He went to Harrow school and picked up the love of fellow schoolboys younger than him. But bisexual as he was, he fell in love with young female cousins and left behind poems of his juvenilia, which show, if nothing else, that when it came to expressing his heart and soul, poetry was his natural medium, all self-taught.
Augusta was the one constant love in his life to whom he wrote letters (and poems) from everywhere.
By the traditions of the permissive Italian society of the times, Byron could pay court and make out as he pleased with Teresa, so long as he maintained discretion outwardly. There are many poems describing his absorption with the Countess who heartily reciprocated his passion.
William Blake (1757 – 1827)
William Blake was one of seven children born in a poor family. Apart from reading and writing which he learned in a school, he was tutored at home by his mother. He was sent to a drawing school and later apprenticed to an engraver for several years and and at age twenty-one became a professional engraver himself. He became a student at the Royal Academy but rebelled at the principles of its leading light, Joshua Reynolds. He married Catherine, a woman who though illiterate he was fond of. Later he taught her and they became collaborators.
He was a political radical and wrote seven volumes on the French Revolution, one of which has survived. He disapproved of institutionalised religion. He has written an epic poem Jerusalem which is often quoted. Another is The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. A segment of Jerusalem gave its name to a film, Chariots of Fire. Here is that splendid verse:
William Wordsworth said of Blake: "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."
Shelley’s ashes are interred nearby.
Emily Brontë is best known for her only novel Wuthering Heights which we read last year. In the present poem we have a person expectantly waiting for a secret visitor who comes mysteriously at dead of night. The atmosphere is hushed and eerie and of such poems one must ask, not what they mean, but what they convey, and the poetic craft enlisted to attain the end of creating mystery. Here is Dame Peggy Ashcroft giving a reading in a low voice, quivering with a haunting tone.
Edinburgh Castle is built high on an impressive 700 million year old extinct volcano called Castle Rock, in the middle of what is now the city of Edinburgh. Preeti wanted Joe to read the ballad from having heard him recite the first two lines with gusto:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834)
Coleridge is known in poetry for his longer poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, and Christabel. The first two have become canonical works and appear often in anthologies of verse. He is known as a friend of Wordsworth with whom he founded the Romantic Movement. He gave a course of lectures in London and Bristol on Shakespeare over a period of years, and those he delivered in 1810-11 in London were considered masterful contributions to Shakespeare criticism, most especially his lecture on Hamlet which ends:
His other work Biographia Literaria purports to be a literary biography, but it ranges over many things besides his own work, with essays on philosophy, especially German philosophy (he was fluent in German from a long sojourn in Germany), the question of diction in Wordsworth, and the concept of a ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?