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Forum Home > Poetry > Professor Kendall's poetry masterclass

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

If you don't already know these poems, and even if you do, it would be helpful if you could read them a couple of times in preparation for professor Kendall's seminar on Tuesday.


SONNET 18

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

 

 


 

To his Coy Mistress

by Andrew Marvell

 

 

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love's day;

Thou by the Indian Ganges' side

Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the Flood;

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires, and more slow.

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast,

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For, lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate.

 

        But at my back I always hear

Time's winged chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found,

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long preserv'd virginity,

And your quaint honour turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust.

The grave's a fine and private place,

But none I think do there embrace.

 

        Now therefore, while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may;

And now, like am'rous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.

Let us roll all our strength, and all

Our sweetness, up into one ball;

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Thorough the iron gates of life.

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

 

 

  

 



--
December 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Neil Bowen at December 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

If you don't already know these poems, and even if you do, it would be helpful if you could read them a couple of times in preparation for professor Kendall's seminar on Tuesday.


SONNET 18

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

 

 


 

To his Coy Mistress

by Andrew Marvell

 

 

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love's day;

Thou by the Indian Ganges' side

Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the Flood;

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires, and more slow.

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast,

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For, lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate.

 

        But at my back I always hear

Time's winged chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found,

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long preserv'd virginity,

And your quaint honour turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust.

The grave's a fine and private place,

But none I think do there embrace.

 

        Now therefore, while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may;

And now, like am'rous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.

Let us roll all our strength, and all

Our sweetness, up into one ball;

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Thorough the iron gates of life.

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

 

 

  

 



In preparation for tomorrow's seminar, I recommend strongly that members taste the words of the poems on the tongue by reading them aloud. Perhaps, though, better to do so in private.

--
December 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

If you get the chance before the seminar, please read the poems aloud. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it stops you reading the poetry too quickly: a quick reader of poetry is a bad reader of poetry. The second is that you need to hear poetry, not see it. I realise that you might get thrown out of an exam room if you start declaiming. Even so, if you develop your 'hearing' skills the rest of the time, you will also learn how to 'hear' poetry without voicing it.

One common factor in the poems by Shakespeare and Marvell is the wild fluctuations in rhythm from line to line. If you hear those fluctuations, you understand the poems.

December 13, 2011 at 4:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

'ow'st' and 'grow'st' for lines 10 and 12 of the sonnet.

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

Some questions about the Shakespeare:

To whom is the poem addressed?

What is the reader's relationship to the poem's speaker?

How do we scan the first line? And the second?

What relationship is posited between the addressee's beauty and the poem's artistic beauty?

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

And the Marvell:

How does the rhyming of 'time' and 'crime' establish the themes of the poem?

How does the rhythm change throughout the poem?

Is there any textual reason to resist the speaker's blandishments?

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:22 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

Well, I'm here. Anyone else?

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Jayquiz
Member
Posts: 6

I may be wrong but isnt there some debate as to who the intended recipient of Shakespeare's sonnets is? As for the Marvell the first two lines establish the couplet pattern that runs consistantly throughout the poem. 

December 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

Jayquiz --- the addressee is male, but you're right that his identity is uncertain. No guarantee, of course, that these sonnets should be read autobiographically.

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

The couplets of Marvell --- again you're right. But the variety comes from rhythms, metres and rhymes (the kinds of rhymes, not the pattern).

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SamHill
Member
Posts: 1

The addressee is clearly someone who he is very familiar with, a family member perhaps, like a father?

December 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

So there's something to be said, for example, about the way that 'eternity' and 'virginity' protrude in the rhyme scheme. Even if we were to argue that they would have been full rhymes with 'lie' and 'try', they conspicuously break patterns.

December 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM Flag Quote & Reply

parko12
Member
Posts: 12

Why is the addressee male? Shakespeare elevates his 'beloved' above a lovely summer's day - it seems to me too eloquent and delicate to be describing a man.

December 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

That's an interesting suggestion, Sam. In the context of the other sonnets, it's clearly a fairly youthful man, but on its own the poem might support that reading. Then again, I'm not sure that I'd talk about my father being 'lovely'! 

December 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

parko12
Member
Posts: 12

And instead of ‘rough’ and ‘shake’ being interpreted in a homoerotic way, could we not see them as combining with ‘hot’ and ‘fair’ to hint at Shakespeare’s passion for a woman?

December 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

Most of the sonnets, certainly in the first half of the sequence, are to a man. A rather beautiful man, who has all the beauty of women (Shakespeare tells us) but all the virtues of men. That's his account, not mine!

December 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Jayquiz
Member
Posts: 6

Is Parko12 (hello Owen?) suggesting that just because the verse implies certain feminine attributes that it cannot be directed towards a man? This is the same Shakespeare who wrote cross dressing into his plays after all.

December 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

I don't think that there's much that's overtly homoerotic in sonnet 18 beyond a general celebration of the addressee's beauty. Compare it with sonnet 20, which is explicitly frank:

A woman's face with nature's own hand painted,

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women's fashion:

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created;

Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated,

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,

Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

parko12
Member
Posts: 12

I was enjoying the anonimity, but thank you for exposing me for who I really am...! Indeed, I feel the sonnet is full of double-meaning (even some of the words used can be read in two different contexts (temperate – weather and behavior/ow’st – ownest (ownership) and owest (in debt) etc)) - so therefore perhaps Shakespeare was able to turn the poem's sentiments to a different focus when he needed to!

December 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Tim Kendall
Member
Posts: 35

The point about sonnet 18 is that the praise is idealised. The young man could be anyone. There is no sense of a sweaty-palmed desire. It may seem odd to praise the man in the terms offered, but the sonnets constantly reiterate how shockingly 'lovely' and beautiful the 'master mistress' is.

 

December 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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