English Poetry Prepared by : Reda El-Said Abdel Baset (First Level) Faculty of Arts, English Department, Cairo University



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The Professor

In


English Poetry



Prepared by :
Reda El-Said Abdel Baset

(First Level)

Faculty of Arts , English Department,

Cairo University.


















*من مـوالـيـد مـحـافـظـة الـدقـهـلـيـة – مـركـز أجـا ابـريـل 1983 .
*تـخـرج فـي كـلـيـة الآداب قـسـم الـلـغـة الأنـجـلـيـزيـة جـامـعـة الـقـاهــرة مـايـو2004
*عـاشـق للأدب الأنـجـلـيـزي ولاسـيـمـا لـغـة الـشـعــر .
محاضر لـغـة انـجـلـيـزيـة

مـتـخـصـص فـي شرح كـورسـات الـجـامـعـة الأمـريـكـيـة.

والـمـعـهـد الـبـريـطـانـي ومـعـهـد الـقـوات الـمـسـلـحـة .

مـتـخـصـص فـي شرح مواد الأدب الأنـجـلـيـزي وعـلـم الـلـغـة.

دراسـات عـلـيـا فـي الأدب الأنـجـلـيـزي والدراسات التربوية.

جـامعـة الـقـاهـرة

*جـمـع مـادة هــذا الـكـتـاب مــن قــراءتــه في عــدد مــن كـتـب الـشـعــر الأنـجــلـيـزي والـمـراجـــع والـمــجــلات ومـن خـلال الـمـحـاضـرات الأكــاديـمـيـة وعدد من أبحاث الـدراسات العـليا والماجستير بكــلـيـة الآداب جـامـعـة الـقـاهــرة ومـزيـــــدة بأضــافـــات وأمـثـلـة لـلـتـوضـيـح .

Preface

A large number of students face great difficulty in understanding, analyzing, and appreciating poetry. The fault is usually not theirs, but rather that of their teachers who face the same difficulty .


English Poetry is not difficult to understand, once we grasp the quintessential characteristics of poetry, its special diction, and its grammatical peculiarities . Once we achieve that , we will find it easy to understand , analyze , and appreciate a poem .For instance , images depend mainly , apart from the poet's imagination , on figures of speech . Also, music is usually a matter of versification , which is tackled simply with a short and simple section on scansion.
In the part which discusses history of poetry , I tried to give representative and carefully chosen poems of the different phases and schools of poetry . They are well-known poems which I liked and enjoyed , I hope that you will enjoy them too , and that they will instill in you a love of English Poetry.

Best of Luck ,

Reda El Said Abdel Baset .
English Language Instructor

A specialist in AUC & British Council

and Armed Forces Institute Courses.



A specialist in English Literature & Linguistics.

P. G. S. in English Literature and Educational Studies.

Cairo University.
Mobile: 0122 765 2024 / 0114 47 47 182
E-Mail: redaelsaid83@yahoo.com

Skype: reda202047

"All poets are mad"– Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy.

"I begin to suspect the young man of a terrible taint – poetry" –

Ben Johnson , Bartholomew Fair.


The Definition of Poetry :

None has managed to produce a satisfactory definition of poetry. Yet , there have been several attempts to give one. For example , Matthew Arnold named it "a criticism of life". Another definition was by W.H. Auden , "memorable speech". As to the language of romanticism , William Wordsworth defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful. As well , Coleridge said that poetry is "the best words in the best order" whereas Shelley defined poetry as "the expression of the imagination". But , all the previous definitions give individually a clear biased prospect of poetry , and simultaneously might be contributed to several objects other than poetry. That is to say , it is said that Samuel Johnson has replied to the question : "What is poetry?", by : "Why , sir , it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is , but it is not easy to tell what it is. "In other words , it is better to mention only the obvious bases through which poetry is differentiated from other arts. That is , it is an art of which the chief material is language ; that it requires all rules of form , music , symbol , allegory , and imagery. Therefore , the true nature of poetry as an art is recognized than defined , and it is not right to define poetry by its opposite , i.e., prose. It is not poetry but verse and a piece of writing may or may not be poetry.



