'Fear No More' - from 'Cymbeline' by Shakespeare

‘Fear No More’

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

The poem ‘Fear No More’ appears as a song in Shakespeare’s play ‘Cymbeline’. It is a song sung over the supposed death of Imogen, the central female character of the play. The central theme of the poem is that death overpowers all and that all men are mortal.
The speaker in the poem says that the dead must not have any fear about the heat of the Sun and the chilling and strong winter winds. The persons who have died after finishing their earthly tasks have received their wages, that is, what they deserved in return of their deeds. They have gone to their heavenly home. The poet next suggests that man is mortal and all men must die whether they are charming boys or beautiful girls and even the poor chimney sweepers. Death has been called the greatest leveler since times immemorial. One day everything will pass into nothingness.
“Dust thou art,
To dust returneth” (Bible)

In the next stanza the poet says that we should not be afraid of the tyrant as they can do nothing when we are dead. The poet asks not to take care of clothes and food because nothing is superior or inferior for the dead man. For him reed and oak are both alike. All the kings, scholars and doctors too will have to follow the law of nature and will die one day to return to dust.
In the last stanza the poet asks us not to be afraid of lightening or a cloud burst. Nor should we be afraid of adverse opinions or insult, because for a dead man both happiness and sadness are not a matter of concern. Even the young lovers will go through the same road as our elders.
In this song the poet presents before us the universal truth that man is mortal. The poet also expresses the view that after a person dies he need not fear the troubles and sorrows of the world because they don’t bother him anymore. Death is a freedom – freedom from the chains of earthly life. Rousseau had rightly said, “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.”

New Year Resolutions

The dawn of a new year is a time when we make new resolutions and have new dreams for the coming year. Often the resolutions are as easily broken as they were made.
My resolutions for the year that is going to ring in:
· Working hard towards making my blog a success
· Earning signed cheques from my blog
· Reading more and more about English literature to enrich my blog
Apart from the above mentioned blogging goals, I will strive to
· Acquire more knowledge
· Write more articles
· Get a good score in my exams
Have I not been too selfish? That is what the problem is with us humans. We only think about ourselves. We are so engrossed with the material things of life that life passes by us and we never notice; as W. H. Davies had rightly remarked: “we have no time to stand and stare”. Wordsworth too lamented over this worldliness in his sonnet ‘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:”

What is required is a balanced approach – money is not the be all and end all of everything, it should be treated only as a means. The blind chase of material goods and the currency notes has led us astray and we have forgotten our values and the qualities for which a man is considered superior to other animals. Rudyard Kipling in his poem ‘If’ has mentioned all those things which we need to follow. The last line says it all: “you'll be a Man”.
So my resolution for this year is to be a human – by fulfilling all the ifs mentioned by Kipling in his brilliant poem ‘IF’.
I would also like to express my views about the resolutions and wishes through a self-composed poem:

I’ll be a king,
A king I’ll be –
of my dream
my hopes and wishes
to control time’s stream.

I’ll be a flower, ever blossoming,
giving frangrance
to one and all;
with happiness
always be brimming.

I’ll be an aeroplane drive away from life
dark and gloomy clouds
of sorrow and strife.

I’ll be a lighthouse
having stately structure,
will guide the people
their hopes I’ll nurture.

Long list of my wishes
endless it seems – endless!
But oh! I forgot:
I forgot to be a man,
I was only being for now
I missed that ‘human’ part.
Now my aim I know – I’ll be a man,
a man I’ll be.

