eager to leave her father's dirty farm but finds marriage to be less romantic and satisfying than she expected. Charles is not a prince, but a bumbling, aging man. Even when at work he performs more like a veterinarian than a skilled surgeon. Indeed, when he and the local chemist attempt a new procedure on a clubfoot, the patient gets gangrene and loses his leg.
  • Disgusted, Emma develops a relationship with Leon Dupuis, a young lawyer. She refuses to sleep with him but regrets it after he leaves town. She then meets Rodolphe Boulanger, a wealthy landowner who seduces Emma to pass the time. They have a brief if passionate affair.
  • When Boulanger abandons her, Emma returns to Leon, this time giving in to their mutual passion. Her affair has an air of desperation. She soon exhausts her limited funds on trips to visit her lover and love gifts. Knowing that her husband will discover her affair when their financial situation is revealed, Emma overdoses on arsenic and dies miserably.


EM Forester, Howard's End (1879 - 1970)

  • Margaret Schlegel - Helen and Tibby Schlegel's older sister.' Main character.' Middle Class.' Marries Henry Wilcox.
  • Helen Schlegel- Margaret's beautiful sister. Pregnant by Leonard Bast.
  • Tibby Schlegel- younger brother to Margaret and Helen
  • Mrs. Munt- Margaret, Helen, and Tibby's aunt
  • Henry Wilcox- the patriarch of the Wilcox family and British businessman
  • Ruth Wilcox- Henry's first wife and owner of Howards End. Dies.' Wants Mar. to have HE.' Her family ignores her.
  • Charles, Paul, Evie- Henry's children.' Charles causes Leonard's death.
  • Leonard and Jacky Bast- poor young clerk and his wife


Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1728-1774)

  • Dedicated to Samuel Johnson (dictionary)
  • The hero is Charles Marlow, a wealthy young man who is being forced by his family to consider a potential bride whom he has never met. He is anxious about meeting her, because he suffers from shyness and can only behave naturally with women of a lower class. He sets out with a friend to travel to the home of his prospective in-laws, the Hardcastles, but they become lost on the road.
  • While the bride-to-be is awaiting his arrival, her half-brother, Tony Lumpkin (one of literature's great comic characters), while out riding, comes across the two strangers, and, realising their identity, plays a practical joke by telling them that they are a long way from their destination and will have to stay overnight at an inn. The "inn" he directs them to is in fact the home of his parents. When they arrive, their hosts, who have been expecting them, go out of their way to make them welcome. However, the two men, believing themselves in a hostelry, behave rudely.
  • Meanwhile, Tony's sister, Kate, learning of the error and also acquainted with her suitor's shyness, masquerades as a serving-maid in order to get to know him. He falls in love with her and plans to elope with her. Needless to say, all misunderstandings are sorted out in the end, and Charles and Kate live happily ever after.


Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard (1751)

  • Gray was the 5th and only surviving child of 12 children. Escaped an unhappy childhood (abusive father) when his uncle took him to Eton. Friends with Horace Walpole (wrote the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto ) and Richard West. Let us not forgot the amazing poem, "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes". Alfred Lord Tennyson, a century later, spoke of Elegy's "divine truisms that make us weep." It went through four editions in two months, and eleven in a short time, besides being imitated, satirized, translated into many languages, and constantly pirated. (4line stanzas abab)

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.


Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

The Epitaph (to the poet Richard West)

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God.



Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

  • The Sun Also Rises is set in the bars and cafes of Paris and the bull-rings of Pamplona during the Festival of San Fermin and the running of the bulls in the 1920s. The story is about a group of young Americans and English expatriats in Paris trying to enjoy their lives after the First World War. Alocohol plays an important part of the story, often making the characters reveal their true selves when they are drunk.
  • Jacob Barnes (known as Jake) is the narrator of the story and the hero. He is an American from Kansas City now living in Paris and working as writer/newspaper reporter. Jake is impotent after being wounded in the war but he is deeply in love with a woman called Brett - her full name is Lady Brett Ashley, the title she inherited from her husband. Brett is seeking a divorce from her husband and it quickly becomes clear she is a very shallow person who loves to tease men and have affairs with them but she is incapable of having any real deep feeling for anyone.
  • The story spans just a few weeks in the lives of Jake, Brett and a circle of friends. Hemingway makes much of the comaderie Jake has with men and the support he always offers Brett, despite her rejection of him because he is impotent. Jake sits back and watches Brett's relationships with men in a calm, controlled way but always painfully aware of his own physical inadequacies. Every time she breaks up with someone or is feeling depressed she turns to Jake.
  • There is repetition in the story. The inevitability that Brett will have another affair, Jake is always there to comfort her. Michael is always there to put up with her. Each character goes away to heal their wounds. Just like the sun always rising every morning and setting every night. Jake has one friend, called Bill Gordon, he is the only male character not to fall in love with Brett but just enjoys the company of Jake in Spain, whilst they fish and watch the bull fights. A bullfighter, called Pedro Romero also falls in love with Brett. He is a young, confident and handsome Spaniard, admired by all for his expertise in the ring. He tries to change Brett, to make her into a more womanly woman. He wants her to grow her hair long, (she has short boyish hair). Pedro will lose respect in his country if he carries on his liaison with Brett. They part but Brett is distraught, perhaps for the first time. She runs to Jake for support. The story finishes with Brett telling Jake they should be together but they can't because he is impotent. Last lines: As they ride in a taxi through the Spanish capital, Brett laments that she and Jake could have had a wonderful time together. Jake responds, "Yes, isn't it pretty to think so?"

Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants

  • Told largely through dialogue. The story opens with a description of the setting, in rural Spain. We see a railway station between two lines of rails. It is hot, and there is no shade or trees. The two central characters, an American man and a girl (whose nationality is not disclosed), sit at a table waiting for a train to Madrid. The girl notes distant white hills against the warm, dry country, and comments that they look like White Elephants. The man's response and her reaction to it hint at tension between the pair.

    Eventually, on the third drink, the man raises the subject of an operation he is encouraging the girl to have. It becomes apparent that the operation is an abortion. The man assures the woman that it is natural and that he will be there to support her if she goes ahead with it. Afterwards, he tells her, they will go on as before. The girl seems unsure about having the abortion. When the American says he's known lots of people who've done it, she says she has too, and adds with a hint of sarcasm that they were 'so happy' afterwards. When the man tells her she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to, she finally becomes serious, knowing the issue needs to be discussed. She questions whether things will be like they were before, and whether the man will still love her. He tries to reassure her, saying things will be better between them when he doesn't have to worry about their current situation. The girl seems persuaded, saying she will do it to make things 'fine' and because she doesn't care about herself.

    Leaving the table the girl wanders to the edge of the station and looks at the scenery. In contrast to the scenery already noted, on the other side of the tracks she sees fields and trees, even a river. Her mood seems to change when she returns to the table. The landscape has, to her, mirrored their choice on one side barren aridity, on the other, fertile life. Their relationship has been changed by his attempts to manipulate her and they will never get it back. His actions have made their future barren.

    When the man tries to placate her, sensing her mood shift, she tells him to stop talking. She indicates that it is too late for him to make things better. He notes the other people waiting reasonably for their train ' implying that he sees the girl as unreasonable. The story ends after he goes back, with the girl reassuring him that she feels 'fine'.


Robert Herrick, The Julia Poems

  • Herrick was born in Cheapside in 1591. His father committed suicide in 1592 by jumping out of their 4 story window. He ended up getting both a bachelors and masters degree and was the eldest of the 'Sons of Ben,' the Cavalier Poets, who idolized Ben Jonson.
  • Upon Julia's: Bracelet, Ribbon, Breasts, Clothes, Bed, Recovery, Hair Filled w/ Dew, Voice (you get the picture)
  • Display thy breasts, my Julia, there let me
    Behold that circummortal purity:
    Between whose glories, there my lips I'll lay,
    Ravished, in that fair Via Lactea.

Robert Herrick, To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time (1640s)

  • Compare with Andrew Marvell's 'To His Coy Mistress'

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
               Old time is still a-flying;
          And the same flower that smiles today
               Tomorrow will be dying.

          The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,
               The higher he's a-getting,
          The sooner will his race be run,
               And nearer he's to setting.


Homer, The Illiad

  • In the tenth year of the war between the Greeks and the Trojans, Chryses, a priest of Apollo, comes to the Greek camp to ask for the return of his daughter Chryseis. She had been captured during a raid and given as a prize to Agamemnon. When Agamemnon refuses to return the girl, Chryses begs Apollo to punish the Greeks. The result is that a plague is sent upon them. A few days later, Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors, calls an assembly of the Greek forces to discuss how they can bring the plague to an end. The prophet Calchas explains why Apollo is angry with the Greeks and proposes that Agamemnon give up Chryseis. Agamemnon agrees to let the girl if Briseis, the prize of Achilles, is given to him. Achilles protests the loss of Briseis, but Agamemnon sends his men to take her away. Achilles is furious at this insult inflicted on him by Agamemnon and refuses to take any further part in the fighting. He also asks his mother, Thetis, to persuade Zeus to humble Agamemnon and the Greeks. Since Zeus favors Thetis, he agrees to honor her request.

    On the next day, Agamemnon marshals the Greek forces, excluding Achilles and his men, and attacks the Trojans. The Greeks succeed in their efforts due to the brilliant fighting of Diomedes. On the second day of battle, the gods, following Zeus' orders, begin to help the Trojans, and the Greeks are driven back by the Trojans. At the end of the day, the Trojans do not even return to Troy for protection; instead, they are so confident of their abilities that they camp on the plain, ready for an onslaught on the Greek camp the next day.

    Worrying about the Greek losses of the day, Agamemnon realizes how greatly his army depends upon the prowess of Achilles. As a result, he sends an embassy to the Greek hero to admit that he was wrong and offering to restore Briseis and give Achilles many other gifts if he would rejoin the fighting. The proud Achilles refuses the offer.

    To restore the morale of the Greek forces, Odysseus and Diomedes make a successful night attack upon the camp of one of the Trojan allies; but when the fighting begins on the third day, the Trojans, with the help of the gods, again drive the Greeks into retreat. All the great Greek heroes, except Aias, are wounded in the fighting and are forced to leave the battle. As a result, the Trojans succeed in breaking through the Greek wall and are at the point of setting fire to their ships. Worried about the eminent defeat of the Greeks, Patroclos approaches his friend Achilles and
    begs him to return to the fight. Achilles agrees to let his men help in the battle and lends Patroclos his own armor for the fight.

    The reappearance of Achilles' forces temporarily turns the tide of the battle in favor of the Greeks, and they are able to force the Trojans back. Hector, however, is successful in killing Patroclos and stripping the armor of Achilles from his body. Suffering over the loss of Patroclos and the armor, the Greeks are easily pushed by the Trojans into full retreat once again. Achilles, learning of the events of the day, has had enough. The death of Patroclos motivates him to rejoin the fighting. When he returns to the Greek camp and shouts his battle cry, the Trojans tremble in fear and retreat. Zeus also makes the decision to let the gods help on both sides of the fighting.


Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring and Fall

  • Poem in couplets, one line longer than a sonnet. Fall of mankind, Margaret is a pearl, blah blah, catholic, blah blah.


  • To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.


Langston Hughes, Raisin in the Sun

  • Poem by Langston Hughes but Lorainne Hansberry has a play by the same name.
  • The Play: The story is about the Youngers, a black family living on the South Side of Chicago. It details the family's different views on what should be done with the ten thousand dollar check. The character Mama wants to buy a house. Her son Walter Lee wants to open a liquor store, and the daughter Beneatha wants to finish her schooling. In each scene, a character is faced with a different decision.
  • The Poem is titled Harlem: A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun
Or fester like a sore

And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over'

Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

  • The novel opens in the year 632 A.F. (which means After Ford, the god of the New World). All of civilization has been destroyed by a great war. Then there is another war, the Nine Years War, which ushers in the era of Ford, ensuring stability through dictatorship. The society depicted in the novel is based on a rigid caste system. The higher of the five castes enjoy superior tasks, while the lower ones perform menial roles. Ten Controllers hold all the power in this new world and peace is maintained by conditioning infant minds and by soothing adults with the tranquilizer, soma. The population is further controlled through scientific methods; marriage is forbidden, and children are not born but produced in an embryo factory.
  • When the novel begins, some students are being given a guided tour through the London Hatcheries. Henry Foster and Lenina Crowne, two employees of this center, have been dating each other a little too often, going against state rules. Lenina's friend Fanny warns her against such promiscuity. As a result, Lenina decides to date Bernard Marx, who is very intelligent but not quite like the others of his caste.


Eugene Ionesco

  • Romanian born, educated in France. Wishing to acquire English as his third language, Ionesco purchased a set of records produced by the Assimil conversation method and began to transcribe the short, simple-minded exercises they contained. Amazed by the strangeness of these nonsensical sentences, Ionesco made them the basis of his first play, The Bald Soprano.He went on to write more than twenty plays including Rhinoceros, The Chairs, Jack or The Submission, The Lesson, The Killer, Exit the King, Macbett, and Journeys Among the Dead.
  • Characters from The Bald Soprano: Mr. And Mrs. Smith, Mr. And Mrs. Martin, Mary the Maid, The First Chief


Henrick Isben: A Doll's House

  • Set during the turn of the century between Torvald Helmer and his wife Nora. He treats her as if she was an animal, constantly calling her my little lark and any number of difference animals. He treats her as a doll or a small child. What he does not realize is that she has struck a bargain with Nils Krogstad for money when Torvald was sick. She must pay Krogstad back or he will reveal her deception. Her friend, Mrs. Linde, attempts to intervene, but to no avail. At the end of the play, Nora realizes that she has been living like a doll and leaves Torvald.
  • Is that my little lark twittering out there?
  •   Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was Papa's doll child; and here the children have been my dolls. [...] that is what our marriage has been.


Ben Jonson, Volpone

  • In Volpone, Ben Jonson celebrates the joy of a good trick. He emphasizes the fun and the humor of deceit, but he does not overlook its nastiness, and in the end he punishes the deceivers. The play centers around the wealthy Volpone, who, having no wife or children, pretends to be dying and, with the help of his wily servant Mosca, eggs on several greedy characters, each of whom hopes to be made Volpone's sole heir. Jonson's ardent love of language reveals itself throughout the play, but especially in the words of Mosca and Volpone, who relish the deceptive powers of language. Volpone himself pursues his schemes partly out of greed, but partly out of his passionate love of getting the best of people. He cannot resist the temptation to outsmart those around him, particularly when fate delivers him such perfect gulls as the lawyer Voltore, the merchant Corvino, the doddering old Corbaccio, and the foolish English travelers Sir Politic and Lady Would-Be. Mosca too revels in his ability to beguile others, remarking "I fear I shall begin to grow in love / With my dear self," so thrilled is he with his own manipulations. His self-love, however, proves his undoing, as it does for Volpone. Both characters become so entranced by their own elaborate fictions that they cannot bring themselves to stop their scheming before they betray themselves.


Samuel Johnson, History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1709-83)

  • Johnson's only work that is fictional. Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, leaves the easy life of the Happy Valley, accompanied by his sister Nekayah, her attendant Pekuah, and the much-travelled philosopher Imlac. Their journey takes them to Egypt, where they study the various conditions of men's lives, before returning home in a `conclusion in which nothing is concluded'. Johnson's tale is not only a satire on optimism, but also an expression of truth about the human mind and its infinite capacity for hope.

Samuel Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare

  • Johnson makes his Shakespearian criticism the foundation for general statements about man, nature, and literature. He is a true neo-classicist in his concern with the universal rather than with the particular; the highest praise he can bestow upon Shakespeare is to say that his plays are "just representations of general nature." The dramatist has relied upon his knowledge of human nature, rather than on bizarre effects, for his success. "The pleasures of sudden wonder are soon exhausted, and the mind can only repose on the stability of truth," Johnson concludes. It is for this reason that Shakespeare has outlived his century and reached the point at which his works can be judged solely on their own merits, without the interference of personal interests and prejudices that make criticism of one's contemporaries difficult. Keywords: universal, natural.
  • One of Johnson's most stringent objections to Shakespeare's work arises from his strong conviction that literature is essentially didactic. He is disturbed by Shakespeare's disregard of "poetic justice." Johnson was convinced that the writer should show the virtuous rewarded and the evil punished, and he finds that Shakespeare, by ignoring this premis, "sacrifices virtue to convenience." The fact that in life evil often triumphs over good is no excuse in Johnson's eyes: "It is always a writer's duty to make the world better."' Shakespeare's careless plotting and his "disregard for distinctions of time and place" are also noted as flaws. Although Johnson dislikes Shakespeare's bawdry, he is willing to concede that that fault, at least, might have rested with the indelicacy of the ladies and gentlemen at the courts of Elizabeth I and James I, rather than with the playwright. These minor "errors" are far less irritating to Johnson than Shakespeare's use of puns: "A quibble was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world, and was content to lose it."


James Joyce, Ulysses

  • This tale of the adventures of advertising salesman Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904 and details Bloom's relationships with wife Molly and surrogate son Stephan Dedalus.
  • The action takes place in 18 chapters spaced approximately one hour apart, starting at 8:00am on Thursday 16 June 1904, and ending in the early hours of June 17.
  • The central parallel to Homer is that Bloom's wife Molly-- like Penelope in Homer-- is being courted by a suitor, the dashing Blazes Boylan. In order to win her back, Bloom must negotiate twelve trials-- his Odyssey.
  • Telemachus (Ulysses' son) is Stephan Dedalus the main character from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.


John Keats (1795-1821)

  • English poet, b. London. He is considered one of the greatest of English poets. The son of a livery stable keeper, Keats attended school at Enfield, where he became the friend of Charles Cowden Clarke, the headmaster's son, who encouraged his early learning. Apprenticed to a surgeon (1811), Keats came to know Leigh Hunt and his literary circle, and in 1816 he gave up surgery to write poetry. His first volume of poems appeared in 1817. It included " I stood tip-toe upon a little hill," "Sleep and Poetry," and the famous sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer." He died of tuberculosis in Rome. Keats' poetry differs from Wordsworth's 'nature as religion,' and instead focuses on more depressing subjects (c'mon, he died at 26). Keats felt that the deepest meaning of life lay in the apprehension of material beauty, although his mature poems reveal his fascination with a world of death and decay.

John Keats, Endymion

  • Keats's first long poem appeared, when he was 21. It told in 4000 lines of the love of the moon goddess Cynthia for the young shepherd Endymion. Written in heroic couplets (rhymed lines of iambic pentameter).

A THING of beauty is a joy for ever:


Its loveliness increases; it will never


Pass into nothingness; but still will keep


A bower quiet for us, and a sleep


Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.


Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing


A flowery band to bind us to the earth,


Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth


Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,


Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways




John Keats, Isabella, or The Pot of Sweet Basil

  • Adapted from Boccaccio's Decameron, Isabella is written in ottava rima (the stanza form that Byron brought back from Italy). Isabella and Lorenzo fall in love with each other, but he is in a society class beneath her, she is from a wealthy family and lives with her two brothers. For a while they are secretly in love, but do not speak of it. Then she falls ill and Lorenzo braves the risk of being shunned. But she is ill because she is in love with Lorenzo and is pining away. When he speaks of his love to her, her spirits are lifted and they begin to steal secret moments together. Her two brothers overhear and see them, and because he is of a lower class and unable to support her financially, they plot to murder him so that she has no chance of marrying him against their wishes.
  • So they slay him in the forest and bury him. Then they return to tell Isabell they had sent him on business far away. She pines for Lorenzo and after months, starts to fade in beauty because of her loss of love and life without Lorenzo. One night Lorenzo appears to her in a vision and tells her of his death at the hands of her brothers and where he is buried. She takes an old nurse with her and together they unearth his grave. Isabella removes his head from his body and wraps it in a scarf, then plants it in a pot and covers it with basil.
  • She cares for the basil with her tears and love, laments over the potted basil and grieves like a widow. The brothers are puzzled over her obsession for the basil and steal it away from her. Then they discover the secret beneath the basil, and destroy it. Isabella is destroyed as well, and cries for her sweet basil.

Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
   Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
   Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meals but feel how well
    It soothed each to be the other by;
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

  John Keats, Hyperion, a fragment

  • Hyperion was planned as an epic poem, to tell of the dethronement of Saturn and the earlier gods by Jupiter and the other divinities of Olympus, and especially of the overthrow of Hyperion, the sun-god, by Apollo. Keats has to some extent imitated Milton's style, echoed his phrases, and reproduced situations from Paradise Lost, just as Milton himself had imitated ancient epic models.
  • BOOK I

             Deep in the shady sadness of a vale

             Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn, (breat of morn- direct lift from Paradise Lost- lots of these)

              Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,

              Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,

              Still as the silence round about his lair;

              Forest on forest hung about his head

              Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,

              Not so much life as on a summer's day

              Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,

            But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.

            A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more

            By reason of his fallen divinity

            Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds

            Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.

John Keats, Eve of St. Agnes

  • The upheaval in Keats' life lead him to a poetic place, and that journey is mapped within the careful story of young Madeline and her husband to be, Porphyro. The joining of the brave poetic spirit, Porphyro, with the innocent receptacle of the poet, Madeline, is found within the poem's story. Written in Spenserian stanza (The stanza consists of eight lines of iambic pentameter followed by a single alexandrine, a twelve-syllable iambic line. The final line typically has a caesura, or break, after the first three feet. The rhyme scheme of these lines is "ababbcbcc). 

He follow'd through a lowly arched way,

Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume;

And as she mutter'd "Well-a'well-a-day!"

He found him in a little moonlight room,

Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.

"Now tell me where is Madeline," said he,

"O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom

"Which none but secret sisterhood may see,

"When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."

