Why do you think Shelley chose to write an ode to the wind? Does the wind represent some larger concept?

Shelley having the speaker practically worship the changes in the autumnal winds placed great emphasis on the cycle of life. As she describes in the poem, the West wind serves as a “…Destroyer and preserver.”While the wind tarnishes the autumn leaves leaving them to lie alone in their graves, the wind will once again return and start afresh from the Spring. The larger concept pertains to the idea that as old ideas begin to fade or”die”,it paves the path for new ideas to arise. The speakers near obsession with the wind and it’s connection to life and death can be interpreted in several ways. Considering this was written during the period of Enlightenment, the cycle of the wind very resembles the saying, “out with the old in with the new.” This fits well with the embodiment of the Enlightenment which wanted to put behind the old ways of thinking and encouraged new ideas and methods of reasoning.


Consider Blake’s use of images and metaphor in his various poems and proverbs.

If I am deciphering this unerringly, Blake starts off his prose with God being the accuser of all things. “Truly, my Satan, thou art but a Dunce, And dost not know the Garment of the Man. ” Satan is anything but dull-witted and does not know of a priest, meaning he doesn’t know good deeds. “Every Harlot was a Virgin once, Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan.” Like every prostitute was once a virgin, you cannot change them back to purity. “Tho’ thou art Worship’d by the Names Divine Of Jesus and Jehovah, thou are still/The Son of Morn in weary Night’s decline, The lost Traveller’s Dream under the Hill.” Even though Satan is worshipped by other known supreme beings, at the end of the night he is still the “son of morn” which is an idiom for “Lucifer” as he is the son of the morning. Blake’s use of idioms and metaphors here depicts that of someone in a religious stance who acknowledges Satan as a being, but not of the other “Divine Names” as Jesus and Jehovah. Thus, towards the end of the prose, “The lost Traveller’s Dream under the Hill” signifies that Lucifer was the Traveller that had this idea to detach himself from God, but that idea placed him “under the hill” where he is casted away.

Dickinson’s Use of Dashes

Dickinson’s use of dashes is interesting because it’s one of the many things that makes her poetry different from other poetry. However, really understanding why Dickinson uses dashes is difficult because every part of the poem uses them a bit differently. I think the dashes allow Dickinson to make words and phrases seem more important and thought provoking as well as create a certain style to her writing. The lines in the poem are split into fragments by these dashes and beauty of a dash is that is allows the continuation of a sentence without a blunt end such as a semicolon or period, instead the reader is visually able to move from one fragment to the other following the line. For example when she writes, “There’s a certain Slant of light, / Winter Afternoons – / That oppresses, like the Heft / Of Cathedral Tunes –” the dash separates the first and second line from the third and fourth line allowing for each to hold individual significance but not disconnecting the train of thought. The dashes create an emphasis on parts of the sentence and take on the role of either commas or parentheses. When she uses the dashes as commas like the stanza from above it shifts the focus on the words that follow the dash, so the phrase “that oppresses” is meant to resonate with the reader. In addition, throughout the poem Dickinson uses dashes to frame specific terms. When she writes, “When it comes, the Landscape listens – / Shadows – hold their breath – / When it goes, ‘tis like the Distance / On the look of Death –” the dashes still end the lines but they also put emphasis on the statement “hold their breath” because being sandwiched between two dashes on the same line draws the reader’s attention. In this case Dickinson uses dashes to replace the use of parentheses because while parentheses are a subtle way to add key notes, dashes are a more intrusive, blunt method to make a side statement. Plus, it seems that the dashes are a stylistic choice as its kind of formats her poem in a pattern and makes it seem like a sequence of fragments rather than sentences. Ultimately, I think the purpose of the dashes is to give specific parts of the poem more significance and by doing so Dickinson wants to make the audience more attentive and thoughtful about what they are reading.


William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

What is/are the role(s) of memory and/or nostalgia in Wordsworth?

As Woodsworth revisits Tintern Abbey and the banks of the Rye, he is nostalgic of his experience five years ago when he first visited the area. He remembers the description of the area so vividly. However, he sees the place differently now than in the past. For the past years, he had been living in lonely rooms and crowded towns and cities, but when he returned, he is apprehended by the beauty of nature. He describes feeling nature in “the blood” and “along the heart”; as it offered a “tranquil restoration” to his mind. He has become a “living soul” who is able to “see into the life of things”. It was like he was rediscovering himself after being lost. Being in nature after being secluded from it offered him a new form of spirituality and recovery. It allowed him to feel alive again. He was in a serene state of mind because of his memories from his childhood which allowed him to reconnect to nature as nature console him by ridding him of evil thoughts and providing him comfort.


