009. Two Famous Death Poems By Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

009

Two Famous Death Poems By Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/evi23ktc/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/009-two-famous-death-poems-shirley-and.html

 

Death is the end of all earthly cares and the beginning of eternal things. It is believed that the moment we die, we are born in another universe. With it begins a new way of being. More number of songs and poems has been written on death than on birth. It is considered an important event in man’s life. In many communities throughout the world, death is an occasion for rejoicing and celebration. Shakespeare’s Fear No More and James Shirley’s Death The Leveller are appreciated here.

Shakespeare at last has begun to be read and appreciated, than being acted on stage.

 

I. FEAR NO MORE. A SONG BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

 

William Shakespeare was one of the world’s greatest poets and dramatists. He considered himself a poet, but to make a living, could not exclude himself from the tedious work of being on stage. He very much wished his plays to be read and appreciated more as literary creations, than to be acted on stage as plays. His wishes have been granted by Time. Now his plays are rarely acted, but being read and appreciated as literary masterpieces as he wished. He is being taught and learned in universities, and less in theatres. Fear No More is a song from his play Cymbeline. Two brothers weep over the supposed death of their sister who is only unconscious. The song is actually an Ode To Death. Death comes as a release from the evils of the world and is inevitable to all. This song is the poet’s prayer for the peace of the departed soul.

Work in this World, for which wages will be paid in Heaven.

 

01. A Burial Painting By Enrico Pollastrini 1851.

When we have done our works in this world, we return to our home which is in heaven where we will be paid our wages for the work done in the world. We will be blessed or punished according to the measure of the virtue or vice resulted from our work. It is a consolation to think that there is an after world there where our actions are weighed and judged by sympathetic and kindly beings, after having gone through a life time of injustices and ingratitude in this world. Death is a release which is universal and man cannot escape from it.

Even the young brimming with vibrancy and loveliness of life has to die.

 

02. Children Accompanying The Dead To Burial By Vasily Perov 1865.

There is no armour to hold against death and man has to succumb to the inevitability of the final passing away. Or is it the passing away final? He has no protection from death and cannot refuse to pass through this gateway of death to the next world and the next form of being. ‘The rich and leisurely golden lads and girls and the poor and lowly chimney-sweepers who do the dirtiest of works- all have to die. Physical strength, scholarship and authority follow man to the grave and finally turn to dust and oblivion. Even young lovers who seem to be brimming with the vibrancy and loveliness of life have to die some day.

Is it to bliss that we go after death?

 

03. The Poor Man’s Way To Grave By Jakub Schikaneder 1886.

The parting soul finally gets some peace, since it has now been released from the clutches of the world, the evils of the world. It needn’t anymore fear the heat of the Sun or the angry outbreak of winter. The frown and anger and displeasure of well-placed persons and people in power and the mortal strikes from authorities and tyrants- the very things that make hell in human lives and man fears most – needn’t anymore be feared.

With death, our burdens of life are lightened, for we do not need clothing and eating anymore.

 

04. Wounded Worker’s Farewell By Erik Henningsen 1895.

With death, our burdens of life are lightened, for we do not need clothing and eating anymore. The deadly lightning and thunder-bolts- the dread of all out-in-the-field workers- will not touch/affect us anymore. Abusing words and unkind criticism, which we encountered everywhere in life and which constantly humiliated us, lowered our status and self-respect and tormented our souls, will no more reach our ears, for we will have no more ears. Weeping and happiness are past. We reach bliss, the state of supreme happiness. And distinctions also are things of the past; the fragile reed and the hardened oak are the same to the dead man.

A land where sceptre and crown and scythe and spade are made equal.

 

05. Grave Diggers And Grieving Family By Erik Henningsen 1886.

II. DEATH THE LEVELLER. A POEM BY JAMES SHIRLEY.

 

James Shirley was an English teacher and poet who became famous later for his plays. He died during the great London Fire. Like Shakespeare’s Fear No More, Death The Leveller also is part of one of his plays. He conceives death as a great leveller, an equalizer, who levells the distinctions between the rich and the poor, the high and the low and the hard and the soft. The glories of our blood and state are nothing but shadows. Family traditions and social status do not come to our aid when we are dying. Man has no immunity against fate. Death lays his icy hands on kings and his subjects alike. Kings wearing the sceptre and crown, the symbols of their sovereignty and peasants wearing the scythe and spade, the tools of their trade, are all brought to dust and made equal by death without any distinctions.

Eloquence of a poet in defense of death.

 

06. A Poor Man’s Funeral By Oscar Graf 1900.

Glory is but a momentary glimpse of eternity. It just shows us the magnificence waiting for us in our after life to live in permanently. Great emperors like Alexander and Ashoka have conquered vast plains of land and hordes of armies, won battlefields and raised victory memorials, but they too have had to go to the other world. Great swordsmen reaped heads of opponents in the battlefield, but even their strong nerves have had to yield at last and they too have had to stoop to fate, early or late. Actually they were not winning over the other, but taming each other. Great War heroes all will become wounded captives one day, creeping to their deaths. In the hands of death they are now pale with shame because, unlike in the battlefield, they cannot fight their captor now.

Only our just and right actions will blossom and emit sweet smell, after we have gone.

 

07. Laid At Rest In Elegance By Luis Montero 1867.

Victory memorials may wither away and great battles in history forgotten. The once-victor will one day become a bleeding victim on the purple altar of death, purple because of blood and gore. However high our heads are held, they will one day have to come down to the cold tomb. Great heroic acts do not survive us. Only the just and right actions of a man will blossom and emit sweet smell, after he has long withered away in dust.

Are we really living here, or lying somewhere else and dreaming about living here?

 

III. WHY THIS SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO SONGS?

 

Death is a universal closing of a way of life in one universe and the beginning of another in another universe. It is believed that, and also it is a thrill to think that, once that gravitational constriction of a black hole that is the life-proofed passage between two universes is passed, the dead and the now reborn organism would feel nothing about anything that might or might not have happened. It would be a feeling like everything reversed mathematically. Some seers have even doubted as to whether we are really living in this world, or lying relaxed in some other planet or universe and dreaming about living in this World. Where seers and poets are concerned, and involved, anything strange can be conceived and formulated. Bizarre notions are not un-travelled lands for poets. We would expect these two poets to elaborate on life after the feeling of death. It was but their modesty and reserve that prevented William Shakespeare and James Shirley from elaborating on after-death experiences, and not their unfamiliarity with any such notions, especially Shakespeare having created a long line of uncanny characters.

Death is universal, so rouses similar feelings in man everywhere.

