A. J. Vega Professor Alba English 1317: Introduction to Literature February 13, 2013 Expression Through Experience: The Impact of Writers Lives Through Poetry Poetry comes in various styles, writings, languages, and elements, but it is not just the literature that is different: the poets have their own unique way to write and express themselves through poems. From the 1600s’ to the present, poetry and literature as a whole has changed greatly based on the experiences and events that have taken place in the lives of writers.
Like many other people in this world, they have witnessed death, tragedy, heartbreak, and loss of hope, which inspired their writings and changing the world of literature. Because of this, many people can relate to these poems because of similar experiences and can reflect on their perspectives and compare their ideals to the poets that express their thoughts in their work. People like Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, and Matthew Arnold, all unique poets, have made connections to their lives and invested their time into writing poems to express their ideas and feelings to relate to people everywhere.
Robert Frost was an American poet during the Naturalism period. This period lasted from the end of the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. During this period there was brutality of human live and of nature as well (Alba). According to Josh Rahn, “The dominant theme of Naturalist literature is that persons are fated to whatever station in life their heredity, environment, and social conditions prepare them for. ” This implies that people’s lives would be dependent on their own experiences like where and how they lived, who they were and their status in society.
Rahn would also relate the Naturalist period to be “the logical growth of literary Realism” (Rahn). The Naturalist writers of this time did not include religion in their literature, and does not expect the world to change, whether their perspectives about it are good or bad. At the same time of the Naturalist period, the Progressive Era took place. This is a time where America was starting to be acknowledged as a powerful nation in the world, but internally, the nation was suffering. This was the time leading into
World War I and right before the Roaring Twenties and then the Great Depression, which were all unexpected and rapid events occurring right after another. Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874 and moved to the New England area at the age of eleven. Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who was his main inspiration for many of his poetry before her death in 1938 (Academy of American Poets). He was also inspired by British poets during that time like: Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves (Academy of American Poets).
Much of Frost’s work that he wrote described the area and landscape of New England, one of which is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. ” The title, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” already gives a general idea of what the poem is describing in which the narrator is in the woods while it is snowing. What makes this poem so interesting is its many interpretations, its different perspectives and its eerie setting that is portrayed. As Frost describes the cold, snow-filled evening through intricate imagery (describing the New England winter nights), a question of why the narrator stops in the woods arises.
He admired the dark, snowy, woods a lot which would imply that he enjoyed living in the North New England area and that he often looked around and took notice of his surroundings. Also, many would like to interpret the last two lines of the poem, “And miles to go before I sleep,” in various ways. It is emphasized by its repeated two lines in the last stanza and based on his personal life it could be metaphorical to after losing his wife that he must continue to live. It is hard to tell why Robert Frost wrote this poem, because of the vagueness of the poem.
Maybe it was about Frost visiting an old friend or acquaintance or even a close relative. The mysteriousness about the poem puts the reader in a sort of disequilibrium, to fathom why would someone stop in the woods on a snowy evening. William Shakespeare was a famous British writer and poet during the English Renaissance. This period took place from 1500 to 1660, right after the medieval period, known as the Dark Ages, where a “rebirth” transformation occurred (Alba). People had a thirst for learning, reading literature, and rt; many of the things were man centered, rather than being focused on God, taking a shift from religion to the ideas on humanity (Alba). Also, advances in medicine and the discovery of the human circulatory system came about (Alba). One of the most important things that came about during the English Renaissance was the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg (Rahn). Through the printing press, literature was made very accessible to people, and encouraged reading and learning and an increase of different ideas to spread.
As Rahn describes that it “maximized printing efficiency in a way that changed the world of arts, letters, and ideas forever. ” It was timely and expensive to rewrite copies of different literature, which made it hard for people to get a hold of and read, but now that it was accessible, everyone felt encouraged to start reading, especially the fascinating works of Shakespeare. William Shakespeare was known for both his poems and his other literature and also known as a “word smith,” where he would make up words derived from different languages, to further describe something that was happening in any of his works (Alba).
Shakespeare composed his sonnets between 1553 and 1601, and published in 1609, which consisted of 154 different sonnets written in Shakespearean (Academy of American Poets). The Shakespearean writing technique is written with three quatrains and a couplet, making it a fourteen line poem, called a sonnet (Alba). All the sonnets fell into two groups: sonnets 1 to 126 were written for “a beloved friend, a handsome and noble young man,” and 127 to 152 were addressed “to a malignant but fascinating ‘Dark Lady,’ whom the poet loves in spite of himself” (Academy of American Poets).
This is interesting and yet mysterious, as Josh Rahn explains that, “very few details of the playwright’s life are known today. ” What is known about Shakespeare is that he married Ann Hathaway at the age of eighteen and had two daughters (Academy of American Poets). One of the sonnets Shakespeare wrote, Sonnet 116 talks about what true love is in the eyes of Shakespeare. Since this is the one-hundredth and sixteenth sonnet, this poem was addressed to one of his beloved relatives.