Percy Shelly

What is the relationship between the speaker or poet and nature in Shelley’s work? Does the poet work in harmony with nature or rebel against it somehow? Or some combination of the two?

The narrator of “Ode to the west wind” written by Percy Shelly follows a powerful theme in the romanticism period in which nature is glorified as a spiritual being. In this case, the poet wants to become part of the spirit of nature. The poet demonstrates this by first calling out for the wind to hear him “Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!”. In an attempt to ask the wind to “hear”, the poet is personifying nature as someone or something that can listen and understand. It is later revealed in the poem why the poet was calling to the wind.  After numerous attempts for the wind to “hear” him, the poet writes “One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. ” Not only does the poet glorify the wind as being tameless, swift, and proud, but the poet also believes that he is very similar to the wind. The poet says “Be thou me, impetuous one” to connect himself to the spirits of nature, revealing to us that his relationship with nature is something that he desires.


Do you consider Wordworth’s poetry optimistic or pessimistic or some combination of the two?

In Tintern Abbey, Wordsworth starts his poem with reminiscing the location he had once been in and the terms he uses to describe the scenery is often positive such as “soft inland murmur” and “these beauteous forms”. Although it has been five years since he last came to this place, he still appreciates and uses an optimistic tone to describe the changes of the place. As he travels the area he is not only pleased of the memories he had in the place but also enjoys the moment he is in, thinking that his experience with nature now would help him become a better person in the future. Not only is he able to become a better person, but he believes his sister would too with the help of nature. He says, “Let the moon shine on thee in thy solitary walk…thy memory be as a dwelling place for all sweet sounds and harmony.” Through this poem, Wordsworth poetry can be considered optimistic.

Consider Dickinson’s uses of literary devices such as irony, imagery, and metaphors.

In Dickinson’s poem 314, she creates this extended metaphor comparing hope to a bird. It’s clever in a sense that readers are able to visualize what hope may look like. The last line says, “Yet – never – in Extremity, / It asked a crumb – of me,” which ties it all together displaying how hope is elegant, free, and selfless. In her poem 1263, she uses another metaphor where she compares the truth to lightning. The message of how the truth can sometimes be painful, is clearly communicated across the poem through lines like, “[The truth’s] Too bright for our infirm Delight.” In both of these poems and others, Dickinson’s use of metaphors allows readers to clearly visualize a complicated concepts, like death, hope, or the truth. The use of metaphors and imagery helps carry the message while making the poem enjoyable.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Consider why Dickinson’s poetry is more terse and/or brief than most other poetry you might have read.

Compared to other poetry I have read, Emily Dickinson’s poetry tends to be brief and simple. The entire poem seems to be telling a story about someone’s life as each stanza provides memorable moments of that person’s life to the readers. The imagery and irony, showed in parts of the poem, help emphasize those moments to the reader. By reading these moments, readers can connect with the author by putting themselves in her “shoes,” and visualize how these moments occur in someone’s life. Dickinson’s poem also connects readers to their own life, allowing them to visualize certain moments that they encountered and understand why it occurred in their life.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

What is Whitman’s relationship to the reader?

In his poetry, Walt Whitman praises himself and is prideful of who he is. While he “celebrates” himself, he wants us, the readers to celebrate with him and be proud of who we are just like he does. “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” He wants the readers to share their identity with the world as we all unite as one. Therefore, to Whitman, the readers are all his friends because he believes that everyone is the same. 


What is the relationship between childhood and adulthood as conceived by the Romantics?

The Romantics believed of that children were products of their surrounding environments and adults. In “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood ” the author states “Shaped by himself with newly-learned art …And with new joy and pride The little actor cons another part”. The use of the words shaped and con another part show the idea that children were influenced by their parents and shaped to be just like them. The author also says “That life brings with her in her equipage; As if his whole vocation Were endless imitation” highlighting how the purpose or role of childhood was to imitate adults and become the adults they grew up with. The adulthood would have been the model to replicate according the ideas of the Romantics.


equipage-the equipment for a particular purpose.

vocation-a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.