 

08. The Final Resting Place By Albert Anker 1863.

Since death is universal, it rouses similar feelings in man everywhere, though intensity and direction of emotions may vary from person to person, country to country and continent to continent. Some spend the time of bereavement in absolute silence and grief and some spend it in dancing and singing and revelry. The universality of death is a foundation for the similarity between the two poems, Fear No More and Death The Leveller. They both share the universal feeling about death. They are similar in many other aspects also. They hold the same views and project the same ideas. Both poems celebrate the glory of death. Both poems are part of plays by the authors. Both poets used the same word Sceptre to denote Kingly Authority. Shakespeare hints that we will be paid our wages in heaven for our deeds done in this world. Shirley warns us that only our just and rightful actions would survive us. Both poets project the inevitability and inescapability of death. Shakespeare’s life period in England was 1564-1616 and Shirley’s was 1596-1666. Shirley was 14 years old when Shakespeare was 44. Therefore Shirley certainly might have been inspired by Shakespeare. Or it can also be that he was absolutely independent of Shakespeare’s influence in his thoughts. And both poets were Londoners too.

Has mankind lost the formula for the longevity of life?

 

What is the highest possible lifespan of human beings and how can it be raised are questions scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. How death occurs and why it occurs also have been subjects for research, and speculation, through many centuries. Some of the Biblical characters seem to have lived through 800 and 900 years. The ancient Indian classics Mahabharata and Ramayana also have plenty of characters who lived beyond a thousand years. They must have known the formula for the prolongation of life. Even though it is believed that the Bible is a coded manifesto recording everything that concerns man, even the events that may happen in his future, mankind seems to have lost this formula for suspending death and prolonging life. He could have lived at least 150 years and succumbed to death only after fulfilling his mission somewhat to his satisfaction, had he not lost this formula for longevity of life. Lifespan of human beings is not a fixed one, not seventy or eighty years anyway, for it has risen and fallen everywhere in accordance with the availability or unavailability of food and other resources.

What is the greatest wonder in this world?

 

09. Here Lies Your Ancestors By Rudolf Wiegmann 1835.

In Mahabharata, there is this story of Prince Yudhishdtira and his four younger brothers travelling through jungle in search of water when they were ousted from their kingdom after having lost a game of gambling to their co-brother. The youngest brother was the first to find water in a pond beneath a tree. But before he could drink, an incorporeal voice from heaven warned him not to drink that water lest he would die, unless he correctly answered a question before drinking. The question was ‘What is the greatest wonder in this world’? He heeded not the warning, drank the water, and fell dead then and there. His three elders who went in search of the youngest brother one after the other also had the same experience and fell dead beside that pond. Finally Yudhishdtira went in search of the four and was asked the same question by the incorporeal voice. ‘Even while death occurs everywhere around us and we still thinking we will never die is the greatest wonder in this world’ was Yudhishdtira’s answer, which pleased the incorporeal voice. It was the Man of Time in disguise, who resurrected from death the four princes and blessed Yudhishdtira for his virtuousness.

 

First Published: 21 March 2011

Last Edited……: 28 March 2017

__________________________________________

Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

__________________________________________

 

Picture Credits:

01. A Burial Painting By Enrico Pollastrini 1851.

02. Children Accompanying The Dead To Burial By Vasily Perov 1865.

03. The Poor Man’s Way To Grave By Jakub Schikaneder 1886.

04. Wounded Worker’s Farewell By Erik Henningsen 1895.

05. Grave Diggers And Grieving Family By Erik Henningsen 1886.

06. A Poor Man’s Funeral By Oscar Graf 1900.

07. Laid At Rest In Elegance By Luis Montero 1867.

08. The Final Resting Place By Albert Anker 1863.

09. Here Lies Your Ancestors By Rudolf Wiegmann 1835.

10. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

10. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, Comparison Poems, Cymbeline, Death Poems, Death The Leveller, Essays On Death, Fear No More, Free Student Notes, James Shirley, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Poems On Death, Poetry Appreciations, P S Remesh Chandran, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, William Shakespeare.

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008. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. Robert Frost Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandrn

008

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. Robert Frost Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 19th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/eslzz8m7/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/08-stopping-by-woods-robert-frost.html

Nature creates many beauties for man to observe but man, being burdened with the multitude of tasks of running a family, cannot spare his time for sharing the pleasantness nature imbues. In his rush of life he is forced to abandon the easy solaces nature offers which if accepted, would have served as a balm for his mind in flames. Robert Frost’s poem ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ shows a glimpse of what treasures man has lost. True, what man forgets first is the beauty of his mother.

A British poet trained on practical American lines.

 

01. Robert Frost Portrait 1913.

Robert Frost was a farmer and poet who had a deep concern for nature. He lived during 1874-1963. ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ is his world famous poem which appeals to man’s desire to be always be with nature. In the poem we see the poet riding a little horse into a snow falling forest in the evening. His sense of beauty tends him to stay but his dominating sense of duty sends him away. The genius of Frost shuttles between dream and reality and finally lands on immediate reality. Perhaps his long American life might have trimmed him on practical lines.

Nature’s Cynosures are for all the world to see.

 

02. Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know.

The poet stops by the wood on a snowy evening in winter. He doesn’t know who the owner of the forest is. Judging from the fact that there were no signs of any modern constructions to be seen there, he assumes that the owner of the forest might not be a town’s man, but a villager. So far so good. He hopes that the owner will not appear there at that time of heavy snow fall, as he does not wish to be seen tress-passing into private land. Sweet English reserve and shyness! Even though somewhat reluctant to enter a private property, his soul’s desire to be with nature tempted him and he entered the forest riding his horse.

All a winter’s work for the squirrels and sparrows to see.

 

03. All A Winters Work.

Nature’s benedictions are man’s common asset, limited to no one’s ownership. She creates her cynosures for all the world to see, through generations and ages. She creates them not exclusively for humans, but anticipating the admiring eyes of the squirrels, sparrows, peacocks and the marsupials also.

Animal instincts are sharper-tuned to sensing danger than man’s.

 

04. To Watch The Woods Fill Up With Snow.

Snow heavily falling on the trees and rocks and shrubs will form curious images of strange shapes and sizes. The poet plunges deep into observing their beauty and quite forgets the passing of Time. The horse was more danger-conscious and responsive to surroundings than the poet. Have anyone ever heard about an animal that took its own life? It became suspicious. What is this fellow on my back doing?

Between the woods and frozen lake.

