Thursday, January 29, 2009

Romanticism (parents)

Hello is another opportunity for poetry to enter your lives. Please post your response(s) under this thread and include your student's name somewhere in the response, as well. Thank you!


  1. Still as good as when I read it around 40 years ago, the fundamental concept being that some basics--beauty, truth, creativity, so forth--are constants in life, whereas we are not. Prettily done in a language style archaic even then.

    I'm Joe Whitsett's dad, and an archeologist--new world prehistorian. Keats would have been stunned--probably not happily--by how the Greeks really were (these were bronze age pagans folks, plainly wierd by modern standards)and how garishly painted those white marble statues were and just how far apart his concept of truth and beauty and theirs.

  2. To me the poem, carries the message that as nature changes through it seasons, so are human cultures. As nature is composed of elements such as skies, rivers, mountains, trees, so are human beings can be described by certain characteristics. Ancient cultures, such as the Greek civilization, are not alive anymore, their music, prayers, passion, youth are not developing anymore. However, they survive very vividly in our minds. We can appreciate the beauty, hear the music, feel the passion and even feel the meaning of time between youth and old age.

    The poet describes frozen and unfinished human situations. You can feel the regret of not being able to further purse each of them. At the reader senses strong feelings of happiness and sadness as well as loud voices of music, human panting, and prayer. The last line of the poem, summarizes the highest degree of human spiritualism: appreciation of beauty and truth:
    “Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
    Revital Ronen

  3. As a parent of a teenager, this poem brings a tinge of sadness as I witness my child changing from all that is possible into what will inevitable be.

    On the urn, the town from where they are leaving is long gone. The youthful figures frozen in an immortal moment of becoming are now only dust.

    Is the beauty in the potential we all dream for, the optimism of ideal circumstances that will unfold for us or at least for our children.

    Perhaps it is only during an ideal moment, captured for eternity, where beauty can present its truth.

    Chris Cavello, Annabella's dad.

  4. (Aw, man... That's depressing to read.)

  5. In my college class on English Romanticism we had to memorize a 50-line poem. Most of my classmates chose the short-lined "Kubla Khan" but I chose "Ode on a Grecian Urn" because I really loved it. I still do. (And I'm glad to read it again, though I've only retained the first five lines in my memory.) The second section, to me, sums up what's compelling about English Romanticism -- the contradictory gifts of unfulfilled longing, the fleeting fairness of youth. Sadly, we don't know that the unheard melodies and unconsummated kisses are most sweet until after the melodies are heard and the kisses complete. Ultimately, I became a greater fan of Wordsworth than of Keats, and as an adult I'm glad of that because I have to believe that there is some recompense for the loss of youth. Still, it's impossible not to love the energy in Keats' poem -- "More happy love! more happy, happy love!"

    I'm Vive Griffith, Annabella Cavello's stepmom.

  6. Ode to a Grecian Urn, by Keats, is a poem in the Romantic style. While reflecting on the static urn, Keats draws the reader into the world of scenery and drama depicted by the figures on the outside. This seems to be a world of pure joy, but ultimately, it is just a fantasy about the life of the people that are represented. Keats sees them, simultaneously, as carved figures on the marble vase and people once alive in ancient Greece. Existing in a frozen or suspended time, they cannot move or change, nor can their feelings change, yet the unknown sculptor has succeeded in creating a sense of living passion and turbulent action. The passion, the natural scenery, the ecstasy are all representative of Romanticism.

    The poem gives a beautiful feeling of unattainable bliss. Yet, the fantasized loves, happiness, beauty are not real. While Keats alludes to the "reality" of the depicted scene, we have no assurance that these scenes have any basis in reality, historical or otherwise. The ultimate frustration brought on by desiring the unattainable bliss is heightened by the final lines of the poem. What sort of conclusion has Keats brought us to? While not satisfactory, "Beauty is truth" can be held as the highest Romantic ideal.

    -Sharon Dunn, Indy's Mom

  7. Keats is contemplating the beauty and story as expressed on a Grecian urn and the timelessness of that beauty and of that story. He is also contrasting what happens in a story of fixed instant as opposed to a mutable one that continues and becomes real. He's reflecting that the beauty shown never has to grapple with aging or disappointment of expectation in romance. The question, it seems, is which is better when it comes to romance.

