Week 3 - Burns - Blake

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“To A Mouse” On turning her up in her nest with the plough, Nov 1785 Robert Burns Address to a mouse in Scots Mouse defined as female Uses diminuitives Plight of mouse mirrors his plight – not master of own life Stanza 1 Has just overturned the nest with the plough The mouse is running away He doesn’t want to kill “her” Stanza 2 “Nature’s social union” – the harmony within which nature exists “Man’s dominion” – ruins nature “me, thy poor, earth-born companion / An' fellow mortal!” – equating all
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  1 “To A Mouse”  On turning her up in her nest with the plough, Nov 1785Robert BurnsAddress to a mouse in ScotsMouse defined as femaleUses diminuitivesPlight of mouse mirrors his plight  – not master of own lifeStanza 1Has just overturned the nest with the ploughThe mouse is running away He doesn’t want to kill “her”  Stanza 2 “Nature’s social union” – the harmony within which nature exists “Man’s dominion” – ruins nature “ me, thy poor, earth-born companion / An' fellow mortal! ” – equating all living things as part of nature  – all are governed by the laws of mortalityStanzas 3-6Describes the plight of the mouseSteals  –   but what “she” steals would hardly be noticed   Building nest for “bleak December” – now her house is in ruin, and there is nothing for her tobuild a new one with  – everything is barrenStanza 7Returns to the connection between the poet and the mouseThe best- laid schemes o' mice an’ men  Gang aft agleyAn' lea'e us nought but grief an' painFor promis'd joy!Life has a way of surprising you  – plans can fail, so even foresight is in vain.Stanza 8Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!The present only toucheth theeBut och! I backward cast my e'eOn prospects drearAn' forward, tho' I canna seeI guess an' fearThe mouse is lucky: only the present can hurt her  – the poet has the past (painful memories) andthe unknown future to fear (insecurity).Burns raises the mouse to man's level  2 Burns’ own experience is representative of all mankind's.ThemesRespect Earth and Its Creaturesrespect for nature's creatures, especially the small, the defenseless, the downtrodden (or, in thiscase, the uprooted). Mouse represents common folk who are often tyrannized by the high andthe mighty.Foolproof Plans Can Go Awry “ Songs of Innocence (1789) & Songs of Experience (1794) ” - William Blake “Innocence & Experience”   “two contrary states of the soul”  In Songs , Blake opposes examples of innocence and experience from o   Natural creation o   History o   SocietyCan an individual who is innocent (inexperienced) be truly good, or does the achievement of goodness require experience? But…  Both perspectives are equally important and inseparable.Juxtaposes o   Childhood (untainted, naturalistic world) o   Adulthood (corruption and restraint)Speakers  – disconnect poet from his narrativesSongs of InnocenceDepict o   naivete of children o   Hopes o   FearsDeliver scathing criticism of society  –   e.g. “The Chimney Sweeper”  The Lamb Little Lamb who made theeDost thou know who made theeGave thee life & bid thee feed. By the stream & o’er the mead;    3 Gave thee clothing of delight,Softest clothing wooly bright;Gave thee such a tender voice,Making all the vales rejoice!Little Lamb who made theeDost thou know who made thee Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,   Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!  He is called by thy name,For he calls himself a Lamb:He is meek & he is mild,He became a little child:I a child & thou a lamb,We are called by his name.Little Lamb God bless thee.Little Lamb God bless thee. The LambForm: 2 stanzas, 5 rhyming couplets, plus repetition of last linesSong/chant-like - childlike, lamblike innocenceQuestion: naive and profound  – tapping into the nature of creationJesus as The LambTraditional image: gentleness, meekness, peaceChild = lamb = Jesus More positive aspects of Christianity…   But…  God made the lamb,Why did the innocent lamb have to be sacrificed?Cf. The ritual sacrifices of lambs in many of the world’s g reat religionsThe Tyger Tyger Tyger, burning bright,In the forests of the night;What immortal hand or eye,Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies.Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand, dare seize the fire?  And what shoulder, & what art,Could twist the sinews of thy heart?   4  And when thy heart began to beat,What dread hand? & what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain,In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp,Dare its deadly terrors clasp!When the stars threw down their spears  And water’d heaven with their tears:  Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee? Tyger Tyger burning bright,In the forests of the night:What immortal hand or eye,Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?   6 quatrains in rhyming coupletsRegular beat and rhythm = hammeringQuestion: Who created the Tyger?Nature = art, must reflect its creatorPerfection: beautiful # destructiveTiger not a chance creation  – on purposeRaises moral questionsSymbolic centre for presence of evil (cf. Industrial Revolution  – good/evil)Fire  – creation, purification, destructionWho could / would / dare? o   awe at the complexity of creation, o   the sheer magnitu de of God’s power, o   and the inscrutability of divine willEvil cannot be denied, nor can it be explained The Chimney Sweeper  When my mother died I was very young,And my father sold me while yet my tongueCould scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.Setting: 18th century LondonSelling children into apprenticeshipsSmall children easily manouevre in chimneys
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