 

05. Between The Woods And Frozen Lake.

Dangers of an ink-black night are ahead. No farm houses are to be seen anywhere nearby. They are standing between an unfriendly wood and a frozen lake where no one will get shelter and can survive. Man and animal can be lost and frozen in these circumstances. Besides, it is the darkest night of the year that is approaching. Is this man on my back having ideas of suicide? Animal instincts are sharper-tuned to sense danger than man’s. So thinking such and such, the horse gave his harness bells a shake to ask his master whether there was any mistake. Actually he was asking his master why they were stopping and staying in that unfavorable atmosphere for long.

The Tiny Little Boy with Hay-Ho, the Wind and the Rain.

 

06. Forage is scarce in winter, so a long neck.

The sounds of the horse-bells were heard distinctly against the only other background sound there, the swish-swishing sound of the easily-flowing wind sweeping against the incessantly down-falling snow. The exquisiteness of the description here reminds the readers of another master craftsman. In The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, there is a little song sung by the clown:

‘When that I was a tiny little boy,

With hay- ho, the wind and the rain.’

Everyone knows the wind and the rain, but who is this Mr. Hay-Ho? Critics have long debated who this Hay Ho is. It is very simple. Every little child knows Hay Ho; it is the combined effect of sound caused by wind on the rain personified. When wind blows against a green paddy field and the long lines of grass bow their heads in row after row, Hay Ho is present there. When we walk along a tar road while the rain comes down in torrents and the wind sweeps heavily against the rain, then again we can see Hay Ho on the road, coming towards us and going away from us. Hay Ho is indeed something to a tiny little boy and also for the poets. One is always the other. An exactly similar beauty with words is created here by Frost, in describing in vivid and suggestive words the swish-swishing of the wind and the rain in the snow-filled forest.

One single line written across the face of Time: How far to go before rest?

 

07. Miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go…..

The timely sound of his horse-bells roused the master to reality and reminded him of his immediate duties. Thus rightly inspired, the poet continues on his journey, singing those famous lines which made this song immortal.

‘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.’

An admirer of Robert Frost from across the oceans.

 

08. The woods are lovely, but I have promises to keep.

The sleep referred to here is the final sleep. These are lines written across Time, to inspire the world through ages. It is not certain whoever were inspired, excited and intoxicated with these lines. But it is known, the famous author of books such as Glimpses Of World History and The Discovery Of India and the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote them down on his walls to be seen always.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song.

 

09. Stopping By Woods Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers.

Link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Also read the article The Life And Works Of Robert Frost Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran.

 

10. Life And Works Of Robert Frost Article.

http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2017/04/073-life-and-works-of-robert-frost.html

Readers are advised to also read the article The Life And Works Of Robert Frost Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran in Sahyadri Books Trivandrum at http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2017/04/073-life-and-works-of-robert-frost.html

 

First Published: 19 March 2011

Last Edited……: 24 March 2017

 

__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

 

Picture Credits:

01. Robert Frost Portrait 1913 By The New York Times.

02. Whose woods these are I think I know By Ruhrfisch.

03. All a winter’s work By Böhringer Friedrich.

04. To watch the woods fill up with snow By Adrian Michael.

05. Between the woods and frozen lake By Harke.

06. Forage scarce in winter, so a long neck By Unknown.

07. Miles to go before I sleep By Jim Champion.

08. The woods are lovely, but I have promises to keep By John Davies.

09. Stopping By Woods Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

10. Life And Works Of Robert Frost Title By Sahyadri Archives.

11. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

11. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

Tags

 

American Poets, English Poems, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Poem Appreciations, Poetry Reviews, Poem Studies, Free Student Notes, Poem Notes, College Notes, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Bloom Books Trivandrum, P S Remesh Chandran, Robert Frost, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, Nature Poems, Winter Poems

 

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007. Song To The Men Of England. P B Shelley Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

007

Song To The Men Of England. P B Shelley Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 18th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/21kpi-9l/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/07-song-to-men-of-england-pbshelley.html

 

A revolutionary is a person who causes constant changes around him wherever he is. In this sense, Shelley was a revolutionary poet. Song To The Men Of England opened up world’s eyes to the torture, brutality and exploitation workers were subjected to in England during the time of her colonial prosperity and raised the question: Why can’t they revolt? Karl Marx predicted workers’ revolution in England as follow up of the Industrial Revolution but it never happened. The English workers were inert.

Kill not a bird or beast or man, they are all our brethren.

 

01. A portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote each poem to celebrate a particular tune as we can see in his poems Song To The Men Of England, Ode To The West Wind, To A Skylark, The Cloud, Adonais and many others. He is considered one of the greatest poets in English and his influence on world literature is immense. When we refer to him as a revolutionary poet, it does not mean he stood for merciless killing. In fact, he considered even animals as our fellow creatures, not to be slain for human food. It was after reading his works that the famous English author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw became a vegetarian.

Workers and exploiters are like bees and drones in bee community.

 

02. A 1939 weaving loom with flying shuttles.

Here in this poem, Shelley asks the Nineteenth Century peasants and workers of England why they are not revolting against the landlords and the industrial production owners who are exploiting them to the last drop of their blood. In the Bee Community, female bees do all the work and the male drones live by exploiting them. Shelley calls the workers Bees and the exploiters Drones which is apt.

Purpose of weapons fails when they are used against man.

 

03. A 200 single yarn beaming machine of 1907.

Shelley’s questions to the workers of England skillfully bring out the pitiful living conditions they live in in England in his times. He is asking them for what reason they plough the fields for the lords who are responsible for their poverty. For what reason, with toil and care, they weave the rich robes their tyrants are wearing, while their own children are shivering in the dark without cotton or coal. From their birth till their death why the workers feed, clothe and save those ungrateful drones, who in their turn, would either drain their sweat or drink their blood.

Weapons become spoiled when they are stained with their makers’ blood.

 

04. The celestial forge of Venus and Vulcan. 1641 Oil.

The Bees of England forge many weapons, chains and scourges which go straight to the hands of the tyrants to be used against them in it’s time. Weapons were invented to assist man in his works, but when used against its creator, their purpose fails and they become spoiled. Critics have differed in their interpretations of the word ‘spoiled.’ A weapon to become spoiled means ‘to become stained with its maker’s blood’. Knives were invented for cutting away tree branches from paths of the ancient man in the forests, chains were invented for lifting huge weights from the ground, and whips were designed for taming wild animals. But when they come to be used for throat-cutting, binding men together and for beating man, their purpose fails and they become spoiled.

Sacrificing their lives, making arms and robes and riches for tyrants.

