MEG 1 ASSIGNMENT FOR JULY 2021 & JAN 2022 SESSION
MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Q. 1. Explain with critical comments any two of the following passages with reference to their contexts:
(a) Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves. It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
Ans. Context: These lines are taken from Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Explanation: Kubla Khan heard the voices of his ancestors, predicting that war would come.
The shadow of Kubla Khan’s pleasure palace was reflected by the waves, and you could hear the sound of the geyser mingling with that of the water rushing through the caves.
This was truly a miraculous place: Khan’s pleasure palace was both sunny and had icy caves. If I could recreate within myself the sound of her instrument and her song,
it would bring me so much joy that I would build Kubla Khan’s pleasure palace in the sky above me: that sun-filled dome, those caves full of ice!
(c) Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more, For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead, Sunk though he is beneath the watery floor. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed, And yet anon repairs his drooping head, And tricks his beams and with new spangled ore, Flames in the forehead of the morning sky: So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of him, that walked the waves.
Ans. Context: These lines are taken from Lycidas by John Milton.
Explanation: Milton concludes with praise for Lycidas, including the well-known phrase “Look homeward Angel.” The speaker bids “woeful Shepherds weep no more,” one of many phrases loaded with alliteration assonance, and consonance.
Adopting antithesis the speaker notes, “So, Lycidas, sunk low, but mounted high,” describing heaven’s celebration of the shepherd’s arrival and his conversion into the Genius of the shore” to protect others from his fate.
Milton draws on the tradition of VIRGIL, who imagines in his Eclogues Julius Caesar in the guise of Daphnis to be “good” to men below.
Critical reception of Lycidas remains mixed. Observant scholars have found multiple weaknesses in the poem. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Added to those already noted is Russell Fraser’s observation that Milton has not written the “monody,” or poem in a single voice, that he claims because a second distinctive voice enters at the poem’s conclusion.
A seemingly disapproving voice tells us, “Thus sang the uncouth swain,” suggesting Milton’s dismissive evaluation of his own voice.
Fraser’s suggestion that Milton remains a poet “still at odds” with his own material may account for the uneven presentation others have observed.
Q. 2. Write a critical note on Chaucer’s art of portraiture in The General Prologue.
Ans. The Portraits: It is the General Prologue that serves to establish firmly the framework for the entire story collection: the pilgrimage that risks being turned into a tale-telling competition.
The title “General Prologue” is a modern invention, although a few manuscripts call it prologus. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
There are very few major textual differences between the various manuscripts. The structure of the General Prologue is a simple one.
After an elaborate introduction in lines 1-34, the narrator begins the series of portraits (lines 35-719).
These are followed by a report of the Host’s suggestion of a tale-telling contest and its acceptance (lines 720-821).
On the following morning the pilgrims assemble and it is decided that the Knight shall tell the first tale (lines 822-858).
Chaucer, the narrator begins the description of the characters with the Knight.
The Knight is the picture of a professional soldier, come straight from foreign wars with clothes all stained from his armour.
His travels are remarkably vast; he has fought in Prussia, Lithuania, Russia, Spain, North Africa, and Turkey against Pagans, Moors, and Saracens, killing many.
The variety of lords for whom he has fought suggests that he is some kind of mercenary, but it seems that Chaucer may have known people at the English court with similar records.
The narrator insists: “He was a very, parfit, gentil knight,” but some modern readers, ill at ease with idealized warriors, and doubtful about the value of the narrator’s enthusiasms, have questioned this evaluation.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
His son, the Squire, is, by contrast, an elegant young man about the court, with fashionable clothes and romantic skills of singing and dancing.
Their Yeoman is a skilled servant in charge of the knight’s land; his dress is described in detail, but not his character.
The Prioress is one of the most fully described pilgrims, and it is with her that we first notice the narrator’s refusal to judge the value of what he sees.