John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci

  • Ballad-like. The poet meets a knight by a woodland lake in late autumn. The man has been there for a long time, and is evidently dying. The knight says he met a beautiful, wild-looking woman in a meadow. He visited with her, and decked her with flowers. She did not speak, but looked and sighed as if she loved him. He gave her his horse to ride, and he walked beside them. He saw nothing but her, because she leaned over in his face and sang a mysterious song. She spoke a language he could not understand, but he was confident she said she loved him. He kissed her to sleep, and fell asleep himself. He dreamed of a host of kings, princes, and warriors, all pale as death. They shouted a terrible warning -- they were the woman's slaves. And now he was her slave, too. Awakening, the woman was gone, and the knight was left on the cold hillside. Two different versions: (wight is the OE word for man).

Manuscript    I

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Published     I

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

  • Written after Keats heard a nightingale outside his window and started musing about death. Horatian Ode with iambic pentameter lines and one with iambic trimeter.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,--
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

John Keats, Ode to a Grecian Urn

  • His famous poem 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' was inspired by a Wedgwood copy of a Roman copy of a Greek vase. It also contains the most discussed two lines in all of Keats's poetry - '"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'  The exact meaning of those lines is disputed by everyone; no less a critic than TS Eliot considered them a blight upon an otherwise beautiful poem. Iambic pentameter.

Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
      Thou foster child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
      A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
      Of deities or mortals, or of both,
            In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loath?
      What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
            What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

(last stanza) O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
      Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
      Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!
      When old age shall this generation waste,
            Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
      "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"---that is all
            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

  • Keats' first poem. Petrarchan/Italian Sonnet (octet and sestet). The octave presents a situation, attitude, or problem that the sestet comments upon or resolves, as in John Keats's "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.

MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,


  And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;


  Round many western islands have I been


Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.


Oft of one wide expanse had I been told


  That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:


  Yet did I never breathe its pure serene


Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:


Then felt I like some watcher of the skies


  When a new planet swims into his ken;


Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes


  He stared at the Pacific'and all his men


Look'd at each other with a wild surmise


  Silent, upon a peak in Darien.




Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

  • So many people have used this poem to start their own: John Donne, Robert Herrick, C. Day Lewis, and most notably Sir Walter Raleigh. The poem was published after his death in 1599 and was sometimes attributed to Shakespeare. In quatrains (4 line stanzas) of iambic tetrameter.
  • Pastoral lyric: Poetry that expresses emotions  in an idyllic setting.  It is related to the term "pasture," and is associated with shepherds writing music to their flocks.  The tradition goes back to David in the Bible and Hesiod the Greek poet.

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hill and valley, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There we will sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

  • Form: Blank verse (for main plot), unrhymed iambic pentameter, set in 13 scenes with a prologue, three internal choruses, and an epilogue (the "A text" published in 1604) or five acts, composed of 4, 3, 3, 7, and 3 scenes, and all but the last scene begins with a "Chorus" delivering a transitional epilogue (the significantly longer "B text" published in 1616, and probably contributed to by later poets).  Subplot passages involving Wagner, the Clown, the Horse Courser etc. usually are in prose and use colloquial diction to comic effect, though Faustus becomes involved with the subplot in the end.  
  • Characters: Major characters include Faustus, a German professor at Wittenberg who has turned magician, his servant Wagner, Mephistopholis the tempting demon and Lucifer, his lord, and a host of minor characters (three scholars who hope to learn from Faustus, a troop of "clowns" or country bumpkins whose quest for silly powers parodies Faustus' own desires, a set of high status characters including the pope and the emperor, and a set of allegorical characters including Faustus' good and bad angels, and the Seven Deadly Sins (a stock favorite of medieval moralities--Everyman transformed them into social types).
  • Summary: The scholar seeks the ultimate wisdom, and with it, the ultimate power, but becomes obsessed with power to the neglect of his spirit. A demon, summoned, tempts him to surrender his soul for a brief period of exotic earthly powers. His servant and a gang of comic characters, in a subplot, mirror Faustus' search for earthly power but with markedly less success (and, hence, less risk to their souls!). Faustus trades his spirit for illusions like his vision of Helen, a "dumbshow" (silent play) or metadrama that occurs within his own life's play and mocks his ambitions. Unlike Goethe's Faust, Marlowe's Faustus remains confident in his own damnation until the end, and therefore he is correct, though also morally wrong.  Marlowe's own view of Faustus' career remains much more complex, however, since he shares many qualities with the necromancer.


Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress (1681)

  • Andrew Marvell was born in Winestead-in-Holderness in 1621. He was a friend of John Milton who recommended him for the post of Assistant Latin Secretary to the Council of State in 1653 - he finally got the job in 1657! While most of his poetry was not published during his lifetime, he did have a number of satires published, notably The Rehearsal Transposed which was published in two parts and was a rebuttal of the opinions of the Archdeacon of Canterbury. Samuel Parker. Thought of mostly as a metaphysical poet.
  • To His Coy Mistress is a poem of two halves: the first splendidly flatters by setting out what would be proper lengths of time in which to adore her, if there was sufficient time. But having set her up, he follows on by telling her that there just isn't the time for all that "And your quaint honour turn to dust" and so they should "tear our pleasures with rough strife". Human nature hasn't changed too much over the last three hundred years but I bet few young ladies receive requests to dispense with their virginity in such a form today! The final couplet seems to confuse many. (Poem is 46 lines long in heroic couplets.)

Had we but world enough, and time, 1.
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

  But at my back I always hear
Times winged chariot hurrying near;.

Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run. 46


Claude McKay (1889-1948)

  • One of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance; known for his socialist politics. Different from the others because he adhered to old forms to write his protest poetry. The Lynching, Harlem Dancer, America, Africa and If We Must Die are all sonnets. Also wrote the book Home to Harlem.


THE sun sought thy dim bed and brought forth light,

The sciences were sucklings at thy breast;

When all the world was young in pregnant night

Thy slaves toiled at thy monumental best.

Thou ancient treasure-land, thou modern prize,

New peoples marvel at thy pyramids!

The years roll on, thy sphinx of riddle eyes

Watches the mad world with immobile lids.

The Hebrews humbled them at Pharaoh's name.

Cradle of Power! Yet all things were in vain!

Honor and Glory, Arrogance and Fame!

They went. The darkness swallowed thee again.

Thou art the harlot, now thy time is done,

Of all the mighty nations of the sun.

Harlem Dancer

APPLAUDING youths laughed with young prostitutes

And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;

Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes

Blown by black players upon a picnic day.

She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,

The light gauze hanging loose about her form;

To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm

Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.

Upon her swarthy neck black shiny curls

Luxuriant fell; and tossing coins in praise,

The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,

Devoured her shape with eager, passionate gaze;

But looking at her falsely-smiling face,

I knew her self was not in that strange place.

If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!


Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.


Herman Melville, Moby Dick

  • Moby Dick is told by Ishmael, a young man who wants to go to sea as a sailor to seek adventure and excitement. He signs on the whaling ship, Pequod, along with his newfound Indian friend, Queequeg, whom he has met one night at the Spouter Inn in New Bedford. Queequeg is a native of the Fiji islands and an expert harpooner.

    The captain of the ship, the dark brooding Ahab, is obsessed with hunting a giant white sperm whale, Moby Dick. Some years ago during an encounter at sea, Moby Dick had bitten off Ahab's leg. Thirsting for revenge, the one-legged Ahab decides to hunt the whale down. Thus, Ishmael, along with the ship's crew, is caught under the spell of Ahab's obsession for Moby Dick.

    The Pequod leaves Nantucket on Christmas Day for the Pacific, and along its journey, the narrator introduces the reader to quite a few of the ship's members. Starbuck is the chief mate, Stubb, the second mate, and Flask, the third. There are also three harpooners: Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo. The narrator not only describes the crew but also provides a lot of information about sperm whales and how they are spotted and hunted. One night Ahab gathers the crew around him and tells them of his quest: to catch the great white whale. The crew excitedly backs up his challenge to kill this deadly creature; the rest of the night is spent in revelry. Ishmael discovers that Moby Dick is a temperamental and wicked beast who is capable of sinking a whaling ship.

  • While Moby Dick is being hunted, the crew catches several sperm whales. On the first sighting of a whale, Ishamael ends up falling into the ocean after his boat is capsized; the crew enjoys his misadventure. Another time Pip, the cabin boy, is thrown overboard and left for dead. Later he is rescued and declared mentally insane from the experience of being in the sea. Along the way, the Pequod meets several other ships; Ahab has only one question for each of them: "Hast seen the white whale, Moby Dick?" Some ships give Ahab news about the elusive white whale, but they report that all their attempts to catch him have ended in disaster. One of the captains has lost an arm to the whale. Ahab, excited by this news, goes back to the ship to make a new harpoon; in his excitement, he splinters his ivory leg.

    The Pequod enters the Pacific Ocean much to the dismay of Starbuck and Stubb, who now realize the danger they are in and would prefer to abandon their mission. Eventually, the Pequod enters the Japanese sea, where the white whale is often sighted. Then a typhoon hits the ship, battering it with heavy seas. Ahab then spies the Rachel, whose crew explains that the white whale has destroyed a whole boat of crewmen, including the captain's son.

    Soon after meeting the Rachel, the Pequod sights the white whale. Two attempts on two consecutive days go in vain as Moby Dick escapes. On the third day, Ahab drives a harpoon into Moby Dick's side. Furious, the wounded whale drives its massive head into the Pequod's side, smashing its bow. Ahab still refuses to give up the chase. He throws another harpoon at the whale, as his entire ship is sinking. As he throws the second harpoon, the rope gets entwined around Ahab's neck and drags him down into the water. The captain drowns, along with his crew. Only Ishmael survives, rescued by the Rachel. In this tragic story, the writer paints a brilliant portrait of life at sea and the American whaling industry during the 1800s.