 

05. Forge arms, in your defense to bear.

The workers pay so high a price by living in constant pain, fear and poverty but even then, in spite of all these sufferings, at least their physical and spiritual needs are not satisfied. If not for fulfilling at least their basic animalistic needs, why should they labour from morning till night and from night till morning again? (Shelley can say this, but there was unbelievable poverty in England. Peasants and workers lived in abject poverty, want and exploitation in the middle of immense wealth arriving from distant colonies. Just a little food for sustenance and the shade of a shack to rest their heads beneath was all that the workers of England wished in those times). Leisure, comfort and calmness are the spiritual needs of man. Food, shelter and the medicinal treatment of love are the physical needs of man. It is not strange to note that Shelley, unlike most of the other poets in his times, has included love as a physical need of man, like food. The workers sow seed, but the harvest is taken away by lords. They bring wealth out of earth through their work, but the riches are amassed and kept by others. They weave robes for others, but their own children have nothing to wear. The arms they forge also go to the armories of oppressors. Thus Shelley convinces the workers of England and elsewhere that they are exploited to the extreme, and that rising through revolts is the only option before them.

A poet’s burning eloquence forcing the doors of England open.

 

06. Sow seed and reap, but let not the idle heap.

We will normally think the poet, spreading such radical ideas in Colonial England, will finally find his way to London Tower, the English equivalent of the notorious French Bastille. But it was also the era of the Industrial Revolution, immediately following the English version of the Italian Renaissance. No workers’ revolution ever occurred in England then or later as Shelley hoped, and Marx had predicted. Communism, the supreme theory of revolution, was born indeed in England’s soil, but Carl Marx fuming and storming his head in the British Museum for Thirty two long years came to nothing. Prosperity extinguishes revolutionary traits, whereas poverty inflames them. But England in later years did become a haven and world headquarters for revolutionaries in exile, due to the open door policy there, carved out of passionate poetry and literature by generations of sympathetic littérateurs. Shelley’s burning eloquence in this song cannot be denied its due share of influence and credit in bringing about this change.

The silent song of weaving winding sheets to graves.

 

07. Weaving their winding sheet to their graves.

Shelley showed to the workers exploited everywhere in the world that they have a right to rise in revolts. He encourages them to sow seed but let no tyrant reap the harvest; find wealth but let no impostor heap them. But his clarion-calls fell into deaf ears. Seeing the inertness of English workers, towards the end of his poem, Shelley condemns them. By not revolting against their exploiters, they finally will have to shrink to their cells, holes and cellars which are their dwelling places, as the vast halls they constructed and decorated are all possessed by the rich. Imagine a great massive elephant getting melting itself down and disappearing into the tiny pit of a sand-elephant: that is how the proletariat shrinks. The great beast does not know its capabilities. It is a pity to see the workers still wearing the chains they themselves wrought and shaking them. ‘The steel ye tempered glance on ye’, he writes. ‘Glance’ here has a dual meaning. He used the word in its both senses- ‘slip off from the hand causing a mortal wound’, and ‘have a quick look at’. The steel the workers themselves tempered is ridiculingly laughing at them! If their destiny goes on unhampered in this way, with plough and spade and hoe and loom- the tools of their trade- they will be continuing to build their tomb and weave their winding-sheet till their beautiful England becomes a vast sepulchre.

Shelley set fire to the conscience of his century.

 

08. Shelley’s poem To A Skylark Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFVoiRm-yEI

Shelley must have been very bold and daring to have published this poem during the peak of England’s colonial powers and sovereignty. And he certainly must have been extremely sympathetic and deliquescent in his attitude to workers in his native land. He indeed was a very brilliant poet to have set fire to the conscience of his century. This poem is a masterpiece of poetical eloquence, as well as of political eloquence. It is a brilliant example of commitment and involvement in flames, in action.

Thousands and thousands of workers and peasants succumbed to poverty and mortal illnesses in Shelly’s days in England. Not many poets in his times cared to write about these misfortune-struck people. And he too wrote not many poems of this kind about them. Perhaps he might have conceived that ‘the present turbulence in his times might be inimical to the fine achievements of mankind so far and become a hindrance to drastic changes in future’. That might have been why he decided to bless his land with a poem which would open everyone’s eyes to a world problem. It is a perfectly musical poem, with a perfectly balanced rhythm and a captivating tune which came along originally with the song. Actually the song and its tune are inseparable in this poem. Do not anyone be misled by those lazy, dragging and monotonous tunes which we find in many recitations of this song already circulating in the internet and those tuneless and prose-like utterances propagated by conventional and less imaginary teachers. They want only to exhibit before their listeners and poor students their pompous recitational skills and that impurity we call accent. They did sore injustice to the excellent musical-minded poet Shelley. The original tune of this poem proves that it was accompanied by some kind of rural peasants’ dance in some remote hamlet of England. It contains such a simple, light, country tune, with no complications.

Going through Shelley’s poems is like a squirrel going through a mountain of gold dust.

 

09. Shelley’s poem Ozymandias Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_exxBg5urk0

It would have been a fine spectacle to watch if someone orchestrated and choreographed the Song To The Men of England as a tribute to Shelley. Singing Shelley’s songs is like going through a savoury treat delightful to the tongue and the palates. A singer of this song would undergo an experience similar to the one of the squirrel’s who went through a mountain of gold dust and found it impossible not to be sprayed with a few golden dust particles.

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s life and works during 1792-1817.

 

10. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in 1792 August 04 in Horsham, England as the first of seven children of the Sir Timothy Shelley, a country squire and baron, and his wife Elizabeth Pilfold Shelley. His father was a British Parliamentarian of the Whigs Party. He began boys’ boarding school at Eton College in 1804. After six years’ of boarding school studies, he enrolled at University College, Oxford in 1810 where he became indifferent to studies, published ‘The Necessity of Atheism’ which made his father angry and caused his expulsion from Oxford the next year. He published his first novel ‘Zastrozzi’ also in that period. In 1811 he ran away with a young student Ms. Harriet Westbrook to Scotland who he soon became tired of. In 1813 he published the long poem Queen Mab and exposed his political views irrespective of his father being a conservative Parliamentarian. In 1814 he eloped again with the daughter of the famous writer and philosopher William Godwin- young Mary Wollstonecraft- to Europe and the next year we see Shelley hiding in London to evade his creditors. During the years from 1815 to 1818, Shelley became close friends with poets Lord Gordon Byron and John Keats, published The Spirit of Solitude in 1816, children were born and died, married the mother of their children Mary, toured Switzerland and came back with the book History of Six Weeks Tour published in 1817, his first wife Harriet took her life by jumping into London river, and his second wife Mary started writing the famous horror novel Frankenstein.

Shelley’s life and works during the years 1818-1824.

