Waterloo. Lord Byron. Appreciation.

18.

Waterloo. Lord Byron. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 26th Apr 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/3.ub8mva/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry

 

The maps of Europe were drawn and redrawn many times during the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth centuries. Countries became nations and empires which in no time were reverted back to nations and countries. It was not uncommon for people of those times to lay down spoons and forks in the dead of night and take muskets and pistols to brave war. Lord Byron in his famous poem portrays such a scene from the European arena.

Political thought should be followed by political action.

Byron in Albanian Dress.

George Gordon Noel Lord Byron was born in England in the Eighteenth century and lived through the Nineteenth century. He was a lame person and so he could not take part in the active moments of his nation. Because of this handicap, he possessed exceptional vigour, strength, courage and force at least in his writings. He believed that political thought should immediately be followed by political action. He had firm political opinions which could not be uttered in his century which naturally made him to turn himself into an irresistible revolutionary poet. His name stands brilliant and great among the star line of English poets. The Vision of Judgment, The Prisoner of Chillon and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage are his most famous poems.

Spoon and fork lain down to take musket and pistol.

Vast Belgian halls where rich and famous assembled

Childe Harold means the child of Harrow University which was the poet himself. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage is a long poem in which Byron describes his European travels. There are perhaps only two other famous poems of the like in English literature. They are Matthew Arnold’s ‘The Scholar Gipsy’ and William Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey Revisited’. These three constitute the University Trio in English poetry. Waterloo is a famous section from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

The war of English and the French enters Belgium in the dead of night.

A ball in Brussels in 1815.

In Belgium he attended a midnight ball of the rich and famous in Brussels, the capital city. It was at that time that the French and English opened war which soon reached Belgium. The midnight revelry was broke down by cannon fire but instead of the expected chaos, Byron could not help but admire what he saw of the quickness with which the Scottish soldiers there responded to the sudden attack. Due to graphic descriptions of contradicting scenes before and after the outbreak of sudden war, this part of the poem became memorably fine and specially noted in the poem.

Heavy cannon fire shatters the sound of midnight revelry.

Battle in Brussels. Formed in ranks of war.

All the brave and beautiful in Brussels were assembled in that ball room in a large mansion to celebrate night. There were not less than a thousand people gathered in that vast hall. Lamps shone bright everywhere and soft music filled the atmosphere. It was not just opulence and extravaganza of the rich and powerful. Belgians thought and did everything great and magnificent. Electricity in the atmosphere could be touched with hands. Loving eyes exchanged glances. All went merry as a marriage bell until the deep sound of a cannon struck.

Youth and Pleasure chase the night with flying feet.

Austro-Bavarian-French Battery Charge.

In the midst of the revelry, most of them did not recognize it to be sound of French guns. Some said it was wind and some said it was chariot passing through the stony street. The midnight revelry continued. People had decided to sleep not till morn. Youth and Pleasure had decided to chase the night with flying feet. Personification of Pleasure here is delightful and apt, resembling Milton’s personification of Laughter in his University poem L’Allegro. The aristocrats, government officers, soldiers, students, lovers and lazy personages all reverted back to merriment and carnal festivity. Then the heavy sound was heard once again, this time nearer and louder. Now there was no doubt it was the opening roar of cannons.

Midnight carnival turns into a carnelian carnage.

The Scotts riding to battle.

The noble Duke of Brunswick was sitting in a niche in the festivity hall, passively nursing his drinks. He was fighting on the part of the English and had anger towards the French for taking away his power and authority. He was a soldier head to heel, was always alert and was the first to recognize the sound as a cannon’s roar. When he said it and said it was near, the others laughed. But he knew the sound too well which had stretched his father, a great Chieftain, on a bed of blood years ago. His desire for long awaited vengeance was immediately roused; he rushed into the field outside and fell fighting foremost as a hero. The Duke of Brunswick’s reaction to the sound of cannon heard in the distance was a forewarning to the massacre and carnelian carnage that was to follow. War was at their door step. Byron’s description of the reverberating din of merriment in the hall and the heart-rending rush to his death by the Duke of Brunswick are equally classical.

Love or lust or wine, the Scottish soldiers are duty-bound.

Byron Abroad. His Reception at Missolonghi.