Her portrait is more concerned with how she eats than how she prays. She is rather too kind to animals, while there is no mention of her kindness to people.
Finally, she has a costly set of beads around her arm, which should be used for prayer, but end in a brooch inscribed ambiguously Amor Vincit Omnia (Virgil’s “Love conquers all”). She has a Nun with her and three” priests.
This is a problem in counting the total number of pilgrims as twenty-nine: the word ‘three’ must have been added later on account of the rhyme, while only one Nun’s Priest is in fact given a Tale and he is not the subject of a portrait here.
The Monk continues the series of the incongruous church- people; in this description, the narratorial voice often seems to be echoing the monk’s comments in the indirect quotation.
He has many horses at home; he does not respect his monastic rule but goes hunting instead of praying. The narrator expresses surprisingly strong support for the Monk’s chosen style of living.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
The Friar follows, and by now it seems clear that Chaucer has a special interest in church-people who so confidently live in contradiction with what is expected of them; the narrator, though, gives no sign of feeling any problem, as when he reports that the “worthy” Friar avoided the company of lepers and beggars.
By this point, the alert reader is alert to the narrator’s too-ready use of ‘worthy but critics are still unsure of what Chaucer’s intended strategy was here.
The Merchant is briefly described, and is followed by the Clerk of Oxenford (Oxford) who is as sincere a student as could be wished: poor, skinny like his horse, and book-loving.
The Sergeant at Law is an expert lawyer, and with him is the Franklin, a gentleman from the country whose main interest is food: “It snowed in his house of meat and drink.”
Then Chaucer adds a brief list of five tradesmen belonging to the same fraternity, dressed in its uniform: a Haberdasher, a Carpenter, a Weaver, a Dyer, and a Tapestry-maker.
None of these is described here or given a Tale to tell later. They have brought their Cook with them, he is an expert, his skills are listed, as well as some unexpected personal details.
The Shipman who is described next is an expert at sailing and at stealing the wine his passengers bring with them; he is also a dangerous character, perhaps a pirate.
The Doctor of Physics is praised by the narrator, “He was a verray parfit practiser,” and there follows a list of the fifteen main masters of medieval medicine; the fact that he, like most doctors in satire, “loved gold in special” is added at the end.
The Wife of Bath is the only woman, beside the Prioress and her companion Nun, on this pilgrimage. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Again the narrator is positive: “She was a worthy woman al hir live” and he glides quickly over the five husbands that later figure in such detail in her Prologue, where also we may read how she became deaf.
She is a businesswoman of strong self-importance, and her elaborate dress is a sign of her character as well as her wealth.
From here, we pass to the most clearly idealized portrait in the Prologue, the Parson. While the previous churchmen were all interested in things of this world more than in true Christianity, the Parson represents the opposite pole.
He is accompanied by his equally idealized brother, the Plowman, “a true swinker” (hard-working man) “Living in peace and perfect charity.”
If the Parson is the model churchman, the Plowman is the model Christian, as in Piers Plowman, one who is always ready to help the poor.
It is sometimes suggested that the choice of a Plowman shows that Chaucer had read a version of Piers Plowman.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
The series then ends with a mixed group of people of whom most are quite terrible: the Miller is a kind of ugly thug without charm.
The Manciple is praised as a skillful steward in a household of lawyers, they are clever men but he is cleverest since he cheats them all, the narrator cheerfully tells us. The Reeve is the manager of a farm, and he too is lining his own pocket.
Last we learn of the Summoner and the Pardoner, two grotesque figures on the edge of the church, living by it without being priests; one administers the church courts, the other sells pardons (indulgences).
Children are afraid of the Summoner’s face, he is suffering from some kind of skin disease; he is corrupt, as the narrator tells us after naively saying “A better fellow should men not find.”
But it is the Pardoner who is really odd, and modern critics have enjoyed discussing just what Chaucer meant by saying: “I trow he was a gelding or a mare”.