Herman Melville Benito Cereno

  • After entering the harbor at St. Maria, off the coast of Chile, Captain Amasa Delano soon sees another ship approaching as well; it is an old and majestic Spanish galleon. Delano then notices that the second ship has tattered sails and wanders here and there, nearly running aground, even though it is clearly manned. Delano has one of his small boats lowered and is taken over to the ship to offer his assistance. He is met by a skeletal Spanish captain (Benito Cereno), his attentive black servant (Babo), and a motley crew.
  • When Captain Delano offers his aid, no one seems eager about his assistance; they offer only apathetic thanks. As Delano waits for his crew to return to his ship and get the necessary supplies to help the San Dominick, he gets the story of the strange ship's troubles and observes many odd proceedings.
  • Benito Cereno begins to explain why the ship appears so tattered and broken. He tells Delano that the San Dominick tried to round Cape Horn and hit terrible weather. Then disease broke out on board and killed all but a few of the Spaniards and many of the Africans. Next the ship was largely stuck in calm water for two months. The ship has come to St. Maria to get water and food, for the few people on board are starving and dying of thirst. Most of Cereno's explanation is plausible to Captain Delano, except for the two months of calm. As a result, he feels sympathetic to their plight.
  • As he spends the day on the ship, Captain Delano sees several oddities. He notes that Babo seems to be a devoted servant, never leaving Cereno's side; sometimes, however, he seems rather forward and acts rather inappropriately. Delano also notices that the Africans on board seem to be in charge of the deck, supposedly because most of the crew has died; these powerful black men strike him as a bit threatening, even though they work in orderly fashion. Additionally, Delano notices that many times during the course of the day Cereno is reduced to trembling and speechless gagging. Delano asks many questions, both orally and silently. When Delano's questions become especially direct, Babo leads Cereno away into the hold in order to shave him; he explains that they are on a strict schedule. Although he is shocked at the poor manner in which Cereno runs his ship, Delano cannot help having pity for Benito Cereno.
  • By the time the crew of The Bachelor's Delight returns with water and supplies, Captain Delano has decided to wash his hands of the whole weird affair. After making sure that the San Dominick has the minimum necessary supplies, he takes his leave of Benito Cereno and climbs into the waiting boat with his crew. As they push off, Benito Cereno jumps into the boat with them. Then Babo jumps in after Cereno and attempts to stab him. Captain Delano quickly understands what has been happening on the San Dominick; he realizes that the African slaves have revolted and control the ship. When the small boat finally pulls away, Babo has been taken prisoner, and Cereno has become the grateful cargo. As they depart, a shroud falls from the bowsprit of the San Dominick; it has a human skeleton tied to it. Underneath are the scrawled words: Follow your leader.

Herman Melville Bartelby The Scrivener

  • First Lines: " I AM a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written: I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. But I waive the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener the strangest I ever saw or heard of."
  • Last Lines: Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters and assorting them for the flames? For by the cart-load they are annually burned. Sometimes from out the folded paper the pale clerk takes a ring:'the finger it was meant for, perhaps, moulders in the grave; a bank-note sent in swiftest charity:'he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to deathAh Bartleby! Ah humanity!.

George Meredith, The Egoist (1828-1909)

  • Gave advice to Gissing and Hardy while a reader for a publishing company. Rejected one of S. Johnson's works. Also wrote An Essay on Comedy, as it later became known, Meredith emphasizes the importance of intelligence and insight to comedy. Focusing mainly on Moliere and Restoration drama, he identifies central elements of high comedy, speaking highly of the role of women in comedy and defining comedy as "the fountain of sound sense."
  • The novel, The Egoist, is about Sir Willoughby Patterene, a highly narcissistic gentleman, in his quest to find a socially acceptable wife. In Willoughby's youth his two aunts nurtured his narcissism. He was the self-proclaimed "son of the house." Which is a reference to Louix XIV, who believed that he was the center of the entire universe (DiMauro 250)
  • Throughout the narrative Sir Willoughby has little luck with women. "His first fiance, Constantia Durham, abandons him three weeks before the wedding; the second, Clara Middleton, grows to abhor the cynosure, leaving Willoughby to court Laetitia Dale, the daughter of a cottager on the Patterne estate, whom Willoughby had once renounced as being below his station" (DiMauro 250).


John Milton, Lycidas

  • In this Monody the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, and by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their height.
  • pastoral elegy: The pastoral tradition in English literature, the tradition of dealing with characters under the guise of poetic shepherds in an idyllic environment, has its roots in classical literature; Vergil and Theocritus are two of the most notable poets who wrote in the pastoral vein. All nature helps out to mourn the loss.

YET once more, O ye Laurels, and once more

Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never-sear,

I com to pluck your Berries harsh and crude,

And with forc'd fingers rude,

Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.

Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,

Compels me to disturb your season due:

For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime

Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:

Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew

Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.


Milton, Areopagitica

  • Areapagitica is Miltion's response to Henry VIII's Licensing Order that outlawed printing without author's consent - kinda like modern copyrights.
  • KEYWORD: cloistered virtue - Milton considered this ironic because of free choice.
  • The Four Major Arguments
  • Who are the inventors of licensing? The Catholic church.
  • What is to be thought of reading? It is a necessary acquisition of knowledge of good and evil in a fallen world.
  • This Order is ineffectual in suppressing "scandalous, seditious, and libelous books."
  • This Order will discourage learning and the pursuit of truth.
  • They, who to states and governors of the Commonwealth direct their speech, High Court of Parliament, or, wanting such access in a private condition, write that which they foresee may advance the public good; I suppose them, as at the beginning of no mean endeavour, not a little altered and moved inwardly in their minds: some with doubt of what will be the success, others with fear of what will be the censure; some with hope, others with confidence of what they have to speak.

Milton, On Education

  • this is his tract on the theological basis for his views on education.

John Milton, Comus

  • Written in heroic couplets.
  • Comus is a pagan god invented by Milton, son of Bacchas and Circe, who waylays travelers and transforms their faces to those of magical beasts. Comus attempts to enchant a lady who has been separated from her brothers in the guise of a shepherd. The brothers are told by an attendant spirit Thyrsis (also disguised as a shepherd) and try and find the cottage where Comus has taken her. The spirit give the brothers a root, Comus tries to make the lady drink a magic potion but her Chastity is so strong it's as though she's possessed by some superior power. The brothers burst in, but they haven't secured Comus's wand, so Thyrsis invokes Sabrina, another minor goddess with a song 'Sabrina fair/ Listen where thou art sitting. Sabrina arrives and everyone is set free.'

THE Star that bids the Shepherd fold,


Now the top of Heav'n doth hold,


And the gilded Car of Day,


His glowing Axle doth allay


In the steep Atlantick stream,


And the slope Sun his upward beam


Shoots against the dusky Pole,


Pacing toward the other gole


Of his Chamber in the East.


Mean while welcom Joy, and Feast,


Midnight shout, and revelry,


Tipsie dance, and Jollity.


Braid your Locks with rosie Twine


Dropping odours, dropping Wine.


Moliere, Tartuffe

  • In Tartuffe, a comedy in five acts, Moliere relates the story of an attempt, by an irreclaimable hypocrite, to destroy the domestic happiness of a citizen who, charmed by his seeming piety, has received him as a prominent guest. In painting such a portrait, this lively assailant of Parisian foibles was in a new element, though one that proved to him perfectly congenial. His genius had a serious side, and on that side he was unquestionably at his best, the character of Tartuffe being drawn with a strength and precision which few dramatists have equalled.
  • Characters: Orgon, Cleante, Tartuffe

The Misanthrope

  • Characters: Alceste, Célimène, Philinte, Oronte, and the prude Arsinee



Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)

  • Born in Savannah, Georgia, the only child of a Catholic family. Belongs to the same Southern Gothic school of literature as Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers that focused on the decaying South and its damned people.

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

  • Short story about a southern family driving through Georgia on the way to Florida. In the title story a grandmother, her son Bailey and daughter-in-law and their three children, June Starr, John Wesley, and a baby, are on a car journey. They encounter an escaped criminal called the Misfit and his two killers, Hiram and Bobby Lee. The family is casually wiped out by them when the grandmother recognizes the Misfit from his ''Wanted'' poster. The hallucinating grandmother murmurs: "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" The Misfit shoots her and says: "She would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."


Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)

  • America's first major playwright. His play, Morning Becomes Electra, is based on the Oresteia cycle of the classical Greek playwright Aeschylus. He situated this story of family murder and divine retribution in Civil War America. He also wrote The Iceman Cometh (shattering the pipe dreams of the denizens of Harry Hope's bar) and Desire Under the Elms.

Eugene O'Neill, Long Day's Journey Into Night

  • This play is deeply autobiographical. It tells of the "Tyrones"--a fictional name for what is clearly the O'Neills. Theirs is not a happy tale: The youngest son (Edmond) is sent to a sanitarium to recover from tuberculosis; he despises his father for sending him; his mother, Mary, is wrecked by narcotics; and his older brother by drink.


Plato, The Republic

  • Socrates is the main character and the narrator of the action.
  • Divided into 10 books.
  • The principle of justice-the principle of the organization of the Good Life-is the central theme of The Republic. Other themes, however, are inextricably interwoven with the theme of justice. There is the theme of knowledge; the well-ordered life must be guided by wisdom. And wisdom, in turn, depends on a particular kind of education.
  • Also, there are the themes of the place of poetry and art in a good society and of the philosopher's relationship to the political community. In sum, The Republic is an examination of the Good Life, that is, of the possibility of harmonizing the various excellences of human souls and societies into avisionary model of the Good Life for all.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

  • Pope's "Essay on Criticism" is a didactic poem in heroic couplets, begun, perhaps, as early as 1705, and published, anonymously, in 1711. It is his response to an ongoing critical debate, which centered on the question of whether poetry should be "natural" or written according to predetermined "artificial" rules inherited from the classical past.
  • The poem commences with a discussion of the rules of taste which ought to govern poetry, and which enable a critic to make sound critical judgements. In it Pope comments, too, upon the authority which ought properly to be accorded to the classical authors who dealt with the subject; and concludes that the rules of the ancients are in fact identical with the rules of Nature: poetry and painting, that is, like religion and morality, actually reflect natural law.
  • Pope then proceeds to discuss the laws by which a critic should be guided--insisting, as any good poet would, that critics exist to serve poets, not to attack them. He then provides, by way of example, instances of critics who had erred in one fashion or another. What, in Pope's opinion (here as elsewhere in his work) is the deadliest critical sin--a sin which is itself a reflection of a greater sin? All of his erring critics, each in their own way, betray the same fatal flaw.
  • The final section of the poem discusses the moral qualities and virtues inherent in the ideal critic, who is also the ideal man--and who, Pope laments, no longer exists in the degenerate world of the early eighteenth century.

Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1688-1744)

  • Basically a mock-epic making fun of bad writers. He and Swift and some others formed the Scriblerus club dedicated to the ridicule of folly. The first lines of the Dunciad follow:

YET, yet a moment, one dim Ray of Light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!

   Of darkness visible so much be lent, 
As half to shew, half veil the deep Intent.
Ye Pow'rs! whose Mysteries restor'd I sing, [5]
To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,
Suspend a while your Force inertly strong,
Then take at once the Poet and the Song

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

  • The strongest defence of Pope came from Byron. If there were a general wreck of English literature, he wrote to his publisher, the English would rush to save Shakespeare and Milton, but the rest of the world would save Pope's work first, because Pope was 'the moral poet of all civilisation'. Byron was ready to defend Pope against all comers, and pretty much on any grounds -- as a poet of imagination and invention, as well as the poet of good sense -- but in particular he insisted that what others called Pope's artificiality was in truth his faultlessness'.
  • Belinda arises to prepare for the day's social activities after sleeping late. Her guardian sylph, Ariel, warned her in a dream that some disaster will befall her, and promises to protect her to the best of his abilities. Belinda takes little notice of this oracle, however. After an elaborate ritual of dressing and primping, she travels on the Thames River to Hampton Court Palace, an ancient royal residence outside of London, where a group of wealthy young socialites are gathering for a party. Among them is the Baron, who has already made up his mind to steal a lock of Belinda's hair. He has risen early to perform and elaborate set of prayers and sacrifices to promote success in this enterprise. When the partygoers arrive at the palace, they enjoy a tense game of cards, which Pope describes in mock-heroic terms as a battle. This is followed by a round of coffee. Then the Baron takes up a pair of scissors and manages, on the third try, to cut off the coveted lock of Belinda's hair. Belinda is furious. Umbriel, a mischievous gnome, journeys down to the Cave of Spleen to procure a sack of sighs and a flask of tears which he then bestows on the heroine to fan the flames of her ire. Clarissa, who had aided the Baron in his crime, now urges Belinda to give up her anger in favor of good humor and good sense, moral qualities which will outlast her vanities. But Clarissa's moralizing falls on deaf ears, and Belinda initiates a scuffle between the ladies and the gentlemen, in which she attempts to recover the severed curl. The lock is lost in the confusion of this mock battle, however; the poet consoles the bereft Belinda with the suggestion that it has been taken up into the heavens and immortalized as a constellation.


Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

  • Marcel Proust was born to bourgeois parents living in Paris. His father was a doctor and his mother came from a rich and cultured Jewish family. In 1912 Proust produced the first volume of his seven-part major work, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past). The massive story of 3 000 pages occupied the last decade of his life. Remembrance of Things Past does not have a clear and continuous plot line. The narrator is Marcel. He is not Proust but resembles him in many ways. Marcel is initially ignorant - only slowly does he begin to grasp the essence of the hidden reality. At the end he is preparing to write a novel which is like the one just presented to the reader. Marcel's childhood memories start to flow when he tastes a madeleine cake dipped in linden tea such as he was given as a child. "And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine."




Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

  • Much of Raleigh's work was written during his long imprisonment in the Tower of London and his most famous poems include All the World's a Stage, Cynthia, the Lady of the Sea, in praise of Queen Elizabeth I, The Lie, and The Pilgrimage. His prose works include accounts of his voyages and expeditions and an unfinished History of the World.
  • This poem by Sir Walter Raleigh uses the same meter and references to present "mirror images" of Marlowe's poem. The feminine persona (the nymph) of the poem sets up a hypothetical set of questions that undermine the intelligence of the man's offer because all that he offers is transitory. She reverses his images into negative ones

IF all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy Love.

But Time drives flocks from field to fold;
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.


Carl Sandburg (1876-1967)

  •  During the 20s and 30s he was one of the most widely read poets in the nation. He is known for using simple language in his poems to celebrate the working people using the cadences of ordinary speech as his meter and rhyme. Best known for his poem about life in Chicago.


     HOG Butcher for the World,
     Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
     Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
     Stormy, husky, brawling,
     City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
     luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
     kill again [...]


THE dago shovelman sits by the railroad track
Eating a noon meal of bread and bologna.
     A train whirls by, and men and women at tables
     Alive with red roses and yellow jonquils,
     Eat steaks running with brown gravy,
     Strawberries and cream, eclaires and coffee.
The dago shovelman finishes the dry bread and bologna,
Washes it down with a dipper from the water-boy,
And goes back to the second half of a ten-hour day's work
Keeping the road-bed so the roses and jonquils
Shake hardly at all in the cut glass vases
Standing slender on the tables in the dining cars.



PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.

Shovel them under and let me work

            I am the grass; I cover all.


And pile them high at Gettysburg

And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:

            What place is this?

            Where are we now?

Cool Tombs 

WHEN Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs, he forgot the copperheads and the assassin in the dust, in the cool tombs.




And Ulysses Grant lost all thought of con men and Wall Street, cash and collateral turned ashes ' in the dust, in the cool tombs.




Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw in November or a pawpaw in May, did she wonder? does she remember? in the dust, in the cool tombs?





William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1

  • While King Henry's England is threatened by rebellion, the king's scapegrace son Hal haunts the taverns of London, his companions crew of rogues and thieves led by the dissolute knight, Sir John Falstaff.
  • The Earl of Northumberland and his fiery son Hotspur scheme to overthrow the crown. Can Hal be brought to a sense of his duty as Prince of Wales? Or will the influence of Falstaff prove too strong? The issue is decided when Hal, Hotspur and Falstaff come together at the climatic battle of Shrewsbury

Shakespeare, The Tempest

Prospero, rightful duke of Milan; a magician

 Gonzalo, a good old counselor

 Miranda, Prospero's daughter

 Trinculo, Alonso's jester

 Ferdinand, son of the King of Naples

 Stephano, Alonso's drunken butler

 Ariel, a bird-like spirit, servant of Prospero

 Adrian & Francisco: attendants to Naples

 Caliban, half man, half beast

 Master of the Ship

 Alonso, King of Naples


 Sebastian, Alonso's traitorous brother


Antonio, Prospero's usurping brother

 Iris, Ceres, Juno: spirits of the pageant

 Gonzalo, a good old counselor

 Nymphs and reapers



  • Act I: A tempest at sea batters the ship of the King of Naples, which is returning from the wedding of the King's daughter in Africa. On a nearby island, Prospero, a magician and a Duke who has lost his realm, controls the sea and brings to shore his usurping brother and other old enemies aboard the ship. Prospero and his daughter Miranda came to this isle after having been set adrift by his brother, Antonio. Only the assistance of a good old counselor, Gonzalo, allowed their survival. On the isle, Prospero commands a spirit of the winds, Ariel, who has been the agent of the tempest. He also rules over the island's only other occupant, the fishy Caliban, born of the witch Sycorax. Prospero brings all the voyagers safely ashore, but scatters them in groups about the island. Ferdinand, the young Prince of Naples, is led by Ariel's singing to Prospero's cave. Miranda, who has seen no man other than her father, falls instantly in love with him
  • Act Two Stranded in another part of the island, Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, and Gonzalo presume Ferdinand is dead. Alonso and Gonzalo fall asleep, but Sebastian and Antonio remain awake, plotting the death of the sleeping king and his counselor. Ariel wakes the intended victims just in time. In another area of the island, Trinculo, the jester, encounters Caliban. Stephano joins them and provides Caliban with liquor, so engaging his devotion
  • Act Three Just as Sebastian and Antonio, upon arriving in this new land, plot to kill the King of Naples, so too Stephano and Trinculo engage Caliban in a plot to kill Prospero and seize the island. Meantime, Miranda exchanges vows with Ferdinand, whom Prospero has set upon a labor of log-bearing as a testament of his devotion. On the shore, Ariel mocks the royal party with a vanishing banquet and appears in the form of a Harpy to remind them of their crime against Prospero and his daughter
  • Act Four At the cave, Prospero produces a pre-wedding masque for Ferdinand and Miranda, which is peopled with the spirits of goddesses and nymphs. Remembering the threat of Caliban's plot, the magician abruptly stops the masque and sends Ariel to punish the conspirators, whom Ariel pursues in the form of hunting dogs and drives through filthy ditches.
  • Act Five The royal party is now brought, spell-bound by Ariel's music, to Prospero, who reveals himself to them, orders Antonio to restore his dukedom, and warns Sebastian against further plots. Alonso is allowed a view within the cave of Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess. Ariel brings in the three drunken conspirators, and Caliban submits himself to his true master. The task of reconciling past wrong and reforming character completed, Prospero abjures his magic. All prepare to sail to Naples the next day.

Shakespeare, MacBeth

  • Macbeth begins as King Duncan and his son, Malcolm, both fresh from battle, encounter a bloody sergeant, who reports that Macbeth and Banquo have fought successfully and bravely for the king. Duncan punishes the Thane of Cawdor, who has turned traitor, and gives his title to Macbeth.
  • Macbeth and Banquo, returning from battle, encounter three 'weird sisters' on the heath. The sisters prophesy that Macbeth will become both Thane of Cawdor and King and that Banquo will be the father of kings.As the weird sisters disappear, Ross and Angus arrive and greet Macbeth as the new Thane of Cawdor.
  • Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband telling her of the prophecy. When he arrives at his castle, Dunsinane, she pushes him to bring the prophecy to pass by killing the king, who will stay in their home that evening. That evening, Macbeth and Banquo discuss the sisters' prophecies, then Macbeth imagines he sees daggers floating around him. After all are in bed, Macbeth kills the sleeping king and, horrified by what he has done, rejoins Lady Macbeth. She takes the daggers from him and smears the sleeping guards with blood to put the blame on them.
  • As the Macbeths go to clean up, there is a knocking at the gate, which is answered by the drunken porters. Macduff and Ross arrive and discover the murdered king. Macbeth murders the sleeping guards. The princes, Malcolm and Donalbain, flee because they fear for their lives, and suspicion falls on them. The scene shifts to Macduff, the Thane of Fife, and his wife at home with their children, and we discover that Macbeth has been crowned king. Macbeth, fearing Banquo and his heirs, arranges to have Banquo and Fleance murdered, but Fleance escapes. That night at a state dinner, Macbeth is haunted by Banquo's ghost.
  • Tormented, Macbeth seeks the sisters again and receives three new prophecies: that he should beware Macduff, that no one born of woman will harm him, and that he will never be vanquished until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. They also show him that Banquo's heirs will eventually rule Scotland. After they leave, Macbeth learns that Macduff has fled to Malcolm in England and he orders Macduff's family murdered. When Macduff learns of the deaths, his intense grief steels his resolve to march on Scotland with Malcolm, Donalbain, Ross, and Siward.
  • Back at the castle, Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, distraught over all that has happened. A doctor can offer Macbeth no hope for her. Macbeth prepares for the coming battle, but he is confident in the protection offered him by his prophecies. Lady Macbeth kills herself. A messenger reports that Birnam Wood appears to be moving toward Dunsinane; in reality, Malcolm's soldiers are using tree branches to disguise their numbers. The battle begins and it seems as though Macbeth will win the day until, confronted with Macduff, he finds that Macduff was not born of woman, but from his mother's womb untimely ripped. Macbeth continues the battle, but is killed. Malcolm will become king.


George Bernard Shaw , Arms and the Man

  • Arms and the Man is one of Shaw's earliest plays. It was first produced in London in 1894. Set in Bulgaria in 1885, a soldier barely escapes from battle during wartime and finds himself hiding in the daughter's room of the most prominent family in town. Her impending marriage plans are thrown into pandemonium. In a war between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Serbian soldiers are fleeing. A Serbian soldier surprises Raina, the heroine, by entering her bedroom for shelter. The Serbian officer is a Swiss mercenary soldier fighting on the Serbian side, his name is Captain Bluntschli. Raina Petkoff had been dreaming of her fianc' Sergius; about how valiantly he had led the Bulgarians to victory. Bluntschli is a soldier who prefers a supply of chocolates to bullets when he goes to the front. Chocolate Cream Soldier
  • Raina Petkoff: Raina, the heroine of the play, is the only child of Major Petkoff and Catherine Petkoff. She is a "romantic" and had romantic notions of love and war.
    Catherine Petkoff: Catherine Petkoff, Raina's mother, is a middle-aged affected woman, who wishes to pass off as a Viennese lady. She is "imperiously energetic" and good-looking. Major Petkoff, her husband, is a wealthy soldier.
    Sergius: Sergius is handsome, as a romantic hero ought to be, has a good position in the army and supposed to be brave. He is supposed to be in love with Raina but flirts with Louka (the family servant).
    Bluntschli: Bluntschli is a Swiss professional soldier fighting for the Serbs (against Bulgaria). He believes that it is
    better to be armed with chocolates than with ammunition on the battlefield. In contrast to Sergius "he is of middling stature and undistinguished appearance". He is energetic and carries himself like a soldier.