It is interesting to note how this sudden crisis affected the Scottish soldiers present. Death of the Duke of Brunswick confirmed that it was not a joke but actual war. No one had thought such awful a morn could rise upon such sweet a night. Dancing stopped and partners parted. Some wept, some trembled, some sighed and all were pale. Many doubted whether they would ever meet again. The civilians all were dumb struck and silent, but the Scottish soldiers in the assembling were the first to recover. Love or lust or wine, they proved once more that they were duty-bound.

Squadrons and chariots swiftly forming in ranks of war.

Reenactment of Battle of Waterloo 1815.

They soon began to prepare for the war. There were hurried movements everywhere. Horses were quickly mounted; squadrons and chariots rode out with impetuous speed and all swiftly formed in ranks of war. Horns and trumpets were sounded which roused all soldiers into action. Famous Scottish war songs trumpeted through Scottish bagpipes resounded through the columns and ranks of the armies and thrilled even the enemies. The famous song, ‘Cameron’s Gathering’ rose high and wild and echoing through the Albion’s Hills, and reached the Anglo-Saxons as well as the French. In no time the soldiers were marching away to the battle field.

The Ardennes Great Woods shed tear drops over the unreturning brave.

Ardennes shed tears over the unreturning brave.

Byron stood apart and watched the soldiers marching away to Waterloo. This last part of this portion of the poem is his reflections on the soldiers marching away to their death and glory. It is not possible that many of them may return alive to their land. As the English army marched away through the Ardennes Great Woods, trees waved their branches and shed tear drops over the unreturning brave. It was nature’s send-off and lamentation for her dearest of sons.

Morning noon and night, and morning day again.

Artificial hill raised on the spot of Waterloo.

This lamentation of the woods is a fine and memorable scene in the poem, an achievement of Byron’s poetical diction and imagination. The brave soldiers who are now treading the grass might be dead and lying cold and low beneath the same grass before evening. The descriptions go through the calendar of activities of the day: Morning, evening, midnight, morning and day again; how quick and unexpected was the transformation from the peak of happiness to the depth of distress! But death would show no distinctions to man or beast. When the thunder clouds of the war clear away, the Earth would be uniformly covered with dead soldiers from both sides. Nature shows her kindness and justice by allowing the rider and horse and friend and foe to share and enjoy the same red burial ground which is grand and majestic after a war. 

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

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Tags

Appreciations, British Poets, Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, English Language And Literature, English Literature, English Poems, English Songs, Gordon Lord Byron, Literary Criticism, P S Remesh Chandran, Poems, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Songs, Waterloo

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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.

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The Lotos-Eaters. Tennyson. Appreciation.

17.

The Lotos-Eaters. Alfred Lord Tennyson. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 24th Apr 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1f8a7337/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

The great veil of Victorian hypocrisy was lifted by Alfred Lord Tennyson and was shown to the world the lovely English mind behind it that was his. The Lotos-Eaters is the world’s greatest poetical experiment synchronizing sublime music with the changing moods and fancies of the exotic, psychedelic intoxication of a band of marine soldiers marooned on an island that nowhere existed.

Failure of musical geniuses in exactly imitating changing moods of the exotically intoxicated.

Alfred Lord Tennyson was a Nineteenth century English poet. He is considered the greatest poet and true representative of the Victorian Era. In Memoriam was his masterpiece. The Lotos-Eaters is a memorable poem in which he describes the arrival of Ulysses’ Greek soldiers on theislandofLotos Eaters. They are a lazy philosophic lot who do not like hard labour of any kind. Once the sailors in the ship are given the lotos fruit, leaf and stem and they have eaten them, they too are such transformed that they no more wish to sea-travel and see their homes. Sublime music and selected words create an atmosphere of languor, laziness and sleepiness in the poem which is Tennyson’s unique achievement and craftsmanship. This is the poem in which Tennyson experimented with music changing with the moods of each action, each bit of music perfectly reflecting the corresponding change in mood. Attempts to perfectly orchestrate this song have more or less failed through years due to failure of musical geniuses in exactly imitating the changing mind and moods of the exotically and psychedelically intoxicated.

A land of mountains, rivers, valleys, wind and waves, and Lotos plants.

A Portrait of Baron Tennyson.