 

11. Writer Philosopher William Godwin.

In 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published Frankenstein, an all time success, Shelley published Ozymandias and The Revolt of Islam, and they travelled to Italy never to return. Song To The Men Of England and The Masque Of Anarchy were written while Shelley was in Florence. In 1820 Shelley wrote the mythological drama Prometheus Unbound, and in 1821 when John Keats died, he wrote the elegy Adonais. While living in Pisa and Rome, he completed the tragedy The Censy. In 1822 his schooner Don Juan caught up in a storm and Shelley died at the age of 29. He was cremated on the beach and his ashes buried in Rome. Sir. Timoti Shelley was still furious over the political and heretical writings of his son and threatened Shelley’s wife Mary in 1924 never to publish anymore of his son’s works while he lived. He even threatened to stop financial support to her if she did. After many years, in 1839, he reluctantly allowed Mary to publish Shelley’s collected poems and essays on the condition that ‘it contained no memoirs of his son’. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was an intellectual equal to Shelley in genius and her ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe of 1824 stands a monumental work.

Irony in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s life.

 

12. Different editions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Left wing activists considered Shelley as ‘Red Shelley’ but in real life he was a strict vegetarian and against blood sheds of any kind. His words were not final but wavering and often contradictory. He who said in his work Defense Of Poetry that ‘man’s imagination is only a reflection of god’s’ was expelled from Oxford University for publishing in 1811‘The Necessity of Atheism’. No one cared his non-belief in god was not final and binding. Literary critics pointed out that his views were contradictory and wavering for he became in soul The Cloud, The West Wind, The Skylark and The Man Of England all at the same time, synchronizing his mind with the natural elements and nature’s creations which were his characters, but these critics of Shelley forgot all the while that he synchronized his soul with his characters beautifully.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem Song To The Men Of England.

 

13. Song To The Men Of England Video Title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Bloom Books Channel has recitation videos of Song To The Men Of England, Ozymandias and To a Skylark. Their You Tube links are:

Song To The Men Of England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Ozymandias:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_exxBg5urk0

To a Skylark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFVoiRm-yEI

A primitive prototype rendering of these song were made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, home made videos of these songs were released. In 2015, their third versions with comparatively better audios were released. The next versions, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. They are free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on them, till they become fine musical video productions, to help our little learners and their teachers.

First Published: 18th Mar 2011

Last Edited…….. : 15 April 2017

___________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
___________________________________________

Picture Credits:

01. Portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley 1819 By Alfred Clint.
02. 1939 weaving loom with flying shuttles By Imus Eus.
03. 200 single yarn beaming machine 1907 By Imus Eus.
04. The celestial forge of Venus and Vulcan 1641 By Le Nain Brothers.
05. Forge arms in your defense to bear By Penny Mayes.
06. Sow seed but let not the idle heap By Bernard Gagnon.
07. Weaving winding sheets to graves By Thomas Khaipi.
08. Shelley’s poem To A Skylark By Bloom Books Channel.
09. Shelley’s poem Ozymandias By Bloom Books Channel.

10. Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley By John Williamson.
11. William Godwin 1875 By Henry William Pickersgill.
12. Different Editions of Frankenstein By Andy Mabbett.
13. Song To The Men Of England Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.
14. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

14. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

 

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Poets, Free Student Notes, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Men Of England Wherefore Plough, P S Remesh Chandran, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poem Appreciations, Poem Notes, Poetry Reviews, Revolutionary Poems, Revolutionary Poets, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Song To The Men Of England

 

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Identifier: SBT-AE-007. Song To The Men Of England. Percy Bysshe Shelley Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Editor: P S Remesh Chandran


006. Leisure. W H Davies Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

006

Leisure. W H Davies Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 16th Mar 2011 Short URL http://nut.bz/qp4j6ml6/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/06-leisure-whdavies-appreciation-by.html

 

Man is always eager to observe and enjoy the beauties of nature. Only that he does not get enough time for rest to elate and thrill his mind by soaking up the magnificent spectacles Mother Nature has created around him. It was in the midst of and from these beauties that man was created. Therefore, his wish to always be with them is only natural. Whenever he has to leave the beauties of nature behind, he pines in his heart as if leaving his homeland.

Go to a jungle river, bath and wash your clothes, spread them on rocks to dry and lie under some shady stream-side trees.

 

01. William Henry Davies Portrait 1915.

Staying with nature and enjoying the innocent beauties nature created around man is soothing to the soul and invigorating to the physic. Going to a riverside jungle, lying under a tree growing out of large boulders shading us from sunlight, listening to the voices of birds chirping nearby and the gentle murmur of a stream flowing away, is an experience not all can have everyday. Frequenting Jungle Rivers, bathing in river, washing our clothes and spreading them on rocks to dry and resting under a spreading tree while they are drying, is a pleasure we will wish to have everyday. Once we have visited such a scenic beauty spot and have rested there feeling the wind blowing across us and water flowing below us and listened to waves gently lapping over the shore, we will consider ourselves lucky and would dream of going to such places again and again and refreshing us again.

Primitive man who sat in his mountain cave watching the beauty of a sunset was the first poet.

 

02. Reading in leisure: The greatest of all pastimes.

Archaeological excavations of ancient sites of human living have taught us that there has been no time in human history that was totally deprived of leisure and time for rest. Whenever man got freed of inevitable and immediate works, he always found a little time to indulge in leisurely activities like painting, singing, writing and debating. Primitive man who, after a delicious meal, sat in leisure in the mouth of his mountain cave and watched the beauty of a distant sunset was the first person who chiseled poems on rocks. From the snow-buried Neanderthal Valley in Germany and the ice-frozen caves of Cro-Magnon in France, we have dug up evidence of the outcomes of a hunting society’s pass-time and leisure in the form of magnificent rock wall paintings, and stood in awe.

The idea of calm and leisure exists in a sitting cat.

 

03. Statue of Davies on the seafront of Port Williams.

Man is not alone in enjoying the beauties of nature and leisure. Cats, horses, cows, squirrels, birds- they all catharsizes their souls through leisure. Cats are the first to enjoy music, sunshine, rest and leisure. In beautiful evenings they can be seen washing and meticulously cleaning themselves taking hours, then walking to their regular elevated acoustically-optimized spots and sitting there listening to their favourite church or temple music coming through loudspeakers, while basking themselves in bright warm sunlight. Cows and sheep constantly and steadily gaze at things situated far away for any length of time, but if we go and stand behind them and look for what they had been gazing at for long that much interestedly, we will see nothing particular or special. They are enjoying their leisure.

Work stretches to fill the time available to finish it.