With his collection of pigs’ bones in a glass, that he uses as relics of saints to delude simple poor people, he is a monster in every way, and he concludes the list of pilgrims.
The narrator of this Prologue is Chaucer, but this pilgrim Chaucer is not to be too simply identified with the author Chaucer.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
He explains that in what follows, he is only acting as the faithful reporter of what others have said, without adding or omitting anything; he must not then be blamed for what he reports.
Neither must he be blamed if he does not put people in the order of their social rank, “My wit is short, ye may well understand.” This persona continues to profess the utter naivety that we have already noted in his uncritical descriptions of the pilgrims.
The Prioress: The Prioress represents the church during the time the pilgrimage was taking place.
In the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, the Prioress is described as “fashionably out of date”, and “worldly”.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
In The Canterbury Tales her appearance was described as anything but was like nun. Her smile was simple and coy, her nose was elegant, and her eyes glass-grey her mouth was very small but red.
The clothing that she wore was very flashy for a nun. She wore a “graceful” cloak trinket on her arm, beads and a golden brooch that read, “Love conquers all”.
Overall the Prioress does not suggest the modesty of a nun, and all of her attributes come off as a bit sinful.
This makes somewhat a mockery of the church because, everything about the Prioress seems to be contradictory, and this is perceptible by the appearance of the Prioress.
The Monk: The Monk in The Canterbury Tales, ranks among the highest compared to the other pilgrims. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
The Monk belonged to the ecclesiastical estate, which was one relating to a church. The church he belongs to is of Catholic origin and is hinted at by this line, “The Rule of good St.Benet or St.Maur…” He is likely a member of the order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1209, an order that had concrete connections with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church at that time assumed much influence and power in England.
Even though the Monk is rich, he does let his money corrupt his faith or character.
The Monk was “fat and a personable priest” who did not carry himself as a snob of the higher class. He was basically respectful to the old and kind to the young.
The Monk also was more open to ideas and did not follow his faith where he found wrong.
THE FRIar: THE FRIar is an overweight person, who is dressed in expensive fabrics.
He is jolly, merry, and extremely festive but seems to be notoriously evil. He married girls after he had gotten them into trouble. He charged Church.
The Roman Catholic Church at that time assumed much influence and power in England.
Even though the Monk is rich, he does let his money corrupt his faith or character.
The Monk was “fat and a personable priest” who did not carry himself as a snob of the higher class. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
He was basically respectful to the old and kind to the young. The Monk also was more open to ideas and did not follow his faith where he found wrong.
The Friar: The Friar is an overweight person, who is dressed in expensive fabrics. He is jolly, merry, and extremely festive but seems to be notoriously evil. He married girls after he had gotten them into trouble.
He charged people to hear their confession and followed the rule of more you paid the more *repentant you were’. He even begged off of poor widows who had almost next to nothing.
The Wife of Bath: In her Prologue as part of “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath offers readers a complex portrait of a medieval woman.
On the one hand, The Wife of Bath is quite bold about her sexual exploits and the way she uses sexual power to obtain what she wishes.
On the other hand, by doing exactly these things she is confirming negative stereotypes about women and proving that women are manipulative and deceitful.
Even though her actions might at first seem to be rebellion against the male-dominated society in The Canterbury Tales, and more generally, the medieval period for women, there is very little that she does that is truly revolutionary or empowering for women of her time,
The Parson: In The General Prologue, Chaucer introduces the reader to the Parson. He is a “holy-minded man of good renown”. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
The reader soon gets to know him as a devout, educated, altruistic, caring, gentle, humble, giving, and brotherly man through the general descriptions of who the Parson is and what he does.
The Parson is “benign” and “diligent” (481) as well as being “holy and virtuous.”
The Plowman: The Plowman is a religious man who sacrifices pleasure. He is the brother of the Parson and like him, is a kind person.
He gives charity and leads a righteous life. He seems humble and modest because he wears a coarse, rough coat when it’s clear he can afford more.
