- Slides: 41
English Poetry II (영국 시)
Edward “Ted” Hughes (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998) was born in West Yorkshire, England. Hughes grew up in the countryside and developed a deep love for nature. As a teenager he wrote poetry and at 16 decided he was going to be a poet.
In 1954 he studied English at Cambridge University however he did not enjoy it and transferred to anthropology and archaeology. In 1956, Hughes met Sylvia Plath, then a student at Cambridge University and also a poet. They married 4 months later.
The family moved briefly to America and then England. Plath gave birth to two children. Both Plath and Hughes continued to write poetry. In 1962, Hughes had an affair with another woman, Assia Wevill. Plath took the children and left him. Unfortunately, Plath had a history of depression. In 1963, she committed suicide.
In 1969, Assia Wevill also committed suicide and killed her and Hughes’ daughter, Alexandra. Hughes did not write poetry for many years after their deaths. However, he continued to translate famous European stories and eventually began writing poetry again.
In 1984, he was named the Poet Laureate of Britain. In 1998 he published Birthday Letters which won the Whitbread Prize for poetry. In 1998, Hughes died after suffering from colon cancer.
The Horses was published in 1957 in Hughes’ first poetry collection The Hawk in the Rain. Many of the collection’s poems imagine the real and symbolic lives of animals, including a hawk and the horses. The Horses is a 38 line poem in free verse, written mostly in two line stanzas. Like many of Hughes’ poems, it reflects his interest in nature, especially animals – including their appearance and behaviour.
Lines 1 -4: The poem begins with the speaker in a bleak state of mind. He is taking a walk in the dark before dawn. He believes there is an “evil air, a frost-making stillness, ” (2) and everything is still – not a leaf or bird is moving. It is as though the world is made of frost (4). The speaker walks out of the wood.
Lines 5 -8: It is cold enough that his breath leaves “tortuous statues in the iron light” (5) which means his breath makes strange shapes. The dawn appears to be slowly appearing since “the valleys were draining the darkness” (6). As the light slowly appears the moor line looks like it has cut the sky in half (7). The speaker then sees the horses.
Lines 9 -12: The speaker describes the horses. There are ten which stand still in the grey light together like a megalith (9 -10). A megalith is a huge stone used by ancient cultures to construct buildings. They stand completely still, only breathing and making no sound (10 -2). The horses’ hair (manes) hang casually on their necks and their back hooves are at a strange angle (11).
Lines 13 -15: The speaker then walks past the horses but the horses do not move or make a noise or “snort. ” The speaker notes they are just like “silent grey fragments” in the silent world (15). Lines 16 -19: As the speaker continues walking he listens to the song of the curlew’s (a bird) cry which breaks the silence. He describes how he can see more detail of the landscape as the “orange, red” (19) sun appears in the sky.
Lines 20 -22: The speaker describes how the sun silently appears in the sky. It looks like it is tearing the sky apart and throwing clouds across the sky. It has opened the sky (the gulf) and revealed its blue colour and the universe to us. Lines 23 -26: The speaker turns away and feels he is in a feverish dream. He goes back in the woods from the top of the moor that looks like it is almost on fire (kindling) (25). He sees the horses again.
Lines 27 -31: The horses are stood still but now the sun is coming they are steaming with heat (27 -8). The heat is warming them up and their manes and feet are slowly moving (29 -30). But still they do not stamp or snort, they just hang their heads down. They are patient like horizons that are suspended in the sky with the sun (33 -4).
Lines 35 -39: The speaker then moves to another scene. He moves from nature and animals to people and urbanity. He describes how years later when he is in noisy and crowded places, this memory of the woods and the horses returns to him. He remembers this lonely place between the streams and clouds. He can remember hearing the bird cry and the enduring horizon.
At the beginning Hughes describes a stark, dream-like picture in black and grey. Horses, a familiar sight during the day, become strange when the narrator sees ten of them at dawn. They do not react when he passes by. They seem to be objects, not living beings, carved out of a cold landscape.
Cold and darkness are initially replaced by the feverlike brilliance of the red and orange light. Then the horses, lit by these fiery colours, give the revelation some substance. They are enduring figures capable of surviving the strong light as well as gray silence, and the narrator seems to identify with them. He wants to remember their resilience and their ability to endure.
Hughes’s interest in animals, birds and fish does not always provide him with positive imagery but this early poem portrays horses in an admirable light. Horses are viewed positively in Hughes’ eyes more than other creatures. They seem to represent a strength of will and a natural grace that humans should try to emulate.
Whilst the Horses represent an emblem of endurance, the horses now exist only in memory. The poet must evoke the huge, silent animals in words in order to savor that memory fully. It is hard ignore the poem’s equally memorable images of despair and emptiness. The narrator’s vulnerability in the face of the sunrise and the horses is extreme. There’s not much separating the sustaining image of the horses and the poem’s other images of violence and despair.
It seems possible that he will remember the “evil air” as often as he remembers the horses. The poem’s prayer-like conclusion may be interpreted as unfulfilled desire, since even the powerful memory of the horses may not stop the future noise and years. The narrator appears emotionally depleted. His spiritual emptiness leaves him vulnerable to the morning breaking dramatically around him. He hears a bird (a curlew) cry out in the stillness.
If the narrator is emotionally exhausted and feels a spiritual emptiness this is very typical of a person in the 1950 s. British society was changing and people found traditional forms of spirituality unfulfilling. Many did not believe in God and Christianity anymore, but they did not know how to fill their spiritual void. Thus the speaker in this poem is searching for spiritual meaning.