    Tricia Hallock

  8. English is my second language and I am an engineer. It is quite difficult for me to read "Ode on a Grecian Urn". Still, I read it several times and found it interesting and beautiful. The poem vividly draws the urn in reader's mind. Although the images on the pottery was silent and stopped in time, the nature, the people, the dynamics, the activities, and the mood were displayed.

    Karen Lu (Victoria's mom)

  9. Susan, Jack Van Norman's Mom said

    Listen to "More Than a Whisper"--Nancy Griffith. She got it right

  10. Although much can be said about Keats contemplation of the Grecian urn, I feel compelled to talk about my emotional response to the poem. The overwhelming feelings I had as I read the ode, were melancholy, longing, perhaps a bit of nostalgia for my youth and regret of inevitability of the passing of time. The images on the urn capture a moment in time, they are frozen, they will never age, their beauty will never fade. We humans are slaves to time.

    Max Wimberley's mom

  11. I confess that, though well aware of this poem, I think this is the first time I have closely read it. Following up on Karen's comment, I would say that this is quite difficult to read even if English IS your first language!

    I find it amusing that this poem is, in effect, art about art and that our comments are thus analysis about analysis - our reading of Keat's interpretation of the original sculptor/potter/artists' creation.

    As a photographer, it inspires me that Keat's can "read" so much into a still image. Many of us looking at an image, whether a photograph, or original Greek artwork will come up with our own unique interpretations, yet Keats famously states “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know", suggesting both beauty and truth are absolute.

    However I cannot concur. Even an unaltered, unedited photograph is a subjective truth. Where the camera is pointed, how the image is cropped, when the shutter is pressed, all alter the final image that is recorded, just as what the Greek artist chooses to put in his creation is entirely subjective, and is what Keats chooses to read into his interpretation of that artwork.

    Thus there is often more than one "truth", just as, thank goodness, there is no one universal standard for beauty - "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". To quote my fellow countryman Oscar Wilde "no object is so beautiful that under conditions, it will not look ugly". Most often my job as a photographer is to seek out the beauty in a scene, in a person, or whatever is in front of my lens.

    But although truth and beauty are not absolutes, our lives are enriched by the search for both.

    David Finkel

  12. Response to “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

    I loved Yeats’ imagery, and although I would have liked to see the urn, I felt his verbal picture was almost as good as an actual picture. Yeats’ obvious delight in the shape of the urn, and the scenes depicted on it, were contagious. But beyond that, I felt that he was expressing some kind of nostalgia for the perfect moment, that was captured and will endure forever. The youth was “caught” as he was about to kiss his lover, and although he will never actually kiss her, the suspense and anticipation of the moment will forever be there, the maiden will forever be fair, the natural setting will remain unblemished... Our imagination of how perfect a moment can be often surpasses the actual experience when it happens, so in contemplating this urn, Yeats is celebrating the perfect possibilities.

    Ruthy DeHolton (Amani DeHolton's mom)

  13. Keats sets the mood of this poem by the complex rhyme scheme. This requires the reader to say his words slowly and with thought. The beauty and timeless feelings have been permanently captured on this marble urn; melodies play forever, youth never leaves. There are conflicts and questions of the images of ideal romance and love and reality. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,- that is all” Is it truly that simple? Romance and love are always subjects of complexity.

    Mary Phillips (Jim Phillip's mom)

  14. Freezing a moment in time, whether on an urn, in a photograph, or in the memory, is a gift of human thought and language. The poem strikes me as this - holding an image that is sweet in its imagery and its purity. Sums up Romanticism, for me.

    Sherrie Raven,Becky's mom

  15. Keats remarks on the images frozen in time of beauty, youth, and love as they are eternal and everlasting. He seems to be contrasting everlasting images to emptiness. Even though they will still be around long after the subjects of the images have long passed, they are nonetheless just scenes cast into the urn that will never be finished. Just as we should not forever live in the past, no matter how fond our memories of them are, because in so doing, we cannot live in our present or future.

    Peter Wei's dad

  16. The fact that the poem focuses so greatly on the scenery and nature of the images depicted on the urn demonstrates the Romantic tendencies of John Keats.