The plowman was a peaceful man who truly lived by his creed. There doesn’t seem to be much more information about the Plowman as he is given a short description.
The Plowman was also a “hearty worker” so he didn’t come by his fortune through luck but through hard work. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Perhaps because he is a hard worker himself he can relate to other people and it keeps him holy. It is interesting to note that his physical appearance is not described but for some reason, he seems to be elderly because of his good nature.
The Clerk: The Clerk is a student at Oxford and is extremely thin and wore threadbare clothes. He is quite and is a real scholar.
The Clerk is unconcerned with material possessions or a worldly appearance, he is fiercely dedicated to learning and study, as well as soft-spoken, speaking only what and when it is relevant and necessary.
In The General Prologue, the portrait of the Clerk fiercely contrasts that of the Merchant. Next to Knight he is one of the most admired people on the pilgrimage.
The Miller: The Miller is an obnoxious character who represents the modern-day bully in a sense. He is a large man with an imposing figure, making him seem more powerful than the other characters.
This intimidation is developed by the physical description of the miller. The workman is brawny, big-boned, and muscular, and is also a good wrestler.
This character is said to have a red beard and hair. He also has a rude and corrupt attitude treating his fellow travelers with contempt.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
His character matches the medieval conception that millers were the most important but dishonest tenants on a manor farm.
He is shameless and selfish, and has a bad temper, and is easily angered. In one instance, this character stole corn and proceeded to charge three times the price, thinking nothing of the person he stole from.
This man shows his vulgar and rude temperament when he becomes irritated upon hearing the Knight’s tale of kings and queens and knights and ladies.
The Reeve: Reeve, who was once a carpenter, is a skinny man and is very bad-tempered. He is a manager of a large estate.
He has achieved success in his occupation by the means of shrewdness that he possess deep down in his heart.
He would not give a second thought to cheating his lords by lending what belongs to them. Despite the fact that Reeve is very rich, it is interesting to note that he does not care about his appearance.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Reeve solely cares about his money and status, but certainly not his appearance. In Middle English and Old English culture, status was extremely important in society, as was money.
The Reeve violates laws in order to increase status and monetary yielding.
The Pardoner: The Pardoner rides in the very back of the party in The General Prologue and is fittingly the most marginalized character in the company.
Chaucer reveals hypocritical qualities in the Pardoner through vivid characterization, tone, and morality. The Pardoner is deceptive in how he carries out his job.
The Pardoner claims to have expensive artifacts, and with these relics, anytime he [finds]/ Some poor up-country parson to astound” he sells it to the naïve victim of his deception (Chaucer 697-98). MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
The Pardoner lacks all concern for the well-being of any other person but himself. Also, while traveling, “he aim[sl at riding in the latest mode” (Chaucer 678).
The traditional qualities of a pardoner would certainly not include materialism. The means by which the Pardoner views what matters in the world are not religious or pious in any way and Chaucer does not only reveal this in characterization but in tone as well
Q. 3. Consider Herbert as a religious poet.
Ans. Herbert’s Distinguishing Traits
Certain features can be noted in Herbert’s poetry that distinguishes his poetry from the other poets of his time.
His poems are simple and lucid which suggests of an excellent technical skill. Herbert was able to manipulate his verses in order to reflect thematic patterns, a skill that can also be seen in Milton.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
His choice of words which appear to be simple, expand outwards in accordance with the given context of the poem. For example, let us consider his poem The Pulley.
This poem talks about God bestowing all the gifts to man except one. And that would be peace so that it acts like a pulley to draw man back to the divine grace.
One thing which is worth noticing about Herbert’s poem is his language. His language is courtly and urbane.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
His verse shows much more influence of Ben Jonson than Donne, as he uses varied and musical verse form which has a neatness and poise about it.
Though Herbert is a devotional poet he is not usual. His voice may be gentle but his craftsmanship is brilliant.