This post is an entry for theGTD Contest that is being hosted by Pimp Your Work

Wordsworth's ‘Lines written in Early Spring’

‘Lines written in Early Spring’ - the poem

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

All the poems of Wordsworth revolve around Nature. After he met Coleridge they jointly published a collection of poems entitled ‘Lyrical Ballads’, which marked the beginning of a new kind of poetry. The present poem ‘Lines written in Early Spring’ appeared for the first time in ‘Lyrical Ballads’.
The poem has been written by the poet in a thoughtful mood. The poet William Wordsworth has himself expressed the view that he was sitting by the side of a stream when he composed this poem. The poet in this poem contrasts the happiness of the objects of Nature with the unhappiness experienced by man. He expressed sorrow that man has finished the scope of his own happiness by ignoring Nature.
In the first stanza, the poet describes the experience of being in the company of Nature. He says that while he was sitting under the shade of a group of trees in a relaxing mood, he heard a medley of music. At that time he was in a very cheerful mood, a time when happy thoughts came to his mind. But soon some sad thoughts followed.
The poet says that the beautiful sights of nature served as a bridge between the inner conscience/soul of man and God. But the poet’s heart is pained to think of the treatment given to man by his fellow human beings. Thus, the poet wants to convey the idea that man suffers because of his drifting away from Nature.
In the next stanza, the poet elaborates the types of flowers growing at that place. He says that there were bunches of primrose (rose growing in that shady haunt). A blue creeper flower, periwinkle was curled around the primrose. The poet believed that in such a pleasant atmosphere every flower enjoyed the fragrant air there.
The poet then, talking about the birds there, says that they were playing and moving here and there. The poet could not judge their thoughts but felt that even their smallest movement portrayed/displayed the blissful mood they were in.
There were growing branches of trees which seemed to be spreading themselves out to enjoy the pleasant breeze. The poet says that, however, hard he may try he can only think that there was only joy and happiness there.
In the last two stanzas, the poet in conclusion gives two suppositions: that his belief of joy being present there (the shady haunt) is divine; and that the communion of man with nature is the plan of God (Nature). If these two are true then he definitely has a reason to mourn over the man’s fate brought on him as a result of living with his fellow human beings away from nature.
“Have I not reason to lament
What Man has made of Man?”
Hence, in this poem the poet wants that there should be a perfect harmony between man and nature. But then the poet expresses sadness over the fact man has thoughtlessly destroyed his own peace of mind and joy of life.

'Human Folly' an extract from 'Essay on Man' by Alexander Pope

'Human Folly' - the poem

Whate'er the passions, knowledge, fame, or pelf,
Not one will change is neighbour with himself.
The learn'd is happy nature to explore,
The fool is happy that he knows no more;
The rich is happy in the plenty given,
The poor contents him with the care of Heaven,
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chemist in his golden views
Supremely bless'd, the poet in his Muse.
See some strange comfort ev'ry state attend,
And Pride bestow'd on all, a common friend:
See some fit passion every age supply;
Hope travels thro', nor quits us when we die.

Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law,
Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper state,
And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age:
Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before,
Till tired he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.

(Extract from 'Essay on Man', Epistle II)

The poem ‘Human Folly’ is an extract taken from Pope’s famous classical poem ‘Essay on Man’. Alexander Pope is famous for his brilliance of wit and expression. In this extract ‘Human Folly’ Pope uses a very pithy, elegant and epigrammatic style; he sums up his thoughts on the human situation.
The poet begins by saying that whatever the enthusiasm, learning, popularity or wealth one’s neighbor has no one would like to change places with his neighbor. These lines suggest that every person is satisfied with his lot and takes pride in it. Illustrating this point of view the poet writes that the knowledgeable person is contented with his process of research and explorations of nature. The foolish person finds happiness in his ignorance that he possesses. The wealthy person is joyful with his ample wealth given to him by God. The poor man is satisfied and feels that inspite of his poverty God will take care of him or protect him.
The poet then talks of a blind beggar who was dancing and the handicapped who sang. Then there was the drunkard, who portrayed himself as the new and the man one as a king. The poet mentions the chemist (a scholar in Chemistry), who inspite of his starvation is thoughtful about his future; and the poet who feels blessed in his poetic imagination. People find one or the other thing to provide them some unique solace in every situation. Pride is a universal human trait. Every man has some enthusiasm in him according to his age. Hope always remains with us throughout our life and even after death. For example a child is easily amused by a little toy like a rattle and even by a straw. Interests change with age; some ‘livelier plaything’ gives happiness to a person in his youth. Honour, wealth and power give pleasure to a grown-up man while beads of rosary and prayer-books are his favourites in old age. In this way man is pleased with one or the other toy even till his old age. This cycle goes on till death overpowers a man and the game of life is over.
Hence, in this poet has aptly summed up the frivolous nature of human life. True wisdom lies in seeing the futility of the pursuits of man. The words in the last line “life's poor play is o'er” reminds of Shakespeare’s ‘All the World’s a stage’ speech.