    The most interesting part of the poem, as my son and many others have pointed out, is the conclusion of the poem: "Beauty is truth, and truth beauty." The simplicity of this statement makes it easy to understand, and stand out from the rest of the poem. The statement resonates in our time, as truth is not always as valued as it could be.

    Wally Washington

  17. Coming from a science/literalist background, I've always admired Grecian urns for their historical depictions of customs, dress, flora and fauna, industry, war faring or enjoyment of leisure…and tried to place myself back in the time of… How else would we know of this epoch except for the literary and artistic gems that have survived over the millennia?

    Keats puts the romanticists spin on the images with their sweetness, their youth, their love, their passion sans the tensions and ultimate turbulent times of the Greek era despite the “why thou art desolate, can e’er return”. And while he has them locked frigidly in a moment of time, “as doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!” he still embues the figures in a literary flair that depicts ecstasy, longing, love and be fair.

    Ah, where is the romantic in me? I think Mr. Sharp doth need to teach a parental class in poetic analysis! I’ll be first in line…

    Ann Graham, Merek's mom

  18. It seems to me that this whole poem leads to the lines in the last stanza—“Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Keats seems to build up excitement about the urn as the poem progresses, but what he really is excited about is the discovery about the relationship between truth and beauty that the urn reveals to him. The urn that Keats describes so beautifully depicts some very basic scenes of daily life—sacrificing a calf, and lovers under a tree. Those scenes may seem fanciful to the modern reader, but they were common for the time period of the urn’s creation. What Keat discovers by examining the urn is that beauty is found in everyday events, in the things that happen around us all the time and that truth is found in the discovery of this beauty. As Keats says, this is all we need to know.

    Alicia Ruch-Flynn (Charlotte's mom)

  19. “Ode to a Grecian Urn” is a beautiful example of poetry from the Romantic time period that uses nature’s beauty to draw out the story of lovers. The people frozen in the urn will remain happy for the rest of eternity because they were depicted at the height of their happiness. John Keats’ language is light and airy, which promotes the lightheadedness and imagery that I got when reading. The poem’s closing lesson, “beauty is truth, truth beauty” wonderfully encapsulates the attitude that we should all take on life.

    Billy Nguyen, Ivy's father

  20. Human beings, as nature's creatures, would die after their short or long path in this world, but their creatures, like paintings on ceramics, would live forever. Whenever you find it, you can read a story on it, you can enjoy the greatness of the art itself. This poem makes me feel that the limited human being are making themselves unlimited by creativeness.

    Sumin Wang (Angela's mom)

  21. I'll be second in line behind Ann!!
    Keats descriptions of the urn provide a vivid image, allowing the reader's imagination to actually visual the scenes depicted. Really enjoyed reading this!
    Laurie's Mom (Sue Sellars)

  22. The poem describes the scenes on the urn and the narrator creates stories from the clay carvings. There are a couple of stanzas that are romantic, but others seem just to describe the scenes, e.g., the third stanza which seems to be talking about a tree and stanza four which alludes to a sacrifice of a heifer (cow?) with an altar and a priest. The poem really didn't move me. I tried to read it during the Super Bowl and it was difficult to follow. Even after the Super Bowl, I found it hard to comprehend. Maybe it would have been easier if the urn had been present during the poem.
    -Shannon Bieberdorf (512) 914 5557

  23. I remember this poem because it was used in one of the first computer-based treasure hunts. The author of the contest needed quotes that mentioned all 10 spheres of the Kaballah and used this poem to represent 'Beauty'. The imagery in the poem is nice, but given that my SAT Math score was a lot higher than my English score, I am at a loss to understand most of this poem. Also, I am sorely tempted to bring up the old joke which has a punch line of 'about a buck fifty an hour!', but I won't. [Elizabeth R's (geeky) dad]

  24. The poem struck me as possessing such a "romanticized" view of life and beauty and truth... reminding me of my teenage sensibilities and romanticism. On a good day I can still feel that way....

    Ari Ferdman's mom.

  25. Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” evokes visions of youth and passion, and simpler days before our lives were complicated with teenagers and economic forecasts. It brings back fond memories of those carefree times when hearing a voice or a song would be all you need. But, real-life time is not frozen like images on an urn, and our lives evolve and become complicated dances to survive each day. But, there are always the memories of those simpler days, and new beauty to look forward to tomorrow. And teenagers eventually grow up and move out...