Herbert’s view of man is as the secretary of God’s praise. And just like God’s secretary, he is always in control and exact, methodical, honest, and modest.
We can also find the theme of man’s rebellion against god but in such poems, there is always reconciliation at the end of the poem.
The Christian Inspiration
One thing that we should remember about Herbert’s poem is that his poem is of a very private nature and was written for only his friend and also was published by his friends after his death with the motive of helping those who face the same sort of spiritual conflicts.
Herbert was devoted to Christian ideology. Another important point about him is that he is a predominantly Christian poet and the rituals of Christianity bear great significance for him.
In his poem The Collar, we can see how the ritual of the Eucharist works as a visible symbol of the invisible grace for him. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Herbert is not an orator or a preacher but is more of a dramatist. In most of his poems, the reader can identify him/ herself in the center of the poem.
Rapport With The Religious Poet
It is not that a reader needs to be Christian in order to understand and appreciate Herbert’s poetry.
His poems contain the theme of personal god and the poet’s personal relationship with him. These concepts are not specific to any one religion or literary tradition.
Though there is any doubt that the poet was deeply moved by the Christian doctrines and ideology, but still it can be understood and appreciated in light of any religious background.
All is required is an eye for imagining the kind of faith that exists in the poet’s heart for his god. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Herbert in his collection of poems named The Temple, tells us about the journey of the soul from the first spiritual awakening to find the acceptance and hope of peaceful union with god, and in order to do so how it has go through various conflicts and struggle.
Poetic Self – Divine And Human Love
Unlike the 17th-century love poetry, Herbert focuses on the love of God. Here lies a difference between Donne and Herbert.
Donne in his poetry presents the dialogues between God and his own self which depict the conflicts of his self in a logical manner, but in Herbert’s poetry, we don’t find any sort of argument or hortatory discourse. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Herbert is more concerned about the implication of traditional Christian beliefs. His firm belief in the church makes him believe on the Christian rituals.
The source of inspiration for Herbert is his feeling for love and charity. He seems to be more concerned about how God’s grace operates on earth.
He is more earthly and concerned about how man’s life can be transformed by God’s grace.
Q. 4. Comment on the opposition of art and life and youth and old age in ‘Sailing to Byzantium’.
Ans. “Sailing 10 Byzantium, “first published in 1928 as part of Yeats’s collection, The Tower, contains only four stanzas and yet is considered to be one of the most effective expressions of Yeats’s arcane poetic “system,” exploring tensions between art and ordinary life and demonstrating how, through imaginative alchemy, the raw materials of life can be transformed into something enduring.
In “Sailing to Byzantium,” the speaker transforms himself into a work of art, and, in so doing, obscures the distinction between form and content and the artist and his work.
“Sailing to Byzantium” is widely admired for its inventive, evocative imagery and masterfully interwoven phrases.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Literary critic Frank Kermode calls the poem “a marvelously contrived emblem of what Yeats took the work of art to be.
“Sailing to Byzantium,” a lyric poem has neither conventional characters nor plot. The poem consists of four open-form stanzas and features a speaker who may be thought of, as Richard Ellmann suggests, as “a symbol of Yeats and of the artist and of man.”
The action of the poem concerns the problem of immersing oneself in life and at the same time striving for permanence.
The opening stanza describes a state of youth, a sensuous, sometimes violent, life with emphasis on productivity and regeneration and then contrasts this sensuality with the intellectual and the transitory with the permanent: “Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect.”
Acknowledging his mortality, and desire for transcendence, the speaker prepares his soul for the body’s death by “studying/Monuments of its own magnificence” and “sail[s] the seas and come/To the holy city of Byzantium.”MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
In Byzantium, the speaker hopes to fuse the “sensual music” with the “monuments,” that is, the passing pleasures with transcendent art.
In 1931, Yeats wrote that he chose to “symbolize the search for the spiritual life by a journey to that city” because “Byzantium was the center of European civilization and the source of its spiritual philosophy.”