Schools of English Poetry

(From 500 –1965)

The Anglo–Saxon Period (500–1066) :

The Anglo–Saxons invaders arrived Britain near the end of the fifth century A.C. they were the founders of what is called English literature. The heroic poetry is of surviving Anglo–Saxons Literature which still bears traces , not only of the pre–Christian heroic society , but also aspects of English community. It is not facile to place a specific date for the commencement of Anglo–Saxon heroic poetry , but what had survived belongs to the seventh and eighth centuries. Te most prominent poetic work , which had survived from this age is Beowulf. This epic has a special position in English Literature since it is the sole complete extant epic of its genre. It deals with the heroic deeds of Beowulf , the nephew of king Hygelac of northern Sweden. As a poem , Beowulf is technically impressive , especially in its handling narrative verse in revealing heroic idealism. In other words , the scenes of the poem are laid in Denmark and Sweden , and it tells the deeds of the brave hero Beowulf , who crossed from Sweden to Denmark to help his nephew, king Hrothgar.


The main theme of "Beowulf" :

Hrothgar's royal palace , Heorot , was permanently visited by a cruel monster , Grendel , who seized and devoured one of his countries every night. Beowulf was able to slay that monster and also his mother , who had come to take revenge upon her son's death. After that , Beowulf returned to his country , and , now an aged king , slayed a dragon , but died as a direct consequence of his wounds. Therefore , it tackles the struggle between good and evil , a theme that is discussed in many literary subjects.



Notice :

In the lines quoted below , there is no rhyme , but there is rhythm by four main stresses in a line and frequent alliteration. These verses were sung to the accompaniment of a harp.



From : Beowulf.

Grendel seizes and devours one of Beowulf's men who are left in charge of Hrothgar's hall. Beowulf fights Grendel , who after losing an arm , flies and dies in the fens. The next night Grendel's mother avenges her son by carrying of Aeschere:



Beowulf mapelode , bearn Ecgpeowes :

'Ne sorga , snotor guma ! selre bis aeghwaem paet he his freond wrece ponne he fela murne ;

ure aeghwylc sceal ende gebidan worolde lifes ; wyrce se pe mote domes aer deape ! paet bi dryhtguman unlifgendum aefter selest Aris, rices weard ; uton rape feran , Grendles magan gang sceawigan!

Which means in Modern English :

Beowulf spoke , son of Ecgtheow.

Sorrow not , wise warrior ! it is better for each to avenge his friend than greatly to mourn ; Each of us must needs a wait the end of life in the world ; let him who can achieve fame ere death ! that is best for a noble warrior ,

When life is over ,

Rise up , guardian of the realm ; let us go quickly Hence to behold the track of Grendel's Kinswoman.


The Middle English Period. (1066–1500) :

In the medieval Age , after embracing the Anglo – Saxons Christianity , The trend of poetry shifted to glorifying Christian heroes and Jesus Christ. In this age , the church was dominating everything in English people's life. Even art was domineered by the church in the form of religious plays as well as heroic poetry. Those plays were performed by monks in the church and heroic poetry was also written by them.



Geoffrey Chaucer

In the second half of the fourteenth century , a great literary figure in English history appeared , who is Chaucer. His appearance was in a period in which England was in transitional movement , between the middle ages and the modern world. Chaucer introduced Italian literature to England. He was deemed the first poet to use many of the meters and stanza forms which have become standard in English poetry. Also , Chaucer was the first English poet to analyze the characters of his literary works psychologically. His masterpiece is the Canterbury tales. It is a group of stories written in verse. It tackles a pilgrimage which Chaucer and a group of folks embark to Thomas Becket's cathedral. On the way to Canterbury , every pilgrim agrees to narrate four stories , and the host is to decide which of the best tales is to be awarded. The strength of the Canterbury tales rests on the power of this total artistic performance and on Chaucer's social understanding and psychological realism which he had depicted in.


Notice :

The aim of the tales is to shorten the long hours on horseback. The actual stories are preceded by a long prologue , in which the pilgrims are described and listed or catalogued. Chaucer was unable to finish this work. In the prologue , the host suggested that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the outward and two on the homeward journey. But the company never reaches Canterbury and only 23 of the 30 pilgrims get their turn.


-The following lines are Chaucer's own on the prioress from the prologue :

The Prioress :

There was also a Nonne , a Prioresse ,

that of hir smylyng was ful simple and coy ;

Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy ;

And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.

Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne ,



Translation : The Prioress :

There also was a Nun , a Prioress ;

Simple her way of smiling was and coy.

Her greatest oath was only by St. Loy !

And she was known as Madam Eglantyne.

And well she sang a service , with a fine.


The Ballad :

There was not much poetry after Chaucer's death. The only exception was the popular ballad. The ballad is simple either in subject or in form. The ballads arose among the people for whom they were really meant and they were handed down orally from generation to generation. In the eighteenth century , Thomas Percy , bishop of Dromore , collected the extant ballads , which he published in 65 under the title reliques of ancient English poetry. This collection had a considerable effect on English poets at that time. Moreover , the subjects of these poems included feuds between families attended by bloody fighting , the adventurous lives of outlaws in the forest and true love thwarted , but in the end usually rewarded. And stories of ghosts haunting the friends or enemies they had left behind.