    (Amy Anderson's mom)

  26. (remarks on Blake, The Lamb and The Tyger)

    "Little Lamb, who made thee?
    Dost thou know who made thee?"
    A song of innocence indeed. The narrator, a child himself, enumerates the lamb's attributes of innocence: white curly fleece, mild nature, soft voice. Then, comparing the lamb and himself to Jesus, he rejoins "Little Lamb, God bless thee!"

    Alas, it is only the poet who knows "who made thee"--the lamb has no idea of God (nor needs one?)

    [Cynical me, I'm reminded of an anecdote in one of Forster's novels (Where Angels Fear to Tread, maybe?) wherein some English ladies on their Grand Tour see a lamb gamboling in a meadow in Greece and insist that the shepherd send it to them when they return home, some months later. Instead of doing the diplomatic thing and saying the lamb had died, or sending a
    replacement, the shepherd sends the very lamb itself, now grown into a dirty, matted, smelly, obstinate, and entirely deplorable ram...]

    The Tyger, on the other hand, is a Song of Experience.
    “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?”

    Sounds more like Prometheus than God, doesn’t it? Or a terrible proud Lucifer. But this, too, is God (but an Old Testament God for sure). He who made kittens/Put snakes in the grass. Tygers do eat up innocent little lambs, and God made them that way. Splendid, and deadly.

    (Wasn't it the Romantics who had the fetish for wild mountains, the craggier and more desolate, the better?)

  27. Ooops... this is Kathy Grace, Ariel Godwin's mom.

  28. I am trying to describe my feelings after reading the poem although each time I read the poem its meaning to me changes quite dramatically. Sometimes I feel Keats paints a perfect world in front of us: beauty, happiness, and a flowery tale. Other times he seems to present a paradox that leads us to ponder whether what we all see on earth is a conflict between truth and beauty. It is very difficult for me to discern his delicate implications, but it is certain that Keats does express his thoughts and emotions about beauty, art, and life to us in his Ode on a Grecian urn.

    Here I would like to expand a little on one of Keats' thoughts conveyed in the second stanza of his poem. "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter." In our modern world, does he suggest that the most popular presentation forms of all breathing human beings are not aesthetic or beautifully appealing regardless of their viewer ratings? Does he try to persuade us to play the spirit ditties of no tone instead of the music of iTunes? The truth is that human beings are no deities, and life is not eternal. We should pursue the beauty we define even though it is unheard silence.

    -Guanghui Hu, Jennifer Hu's dad

  29. I liked the words truth is beauty and beauty truth. As much as we like to think in terms of having things just right or in a certain way, beauty is that which just is. something can be learned and uncovered by exploring whatever it that makes us curious even if it does not fit a societal definition of beauty.

    Mary Reyes
    Kara Mccormack's mom

  30. “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” by John Keats, is a classic poem that has been studied and analyzed by countless high school students. However, as I am not such a student, and my comments do not count for a grade or count for anything, actually, here are my somewhat shallow and poorly thought out comments. My first thought after reading the poem was that it truly needs its descriptive title. No where else does Keats mention the object of his descriptive prose. While the language used does bring to mind very specific images, without knowing that Keats is contemplating an urn, with its elaborate carvings of vignettes of early Greek life, putting these images in context would have been difficult. My second thought was that Keats should have left off the last two lines. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty …” No one seems to know what Keats meant by these words. One interpretation is that he was stating that a beautiful work of art, whether an urn or a poem, is worthy because it will survive long after the individual who created it has died and that it has a permanence denied other admired human qualities such as love. If this is true, then Keats simply should have stated this. Many a struggling student would have been spared the agony of trying vainly to interpret the true meaning of these words if Keats just written, “Beautiful art is special because it survives.”

    Catherine Greaves
    Alex's mother

  31. Truthfully, I'm not up on Keats. Being a bluegrass musician, I'm used to the imagery being a little more direct: "I took her by her lilly white hand and threw her into drown."

    As another adult reader commented, it was good to know what Keats was contemplating (the urn). With that in mind, the image of a never-ending Spring and the piper come to life in one's mind's eye. It presents a static picture to be viewed by those in the days of Keats and by future generations, each seeing what he, or she,will in relation to one's personal life experiences. The possible multiple interpretations ofthe ending further allow each reader to draw from the poem what he, or she, will. If beauty is only skin deep ,then we wouldn't still be reading this today. There must be some further depth to that comment that "beauty is truth."