For a poem with so many visual images, ‘The Horses’ places a big emphasis on listening. This emphasis is underscored by the poem’s own echoes and rhythms. Yet the landscape described is profoundly silent, except for the curlew’s cry. At the end, the speaker (in the “din of the crowded streets”) wants to remember not only “hearing curlews” but also “Hearing the horizons endure. ”
The silent horizon, paradoxically, becomes an enduring sound in the poet’s mind. Sight and sound, sound and silence, shape his memory of a scene. The mixing of senses – sight with sound, sound with sight in literature is known as synesthesia. In this poem he hears the silent horizon which is a visual image. This mixing of the senses reminds us of memory since our memories our created from all the senses.
Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was born in Swansea, Wales. He left school at 16 to become a journalist. He began writing poetry as a teenager and some of his most famous poems were written at this time, including ‘And death shall have no dominion. ’
In 1934 he published his first collection of poems 18 Poems which was well-received by critics and he became a wellknown poet in the literary world. At this time, Thomas moved to London and met Caitlin Macnamara whom he married in 1937.
Dylan and Caitlin’s relationship was destructive. Thomas also suffered from alcoholism his entire life. Thomas and his family moved back to Wales and lived in near poverty. Thomas continued to write poetry and worked in many different jobs.
He became famous for reading poetry and contributing his opinions on radio shows for the BBC. In 1950, he began touring America with his poetry and became infamous for being extremely drunk and difficult. However, his poetry continued to be well-received and won many prizes.
In 1953, Thomas completed the play Under Milk Wood which is now regarded as one of his best pieces of writing. In 1953 Thomas visited America again, but developed pneumonia in New York. Due to his alcoholism Thomas could not fight the pneumonia and died 5 days later. He was 39 years old.
"And death shall have no dominion" is a poem written by Dylan Thomas in 1933 at age 19. It was later published in the 1936 collection 25 Poems. The title comes from a quote in the Bible. In St. Paul's epistle to the Romans (6: 9) it says “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. ”
The poem celebrates the undying and eternal strength of the human spirit. It is because of this strength that death does not claim ultimate victory over humanity. The dead are never truly lost to us but live on through the beauty of their memory and spirit.
The first and last lines of every verse have the line “And death shall have no dominion. ” This from the Bible - “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. ” In the biblical passage Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead and his soul becomes eternal. This poem is also about the powerlessness of death to stop something which is timeless: the soul.
The poem explores several viewpoints on this philosophy, explaining how death is only a physical ceasing-to-be, and that where the soul resides, death has no power. In the first stanza, it explores the physical world and its breakdown. The narrator notes that all men are one when they are dead and naked. Race or age does not matter when you are dead (2 -3).
Lines 4 -5: It describes the breakdown of the physical world and body. “When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone” (4 -5). But it suggests that once the body has deteriorated a person will enter into a new existence (“They shall have stars at elbow and foot, ”). This is possibly a reference to Orion, the stars which depict the hunter in Greek mythology. They are now part of the cosmic universe.
Lines 6 -8: The poem describes how people may go mad but in their death’s they will be sane (6). Even if people die by drowning in the sea they shall rise again (7). The poem says that although lovers may part because of their deaths, their love will not be lost because love is an eternal idea.
Lines 11 -14: The second stanza presents us with scenes of different types of death and human pain. The poem describes how sailors may drown in the sea but their deaths will not be empty or “windily” (12). The poet then describes people who have died through torture and endured terrible suffering but still their soul will not be affected. “Twisting on a rack” (13) and “strapped to a wheel” are forms of torture (14).
Lines 15 -8: The poem describes how a person’s faith may break and “unicorn” evil may poison them. Or they may split into pieces, physically or mentally, but still they will not crack because their soul still exists. Lines 20 -21: The 3 rd and final stanza depicts the powerlessness of death in relation to natural law. The dead are no longer aware of the physical elements that once made up their home. The poem says that no longer will the dead hear seagulls cry or waves break.
Lines 22 -3: The poem notes that where a person could see a flower blowing in the rain they can no longer after death. Lines 24 -5: But then the poem declares that though people may be mad and dead as nails their character and soul will still return and “hammer through daisies” (25). This implies that the characters of those dead will somehow survive and continue in the real world through memory or their bodies returning to the earth.
Line 26: “Break in the sun till the sun breaks down” suggests that the power of humanity and the human spirit is strong enough to outlast death and continue for ever like the sun. The suggestion is that the sun will never break down. Death is powerless against the power of nature and natural law which will always renew and is immortal. In this way, death will never have a place or dominion.
Dylan Thomas’ beautiful vision of the soul living eternally in the memories and mind’s of people is noticeable for it’s lack of Christian religious imagery. Apart from the title which alludes to the Bible, there is a clear lack of religious symbols which are normally associated with poems about death. Thomas’ concern in this poem is the power of humanity and nature.
This shift away from using Christian symbols reflects a shift within British society in the 1930 s. After the horrors of World War I and the huge changes caused by the Great Depression in the 1920 s, people began questioning traditional values and beliefs. This included religion. Christianity still had a strong hold on society, but this poem shows that new ideas about spirituality were blossoming. Thomas’ vision is a tribute to the power of humanity.
Next week’s class is cancelled due to a death in my family. I will return to England for my grandmother’s funeral. So I will post information about the exam on my homepage next week. My homepage is www. hansung. ac. kr/~laurenhart.
I will not put the poems from Week 14 (Carol Ann Duffy) on the exam because I will not have time to teach it to you. I will be in England from the 7 th to the 15 th. If you need to contact me you can use email or kakao. If you need to see me I will be in my office on the 17 th and 18 th.