 

04. Cats are the first to enjoy leisure and sunshine.

One curious thing about work is it stretches itself to fill the time available to finish it. The more time available to finish it is there, the work takes more time to finish. So practically man gets no time for leisure. In earlier societies in which everyone had to work without rest to make their living, there was no leisure, no civilization and no culture to be mentioned, and they remained barbarians. ‘A society enters upon the process of civilization only when it is able to afford a minority who does no work but just sit, eat and think.’ Discovery of agriculture, mechanization and tools guaranteed enough food crops to be produced for all without everyone having to work for achieving this level of self-sufficiency and generated leisure time, and civilization began. Leisure is something that is disappearing from this world. Leisure is what brought civilization and culture into this world, will keep the light of civilization burning, and keep the world from falling apart in future. Without its soothing balm, civilizations, societies and nations are lost. Without its cementing bondage, empires of intricate economics and politics would crumble and fall. And without its promising prospect, man’s achievements on land, air, sea and space would go to smithereens.

Admiring eyes of a tramp and rural shepherd in America.

 

05. There is enough to see but man has not time. 

William Henry Davies was a British poet who lived during 1871-1940. In the earlier years of his life he led the life of a tramp and rural shepherd in America, the stamps of which can be seen in his poems. In his famous poem Leisure, he regrets the loss of leisure from human life. He was very keen in his observations of nature and in this he stands in line with Robert Frost and Alexander Pope.

Flight of Leisure through Middle Ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution and Twenty First Century.

 

Duration of leisure available in society is a measure of its achievements in arts, music, science, literature, civilization and culture. Since the invention of agriculture and the wheel, human society had been advancing steadily in this respect till the middle ages. Since then, slavery and bondage for the poor and corpulent fleshly ills for the rich became a custom, civilization nearly dried up and the world fell into a long period of dark ages. Only in a few corners of the world did the light of knowledge burn dimly but without diminishing. Human intelligence- chained up and bound- strove fiercely to free itself from the bondage of evil religion and the darkness of dogma, and a few rays of bright light began to appear here and there in the world. Mechanization and a series of scientific discoveries brought leisure again to man’s society since the Sixteenth Century and the ‘re-awakening of thought began, knowledge became fashionable and science commenced to stir’, the total effect of which we called Renaissance which lasted four centuries and marked a peak in human achievements. Industrial revolution of the Nineteenth Century brought lethargy and stupor for the Twentieth and Twenty First Centuries and leisure is now giving way to round-the-clock engagement, greed for riches and prosperity, and discontentment- the enveloping of another kind of dark ages. The result: civilization is drying up again, repeating the cycle.

Squirrels forget their hidden caches and man recovers them for dinner.

 

06. Basking in Sun in leisure after eating apple.

Man is now left with no time to observe and enjoy the beauties of nature. He has now no time left to stand beneath the flowery branches of trees and stare as long as the sheep or cows do at the things he likes. The cattleman profession of the poet is reflected here. Passing through the woods, he sees squirrels running everywhere and hiding their nuts in the grass. Sometimes they may forget these caches and man will find them and recover them for his dinner, the thought of which makes the poet laugh heartily, for he himself had often sought these forgotten stores in his hunger. But now he has no time left to enjoy the briskness and beauty of their movements.

Squirrels have a fixed time and route to enter a grove and drink honey before going to the next.

 

Have anyone observed a squirrel harvesting honey from a plantain grove? It has a fixed time and route to enter a plantation, say 3 PM in the evening for a particular plantation. It enters at one corner by jumping from a coconut leaf from the neighboring plantation into this grove, travels harvesting through all plantains along a time-and-distance-economized route and moves out at the opposite corner by jumping into a coconut tree on the edge of the grove, passing on to the next grove to harvest. After savoring honey from one plantain tree, it will jump to another through plantain leaves till all plantains in that grove are covered, without ever coming down to the ground which is risky. To make a living, it has to cover many groves each day and that is why it economizes the time and distance of travel. So, the squirrels have their fixed time and route to enter a grove and cover it before going to the next. The author of this article has had to closely watch this time-table and schedule to enter his grove to drink honey from plantains before the squirrel arrives.

Watching star studded skies at night was a great pastime for the primitive man.

 

07. Guardian of the gateway in leisurely vigil: A heron.

Water bodies with glassy surfaces reflecting nature is a fine spectacle in woods. While walking through woods, the sudden appearance of the view of a lake or brook through the woods is delightful. Clean brooks and streams reflecting the rippling broad daylight would appear like bluish star-studded skies at night with their abundance of stars, a majestic sight to see through woods. But alas! The rush of life urges the modern man to move forward without stopping, to attend to the daily chores of life, leaving behind those beautiful sights un-enjoyed.

Innocent radiance of a smile would embrace anyone with its charm and warmth.

 

08. Leisure beneath the mountain canopies 1523.

Hills and valleys and meadows remain the same but their expressions change with time, like expressions in a human face change according to mood. We call the face along with its expressions countenance. It is nature’s countenance that is changing with time. Morning, noon and night add specific expressions to nature’s face. It’s like nature going through various emotions and smiling. We know a smile begins in the eyes and finishes in the lips which would take a little time to complete. But we cannot sit there watching through morning, noon and night to see nature’s smile finish. If someone has that much time, he is lucky indeed. Like a child’s, nature’s smile has an innocent radiance which enchants anyone with its charm and it has warmth which embraces anyone sitting for long with her. That is why man wishes to remain with nature as longer as he can.

Today the river is crystalline, tomorrow she is choky and narrow and then she is muddy and overflowing, like a fine dancer changing costumes.

 

09. Absolute leisure in the lap of eternity.

Nature also dances. And she is a lavishly gifted dancer. Her attires and adornments constantly changes with the passing of seasons. Today the leaves are tender green, tomorrow they are red and then they are dead brown. Today the earth is hot, tomorrow it is wet and then it is cold and bare with snow. Today the river is crystalline, tomorrow she is choky and narrow and then she is muddy and overflowing. It is like a fine dancer on stage changing costumes and continuing dancing. For whom does she dance? It is the mother dancing to delight and make happy the child. She is dancing for birds, butterflies, animals, fishes, snakes and man. It is ultimate beauty that is dancing there and it is soothing and solacing to see this supreme dancing of Mother Nature on hills, valleys and meadows. Birds, butterflies and animals watch it but man alone does not have time to watch his mother dance.

Dance of nature in hills and forests completes with the cycle of seasons.