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

  •  English Romantic poet who rebelled against English politics and conservative values. Shelley was considered with his friend Lord Byron a pariah for his life style. He drew no essential distinction between poetry and politics, and his work reflected the radical ideas and revolutionary optimism of the era. Like many poets of his day, Shelley employed mythological themes and figures from Greek poetry that gave an exalted tone for his visions.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, To Wordsworth

  • By 1816 Wordsworth had abandoned the radicalism of his youth and sought spiritual rather than political remedies. Shelley utilizes Wordsworth's favorite form, the sonnet, and interweaves several critical allusions to Wordsworth's early poetry, including 'Intimations' (line 9) and London, 1802. (The poem is all a single stanza, but I wanted it to fit on the page!)

Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know
That things depart which never may return:
Childhood and youth, friendship, and love's first glow,
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star whose light did shine
On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar:

Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood
Above the blind and battling multitude:
In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
Songs consecrate to truth and liberty.
Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,
Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.


Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mount Blanc, Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

  •  The highest peak in Europe, was the pinnacle of reaching the sublime. Inspired to look inward by the sight of the river valley, Shelley has a sudden and clear understanding of the workings of his mind: his mind is involved in a constant exchange of information with his environment. Shelley stresses that his mind "passively" partakes in this exchange, implying that he is, in some respects at least, merely a vehicle for the reception and transmission of information. This theme that the poetic mind acts as a passive receiver and transmitter is recurrent in Romantic poetry, most notably in the motif of the Eolian harp, a kind of wind-powered musical instrument, used by Coleridge in a poem named for the instrument and "Dejection, An Ode," as well as by Shelley himself in "Ode to the West Wind" (Norton p. 331).  
  • The everlasting universe of things
    Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
    Now dark--now glittering-no", reflecting gloom
    Now lending splendor, where from secret springs
    The source of human thought its tribute brings 5
    Of waters-with a sound but half its own,
    Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
    In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
    Where waterfalls around it leap forever,
    Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river 10
    Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves...

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

  •  Tells of Shelley's decision to devote his life to the pursuit of ideals. 'Intellectual' refers to the ideal Platonic spirit apprehended by the mind, over the faint and fleeting information of the senses.
  • Broken up into 12 line stanzas.

THE AWFUL shadow of some unseen Power


  Floats though unseen among us, visiting


  This various world with as inconstant wing


As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,


Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,


    It visits with inconstant glance


    Each human heart and countenance;


Like hues and harmonies of evening,


    Like clouds in starlight widely spread,


    Like memory of music fled,


    Like aught that for its grace may be


Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery. (...)


  Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

  • Greek name for Ramses II. (14 line poem)
  •  I met a traveler from an antique land -- My name is Ozymandias, King of Kinds: Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!

  Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

  •  Actually in terza rima (interlocking rhyme).
  • Wind as the bringer of life.
  • O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
       Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
    Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

       Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
    Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou
       Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

    The wing'd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
       Each like a corpse within its grave, until
    Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

 Percy Bysshe Shelley, To a Skylark

  • Shelley invokes Milton's thanks to his 'Celestial patroness,' who 'inspires / easy [his] unpremeditated Verse' (P.L. 9.21-24)
  • Strange meter: 3 lines of trochaic trimeter (/ u/ u /u) and one alexanderine (hexameter).
  • Wordsworth also has a poem of this title.
  • Compare:


HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!


        Bird thou never wert'


      That from heaven or near it


        Pourest thy full heart


In profuse strains of unpremeditated art (...).



Up with me! up with me into the clouds!
For thy song, Lark, is strong;
Up with me, up with me into the clouds!
Singing, singing,
With clouds and sky about thee ringing,
Lift me, guide me till I find
That spot which seems so to thy mind! (...)

  Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais (An Elegy on the Death of John Keats)

  •  Written in Spenserian stanzas like Keats' 'Eve of St. Agnes.' It is a pastoral elegy, which is a call to mourning, invocation of the muse and the sympathy of nature with death, procession of the mourners and sorrow to consolation. Shelley did not know Keats well in life, but sympathized with his treatment by the Tory press. The last lines of the elegy take an ironic turn when Shelley's ravaged body is found drowned and can only be identified by a copy of Keat's 1820 volume in his coat pocket. Shelley's heart, hardened by calcium did not burn and Mary Shelley kept it wrapped in a copy of Adonais.

First stanza:

I weep for Adonais - he is dead!
O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!"


Last Stanza:

The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
Whose sails were never to the tempest given;
The massy earth and sphered skies are riven!
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defense of Poetry (essay)

  • Shelley was moved to write this essay by an ironic statement made by Thomas Love Peacock in his volume The Four Ages of Poetry. Peacock stated that poetry was no longer useful because of the progress of technology and science. Shelley began his defense of poetry by distinguishing between reason and imagination, asserting that reason is a lesser faculty, having to do only with the analysis of things. He argued that imagination sees values and relationships and therefore is a creative faculty. Poetry, Shelley stated, is the expression of the imagination.
  • Shelley traces the development of poetry from early "savage" times to mature civilizations. He believes that the function of poetry is to give order to the world and thereby to give pleasure. Thus, poets act as legislators, inventing the "art" of life, and also as prophets, because they focus on the eternal and infinite rather than just the local and temporary. By this broad definition even philosophers like Plato or Bacon were poets, and the great poets--Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton--were philosophers.
  • The effect of poetry is, first of all, pleasure. But more than that, poetry makes people better by softening their natures, by enlarging their sympathies, by encouraging love, and by not being narrowly moralistic. Shelley states that the best poets do not try to teach and that society needs poets. He argues that humans have more practical and technical knowledge than they can possibly use, but that without the values embodied in poetry such knowledge is used to exploit people and cause them misery.
  • Shelley further proposes that poetry does not come from the reason or the will but rather form the mind in moments of inspiration. He states that the imagination creates far more beautiful images than the composing poet can record. Thus a poet is a person of greater than ordinary sensibility. The poet is happy in the operations of his own mind because he "turns all things to loveliness."
  • Finally, Shelley proposes in a second part (never written) to discuss contemporary poetic practice. He felt that he was living in an era of great poetry, at a time when enormous social and political upheaval was inspiring poetry. What he called "the spirit of the age" gave power to each individual poet. Shelley concluded with the most famous phrase of the essay: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World." (Also mentions Dante)
  • Quote: We have more moral, political, and historical wisdom than we know how to reduce into practice; we have more scientific and economic knowledge than can be accommodated to the just distribution of the produce which it multiplies. The poetry in these systems of thought is concealed by the accumulation of facts and calculating processes. . . . We want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know; we want the generous impulse to act that which we imagine; we want the poetry of life; our calculations have outrun our conception. . . . The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world has for want of the poetical faculty proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave.


Richard Sheridan, The Rivals (1751-1816)

  •  Same person who wrote The School For Scandal.
  • malapropism is derived from Mrs Malaprop, continually trying to impress with long words but using the wrong ones). It is, in form, a parody of a conventional romance, having two pairs of young lovers rather different from the norm.
  • To take the less important pair first, Faulkland is an exaggeration of the sensitive, jealous lover. His girl, Julia, is fairly insipid, but this is necessary because the audience should instantly appreciate that his fears spring entirely from his own mind, and have no basis in her behaviour or inclinations. (An example of this: when Julia returns to her country home briefly and he remains in Bath, Faulkland is at first made unhappy by the thought that her life will be unhappy without him; but when, to reassure him, he is told that she continues to enjoy herself, he is tormented by the thought that this proves her indifferent to him.)
  • In contrast to Faulkland and Julia, in the other pair of lovers it is not the man who is of interest but the woman. Jack Absolute is a typical young hero, rather in the mould of Fielding's Tom Jones. Lydia Languish, however, is not just the more interesting of the two of them, but the play's main character. (Having the major character in the play female is unusual for the period.) She is a hopeless romantic, addicted to the novels frequently condemned by contemporaries as responsible for the corruption of the morals of young ladies. (The absurdity of that idea is one of the targets Sheridan is attacking.)
  • In her desperate search for romance, Lydia rejects the fate of marriage to a young nobleman which is the allotted fate for a young lady of fortune. She wants to elope with a penniless man, forcing Jack, who would be the sort of suitor of whom Lydia's family would approve, to disguise himself as a poor army officer. Enjoying her clandestine meetings with "Ensign Beverley", Lydia is enraged when she discovers that he is, in fact, a gentleman - and is only mollified when Jack persuades her that he is only pretending to be rich to trick her family so that he can spend more time with her. (This is of course agreeably dangerous and romantic.)
  •   Illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory. -- The Rivals. Act i. Sc. 2.
  • 'T is safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion. -- The Rivals. Act i. Sc.
  • A progeny of learning. -- The Rivals. Act i. Sc. 2.
  • A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge. -- The Rivals. Act iii. Sc. 1.
  • He is the very pine-apple of politeness! -- The Rivals. Act iii. Sc. 3.
  • If I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs! -- The Rivals. Act iii. Sc. 3.

 Richard Sheridan, The School For Scandal (1751-1816)

  • Brothers Joseph and Charles Surface, and their cousin Maria, are orphans in the care of their uncle, Sir Peter Teazle. Both brothers wish to marry Maria. Lady Sneerwell, a malicious gossip and founder of The School for Scandal, wants to marry Charles and spreads false rumours about an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle in an attempt to make Maria reject Charles. Meanwhile, Joseph is attempting to seduce Lady Teazle. The brothers have a rich uncle, Sir Oliver, whom they have never met, and who visits them both incognito to test their characters before deciding which of them shall inherit his fortune. He finds that Joseph is a sanctimonious hypocrite, and that Charles is a generous libertine, and prefers Charles.
  • In a farcical scene involving characters hiding behind furniture, Sir Peter learns of the plotting between Joseph and Lady Sneerwell, that the rumours about Charles and Lady Teazle are false, and that his wife is merely a victim of Joseph's flattery. He is therefore reconciled with his wife, and decides that Charles deserves to marry Maria. Lady Teazle, who has had a narrow escape from ruin, delivers an epilogue warning of the dangers of scandal-making.


  • Here is the whole set! a character dead at every word. -- School for Scandal. Act ii. Sc. 2.
  • I leave my character behind me. -- School for Scandal. Act ii. Sc. 2.
  • Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen;
    Here's to the widow of fifty;
    Here's to the flaunting, extravagant quean,
    And here's to the housewife that's thrifty!
    Let the toast pass;
    Drink to the lass;
    I 'll warrant she 'll prove an excuse for the glass. -- School for Scandal. Act iii. Sc. 3.