    Eddie, Dad of Amy Collins

  32. ["The Tyger"] Posted by mother of Adam Khan:

    Whilst the publication of Wordsworth & Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads in 1798 is generally regarded as the bow-shot of the Romantic Movement in English literature, examples of proto-Romantic poetry endure. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, published in 1789, can be analyzed alongside the greatest Romantic works and not suffer by comparison. Most of Blake’s works defy singular categorization, however, and such is the case of “The Tyger.” Frequently studied in juxtaposition with “The Lamb,” “The Tyger,” however, more readily lends itself to evaluation along the defining lines of Romantic poetry.

    Blake’s deep mysticism burns through the writing, and yet an older, more primitive belief than Christianity stalks in the shadows, just outside the fire of his words. The poet acknowledges a creative force that brings the tiger into being, a god, as it were, but he refrains from naming that demiurge (a term used by Blake himself in describing his equally famous illustrations). He imparts the age-old dread and enmity between prey and predator in the lines describing the fearsome gaze, the massive, destructive strength and the untamed spirit given the animal. The tiger is a defining force of nature. Blake contemplates what kind of creator would forge such a being—as well as the meek Lamb—and smile on them both. Simply by coming into being, the tiger takes on a kind of eternal, immortal quality of his own, independent of the maker. Blake flows between the mysterious descriptions of the nature of the tiger, his ferocious potential, and the violent smithy from which he emerged, and back to the essential nature of the animal. These themes are all in keeping with the characteristics of Romantic poetry: the role of creation in nature, outside the bounds of traditional religious explanations; the setting of a poem in untamed, uncultivated nature; and the unleashing of creation with the simple right of existence.

    The Romantics should always be viewed from within their historical context. Many Romantic writers embrace both the American and French Revolutions; nevertheless, some also react against the explosion of the Industrial Revolution and what that spells for the future of Nature. The already apparent swaths of destruction, the incessant clangor, and the poisoning of land and water appall Blake and he does not flinch from describing such scenes in his poetry (e.g. “And did those feet in ancient time”)—something other poets avoid in favor of simply lingering over the transience of Nature.

  33. "A Pine is Standing Lonely" by Heinrich Heine

    This poem is about unconsummated love. The pine, a phallic symbol, represents a vulnerable young man. His exposure to the elements is just one sign of his vulnerability. Passion and carnal desires keep him alive. His dreams warm his soul however cold he looks to the world. One thought and one thought alone commands this young immigrant’s attention and that is the image of the girlfriend he left behind. Like a palm tree swaying in a tropical Asian paradise, he transfixed by the inviting shape of her undulating body. He wonders if she too is lonely and mourning his absence. This cold, frozen and lonely land of opportunities.

    Carlos Greaves
    Alex Greaves' father

  34. After reading some of the poems I found that 30 years after high school, I still don't have much appreciation for romantic poetry. Three of the poems were already familiar to me.

    "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is strongly evocative of Grecian urns that I have seen in museums. The poem probably is less meaningful if you've never at least seen an image of such an urn. My reaction to the poem is similar to the reaction I would have to an urn itself: who made this urn and how did they live, and what other hands has it passed through over the centuries? What stories could this urn tell us? The description of the images on the urn is clearly romantic - Greek civilization idealized and exalted. The ending "beauty is truth and truth is beauty" does not seem to really follow from anything that precedes it and seems quite Pollyanna-ish to me.

    "Kublai Khan": the opening lines are famous and familiar, promising adventure and great wonders, but then the rest of the poem is a disappointment. It's not clear what the rest of poem, the river, the caverns, the Abyssinian musician, have to do with Kublai Khan, but there seems to be a message that greatness and grandeur are transitory and all ends in death. (If that is the message, "Ozymandias" is more effective.) One handicap of this poem is that reading "Xanadu" causes the Olivia Newton-John song of that name to start playing in my head.

    "The Tyger": Who doesn't know the opening lines of this poem? Blake's poems are evocative and more straightforward than many of the others. There is little question what this poem is about. You really sense the power of the animal and the author's contrast with the lamb is clever.

    I skimmed through several other poems, and will only add that "Tintern Abbey" was especially painful and tedious, even with only reading the first stanza.

