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EN 216 Week One Notes

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by: Rhiannon Hein

EN 216 Week One Notes EN 216

Rhiannon Hein
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These notes cover "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" in Abe Smith's EN 220 class through the week of 1/18/16.
Honors English Literature II
Dr. Abraham Smith
Class Notes




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"Nice & helpful notes."
Paula Ramirez

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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Rhiannon Hein on Wednesday January 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EN 216 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Dr. Abraham Smith in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 53 views. For similar materials see Honors English Literature II in Foreign Language at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.

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Nice & helpful notes.

-Paula Ramirez


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Date Created: 01/20/16
1/20/16 Songs of Innocence Notes I. Political and Societal factors leading to the Romantic movement a. Community plots of land are lost i. Communal fabric is being broken b. French and American Revolution II. Romantic poets search for the miraculous in common things a. They wanted to connect themselves to the deep past, to a bygone era b. They focus upon the landscape in order to connect themselves to the past c. Many poets get involved in walking tours to find the miraculous d. Romantic poems focus on spontaneity e. Believe in the need to get out into the countryside in order to have their  imagination restored i. Nature gives you a heightened sense of imagination and an overflow of  emotion and tranquility III. Wordsworth wanted to track the organic growth of his spirit, or poetic mind a. Thus, so in many of these poems the “I” is the poet himself, instead of a general  “I” or character “I” as seen in Petrarchan poems. b. Poets become obsessed with the self i. Subsequently, a lot of writing about melancholy, madness, alienation. IV. Blake a. One of the global visionaries of his time b. Blake has a prophetic gaze and a child’s sight i. He has the ability to see between moral cowardice and moral higher  ground c. William Blake is fodder for a lot of the material poets today use. His work is alive and vital for many poets today. He shaped the world of poetry. d. He was innovative in both the process of writing and the process of printing. He  uses images that he drew and printed himself to interact with the text. i. The image often bleeds into the poem and intertwines with the text itself.  He seems a visual artist as well. e. For Blake, the great poem was the Bible. i. A giant “U” was his image for it. f. Blake conceives an entire myth—or world—of his own i. Blake said, “make your own world or be subjugated by someone else’s” ii. Later works include pages upon pages of his own world with Whitman­ like lines iii. The major theme is the fall of human kind 1. Not the typical fall. His idea is that the fall of human kind has to do with the tyranny and rigidity of rational thought. 2. He believes that an apocalypse or redemptive moment will come  through imaginative insight, or the regaining of childlike sight. g. He loathes institutional religion and rational thought i. He believes the Bible is the bonfire? of poetry h. One must use imaginative insight to regain what has been lost in the fall of man i. He believes contraries create progress within the world i. In his writing, there are contraries within this world or opposites that  should not be paired together, even if in childlike sight one starts making  imaginative connections. Not everything should be “sewn” together. ii. That’s why he has both “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience”,  because he believes in opposites and the power of the contraries. V. Songs of Innocence a. “Introduction” i. Beautiful, pastoral language b. “The Ecchoing Green” i. Pastoral language ii. In the first stanza, everything responds and echoes back to the elements  around them 1. the bells interact with spring, the birds interact with the bells. iii. Nostalgia is positive in this poem 1. Sweet old people hear the sounds of children playing and look  back on their own childhoods happily 2. They take pleasure in the youth c. “The Little Black Boy” i. Mother discourses to the child ii. Mother says that his darkness will actually be an asset 1. He, as a dark man, will be able to revel in God’s heat and light  while the white boy won’t be able to take it. a. “We are put on earth a little space,/that we may learn to  bear the beams of love” b. The black boy will have to protect the white boy, act as a  shield, from God’s heat until the white boy can learn to  stand it. iii. Last two sentences infer that God’s grace will allow the black boy to  transcend his skin color—he will be like the white boy and worthy of the  white boy’s love d. “The Chimney Sweeper” i. God’s redemption 1. Tom is happy with his lot because he believes God loves him 2. The idea of a savior becomes a reality for Tom after his dream 3. Vision gives Tom hope, even though he’s a dead man walking a. Warm with his vision ii. Perhaps the vision demonstrates an excuse for continued terrible treatment and the children’s compliance? 1. “If all do their duty, they need not fear harm” a. Encourages submission 2. Religious promise so that kids keep slaving away, children begin  to live for their deaths. iii. Pastoral language 1. When the angel came, the language shifts to “green plain”, “river”, etc, the idea of cleaning, perhaps baptism iv. idea of purity 1. Cleansing of the soul when the body is stained with soot VI. Songs of Experience a. “The Chimney Sweeper” i. Child is completely disillusioned of religion 1. “And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King/Who make up a  heaven of our misery.” a. Religion profits from his horrible life with their false  promises and hypocrisy. ii. Juxtaposition of his blackness vs. the purity and whiteness of the snow  around him 1. “Clothed me in the clothes of death” vs. “smil’d among the  winter’s snow” b. “The Tyger” i. Looks at the friction between opposites 1. “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” a. How can the same being that made the tiger also make the  lamb? ii. Certain things in nature that wow us, that grant us the sublime 1. The tiger is a representation of one of these iii. Asks again who could mold the tiger 1. “What immortal hand or eye dare frame they fearful symmetry?” a. What being could create your shape? c. “My Pretty Rose Tree” i. Rose turns away with jealousy even though he passes up the other flower. ii. Why would he have turned away the other flower? 1. One obvious interpretation is that this is an extended metaphor for  his wife and marriage troubles. iii. “delight” typically means something you feel with your body 1. “And her thorns were my only delight” iv.


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