-Lord Randall. (There are several versions)

'Where have you been all the day , Randall , my son !

Where have you been all the day , my pretty one."

I've been to my sweetheart's , mother ;

oh , make my bed soon ,

for I'm sick to my heart and I fain would lie down!

What did she feed you , Randall my son !

What did she feed you , my pretty son !

Eels boiled in broth , mother ;

Oh , make my bed soon ,

For I'm sick to my heart and I fain would lie down !

'What did she feed you , Randall my son !

What did she feed you , my pretty son !

'Eels boiled in broth , mother ;

Oh , make my bed soon ,

For I'm sick to my heart and I fain would lie down.


The English Renaissance. (1500–1660) :

The renaissance , which had found its origins in Italy , was introduced by those who had traveled through Italy. They (those young Oxford Scholars) had studied the manuscripts of the masterpieces that the Greek scholars had taken with tem on their flight to Italy after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. furthermore , this English Renaissance started in the first half of the sixteenth century. Among those young scholars were the so – called courtier poets such as sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542) and Henry Howard , Earl of surrey (1517–1547). These poets became great admirers of the Italian renaissance poets that they started writing poems in the Italian (Petrarchan) form and in particular introduced the Italian sonnet. It became popular in the various collections of poems of this age.

In addition , Edmund Spencer (1552–1599) , one of the poets of this period wrote a sonnet–sequence , called Amoretti. He is known for an allegorical narrative poem , "The Faerie Queen". This poem tackles king Arthur's court and in which the knights stand for the virtues in their dangerous struggles with vice. This poem is written in a stanza form invented by Spencer and imitated by many poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

English Poets :

The Middle English Period (1066–1500) :

-Geoffrey Chaucer (1340–1400) :

He appeared in the second half of the fourteenth century. During his appearance , England was in a transitional period between the middle ages and the modern world. He introduced Italian literature to England. Furthermore , he was the first poet to use many of the meters and stanza forms which have become standard in English poetry. Also , he was the first English poet to analyze the characters of his literary works psychologically. Chaucer's masterpiece is the Canterbury Tales.


-Thomas Percy (Bishop) :

In the eighteenth century , Thomas Percy collected the extant ballads , which he published in 1765 under the title reliques of Ancient English poetry. At that time , this collection had a considerable effect on English poets. The subjects of these poems included feuds between families attended by bloody fighting , the adventurous lives of outlaws in the forest and true love thwarted. But , in the end usually rewarded , and stories of ghosts haunting the friends or enemies they had left behind.



The English Renaissance (1500–1660) :

The Early Tudors.



-John Skelton (1460–1529) :

He was a priest and tutor to prince Henry (later Henry VIII). Skelton was a learned man and a humanist , but as a poet he continued and ended the medieval tradition. Much of his poetry was satirical , and it was written in a rapid , ragged and lively verse degenerating at times into the doggerel.


-Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542) :

He spent most of his life as a courtier and diplomat , serving king Henry the eighth as clerk of the king's jewels. Also, he was a member of various missions to France and Italy. His interest in foreign literature , especially Italian is evident from his translations and imitations of poems by the Italian sonneteers, Petrarch , Sannazaro and Alamanni. Besides , Wyatt's poetry includes not only the sonnets based on Italian models , but also many delightful lyrics with short and refrains. Wyatt introduced the sonnet , a fourteen – line poem with a complicated rhyme scheme into English.

Furthermore , Wyatt took his subject matter from Petrarch's sonnets , for the most part , but his rhyme schemes came from other Italian models. The most common rhyme scheme in Wyatt's sonnets is abba / abba / cdcd / ee. That is , the usual Italian structure : an octave (the first eight lines) followed after a turn in the sense by a sestet (the last six lines). This was already beginning to break down into the "English" structure for the sonnet , three quatrains and a couplet.


-Henry Howard , Earl of Surrey (1517–1547) :

Some stories indicate that surrey was a proud , high – spirited youth. He was condemned on a charge of treason and beheaded when he was thirty years old. He continued the practice of the sonnet in English which was instituted by Wyatt and established a form for it. This form was used by Shakespeare and has become Known as the English sonnet form : three quatrains and a heroic couplet , rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. Furthermore , he was a courtier poet , who circulated his poem in manuscript in aristocratic court circles. He maintains a more regular accent than Wyatt and he is often more fluent and musical. But , his language seems less vivid. Yet his poetic diction is clear and in many ways surrey indicates the direction in which the main stream of English verse will flow.