    Bruce Blakely, Rachel's dad

  35. A Young Man Loves a Maiden - Heinrich Heine

    It took me several reads to conjure up a cohesive reflection of this poem as it speaks to several layers of love. There is the mistaken love (“A young man loves a maiden But another she prefers”), the love that is reciprocated (“The other one loves another, And ties the knot with her”), the love that is vengeful (“From spit, the maiden marries The first who comes along”), and the love that hurts (“And every time it happens, It breaks the heart in two”)…isn’t it true that love, a basic and fundamental human emotion, is capable of transforming right to wrong and pleasure to pain? These tangled affairs vividly personify our perpetual cycle of life for as long as we exist. It is old and new at the same time. Certainly there is the true love that ends with a knot—a glimmer of hope that Heine so cleverly used to contrast and complete the dark side of love. I find it refreshing to read this poem on the height of Valentine’s Day and its commercialization—a carefully orchestrated human enterprise. It’s quite a contrast to the raw emotions in this poem.

    Wei-Na Lee (Chloe Ling's mom)

  36. Ode On A Grecian Urn

    All of the romantic literary devices are at work here: metaphors, allusions, rhyming, archaic speech, etc, but the most powerful device is the personification of the urn itself. In speaking to it as a person, Keats opens up a dialogue, albeit a rhetorical one, that engages us to look through the object and listen for its voice as storyteller.

    My favorite lines are those that many find troublesome,
    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
    What is beauty? It is what and who I love without limit, and as such is all I need to know. As Lennon sang, "Love is all we need."

    Suzette Soucie,
    parent to Althea Soucie

  37. The Tyger

    I had not read this poem in over thirty years, but the questions it asks are life's eternal questions: Could the fearsome (the tiger) and the gentle (the lamb) have come from the same source? Why would a creator create such a destructive force along with such a meek one? Ultimately the poem reveals that these opposites are inseparable parts of the natural whole. Blake's focus is on the natural world, not the analytical one, and yet in the poem he asks the ultimate analytical question: why would an all-powerful creator put "evil" in the mix when there was a choice to do so or not do so? Blake's poem poses the question, but in the Romantic poetry fashion, does not analyze. His focus is on the experience of wondering about these opposites, not an attempt to come up with an answer.

    Diane Hebner (Neal Edmondson's mom)

  38. Ode on Grecian Urn

    The poem is romantic in several ways, ranging from its natural imagery to its exaltation of the imagined as being superior to the real. This latter thought conveys an undertone of profound sadness. Keats carries on with great enthusiasm about the beauty of the urn's images. The subtler message is that thought and contemplation are better than actual life, with its inevitable disappointment, decline, and death. In this poem an imagined song is better than one actually heard, an anticipated kiss is sweeter than one actually had, and the facile, yet essentially depressed, contemplation of beauty is the best life has to offer.

    Mike Hubbeling, father of Tess Hubbeling

  39. Heinrich Heine-"A Young Man Loves a Maiden"

    Many people have experienced unrequited love, and this short poem, with its simple words, addresses this timeless theme. It is easy to image the hurt of the rejected suitor and the anguish of the poor girl who, spurned by the one she loves, impetuously marries the next boy who pays attention to her. Despite its brevity and unsophisticated language, the poem manages to convey a vivid portrait of both this heartbreak and folly. It is impressive that Heine is able to describe these complex emotions in such a compact poem.

    Catherine Greaves
    Alex Greaves' mother

  40. The World is Too Much With Us

    I don't remember ever reading this Wordsworth poem before, but my gosh it's the exact message of a thousand contemporary songs or sayings. Wordsworth bemoans the loss of connection to the natural world when the focus is all on the material; this is a frequent message of Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Sting, and many other contemporary rock poets. In this poem Wordsworth prods us to see that if we give nature short shrift we are also paying too little attention to what is deep within us. If we give our hearts away to the man who gives us only a paycheck in return, this is a "sordid boon" indeed. The "getting and spending" that Wordsworth notes are driving forces in our modern world, and the message that all these actions do is waste what is within us remains true. The focus in this poem on the power of nature and the need to be connected to it is a recurring emphasis in Romantic poetry. It's easy to wonder if there would be any Bernie Madoffs if we all made frequent walks in the woods or on the shore a priority.....