In Byzantium, the speaker encounters a world of timeless art and spirituality, represented by sages and “God’s holy fire” with flames and smoke twisting like a “perne in a gyre,” an allusion to Yeats’s cyclical theory of history and transcendence.
The speaker wishes to lose his heart, “sick with desire/And fastened to a dying animal,” and have his soul gathered into the artifice of eternity” so that “Once out of nature I shall never take/My bodily form from any natural thing.” MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
In the last stanza, the speaker imagines himself transformed into a work of art that transcends the passing of time, a Byzantine work of art, a golden bird that is animate in that it sings to the Emperor, but inanimate as a work of art that will survive generations.
The source of several major themes in “Sailing to Byzantium” can be found in Yeats’s 1925 work,
A Vision (1925), in which he develops his cyclical theory of life, based in part on Yeats’s understanding of the Hegelian dialectic and his reading of Blake’s prophetic poetry. In “Sailing to Byzantium.”
Yeats used the concept of the spiraling gyre to suggest that opposite concepts – such as youth and age, body and soul, nature and art, transient and eternal-are in fact mutually dependent upon each other.
Yoked together by the gyre and the poem itself, the mutually interpenetrating opposites-thesis and antithesis-resolve in such a way as to produce a synthesis that contains a larger truth. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
In “Sailing to Byzantium,” the golden bird contains elements of transitory nature-namely, its music-with the transcendent qualities of timeless art.
(1925), in which he develops his cyclical theory of life, based in part on Yeats’s understanding of the Hegelian dialectic and his reading of Blake’s prophetic poetry.
In “Sailing to Byzantium,” Yeats used the concept of the spiraling gyre to suggest that opposite concepts – such as youth and age, body and soul, nature and art, transient and eternal-are in fact mutually dependent upon each other.
Yoked together by the gyre and the poem itself, the mutually interpenetrating opposites-thesis and antithesis-resolve in such a way as to produce a synthesis that contains a larger truth.
In “Sailing to Byzantium,” the golden bird contains elements of transitory nature-namely, its music-with the transcendent qualities of timeless art.
The tension between art and life is an essential dichotomy in Yeats’s poetry. Yeats envisioned the artist as a kind of alchemist, whose transformative art obscures the distinction between the dancer and the dance,”
as he wrote in the poem, “Among School Children.” For Yeats, only through imagination could the raw materials of life be transformed into something enduring.
Thus “Sailing to Byzantium” has at least two symbolic readings, both mutually interdependent upon the other.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
The poem is both about the journey taken by the speaker’s soul around the time of death and the process by which, through his art, the artist transcends his own mortality.
An important symbol in “Sailing to Byzantium” is the ancient city of Byzantium, which in the fifth and sixth centuries was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and the centre of art and architecture.
Byzantine art did not attempt to represent human forms, and so, for Yeats, Byzantium symbolized a way of life in which art is celebrated as artifice.
Furthermore, Byzantium represents what Yeats, in A Vision, calls “Unity of Being,” in which “religious, aesthetic and practical life were one” and art represented the vision of a whole people.”MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
By 1928, the year he published “Sailing to Byzantium, ” Yeats was, in his own words, “a smiling sixty-year-old public man” with a senate career and the Nobel Prize behind him.
With the publication of that poem in the volume The Tower, Yeats’s contemporaries noticed a change of style and maturity, as the poems in that volume not only
1 Yeats’s satisfaction with a long, fulfilling life but also, according to A. Norman Jeffares, a “sharpened apprehension, brought by Ireland’s civil war, of approaching conflagration in the world, and, by approaching age, of ruin and decay.”
Yeats’s contemporaries generally agreed that his technique was stunning, but viewed his ideas on poetry and history to be eccentric.