Robert Herrick's 'To Daffodils'

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Stay, stay
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the evensong;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.

A constant theme of the songs written by Robert Herrick is the short-lived nature of life, the fleeting passage of time. We find a note of melancholy/sadness in his poem which arises out of the realization that beauty is not going to stay forever.
In his poem ‘To Daffodils’, the poet Robert Herrick begins by saying that we grieve to see the beautiful daffodils being wasted away very quickly. The duration of their gloom is so short that it seems even the rising sun still hasn’t reached the noon-time. Thus, in the very beginning the poet has struck a note of mourning at the fast dying of daffodils.
The poet then addresses the daffodils and asks them to stay until the clay ends with the evening prayer. After praying together he says that they will also accompany the daffodils. This is so because like flowers men too have a very transient life and even the youth is also very short-lived.
“We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring.”
The poet symbolically refers to the youth as spring in these lines. He equates/compares human life with the life of daffodils. Further he says that both of them grow very fast to be destroyed later. Just like the short duration of the flowers, men too die away soon. Their life is as short as the rain of the summer season, which comes for a very short time; and the dew-drops in the morning, which vanish away and never return again. Thus, the poet after comparing the flowers to humans, later turns to the objects of nature – he has compared the life of daffodils with summer rain, dew drops.
The central idea presented by the poet in this poem is that like the flowers we humans have a very short life in this world. The poet laments that we too life all other beautiful things soon slip into the shadow and silence of grave. A sad and thoughtful mood surrounds the poem.

The All-Revealing Speech

Next time someone calls you a fool, don’t take it as an insult. Just remember the Shakespearean fool. He was a master of words. Some of his sayings were worth in gold. Whether it was Feste from ‘Twelfth Night’ mouthing:
Those wits that think they have thee, do very oft prove fools
(meaning: those who take themselves to be quite intelligent are often proved to be fools)

or the Fool of ‘King Lear’ profoundly remarking:

Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest
Ride more than thou goest.
(‘owest’ means ‘own’)

they were all philosophical quite a few times. The Fools in Shakespearean plays are known to be the wisest of all characters. They have earned this place for themselves due to sheer jugglery of words.
The comment of a famous man: “Speak so that I can see you”, is simply priceless. Speech is an indispensable part of our life; so much so that we speak many times more than we write. Some languages of the world don’t even have a written form. The importance of speech is also illustrated by the fact that a child learns to speak first and writing later. Therefore, speech is primary and writing is secondary. Erudite speech can take a person places. The speech delivered by Winston Churchill to his army worked wonders for his country. The speech instilled confidence among the thin numbers of he army, to fight and later emerge as winner in the Second World War.
There are all types of persons we come across in our daily life. Some are the intelligentsia who don’t have the mastery over speech, hence do not come across as very knowledgeable. Then there are the not so intelligent but talented ones, who know the art of conversation. The result is that the latter substantiate themselves to be more well-informed. Sometimes even an utterly foolish person may show a streak of intelligence. That is to say, that many a times a weighty statement comes from the most unexpected quarters. I myself happen to be a witness to one such occurrence. This happened when I was standing at one of the busy intersections. A man in front of me was sitting in his posh luxury car. A crippled man begged for alms from that man, who after ignoring the beggar for a few moments simply gave vent to torrential downpour of bad names, asking him to leave. The beggar stepped back. When the car left, the beggar instead of cursing him, as anyone of his counterpart might do, prayed to God to give the man some patience and happy living sans his pride of wealth. He also thanked heavens that he was not in that man’s place. Now this is what is least expected from a beggar! It was nothing but his sophisticated and mature manner of talking that made him stand apart from the rest of the crowd.
The art of conversion includes not only using the appropriate word but also using them at the appropriate time and occasions. There is a disparity between the language we speak in front of our friends and family and the one we use for official purposes. Here is an anecdote to clarify the distinction between the usage of language:

Ø Albert says to his wife about Abraham: “Met that fool Abraham today. Wants his job back, can you imagine?”
Ø Then he talks to his colleague: “Do you remember Abraham Greene? I met him today. He said he’d like his job back. I think he is too optimistic, do you?”
Ø Finally he goes to his boss and says: “I met Mr. Abraham yesterday, Sir, who used to work in our stores. He asked me to find out if he could again join his post. I only said I’ll pass on your request and find out the position. Should he have any hopes sir?”

These three different statements especially the proper selection of words, throw an immense light on the character of man. They serve as the final stamp on his intellect. There is a dire need of good speakers in this modern world. Pen certainly is mightier than sword but speech too is equally, if not more, effective than the former. Speech may make or mar one’s personality. The next time you open your mouth be careful you might give yourself away. Remember, be the Shakespearean fool, not foolish but always witty.

'When I Consider Life' by John Dryden

When I consider Life, 'tis all a cheat;
Yet, fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on, and think tomorrow will repay:
Tomorrow's falser than the former day;
Lies worse; and while it says, We shall be blest
With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
Strange couzenage! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
And, from the dregs of Life, think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I'm tir'd with waiting for this Chymic Gold,
Which fools us young, and beggars us when old.

The poem ‘When I Consider Life’ is an extract from John Dryden’s ‘Aureng-Zebe’ (Act IV, Scene i). The poet laments the folly of human beings who do not see through the illusion of hope and go on hoping that better things would come their way. Although there is no hope for the things becoming better yet the mankind believe that there will be happiness.
The poet writes that when he thinks about life he feels that human life is a deception. Even then men are fooled by hope. They think that things will turn better in future. What they don’t realize is that the future is even more false than the present. Men constantly hope that they will be rewarded some day and will get some happiness. But the rewards never come their way and they lose even what they had earlier.
The poet remarks that it is a strange cheating/deceit. He says that nobody can relive the time that is past. Even then men believe that things will be better. Human beings hope that from the unhappy and dirty things of life they’ll have some happiness which they never get.
The poet says that he is tired of the false and deceitful nature of life, which has fooled them since they were young and will leave them empty-handed in their old age.
The last line reminded me of Shakespeare’s lines about old age: “mere oblivion / Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Infact old age is the golden age of a man’s life but it is a shameful sight when the old people are not taken care of. As Dryden writes “Trust on, and think tomorrow will repay”, the line can also be taken to mean that our actions and deeds are paid back tomorrow. We get back what we do.
Hope is a good thing but hope for good when we ourselves do good to others. And remember there is a limit to hoping. We cannot always say like Browning “God’s in his Heaven and all’s well with the world”. There is a saying by Francis Bacon (I think!): Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.

Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’

Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This poem has been undoubtedly my most favourite poem ever since I read it in my school days. The beauty of this poem lies in its simplicity. Frost wrote this poem in June 1922. He was inspired by the sight of a sunrise to write this poem, after spending the whole night writing a long poem. This is also one of Frost’s favourite among his own poems. In a letter to Lord Louis Untermeyer he called it "my best bid for remembrance."
The situation of the poet is of a person caught between Nature and civilization. The speaker is fascinated by the woods but he cannot stop here for a long time he has some obligations; he cannot ignore the pull of the civilized world. He has two choices before him just like he had in ‘The Road not Taken’.
Critics have interpreted the poem from their own point of view. The debate still goes on. Some have given it negative shades by stating that it is a poem of death, with the woods symbolizing suicide and poet resisting it. Herbert R. Coursen, Jr., has interpreted the poet as Santa Claus, who has to fulfill the promise of delivering the gifts.
It has also been argued that the repetition of the last line is also significant. The first time the poet writes: “And miles to go before I sleep”, he wants to suggest that he has many duties to be fulfilled till he reaches his house and can rest. But when he repeats the line, it has been taken to mean that the poet symbolically refers to life and death – the poet suggests that he has a long time to live before he dies.