Sir Phillip Sidney, Defense of Poesy/Apology for Poetry (1554-1586)

  • Sidney clearly had been contemplating the problem of the poet's role in society for a long time, perhaps since his earliest education in which he would have encountered Plato's famous banishment of poets from the ideal Republic on the grounds that they could lead the Guardians and citizens to immorality.  It long has been argued that he may have been responding to Stephen Gosson, a Puritain pamphleteer whose "School of Abuse" blamed playwrights and the theatre, in particular, and poets in general, for leading English society astray.  Gosson dedicated the pamphlet to Sidney without asking permission, and some poets at the time suspected Sidney would reply in some fashion.  In the "Defense," Sidney argues that poets were the first philosophers, that they first brought learning to humanity, and that they have the power to conceive new worlds of being and to populate them with new creatures.  According to Sidney, their "golden" world of possibility is superior to the "brazen" one of historians who must be content with the mere truth of happenstance.  He then defines what he belives to be the essential formal characteristics of the various genres of poetry, and defends poetry against the charge that it is composed of lies and leads one to sin.
  • Golden world / poets are the true philosophers


Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

  • SOME twelve years before the action of the play begins, Oedipus has been made King of Thebes in gratitude for his freeing the people from the pestilence brought on them by the presence of the riddling Sphinx. Since Laius, the former king, had shortly before been killed, Oedipus has been further honored by the hand of Queen Jocasta.
  • Now another deadly pestilence is raging and the people have come to ask Oedipus to rescue them as before. The King has anticipated their need, however. Creon, Jocasta's brother, returns at the very moment from Apollo's oracle with the announcement that all will be well if Laius' murderer be found and cast from the city.
  • In an effort to discover the murderer, Oedipus sends for the blind seer, Tiresias. Under protest the prophet names Oedipus himself as the criminal. Oedipus, outraged at the accusation, denounces it as a plot of Creon to gain the throne. Jocasta appears just in time to avoid a battle between the two men. Seers, she assures Oedipus, are not infallible. In proof, she cites the old prophecy that her son should kill his father and have children by his mother. She prevented its fulfillment, she confesses, by abandoning their infant son in the mountains. As for Laius, he had been killed by robbers years later at the junction of three roads on the route to Delphi.
  • This information makes Oedipus uneasy. He recalls having killed a man answering Laius' description at this very spot when he was fleeing from his home in Corinth to avoid fulfillment of a similar prophecy. An aged messenger arrives from Corinth, at this point, to announce the death of King Polybus, supposed father of Oedipus, and the election of Oedipus as king in his stead. On account of the old prophecy Oedipus refuses to return to Corinth until his mother, too, is dead. To calm his fears the messenger assures him that he is not the blood son of Polybus and Merope, but a foundling from the house of Laius deserted in the mountains. This statement is confirmed by the old shepherd whom Jocasta had charged with the task of exposing her babe. Thus the ancient prophecy has been fulfilled in each dreadful detail. Jocasta in her horror hangs herself and Oedipus stabs out his eyes. Then he imposes on himself the penalty of exile which he had promised for the murderer of Laius.


Gertrude Stein: (1874-1946) Modernist

  •  Most famous for The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (her own autobiography composed through the eyes of her lover).
  • Was more avant-guarde than most of her contemporaries, writing poems like Tender Buttons, where ordinary words and objects become separated from each other - think complete and utter randomness.
  • Titles include A Box, A Piece of Coffee
  • Also wanted to paint verbal 'portraits' of people without telling stories.
  • Influenced Sherwood Anderson and Hemingway.


Out of kindness comes redness and out of rudeness comes rapid same question, out of an eye comes research, out of selection comes painful cattle. So then the order is that a white way of being round is something suggesting a pin and is it disappointing, it is not, it is so rudimentary to be analysed and see a fine substance strangely, it is so earnest to

have a green point not to red but to point again.


Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

  •   Laurence Sterne's great comic novel, Tristram Shandy, was originally published between 1759 and 1767 in nine small separate volumes,  the last appearing shortly before Sterne's death. As the title suggests, the novel sets out to tell the life story of Tristram Shandy, its narrator, beginning with his conception. However, he has so much to relate  about his eccentric family that he does not manage to get born until the 4th volume. Realizing, finally, that his task is hopeless - it taking  him more time to tell the story than to live his life - the novel ends by concluding that its readers have been taken in by a cock and bull story.
  • Each text page is characterised by an intricate system of hyphens, dashes, asterisks, and occasional crosses;  remarkable use is particularly made of the dash - varying in length, these are often treated as though they were words, while the small type area and generous spacing and margins of the original volumes emphasise their visibility. Regarded as a complex masterpiece today, Dr Johnson famously asserted that its popularity had not lasted because 'Nothing odd will do long'.


 Wallace Stevens: (1879-1955)

  •  Typical modernist searching for something to bind his life now that religion, etc fails.
  • Was a lawyer; composed poems to and from the office.
  • Is now considered pretty major,
  • Poems include 'The Snowman, Sunday Morning, Death of a Soldier, Of Modern Poetry

Of Modern Poetry


The poem of the mind in the act of finding

What will suffice. It has not always had

To find: the scene was set; it repeated what

Was in the script.

Then the theatre was changed

To something else. Its past was a souvenir.


It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.

It has to face the men of the time and to meet

The women of the time. It has to think about war

And it has to find what will suffice. It has

To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,

And, like an insatiable actor..

Sunday Morning


Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound.
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulcher...


Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1667-1745)

  • Lilliput: tiny people that try and bind Gulliver to the ground. They take Gulliver to the capital city in a specially designed wagon and he meets their royalty. Gulliver becomes a weapon against the people of Blefscu the Lilliputians have a disagreement over the proper way to crack an egg. Things go pear-shaped when Gulliver pees on the Lilliputians castle to stop a fire.
  • Brobdingnag: A land of giants. Farmer finds him and treats him like an animal - is sold to the queen for his musical talents. Gulliver is repulsed by their size and their enormous flaws. Everyone is ignorant. Giant animals and bugs almost kill him.
  • Laputa: Floating island of theoreticians and academics oppress land below called Balnibarbi. Residents are out of touch with reality. He then takes a side trip to Glubbdubdrib where people conjure up figures from history who are much less impressive in real life. Also visits the Struldbrugs who are senile immortals who are really stupid (age does not bring wisdom).
  • Houyhnhnm: Rational horses who rule and Yahoos (humanoid creatures) who serve them. Gulliver learns their language and teaches them the constitution of England. Enlightened by the horses, but he is banished when they realize he looks like a Yahoo. Gulliver is banished and picked up by a Portuguese ship realizes that all humansa are like the Yahoos.


Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam AHH

  • Written as a pastoral elegy like Milton's Lycidas and Shelley's Adonais. First and last lines:

I held it truth, with him who sings
    To one clear harp in divers tones,
    That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.

But who shall so forecast the years
    And find in loss a gain to match?
    Or reach a hand thro' time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?

The market boat is on the stream,
    And voices hail it from the brink;
    Thou hear'st the village hammer clink,
And see'st the moving of the team.

Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
    For what is one, the first, the last,
    Thou, like my present and my past,
Thy place is changed; thou art the same.

  Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses (1809-92)

  • 70 lines in four blank verse paragraphs.
  • The whole thing is a monologue interieur (interior monologue).
  • Tennyson's poem of Ulysses represents the old hero,--his dangers past and nothing left but to stay at home and be happy,--growing tired of inaction and resolving to set forth again in quest of new adventures.
  • First and last lines:

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore,[...]

[..]To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

  Alfred Tennyson, The Lotus Eaters (1809-92)

  •   Lotophagi , a fabulous people who occupied the north coast of Africa and lived on the lotus, which brought forgetfulness and happy indolence.
  • They appear in the Odyssey. When Odysseus landed among them, some of his men ate the food. They forgot their friends and home and had to be dragged back to the ships.
  • Begins in some sort of 9 line meter but eventually changes to other meters.
  • First and Last Lines:

"Courage!" he said, and pointed toward the land,
"This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon."
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.

But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song
Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong,
Like a tale of little meaning tho' the words are strong;
Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil,
Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil,
Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil;
Till they perish and they suffer'some, 'tis whisper'd'down in hell
Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell,
Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.
Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore
Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar;
Oh rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.


Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

  • Welsh poet (1914-1953).
  • This poem is an example of a VILLANELLE. (Repeated 1st & 3rd lines. 19 lines long.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Henry David Thoreau, Walden (Transcendentalist)

  • As stated by Thoreau, the theme of Walden is self-realization and self-fulfillment. Self-actualization is attained through human unity with Nature. Every aspect of Walden is focused on this idea. Thoreau moved to Emerson's household and became his handyman. He lived there from 1841 to 1843.
  • Since Walden is the autobiographical, non-fiction recounting of Henry David Thoreau's stay at Walden Pond, every event in the text is essentially factual rather than imagined or created. The action is simply comprised of the events that happen to Thoreau during the two years that he spends in the woods. The narrator feels that society has strayed too far from the pursuit of excellence and purity. He claims that mankind has become too ambitious and greedy, enslaved by his own desire to own and possess. People have strayed away from simple lives offered by Nature's example. The narrator decides to move to the woods, where he builds a small cabin. He plants a garden and lives off of what he can produce or capture. He is isolated from other people for the most part, though he does have occasional visitors. He spends his time observing nature, wildlife, and the seasons and contemplating the nature of man and the universe. He also reflects on the differences and similarities between society and nature. At the end of two years, he returns to society. He writes down the factual story of his time in the woods, along with his interpretation of the events that occurred. He offers his work as encouragement and motivation in the hope that society will purify itself.
  • "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
  • The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

  • Thoreau begins his essay with the well-known motto - "That government is best which governs least." This carried to its natural conclusion is no government at all, which he says will happen when people are prepared. He objects particularly to a standing army and the current "Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool." Yet Thoreau realizes that the immediate need is not for no government but for better government. "Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." Majorities usually rule because they are the strongest physically, and their policies are based upon expediency. Thoreau asks whether it is not better to decide right and wrong by conscience which everyone has. "It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right." But a corporation has no conscience, although conscientious people may be a corporation with a conscience. Undue respect for law leads to soldiers marching to the wars against their wills, common sense, and consciences. Such men have let themselves become machines, serving the state with their bodies. Others, like lawyers and politicians, serve the state with their heads. A few, reformers and martyrs, serve the state with their consciences also, but they are usually treated as enemies.