An early critic, T. Sturge Moore, told Yeats in 1930 that he found the first three stanzas
“magnificent” but believed the fourth to “weaken to an ineffective and unnecessary repetition of gold four times in as many lines, … implying that the contrast between artificial and natural forms is fundamental, which is obviously not the case.”
In 1931, Harriet Monroe, the publisher of the influential Poetry magazine, likened the emotional quality of the poem’s language and imagery to that of Shakespeare’s drama, especially the monologues of Lear.
Since its publication, critics have agreed that “Sailing to Byzantium” masterfully marries structure and content. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
For Yeats’s biographer, Richard Ellmann, “Sailing to Byzantium” represents a poetic “climax” for Yeats, creating richer and more multitudinous overtones than before.”
He writes that Yeats attempted to evoke a symbol – in the poem as a whole and also in the symbolic bird spoken of in the poem – which would have a life of its own into which he could put himself.”
Not only does “Sailing to Byzantium” have “as many levels as the Empire State Building,” writes Donald A. Stauffer, but its “lyrics are inexhaustible […] Every new reading adds a new pleasure or a new thought.”
James Lovic Allen likewise applauds the “consummate mastery of multiple-leveled symbolic structures” that demand reading “on both the spiritual level and the aesthetic level simultaneously.” MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Since its publication, critics have recognized “Sailing to Byzantium” to be an important poem by a leading modernist poet.
Q. 5. Comment on the themes of death and suicide in the poetry of Sylvia Plath.
Ans. One thing which has been noticed about the confessional poets is that when these poets go on to speak about their personal failures and breakdowns they go more into sorrow and despair.
And this feeling often gets extended to the sense of self-destruction. This makes the theme of suicide and death central to their poems.
Many confessional poets, including Sylvia Plath, were suicidal in their real life. In her poems like Lady Lazarus she goes on to express her suicidal tendency beyond any limitations.
Like “The Prelude” of Wordsworth, (where the poet presents a chronological account of his evolution from an ordinary boy to a sensitive poet),
the work of confessional poets is similar as they look back at the past, picking out significant moments in their experience. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
However, unlike Wordsworth, their main concern is the path taken to neurosis and emotional breakdowns, which fascinates them.
They all seem to look back totally mesmerized, examining every hurdle encountered and every landmark on the way.
The confessional poets speak of personal failures – failures as in Man and Wife (Life Studies of Lowell) of marriage, due to the inability to communicate with his wife. Lowell locates this cause within the psyche, and thus pinpoints this inadequacy.
In “Home After Three Months Away”, Lowell again speaks of his failure as a father, and the reason also lies within the mental collapse that he suffered is the invisible divider, keeping him away from the child. MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
There is desire, slove but also a crippling force that nullifies all positive efforts towards establishing a rapport with others. Unlike Eliot, Lowell portrays the experience naked, raw and elemental.
The theme of mental collapse, as a result of parental loss is dealt with by Anne Sexton with ranges of guilty conscience.
She considers herself not only as a failed daughter but also a failed mother. In ‘To Bedlam and Part Way Back’, she irrationally blamed herself for the death of her parents.
Lowell also speaks of his mental breakdown in “How After Three Months Away.” Berryman and Roethke also refer to their frequent nervous breakdowns unabashedly.
Suicide, Death, and Disease
When these confessional poets speak of their breakdowns and failures, they drew themselves deep into sorrow and despair, often resulting in thoughts of self-destruction, which formed a major theme of their poem.
In their personal lives too, most of them remained suicidal as Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and John Berryman died of self-inflicted deaths.MEG 1 Free Solved Assignment
Besides ‘death the confessional poetry also deals with physical sickness, disease and decay, letting entry of many unromantic elements.
Robert Phillips puts it, there is no longer any “Poetic” or “Unpoetic” material, nothing is taboo in confessional poetry.
For example, Roethke speaks of hydrotherapy Lowell of myopia, Sexton of personal experiences of being a woman, and even controversial topics like masturbation or menstruation.
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