 

10. Last home of Davies in Gloucestershire, England- Glendower.

Some critics have shrunk the meaning here to the presence of some mortal human beauty dancing and smiling in the wild and un-diligent readers also may fall into the same fallacy. But the logical reference here is to the presence of the perfect beauty, i.e., Mother Nature, dancing in the hills and the wild. The smile of nature is completed only with completion of the cycle of seasons, which means, to see the full smile of nature, one has to wait there at the same spot throughout one full year. Or we will see only an unfinished part of a smile without seeing its beginning and end. Man cannot wait that long and he has not that much time to spare. So, if this life is such full of care and anxiety that we are left with no time to stand and stare at things we like as long as we wish to, then it indeed is a very poor life in this earth.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

 

11. Leisure Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MuZDwnc_a0

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem Leisure titled ‘What Is This Life If Full Of Care’. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers.

You Tube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MuZDwnc_a0

 

First Published: 16th Mar 2011

Last Edited….. : 23 March 2017

 
__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

 

Picture credits:

01. William Henry Davies Portrait 1915 By Bonhams.

02. Reading in leisure: the greatest of all pastimes By Cristofano Allori.

03. Statue of Davies on the seafront of Port Williams. Sculpture By Andrew Brown, Photo By A M Hurrell.

04. Cats are the first to enjoy leisure and sunshine By 4028mdk09.

05. There is enough to see but man has not time By J M Garg.

06. Basking in Sun in leisure after eating apple By V Menkov.

07. Guardian of the gateway in leisurely vigil: A heron By Pauline Eccles.

08. Leisure beneath the mountain canopies 1523 By Tang Yin.

09. Absolute leisure in the lap of eternity By John Webber.

10. Last home of Davies in Gloucestershire England By Martin Evans 123.

11. Leisure Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

12. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

12. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Poets, College Notes, English Poems, Free Student Notes, Leisure, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, P S Remesh Chandran, Poem Appreciations, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, W H Davies, What Is This Life If Full Of Care.

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Identifier: SBT-AE-006. Leisure. W H Davies Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Editor: P S Remesh Chandran

 

003. Forsaken Merman. Matthew Arnold Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

003.

The Forsaken Merman By Matthew Arnold A Creation of Beauty. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

By PSRemeshChandra, 13th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/1ljtosiw/ First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/01/03the-forsaken-merman-matthew-arnold.html

Matthew Arnold was a severe critic of literature. Essays In Criticism was his monumental work in which he let no great poet go unscathed. Usually such critics would be asked a question: why don’t you write a great poem? The Forsaken Merman was Arnold’s answer to this question in which he proved not only could he create poems with hilarious themes but incorporate multi tunes also into a single poem. After creating a few more poems, he returned to academics and criticism.

The Cornish legend holds that Matthew can still be heard singing from the deep sea.

01. Matthew Arnold Portrait 1883.

Matthew Arnold relates a very strange story in his poem The Forsaken Merman. The poem is beautiful and picture-like, descriptions of seascape and landscape vivid, and presentation of the theme logical. But the story is actually impossible to happen, and the inspiration for this theme has been traced to a spectacular sea-side village named Zennor in the County of Cornwall in England. It is not clear whether he happened to visit this village or not, but there indeed is a Mermaid Chair in the Zennor Church and also an associated legend of a hero having this poet’s name, Matthew. Perhaps Arnold might have heard or read about this legend. A mermaid who lived in the Pendour Cove in Zennor was entranced by Matthew’s exotic singing in the church and she regularly visited the church in disguise. One day Matthew found out, fell deeply in love with her, and followed her to her deep-sea cavern beneath the waves. They were never seen again on the land. The Cornish legend holds that, in silent nights, Matthew can still be heard singing from the deep sea, the sweet music faintly brought to shore by the breeze. Matthew Arnold only reversed the role of characters in his poem- it was the woman who went to the sea in the poem and later returned to land, abandoning her husband and children.

A lady from the land making her home in the deep sea cavern.

02. Ocean is nothing but land submerged.

Margaret, a lady from the land, happened to fall in love with and marry a King of the Sea, a merman. She now has her home and her children in a cavern in the deep sea where they live. The winds are all asleep there. We know the wind rages only on the surface, and beneath it, everything is calm except for ocean currents. The cavern is sand-strewn, cool and deep, and cold and dark as the abyss is. Sea plants, sea animals and sea snakes coil and twine all around their home. Sometimes great whales could be seen swimming by, like the great ships moving on the surface of the sea. Margaret has a loving husband and endeared children in that abysmal wonderland and she is now leading a happy and contented life in the depth of the sea, apparently.

Life arriving alighted on meteorites from cosmic realms.

03. Lady from the land makes home in sea cavern.

Days of festivities in the land are endeared and nostalgic to all terrestrial human beings living far away from land. One day, on a silent Christmas night, the sounds of pealing church bells from the land reach the ocean bottom. Man is mortal, temperamental and selfish. But the watery world is something precious, rare and ethereal. Ocean is where life originated, smithereens of which arrived alighted on meteorites from cosmic realms unimaginably distant, and deposited there on the ocean aeons ago. Considering the longevity or brevity of the history of life on sea or life on land, there is difference in the subtlety of these living forms’ loyalty to the place of their origin and habitat. Sea life is ancient and primeval whereas land life is recent and experimental, aged only a few million years. The sea demands much in loyalty from her inhabitants but the loyalty of land-locked beings to the place of origin of their life is brittle and untested. This test of character is what we are going to see in the poem now.

Church bells from the land reach where the winds are all asleep.

04. Where the winds are all asleep.

Hearing the toll of church bells from far away land, Margaret becomes home-sick and wishes to rise to the surface, reach land and take part in the Christmas festivities there. She forgets she is a mother and wife now. It is terrible and strange that she has become tired of sea-life by overnight. Or has she been always disliking sea life but pretending to liking it- the terrestrial conceit of a woman? She says:

“It will be Easter time in the world- ah me!
And I loose my poor soul Merman, here with thee.”

It means, it is mirth and happiness in the upper world, but ah me- I am doomed in sorrow and isolation in the nether world. She asked her merman’s permission to go to land and he generously gives it. So, with her loving husband’s permission, she rises from the sea and reaches her home in land. The land has its thrills, beauties and enjoyments just as the sea has its. Soon Margaret forgets her family left behind in the deep sea.

From the deep sea in search of beloved wife.

05. The church on the hill side.

Mermen and angels are thought to be alike in many respects. Ardence, affection, kindness and mercy are their characteristics. Monarchs of the deep, reflecting the magnanimity and loftiness of the limitless ocean, keep their vows of chastity and integrity. The King of the Sea waited long for his wife’s return from the land. At last, being anxious, one day, with their children, he too rises from the sea, comes to land and visits the church where Margaret usually prayed.

Generations of grief in the tumultuous soul of the holy trinity.