    Diane Hebner (Neal Edmondson's mom)

  41. "Brevity" by Friedrich Hölderlin

    How depressing... this poem evokes images of growing old and spending all your time contemplating what you've lost along with your youth. Maybe there he lost his true love, but I choose to look back on lost youth fondly, remembering the things I did in my 20s and how new love felt. I would hope to always have those memories as a joy, rather than a despair over what's lost.

    Linda Anderson
    Amy Anderson's mom

  42. Wordsworth's "The world is too much with us; late and soon" is relevant even today. In our largely indoor existences, a disconnect from the beauty and sanctity of nature is all too prevalent. I couldn't help but think about global warming and other such current issues whose solution may relate to people truly embracing the beauty of nature. It's interesting that Wordsworth thinks he'd have to revert to a Pagan view to truly be swept up in reverence of the world. He refers to it in a way that makes it seem naive and long ago, almost like a childish belief that one can feel nostaglia for but never truly recreate. --Anne, Sasha's mom.

  43. Response to "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    The theme of this poem was a very difficult to comprehend. The language was vivid, extremely interesting ("like a patient etherised upon a table") and allowed the reader to visualize each scene. Additionally, it described thoughts and conditions that are not generally the subject of poetry such as the poet's impending baldness. However, the overall objective of the poem was not clear. Was it about the poet's life, his love or simply a collection of thoughts? There was no clear transition between stanzas and each seemed to be a self-contained story with little obvious connection.

    Catherine Greaves
    Alex Greaves' Mother

  44. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    This poem was hard to understand the meaning the poet was trying to convey, but it is loneliness. The main character is not included by anyone, and it is really depressing. He is ugly, weak, and past his prime. He has no real influence on anything, so he is lonely.

    Karen Stevens (Rob Stevens' mom)

  45. The Chimney Sweep

    This poem seems to describe the loss of innocence. The child, a chimney sweep, laments the loss of a happy childhood, while being thrust into the harsh reality of adult world. The child seems to resent his parents' disregard for his growing pains: "And because I am happy, & dance & sing, / They think they have done me no injury."
    Reading this poem makes me wonder if I am not as aware of my kids' emotional growing pains as I would like to believe.

    Liza Wimberley (Max's mom)

  46. "The Ailing Woman Felt Her Forces Ebb"
    I think of a woman who is dying of cancer and is becoming weaker and less able to control or use her body. She feels that the disease will soon win and that she doesn't have long to live. She is sad that she will soon die but also seems partly at peace with dying in the autumn when the plants are withering and the leaves are falling. But she is denied any control over her fate. The woman can't stop her disease nor can she choose the season of her death. I think she cannot stand to leave the world when the new green leaves are unfolding on the trees and the spring flowers are budding and blooming. This is a time for life not death.

    Kathy Cox (Abigail Cain's mom)

  47. "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey"

    As I read Wordsworth, his imagery resolute with life,I am uplifted, each verse a breath to sustain the myriad of feelings that propel us each day. His joy of great beauty found in nature revitalizes us and captures the essence of humanity vs. the industrialization of Europe at that time.
    "To look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth; but hearing often times the sad, still music of humanity" I too have been overcome by sensational natural beauty, his verses can transport me to a number of places where in my life existential questions needed no answers, only the vistas, the oceans, the mountains and the endless skies to take my breath away and let fall away the trappings of society.

    Penny K (Aliyah McRoberts' mom)

  48. M. D. Azimova, Feruza Azimova's sister, in response to "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats..

    Here, Keats presents an image of a beautiful afternoon listening to a nightingale's singing. As the bird sings, Keats thinks about the livelihood of the bird, how it "Singest of summer in full-throated ease." He wishes to "fade away into the forest dim" with the bird in order to escape the place "where men sit and hear each other groan."

    As he wishfully looks upon the quick nature of the bird, Keats reflects on how his own life is limited; and that death or dissolving into the dark forest is the only way to escape his conscious/reality where "there is no light."

    He starts the poem off by describing the pain in his heart and drowsy numbness, which evokes a sense of immobility and yearning for "easeful Death"; as the bird's "requiem" ends and it flies away into the dark forest, symbolically, Keats finishes off by questioning his conscious, if he is dreaming or not..