Maybe Shakespeare was a mentor to his relative and was trying to describe what love is to him or her and trying to encourage the relative to not give up on the power of love because it could be mistaken for something else. In the first stanza, Shakespeare first lets the reader know what love is not before he continues to what love is. He describes love to not be a marriage of two people, and change or fall when things happen. He continues on his second stanza where Shakespeare describes that, “It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempest and is never shaken” (Shakespeare).
The “ever-fixed mark” that Shakespeare describes is the North Star, the only star in the sky that never moves when traveling; it was a great way for navigation, especially for naval exploration (Alba). During this time, naval exploration began, in which the Americas were discovered and Britain had the greatest navy at the time (Alba). Compared to the North Star, love is never changed and will always be there and will be the “star to ever wandering bark” (Shakespeare). He also capitalizes the word “time” in this case, also personifying it to provide emphasis and power to the word. Love’s not Time’s fool” simply relates to the fact that love is forever and that is not controlled by time and does not diminish over time. His last two lines of his sonnet portray his confidence in his own intellectual thoughts and ideas on love. If he was not right, then he never did write, which is not true at all. The Victorian Era (named after Queen Victoria in England) lasted from 1832 to 1901, ending immediately the death of the Queen (Alba). During that time, “Nearly every institution of society was shaken by rapid and unpredictable change” (Rahn).
All of Europe’s nations economies increased and accelerated, the steam engine technology grew, leading to an increase in factory production, and a large income of wealth started the rise of the “middle class,” according to Josh Rahn on his writings of the Victorian Era. Apart from the positive progress scientifically and economically, there were negatives that affected the demographic of Europe at that time. People were looking towards science and leaving their faith and religion (Alba).
The theories of evolution and natural selection, according to Rahn, “brought humanity down to the level of an animal, and seemingly reduced the meaning of life to a bloody struggle for survival. ” They had no need for a God in their lives and relied on their strength and wisdom alone. This led to both an increase in optimism and hope for the future, yet also for others, the downfall of human society and the loss of hope in the world. Matthew Arnold, who lived during the Victorian Era was the son of a clergyman and had religion in his whole life (Alba).
He studied at Oxford University and eventually became a professor of poetry at Oxford through his “reputation as a poet” (Academy of American Poets). One of the things that Arnold struggled with in his writing was that his poetry reflected his problems with psychological isolation (Academy of American Poets). Although he was the son of a minister, he often had trouble with his own faith and “sought to establish the essential truth of Christianity” (Academy of American Poets).
One of the most well known things that Matthew Arnold was known for was his critical essays which “established criticism as an art form, and has influenced almost every major English critic,” making him undoubtably encouraging with his writings (Academy of American Poets). During this era, he felt encouraged to write, “Dover Beach. ” Dover Beach, located in England, is a vacation spot and a place for romantics with white cliffs that are made of salt with smooth, round rocks and pebbles that replace regular sand that would normally be on the beach (Alba).
There are two perspectives as to why Matthew Arnold wrote this poem: that he was talking to a loved one to try to find something to hold on to while the world is dark and seemingly falling apart, or that he is trying to seduce a woman. Since he struggled with various problems in his personal life and the changes that had been occurring in Europe, he must have been trying to find something positive in his life to escape from the real world and focus on the present time. Arnold proclaims in his last stanza of his poem, “let us be true to one another!
For the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light” to try to keep an optimistic point of view in the darkness of everything around him (Arnold). The way that Arnold uses metaphors to compare the sea to the faith that used to be strong and shake the rocks back and forth now dies in the encompassment of the earthly things that darken the hopes and dreams and people with its “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” (Arnold).
Matthew Arnold was not trying to use crafty words to seduce a woman into bed with him, he was begging for a light of hope to beacon from this Dover Beach that seems to have lost its own light through the struggles, doubts and despair of others. Through these different poets and writers, people can get a clearer understanding of what it meant to live in various time periods, and the struggles and achievements that they went through and relate it to their poems and writings.
Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, and Matthew Arnold affected the literary world through their writings and influenced others to express their lives through the art of poetry and other literature. As their works continue to live on, people will continue to be influenced by both their lives and poetry and hopefully shape their perception on life based on both their individual experiences, and the experiences expressed through these writers. Works Cited Academy of American Poets, 1997-2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2013. Alba, Brandy. “Dover Beach” Lecture. Concordia University Texas. 30 Jan. 013. Lecture. Alba, Brandy. “Sonnet 116” Lecture. Concordia University Texas. 25 Jan. 2013. Lecture. Alba, Brandy. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” Lecture. Concordia University Texas. 01 Feb. 2013. Lecture. Arnold, Matthew. “Dover Beach”. The Victorian Web, 2002. Web. 10 Feb. 2013 Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. The Random House Book of Poetry,1983. Poetry Foundation 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. Rahn, Josh. The Literature Network. Jalic Inc. , 2011. Web. 09 Feb. 2013. Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 116”. Amanda Mabillard, 1999-2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.
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