06. From the deep sea in search of beloved wife.

They secretly stood outside and peeped inside through the church window. Being not humans and therefore aliens in land, they dared not go inside. This grief-stricken trio consisting of father, daughter and son knew nothing about the Christian kindness that may or may not be flowing through that church. They were a holy trinity unto themselves, stricken by grief. Generations of grief – creative grief – had been what caused that cosmic particle from stars deposited aeons ago on the ocean to germinate, grow and evolve into life forms. Wind and waves and sky, and the warmth of the earth, could never have quietened the tumult in their souls. God manifests through man in his acts of kindness, consideration and ardence. It is man’s debt to his creator to quieten and pacify the minds of others. Won’t humans ever pay their debts to their gods?

A mother of ingratitude, her eyes sealed to the holy book.

07. Steps to the Church where Aliens walked.

Margaret’s face was buried deep in the Bible. Through mutually understandable gestures, the Merman King tried in many ways to signal to her that their children very much longed for her. He asked the children to call and appeal to the motherhood in her in their tiny voices, in the hope that children’s voices would be dear to a mother’s ear. The children called their mother in their voices familiar to her. It was all in vain. She listened not. ‘She gave them never a look, for her eyes were sealed to the holy book!’ It is the first time the readers of this poem curse and hate the holy book. Is the holy book an excuse for causing pangs of pain in other hearts? To alleviate the pain in other hearts, to act as the representative of God- that was what human beings were sent to the world for and given the holy book. She was pretending. So it was useless persuading her to go back with them to the sea, they learned. She was determined not to return to sea.

We will gaze from the sand hills, at the white sleeping town.

 

08. Her eyes were sealed to the Holy Book.

Before returning to sea with his children, the Merman once again visited the church and the town where his wife lived. He could see she was living a very happy and contended life. She was seen always singing of supreme joy. ‘She sang her fill, singing most joyfully.’ However, the merman could see a tear dropping down her sorrow-clouded eye. She was, must have been, actually sad for her children left at sea. The cold, strange eyes of her little girl child looking at her through the cold church window must have created pangs in her guilty soul. The insolent indifference of this earthly woman orphaned her little children then and there. So, the disappointed merman with his children decided to return to sea. Before he goes, he proposes to his children to visit the land in moonlit nights again. They would come and see the church and the town by nights. He sings:

“We will gaze from the sand-hills
At the white sleeping town,
At the church on the hill side
And then come back down.”

The pain in the eyes of a girl-child left out by her mother.

09. We will gaze from the sand hills.

Matthew Arnold created the closing lines of this poem ever memorable. The grief of a girl-child who is left out and abandoned by her belovèd mother can never be, and shall be, described in words. It is unspeakable taboo, sacred. Tennyson perfectly put this more touchingly than anyone in his sensational classic, In Memoriam:

‘I sometimes feel it is a guilt
To put in words the grief I feel.’

The readers will never forget the pain in the cold strange eyes of the girl-child looking at her mother through the church windows. Arnold wished to make the world weep with his poem; he succeeded.

A special note on Matthew Arnold and his musical experiment.

10. We will gaze from the sand hills at the lost town.

Matthew Arnold was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famous teacher who introduced the Public School System in England. The son did not fail his father even once, and not only shone like a star in literature, but excelled as an Academic and Inspector of Schools also. Even though he was a critic in his blood, we will forget he is, once we get deep into his poems. He is a very imaginative and gifted poet by birth too. What he really was- a fine critic or a finer poet- perhaps he himself might not have known well. Anyway, his over-indulgence in and unquenched thirst for literary criticism was responsible for the scantiness of his poems. We would wish, had he produced more poems. His creations in both fields are excellent and equally respected.

It is known that no one has ever orchestrated The Forsaken Merman in full, which is great loss to the world. Matthew Arnold used a variety of exotic tunes in the song to express each move and twist in mood appropriately and touchingly along the song which, it seems, he conceived as a complete musical entertainment for the world. I approached this song not as an academic but as an appreciator, an enjoyer, earnestly trying to sing it. I was thrilled at my success, at how Matthew Arnold was there to guide me through the movements of music in each line, through each phrase. I did nothing exceptional or special in my endeavour but sang it repeatedly with love till the original music unfolded itself; the original tune which was in the poet’s mind while writing this poem clicked and opened automatically, as a favour to me. I felt it was the poet’s gift to generations beyond ages. It was like simplicity and humbleness unlocking a closed and secured thing of precious beauty through perseverance and consistence; academic achievements and pedagogical experience have nothing to do with it. It was that simple. It must be said that this clever poet skillfully locked his lines and hid his music to prevent the lazy and the haughty from accessing the sublime beauty in them. He wished only the genuinely interested and adequately unorthodox persons to succeed in singing his lines.

The musical experiment Matthew Arnold did in The Forsaken Merman is unique in the field of music as well as in the field of literature. Only one other poet has ever attempted such a bold, thrilling experiment in music as well as in literature. It was Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the poem was The Lotos-Eaters. In this song Tennyson invented and used a number of tunes to move in synchronization with the tantalizingly changing actions of his intoxicated characters. He adapted even the swaying to-and-fro motions of the ship carrying the lotos-eaten dreamers to the island to corresponding movements in the music in this poem. The world is still waiting for good orchestrated and choreographed versions of The Forsaken Merman and The Lotos-Eaters. They are yet to come, but they will come indeed.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

11. The Forsaken Merman Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKkurqG5zp8

A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners, and their teachers.

You Tube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKkurqG5zp8

First Published: 13 Mar 2011

Last Edited:   23 March 2017

_________________________________________
Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
_________________________________________

Picture Credits:

01. Ocean is nothing but land submerged. By Asea.
02. Lady from the land makes home in sea cavern. By Chris Gunns.
03. Where the winds are all asleep. By Ricardo Tulio Gandelman.
04. The church on the hillside. By Jonathan Billinger.
05. From the deep sea in search of beloved wife. By Jan Reurink.
06. Steps to the church where aliens walked. Author Not Known.
07. Her eyes were sealed to the holy book. By Matthias Feige.
08. We will gaze from the sand hills. By Steve Cadman, London UK.
09. We will gaze at the lost town. By Daderot. Mermaid Statue at Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
10. The Forsaken Merman Video Title. By Bloom Books Channel.

11. Author profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

12. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri

Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
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Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
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Bloom Books Trivandrum, English Poems, English Poets, Forsaken Merman, Free Student Notes, Literary Reviews, Matthew Arnold, Poem Appreciations, Poetry Reviews, P S Remesh Chandran, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum.

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Identifier: SBT-AE-003. The Forsaken Merman. Matthew Arnold Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

Editor: P S Remesh Chandran

June 2017
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