Rudyard Kipling's 'IF...'

I present here a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The poem 'IF...' is one of my all time favourites.


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

It is an inspiring and motivating poem. It lays out before us a certain number of principles that we should follow to lead a meaningful life. The phrase in the last line of the poem: “…you'll be a Man, my son!”, sums the essence of human life. Man has made so much progress in the modern mechanical and materialistic world, science has helped to reinvent lives, man has reached the moon (to name only a few changes brought about by science) but the quality of life has gone down. All kinds of things have possible but the most shocking thing has been that man has not been a ‘man’ all the while. He has developed beastly qualities. Man is supposed to be highest of the category of animals. But he has stooped very low at times.
We have forgotten to trust ourselves. We are suppressed when others doubt us, we don’t have the courage to announce the truth to the world, rather we bury it deep under our uneasy silence at the slightest hint of protest by the outside world.
Tolerance is a concept of the bygone world. The word doesn’t exist in our dictionary anymore.
How brilliantly the poet has presented his thoughts. He sums the true meaning of being a human being in the following lines:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Kipling wrote this poem with Dr Leander Starr Jameson at the back of his mind. Jameson carried out a raid against the Boers but the raid failed badly. The raid was an immature one. Jameson was captured very soon and he was imprisoned for fifteen months. But what happened when he returned to London was that he was considered as a hero in Britain. The defeat of the British was considered a victory.

Healthy Lifestyle and English Poetry


Wordsworth, considered to be a defining member of the English Romantic movement, displayed love for simplicity. We should aim to use the word ‘simplicity’ as the guide word for chalking out a lifestyle pattern for ourselves.
Lifestyle is not a narrow concept. Its scope is as wide as life itself. The term ‘lifestyle’ depicts one’s attitude towards life, the way we lead our life and the values that we not only believe in, but also practice. Being healthy does not mean having only a healthy body. It also entails possessing a healthy mind and a healthy heart too.
In the modern mechanical lifestyle, the biggest challenge for a human being is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our life is full of ups and downs but the health line should go up, up and up. We read many books on health and nutritious food. But merely possessing the knowledge does not make us healthy unless we practically follow it. We have a saying, “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may diet.”
Have you ever wondered, even English poetry can give us a few tips on healthy lifestyle – our outlook on life, how important the material goods are for us, how often we give ourselves a break from the back, neck or I don’t know what breaking business.
Literature reflects life, so in a way it should also provide guidelines for a healthy lifestyle and indeed it does. The need is to look for it between the lines. The call of the Romantics of being close to Nature implies that we should live in close harmony with Nature. This can safely be taken to mean that we follow the guidelines Nature provides us for a healthy life. It includes going to bed early and waking up on time, the ‘early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ principle. Remember in ‘Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge’ Wordsworth found the city of London very beautiful in the morning light:
Never did the sun more beautifully steepIn his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;Ne'er saw I, never felt a calm so deep!The river glideth at his own sweet will:

Being too engrossed with the materialistic world is not a very good sign of a healthy lifestyle. A few years back I read in a magazine that no man ever lamented on his death bed he could have spent more time in his office. A very important indicator of a healthy lifestyle is the time one spends in family. Money is the be all and end all of everything. It should be treated only as a means and not an end in itself. Wordsworth in his famous sonnet ‘The World is too much with us’ writes:
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;