Greek hero Ulysses and his band of soldiers had spent ten years in the Trojan War. Returning home they were lost in the sea and had to spend a few more years in roaming the sea. At last they sighted land. It was the land of Lotos Eaters. From the height of their anchored ship they could see far into the interior of the island. It was an island of mountains, rivers, valleys, wind and waves. Streams and falls were everywhere. Green woods and meadows ornamented plains and hills. It was a land where all things always seemed the same. No signs of cultivation or other human activities were to be seen anywhere there.

Lotos: Personification of exotic, psychedelic intoxication of human mind.

Then the mild and melancholy eyed island dwellers appeared and they silently approached the ship. They bore branches, leaves and stems of that enchanted plant of Lotos as presentations to visitors to their island from which they gave to each. Before Ulysses could prevent, his soldiers one and all had eaten them. Once they tasted this magical herb their attitudes and outlook dramatically changed. The once-courageous and strong mariners and soldiers all seemed tired suddenly. Those famous soldiers who fought bravely beside Ulysses in the fierce Trojan War now no more wish to bear the burden of sailing their ship through turbulent seas. Whoever tasted that magical herb given by those islanders became exactly like them. They seemed to be deep asleep yet all awake. The voices of nearby persons seemed to them thin voices from the depth of grave. Even their own heart beats resounded loudly and musically in their own ears. So now we see the Ulysses’ famous soldiers all sitting on the yellow sand, begin singing a chorus, the likeness of which has never ever been seen anywhere in English literature. All the efforts of their captain, the mighty Ulysses, could not move them an inch or release them from their hallucination and the spell of that magical plant.

Why sweetness of soul’s music and soothing pleasure of sleep are denied to man?

Path to Tennyson’s Monument in the Isle of Wight.

The mariners who tasted Lotos all became philosophers overnight who begin to worship idleness. Man is the roof and crown of things. He is the first and foremost of things but he alone is destined to toil. He makes perpetual moan in his life and is thrown from one sorrow to another perpetually. Enjoying leisurely the sweetness of his soul’s music and the soothing pleasures of sleep are forbidden to him. Weariness, heaviness and distress weigh him down. Hearing the excellent arguments of the mariners expressed in their chorus will make us wonder at the mathematical perfection of their logic and philosophy. We will be moved to stay with them and approbate their logic verbatim. That is the descriptive skill of Tennyson which made him the prominent poet of his era and after. There has never been a poem describing the attitude towards life and the philosophizing of a unique, exotically and psychedelically intoxicated band of humans more vividly.

The leaf and fruit and flower all have their sweet lives; man alone toils.

Tennyson’s House in Farringford.

The mariners begin to compare the tediousness of their lives with the easiness and quietness of the lives of leaves, fruits and flowers. They complete the cycles of their simple lives without any toil. Leaves open, grow and fall gently. The ripe fruits drop silently in autumn nights. Whereas man is a traveller and roamer, flowers are fast-rooted in their fertile soil. Flowers enjoy their allotted length of days, bloom and fade and fall, without toil. But man is the only being that is seen to be toiling in one way or another, in the fields, forests or oceans. Time driveth onward fast and in little time man’s life period is expired. Whatever man achieves is taken from him to become portions and parcels of a dreadful past which we commonly call history. All things under the Sun have rest except man. Therefore the mariners are not going to mount the rolling waves and travel any more. They want to stay forever on the island. After listening to their arguments we will be tempted to do nothing but agree.

Why return after years like apparitions to their native island of chaos?

Fresh Water Bay seen from Afton Down.

But Ulysses is a very persuasive person. He used every trick and argument in his quiver to tempt his mariners to return toIthaca. But they warn their captain that it would not be wise for them to return to their island home ofIthaca. Everything might have changed there. Their sons would have inherited them after all these years. The returning ancestors would only be viewed as ghosts and apparitions come to trouble their joy. Or else the over-bold island princes ofIthaca, fearing no return of the heroes might have married their wives and spent their fortunes. Their great deeds in wars would have been half-forgotten, sung only in songs. Even if they are lucky and oriented enough to return to their land, it would be harder still to please their gods after all these years and settle order once again in their island. So why not spend the rest of their lives in this quietislandofLotosand enjoy sleep and laziness to their fill? How can even a very persuasive person counter, in the face of this unbroken torrent of reasons?

Mariners declining to resume travel: the dread of all sea-going captains.

Coastal Path to Tennyson’s Monument.