    Thoreau declares that he cannot associate with the American government, because it is a slave's government. He appeals to the right of revolution and the case of 1775. He laments, "A sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves." It has become a military state, and honest men ought to rebel. He criticizes not only southern slave-owners but northern merchants and farmers who care more about commerce and agriculture than they do about humanity. Thousands are against slavery and the war, but they do nothing about it. Voting, he says, is like playing a game with right and wrong. Voting for the right does nothing for it if the majority passes the expedient instead. Thoreau accurately predicts that by the time the majority abolishes slavery there will be no slavery left to abolish. Although it is not necessarily a man's duty to work to eradicate a wrong, it is his duty not to support practically a wrong. We must not only refuse to fight in an unjust war, but also refuse to support the unjust government which conducts the war. Thoreau suggests that individuals refuse to pay their quota into the treasury.




Virgil, The Aeneid

  • Bk I: After seven years of wandering, the Trojans are leaving Sicily for Italy. Juno, for a number of reasons, chief among them her continued resentment of all things Trojan, arouses a storm that drives them off course to Carthage. They are welcomed by Queen Dido, who settled Carthage after escaping her brother, who killed her husband. Venus makes Dido fall in love with Aeneas (as a way preemptively to thwart Juno). At a banquet, Dido asks to hear the stories of his wanderings.
  • Bk II: An intense and tragic flashback to the Fall of Troy, including an account of the Trojan horse, the death of Priam, Aeneas\'92s loss of his wife Creusa while he escapes with his father, Anchises, and his son, Iulus (also called Ascanius). 
  • Bk III: Aeneas continues his narrative with a telling of his six years of wandering . His account includes the founding of several ill-fated settlements; an encounter with the Harpies (perhaps contrived by Virgil so that Aeneas can share an experience with Jason and the argonauts); a meeting Hector's widow Andromache (now married to Helenus, son of Priam); Apollo's prophetic advice-- including instructions to see the Sibyl at Cumae; landing on the island of the Cyclops and meeting Achaemenides (thus, Aeneas shares an experience with Odysseus); and finally to Sicily, where, we learn at the end of this book, Anchises dies.
  • Bk IV: The love affair of Aeneas and Dido. Jupiter sends Mercury to order Aeneas to leave Carthage and fulfill his divine mission to found Rome. He immediately realizes he must sacrifice his personal happiness to his national and religious duty (he is "pious Aeneas"). He tries to explain to Dido, but she accepts no explanation and, as the Trojans depart, she kills herself in despair.
  • Bk V: The Trojans return to Sicily and hold funeral games for Anchises. Juno causes Trojan women to set fire to the ships, but Jupiter puts the fire out. While on the final leg of the journey, the helmsman Palinurus is swept overboard by the god Sleep.
  • Bk. VI: The Trojans land at Cumae in Italy (as instructed by Apollo), and Aeneas descends with the Sibyl to the underworld in order to consult the ghost of his father. He sees Dido while he is there. Future heroes of Roman history pass in a pageant before him, and he returns to the upper world resolute.
  • Book VII: The Trojans reach the Tiber, and are welcomed by King Latinus, who recognizes Aeneas as the stranger referred to in an oracle as the one who would marry his daughter Lavinia. She is already betrothed to Turnus the Rutulian. Juno intervenes and ensures that Turnus will fight the Trojans. War breaks out.
  • Book VIII: Aeneas visits Evander, an Arcadian living on the site of Rome (Pallanteum), to seek help. Evander's son Pallas heads the Arcadian contingent. Venus has a shield made for her son Aeneas, and on it are pictures from (future) Roman history. The description of these at the end of the book remind us why Aeneas has to fight Turnus, and what is at stake.
  • Book IX: While Aeneas is away, Turnus achieves great deeds. In a much remarked upon passage, Nisus and Euryalus are killed. Turnus breaks into the Trojan camp but, because of pride and overconfidence, fails to open the gates so that his forces can join him. He escapes by jumping into the Tiber.
  • Book X: Aeneas returns with Pallas and the war continues. Turnus seeks out Pallas and kills him, arrogantly boating over him and stripping off his sword-belt. Aeneas, in anger an guilt, rages over the battlefield, killing, among others, Lausus, whose father, Mezentius, in depair, recklessly engages Aeneas and is killed.
  • Book XI: The funeral for Pallas. A truce for burial of the dead is made, but the fighting shortly resumes. The deeds and death of Camilla, an Italian warrior-maiden, are described.
  • Book XII: A single combat is arranged between Aeneas and Turnus; but the truce is broken-- by Juturna, Turnus's sister, who is instigated by Juno-- and Aeneas is wounded. On Olympus, Juno accepts defeat on condition that the Italians shall be dominant in the Trojan-Italian stock from which the Romans will descend. Aeneas pursues Turnus (as Achilles pursued Hector in the Iliad), and wounds him. Turnus begs for mercy. Aeneas hesitates but, on seeing Pallas's sword-belt on Turnus's shoulder, kills him.
  • Subsequent events (told by Jupiter in Book I, line 266ff.): Aeneas founds Lavinium; three years later, Ascanius succeeds him and rules for 30 years before moving the settlement to Alba Longa. The Alban kings rule for 300 years (Aeneid 6.760) until Romulus, grandson of Numitor, founds Rome.


Voltaire, Candide

  • Candide means innocent. Candide is a very innocent young man living in the castle of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia. Candide lacks knowledge of the outside world. He believes that this castle is the best place to live in. He considers it ideal. One day he and Cunegonde, the Baron's daughter are seen in romantic positions. So he is kicked and thrown out of the castle.

    Candide goes through many adventures. His eyes open to reality. He sees that everything does not happen for the best as the philosophers and metaphysician Pangloss had told him in the Baron's castle. In Europe as well as in America, he encounters misery. He meets a number of people from various walks of life. He comes across many philosophers ranging from extreme optimism of Pangloss to the bleak pessimism of Martin. He experiences the love and total selflessness of Jacques and also the extreme cruelty and selfishness of the drunken sailor. He experiences the kindness of the old lady who happens to be the daughter of the Pope and a princess. She is always ready to help though she has gone through tremendous suffering herself.

    When Candide reaches Eldorado he feels peace but he leaves so he can find Cunegonde.' He finally finds her and she has become ugly.' But they get married and he and the rest of the people mentioned above live together and plant a garden and bask in their ideals.


John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi

  • Published: 1623 Webster's story of the Duchess of Malfi may be an Elizabethan tragedy, but it is also a psychological horror story as well told as any modern novel in the genre
  • The Duchess inherits her realm as a widow, and is urged by her broothers Ferdinand Duke of Calabria and the Cardinal to marry again. Although at first she vows never to remarry, she eventually falls for her steward, Antonio Bologna. Because he is her servant and not noble, they hide their marriage until she becomes obviously pregnant and is delivered of a son. When her brothers discover this, they assume that the child has been born out of wedlock. Ferdinand eventually discovers the truth, and the duchess realises that he and the cardinal will not be willing for her land to descend to her children by Antonio. They attack her lands and take her prisoner, then torture her by showing her signs as though Antonio and the children are dead.
  • It is the captivity of the duchess which is the greatest part of the play. The attempts by her brothers to drive her insane are treated in a way guaranteed to move even the most heartless; the proceedings themselves move her jailor, steeped in crime though he is. This justly ranks as one of the best known non-Shakespearean plays of the period.


Eudora Welty, Death of a Traveling Salesman

  • The protagonist has been off work for some time due to a bad bout of influenza that has damaged his heart. He is back on the road before he is fully recovered, and throughout the tale his heart seems to be lurching and clutching, trying to speak. His car inexplicably falls into a ravine, and he goes to the nearest farmhouse for help. The woman there assures him that "Sonny" will help him; he assumes Sonny is her son, but upon closer examination he realizes the woman is not as old as he first thought, and Sonny is her husband. In fact, the woman is pregnant with Sonny's child. The farm wife is dowdy, frumpy, and prematurely aged -- no one that the more cosmopolitan salesman would find attractive -- but he recognizes that within her there is life as well as the evidence of having been loved. Within him there is nothing.
  • He sleeps overnight at their house and leaves in the morning, alone as always; he has been profoundly changed by his meeting with the farm couple, but he has not articulated this to them because he cannot quite understand it himself. What would he like to say? Possibly that he now understands the necessity of love, and of roots; possibly that he needs to reform his life. But he keeps the emotion bottled up inside him, the words unspoken. When he gets back out to his car, back onto the highway which symbolizes his rootless life, the pressure is so great that his heart bursts, and he dies.


Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

  •  Employs very lush language and many musings on 'art for arts sake.' Basil Halliwell paints a striking portrait of Dorian Gray, a young English aristocrat. Like Faust, Dorien makes a deal with the devil that he will always look as young and beautiful as his portrait. He soon realizes that his wish has come true with one slight catch. All his indiscretions and real age are painted on the picture while he remains young. Lord Henry takes Dorian out on the town in perpetuity as Dorian's life becomes more and more debauched. An aspiring actress, Sibyl Vance commits suicide over Dorian. Dorian ends up killing Basil after he shows him the painting. In the end, Dorian kills himself by stabbing the portrait, which reverts to the original painting, while the real Dorian lies old and dead.
  • But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself is a mode of exaggeration and destroys the harmony of any face.
  • The more he knew, the more he desired to know.' He had mad hungers that grew more ravenous as he fed them


William Carlos Williams: (1883-1963)

  • Known for his disagreements with other modernists.
  • He wrote stories, plays and autobiographies as well as poems. His most memorable achievement is probably his five books of poetry about the humble and downtrodden Northern New Jersey city of Paterson, which few people would have seen as a fit subject for an epic poem. "No ideas but in things," he writes in the first page, and to hammer the point home he studs this unpretentious but dramatic work with ancient newspaper articles, anecdotes and letters from friends and admirers.
  • One of the letter-writers was A.G., an enthusiastic young poet admirer from Paterson. This was the then-unknown Allen Ginsberg. Williams wrote the introduction for Ginsberg's first book of poetry, "Howl and Other Poems", in 1955. He died on March 4, 1963, the same year he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Look for few words per line.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


When the world takes over for us
and the storm in the trees
replaces our brittle consciences
(like ships, female to all seas)
when the few last yellow leaves
stand out like flags on tossed ships
at anchor--our minds are rested

Yesterday we sweated and dreamed
or sweated in our dreams walking
at a loss through the bulk of figures
that appeared solid, men or women,
but as we approached down the paved
corridor, melted--Was it I?--like
smoke from bonfires blowing away

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

According to Brueghal
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself


The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


William Wordsworth, The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,


For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.


William Wycherley, The Country Wife (1673)

  • Mr. And Mrs. Pinchwife: Margery and Bud Pinchwife represent a hostile marriage between an old (or older man) and a young woman -- a May/December marriage.
  • Mr. Horner: Horner runs around cuckolding all of the husbands (Mr. P included), while he pretends to be a eunuch.
  • Also: Sir Jasper Fidget, Mrs. Squeamish, Mrs. Dainty Fidget

Horn. [aside]. A quack is as fit for a pimp, as a midwife for a bawd; they are still but in their way, both helpers of nature. [Aloud.] Well, my dear doctor, hast thou done what I desired?

Quack. I have undone you for ever with the women, and reported you throughout the whole town as bad as an eunuch, with as much trouble as if I had made you one in earnest.