Nature is the greatest stress buster. Just enjoy a morning walk and lend your ears to the silence around you and what you will have a concert. The humming birds, the twitter of sparrows, the rustling of leaves and many other sounds can only be enjoyed by a discerning ear. This really affects our nerves and at the same time, morning walk is a good physical exercise; so it helps us in maintaining both – a healthy body and a healthy mind.
What is most important is that we become good human beings. This will reflect the quality of our lifestyle. After all we become what we try to be at heart.
Living is not just inhaling and exhaling of breath but the meaningful life that we lead. Not all of us understand the depth of life until it is too late. Then we can echo Hamlet’s words:

Had I but time (as this fell Sergeant deathIs strick'd in his Arrest) oh I could tell you.But let it be…

Or like King Lear’s words “a dog is obeyed in office”, lament over the failure to achieve what we deserved:

Remember, time is a cruel teacher but at the same time experience is the best instructor.

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The French Revolution and Wordsworth's Poetry - Part II

(previous post continued)

(4) The influence of Beaupuis
According to Hudson, a “change of spirit occurred during his stay at Orleans and Blois, between which places he passed nearly a year”. He formed a close friendship whith a Republican General, Beaupuis, “an inspiring example of all in the Revoulution”. His tenderness, meekness, gallantry and utter devotion to the cause of the people are celebrated in glowing language in ‘The Prelude’. Talks with this noble friend exerted a profound influence on the poet’s mind. His hatred for all absolute rule, and his love of and pity for the “abject multitude” grew daily and he was ultimately fired with his friend’s humanitarianism and faith in the revolutionary cause and that “better days to all manking” were round the corner. His heart was now given to the people nad he felt that the revolution was the only way to right their wrongs. The September Massacres failed to disillusion him and when he returned to Paris a month later, he wanted to join the Girondists but was called back.

(5) Conflict of Loyalties
When Wordsworth returned to England towards the close of 1792, he found the conservative opinion in the country strongly against the Revolution. But he was still firm in his faith. Later he was torn by a conflict of loyalties. His moral nature received a terrible shock when England declared war upon France. He rejoiced when England’s armies met with disaster, although he loved his country. When the Republicans, still professing to act upon the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, entered into a policy of military aggression, his “genial feelings” were turned to bitterness.

(6) The Great Spiritual Crisis
Wordsworth now passed through a period of perplexity, disappointment and gloom, to a large extent, the result of his shattered hopes and shaken faith. But though France had failed him, he still clung to the abstract revolutionary theories and tried to seek relief in the abstract teachings of William Godwin. But the arid rationalism of Godwin gave him little relief.

(7) Dorothy and her influence
In this great spiritual crisis, both moral and intellectual, his salvation was brought about largely through the influence of his sister Dorothy. She brought back faith and peace to him. In particular, “she restored him to nature, whose beauty and benign power had been forgotten amid all the excitement and strain through which he had lately passed”. (Hudson)

(8) The Lost Leader
By 1802, his disillusionment with France was complete. He travelled farther and farther away from the political faith of his youth. Gradually he became a Tory. He was called the “Lost Leader” by Browning and a “moral eunuch” by Shelley. In this extreme reaction, he supported all existing institutions and even justified the abuses which presently inspired a fresh energy of reform. He opposed Catholic Emancipitation and the Reform Bill and wrote a sonnet attacking the people’s right to vote. In Napolean he saw and incarnation of materialism and he welcomed his downfall. He went to the extreme of saying that the cholera, which took a heavy toll of life, was God’s condemnation of the great reforms that he opposed.

(9) The Solid Gain
It should also be pointed out that not all the lessons of the Revolution were lost upon him. Though he rejected his early revolutionary creed, yet he firmly held to the essential ideals of democracy, which lay at its back. The Revolution brought him face to face with human sorrow and suffering. It humanized his soul and made him see nature in an entirely different light : he could now hear in nature “the still sad music of humanity.”