These instances were not uncommon in the days of the rowing sea ship travels. They were the dread of every captain. Crew may refuse to move on after months of tiresome travels and incline to stay for ever in a new found land. A sailor’s life is a life of action. The mariners here have had enough of action and of motion in their lives. They had been constantly rolling to the starboard and larboard sides of the ship as it swayed left and right on the surging waves. The deep sea where the wallowing monster that is the whale spouted his foam-fountain had been their home and playground for too long. Now that is past and enough. They are tired of the sea and now they are inclined only to live and lie reclined in the hollow Lotos Land forever.

Gods lying together happily on their hills, careless and fearless of mankind!

When man does not obey, the clever will threaten him with the consequences of antagonizing their gods. As a last resort Ulysses seems to have done this, because now begins their discourse which, if he had had an opportunity to listen to, might have converted even the most firm believer into an atheist. When sensations and feelings were divided between man and gods, miseries were reserved for man while pleasures went to gods. Man suffers much in this world. Blight, famine, fire and earthquake, ocean flood and desert heat are all his lot. Man sows the seed, reaps the harvest and toils endlessly till his death. He stores wheat and wine and oil for his future but he has no future as he is most often withdrawn silently without notice from this world. Even after death he is doomed to suffer in hell. Man’s sorrowful songs of lamentation steam up to gods’ abode in heaven, like tales of little meaning though the words are strong. But listening to them, gods find music in his woes and laugh. It is the gods who are responsible for man’s sorrow. But they act indifferent to man. They lie together happily on their hills, careless and fearless of mankind. They keep their divine food nectar always close to them; what else do they do except relishing and draining it? They hurl their thunder bolts at man far below craving in the valleys, that is a joke to them. They sit in their golden houses surrounded by clouds and smile at the misery of man far below. All arguments of their captain were blunted by the magnificent and sincere defense of the mariners. Tennyson in the poem does not tell us whether their captain was finally able and eloquent enough to persuade his soldiers to return to their home land, but history does.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

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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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Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

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Tags

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Appreciations, British Poets, English Language And Literature, English Literature, English Poems, English Songs, Literary Criticism, P S Remesh Chandran, Poems, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Songs, The Lotos-Eaters, Victorian Poets

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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.

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001. Solitude. Alexander Pope. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

001. Solitude. Alexander Pope Poem. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 7th Mar 2011.   Short URL http://nut.bz/281k669t/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry

 

Alexander Pope was born a Catholic in the Protestant England, was forbidden to live in theLondonCityand had to pay a double taxation. Moreover, he was suffering from a series of diseases. To combat these handicaps, he possessed more than the courage of a lion. His poems were acrimonious attacks on society, and in a few cases they were against authority. He mentioned names in his poems, leaving dashes which his contemporaries happily filled in, to the embarrassment of his adversaries.

Satisfaction, self-sufficiency and piety are the characteristics of a happy life.

Portrait of Alexander Pope By Michael Dahl.

‘Ode On Solitude’ which was alternately titled ‘The Quiet Life’ was written by Alexander Pope to celebrate the virtues of a happy and satisfied life. In this poem, he discusses the characteristics of a happy life which are satisfaction, self-sufficiency and piety. Man was the fittest subject for his poetry. In an imaginative treatment, he illuminates the knowledge about man, in relation to individuals, society and the Universe. He once said: The proper study of mankind is man. To him belongs the greatest number of quotations in the English Language. Essay On Man, Essay On Criticism, The Rape Of The Lock, and The Temple Of Fame are the most famous of his works. They are very long poems, but the Ode On Solitude is very short one. Even though it is very short, it conveys to mankind a full philosophy. We cannot search for a happy man in this world because he is a very rare specimen to find, but can certainly identify one by tracing the characteristics of a happy life back to him.

Be happy to breathe one’s native air in his own ground.

Happy to breathe his native air in his own ground By Robert.

Everyone knows that he who goes after increasing the area of land in his possession by encroaching into his neighbour’s property will land in trouble and lose the quietness and happiness in his life. The happy man is satisfied with what he is having at present. He is not interested in increasing his landed properties. His wish and care are bound within the few acres of land given to him by his ancestors. The few paternal acres are enough for him. In the old England, whoever wanted more prosperity than what his natives had, went to France and made money. At one time it was even joked that whoever vanished from Dover in search of a job would certainly make his appearance soon in Kalais. But the happy man wishes not to go abroad to France or anywhere else to make money or to enjoy life as others of his times did. He is content to breathe his native air in his own ground. Thus satisfaction is characteristic of a quiet, happy life.