-Edmund Spencer (1552–1599) :

He is considered the prince of poets in the Elizabethan age since his poetry is the epitome of this age. He wrote a sonnet – sequence called Amoretti. Also , he is known for an allegorical narrative poem , "The Faerie Queen". This poem has as its subject king Arthur's court and in which the knights represent the virtues in their dangerous struggles with vice. Also , this poem is written in a stanza form invented by Spencer and imitated by many poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.



Other Poets

-Michael Rosen

Rosen is an English Jewish poet. Yet, he stands against the aggressive actions the Israelis exercise with the Palestinians .He reveals this idea in his famous ''The Promised Land''.


-Robert Frost

Frost is interested in reading and writing poetry. He was influenced by contemporary British poets as Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves. His literary writings are infuse with ambiguity and irony such as his ''The Road Not Taken'' Also, he was deeply in love and contact with nature.


Maya Angelou-

Angelou is an Afro-American poetess. She suffered a lot because of the blackness of her skin. But, she succeeded in delivering her thoughts through writing poetry.


How to analyse a Poem ?

(1)Figures of Speech and (2)Stylistic Devices.

"Figure be the instruments of ornament in every language."



Puttenham , The Art of English Poesie (1589) .
1)Figures of Speech

1. Simile :

It is a definite expression of alikeness or similarity between different objects , or events



Words "like" , "as" and "similar to" , are used informing similes.

e.g. "O , my love is like a red , red rose,"

2. Metaphor :

A metaphor is an implied simile . That is to say , a metaphor is a more elaborate kind of comparison .



e.g.- "My wrath did grow

And I water'd it in fears".

- "They proved lions in battle".

- "Men are schooled by adversity".

Hence , Metaphors are used with reference to the same idea , though no similarity exists between them . Thus , their use , however , requires discrimination . Also , a metaphor is superior to a simile in that it is more suggestive and compressed .



3. Personification:

It is a special kind of metaphor , wherein abstract ideas , or in animate objects , are spoken of as though they were persons .



e.g. -"The sun rose from his bed".

-"The moon veiled her face".

-"To the moon , 0 , Moon ! "


N.B : Sun=He , His .

Moon=She , Her.

4. Prosopopoeia:

This is a further development of personification , in which abstract qualities , or things , are endowed with speech .



e.g. - "England was calling to me".

-"Faith whispers consolation".

5. Pathetic Fallacy:

This conception means that nature or natural objects are friendly or hostile to mankind , or having human emotions .



e.g. - "The wind was weeping about the grave ".

6. Apostrophe:

It is the thing , or quality that is not only regarded as a person , but also addressed as such . So , it is a development of personification .



e.g. - "Hail to thee , blithe singer,

Bird thou never wert ! ".

7. Vision :

It is a variety of the "apostrophe" . That is , the poet writes of himself as if he were an eye-witness of events , or scenes , which are in circumstances impossible to a human being .



e.g. -" Homer ! I hear thee raise thy voice to sing".

8. Prolepsis :

It is the use of descriptive term or an adjective before it is really applicable .



e.g. - "So these two brothers and their murdered man

Rode past fair Floreance ." (John Keats)

- "Horatio , I am dead ,

Thou livest ; report me and my cause aright

To the unsatisfied ." (Hamlet)

9. Metonymy:

It means that the name of one of the attributes of a thing has been replaced for the name of the thing itself .


e.g. - " The pen is mightier than the sword".


10. Synecdoche:

This differs from Metonymy in that the association of ideas is closer ; so close , that the word replaced expresses an actual part of the original .

e.g. - "Give us this apart of food ."

11. Transferred Epithet (Hypallage) :

It is the transference of a descriptive word , from the noun closely connected .



e.g.- " From sullen earth , sings hymns at heaven's gate ;"

12.
Hyperbole:

It is an exaggeration to produce a more striking effect than a plain statement .



e.g. - "Rivers of blood".

-"I do honour the very flea of his dog. (Johnson)

- "I loved Ophelia : forty thousand brothers could not , with all their quantity of love , Make up my sum." (Hamlet)

13. Litotes:

It is the opposite of Hyperbole . It is a deliberate under-statement ; or else appositive assertion made in a negative form .



e.g. -" he is no coward " . (means he is very brave).

-" That girl is far from being shy ". (means she is very bold).

-" They are by no means different ". (means they are similar).

14. Periphrasis or circumlocution:

It is an indirect way of speaking about a thing or person .



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