Multimedia Essay on Romantic Poetry
Due Thursday 2/23 at 3:30 p.m.
Choose two poems by one of the English Romantic Poets we will study during the next two weeks: Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, or Keats. Then write an essay in which you discuss how both poems express the poet’s unique understanding of human nature. Describe what makes each of the poems “Romantic”. How do the poems reflect the climate of ideas swirling in Europe during this period of political and philosophical revolution?
1. Read the poems carefully. Look up any words in the dictionary that you do not understand.
2. Think about the poet’s purpose in each poem. How are the poems alike? Decide what common theme the poet expresses in both poems.
3. What symbols does the poet use to express his theme? Remember how poets use symbol to inspire the reader to use his own imagination to discover the poem’s meaning. In this way the reader actually participates in the creation of the poem’s meaning.
4. Read your favorite sections of the poems out loud. What musical devices is the poet using? How does the rhythm, rhyme and choice of words create a unique sound for the poem that supports its meaning?
5. Think about what makes the poem typical of Romanticism? How does the poet lead you towards a personal vision of the truth? How is this view of the world very different from Voltaire’s and the scientific materialism of the philosophes?
6. As you write your essay, be sure to quote the poems extensively. Support your points by referring to specific lines in the poem.
Research in the Fenimore Library:
To help you devise an excellent thesis statement for your essay, we will be visiting the Fenimore Library to find criticism written on the specific poems that you have chosen. You should not feel compelled to use the critics’ main ideas. Rather, you may find such reading stimulating to your own process of discovering a thesis for your paper.
A Multi-Media Essay
Turn your essay into a Multimedia Essay by using your computer to link the text to graphics and sound which support your thesis.
1. Choose paintings from the Romantic period which reflect the theme, content, and poetic music of your poems to include in your essay itself.
2. Observe how Blake’s illustrations give his poems an additional level of meaning.
For example, Compare Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner to the paintings of Casper David Friedrich, and think about how each artist discovers a path to religious truth in symbols drawn from the natural world. Or you might want to compare the landscape paintings of Constable with Wordsworth’s ballads or meditative poetry. How does each artist discover the eternal in their responses to rustic scenes?
3. Include your own recitation of the poems in your paper. Also, when you quote the text, actually read it out loud into a microphone attached to your computer. That way you can link the quotes in your essay to actual reading out loud. In this way you can emphasize the particular music of your poem.
4. Finally, include in an appendix your own poems, written in imitation of the poet you have chosen to study.