He who watches the passing of time without anxiety is happy.

A day’s labour blesses us with a night’s sleep By Изображён сенокос и кос,ы.

Dependence leads to bondage and bondage deprives man of his freedom. With the loss of freedom, the quietness and happiness in man’s life is lost. Therefore the happy man would be self-sufficient also. He would not depend on others for his food, clothes and drinks. His herds would be supplying him with milk and his flocks of black sheep would be supplying him with wool for making his attire. He would be winning his bread by cultivating his own fields. And he would have planted enough number of trees in his homestead which would yield him a cool shade in the summer and enough firewood to burn in the winter. Thus self-sufficiency also is another character of a happy life.

Time passes as if a sledge is sliding over the snow.

Herds and woods for milk and fire By Rvgeest.

If somebody can watch without anxiety the passing of time, then he is a blessed person indeed. Hours, days and years slide soft away as if a sledge is sliding over the snow. Time progresses in a straight line and no point in it will ever be repeated. The feelings and passions attached to a particular moment can never be enjoyed any more. Right actions of the tiny moments constitute what is happiness in life. Piety or unchanging belief is the faculty desirable, which he is in possession of in plenty. He regrets not a moment in his life. Therefore he can unconcernedly observe the passing of time, in health of body and peace of mind. His is the perfect attitude towards Time.

Withdraw stealthily from the world: Let not even a stone tell where one lies.

Who can unconcernedly watch time passing away By Ian Paterson.

The nights of the happy man would be spent on sleeping sound. His daytime activities do not leave a room for horror-filled dreams during the nights. His day time would be devoted to a recreation-like studying, which is everyone’s dream. It must be remembered here that not all are blessed with a successful books-publishing career and heavy royalties from published books like the poet. But a thirty percent book reading, ten percent life experience and the rest sixty percent travel would make any man perfect. Study and ease, together mixed, is a sweet recreation indeed, which is the poet’s formula of life. The happy man’s innocence, his perfection and his meditative traits makes him pleasing to the world.

Books are real monuments for a poet, taking him to eternity.

                                                            Books are real monuments for a poet 1760 Artist F. Hayman, Engraver C. Grignion.

Like a truly happy man, the poet wishes to live unseen and unknown like a nonentity, and die unlamented. He wishes to withdraw stealthily from this world and pleads that not a stone be placed over his grave to tell the world where he lies. He wishes perfect, undisturbed Solitude. Conversely, this poem is the real epitaph for this poet. It teaches the world lessons.

Brilliant success and sweet revenge of a poet.

Alexander Pope’s villa in Twickenham on the Thames 1759 By Samuel Scott.

For people who idealize perfect life, especially for poets, it would be impossible to achieve success in normal circumstances. So it would be interesting to note how this poet hunted by his society took his sweet revenge on those who excluded him and his people from London’s social and literary circles. Pope considered thousands of lines in Shakespeare’s works not original and contaminated by stage actors’ speeches to please and thrill the audience. So he completely edited and recast them in the clean poetic form and published a regularized new edition of Shakespeare in 1725. He translated Odyssey as well. These and his major works of later years gained him universal fame, were translated into many languages including German and caused him to be considered as a philosopher. But the epic feat of this unmarried poet was done in the very early years of his literary career. Like Keats, Pope was an admirer of Greek Poetry from his boyhood. His dream was translating the Iliad into English which he did in six books during the six years from 1715. Even the severe Samuel Johnson called it a performance beyond age and nation. Coming from Johnson, it was indeed praise. Publication of this monumental work brought him instant fame in Englandand abroad and also a fortune for his wallet. With this immense amount of money, the poet bought him a home in Twickenham which he decorated with precious stones and intricate mirror arrangements. He made the subterranean rooms resound with the pleasant noise of an underground stream. Because mermaids could not be purchased, he did not equip one.

 

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Alexander Pope, Appreciations, English Songs, Literature And Language, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Poets, Quiet Life, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Solitude

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Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Author profileEditor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book. Born and brought up in the beautiful village of Nanniyode in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Unmarried and single.  Edits Bloom Books Channel, world’s foremost producers of musical English Recitation Videos.

 



  

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