Tag: Cultural Profile

The Romantic Celebrity

Posted March 25, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Poetry / 0 Comments

Lord Byron pioneered a new form of living to give meaning to his own existence. His poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage was an instant best seller, and the crowds loved it, and him. The poem gave Byron a lot of followers, all wanting to be Romantics; dissatisfied with the world, yearning for something else.

His house, his home, his heritage, his lands,
The laughing dames in whom he did delight,
Whose large blue eyes, fair locks, and snowy hands,
Might shake the saintship of an anchorite,
And long had fed his youthful appetite;
His goblets brimmed with every costly wine,
And all that mote to luxury invite,
Without a sigh he left to cross the brine,
And traverse Paynim shores, and pass earth’s central line.
–          Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage 1812

With all his followers, came the proposals, many of which Byron took up (making him one of the first celebrities to have groupies), resulting in a scandal when his marriage fell apart; which Byron fed on, even drawing inspiration from it. But as the scandals grew, public accusations of incest and sodomy, Lord Byron fled from England, never to return. But for the public, Lord Byron had redefined the idea of a poet, making his life a living poem of passion and scandal.

Lord Byron’s life in the public may have made him the first rock star, but did his life of passion have a greater effect on his poetry than John Keats life of brooding or Percy Bysshe Shelley’s life rebelling for liberty? Did Byron find the sublime? He may have redefined the way we view a poet, but his life’s quest for passion and freedom was the real poem.

The Romantic Bad-Boy

Posted March 18, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Poetry / 0 Comments

In Oxford in 1811, an anonymous pamphlet was distributed to every clergy man and the heads of all the colleges. It was called The Necessity of Atheism and in it one of the key points was without proof of God’s existence, how can we believe he exists. The Pamphlet was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley and though he was committing blasphemy and attacking the very existence of civilisation, Shelley was standing up against the authoritarianism of the Church. The result of his pamphlet; expulsion.

With this liberty from the Church, Shelley began a life in pursuit of a new way of living. Shelley was married to Harriet Westbrook but his heart belonged to his lover Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Shelley wrote to his wife claiming his ‘heart belonged to another’ and ended up running away with Mary, making him one of the pioneers in the ‘Free Love’ movement.

Whilst thou alone, then not regarded,
The … thou alone should be,
To spend years thus, and be rewarded,
As thou, sweet love, requited me
When none were near — Oh! I did wake
From torture for that moment’s sake.
–          To Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

If poetry was the new religion, then the poet would be a god. This idea led Shelley into a dark place, seeing visions of phantoms all around him. He began to question the worth of his own existence, becoming haunted by his own ideas. With death, his poetry will live on in the sublime way that Keats poems did. When Percy Bysshe Shelley died, he was found on the beach with a copy of John Keats poems in his pocket. He was burned on the beach by Byron and other friends, who claimed his heart was not consumed; a final act against the church.

The Romantic Brooder

Posted March 11, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Poetry / 0 Comments

It is interesting that the three most influential Romantics had three entirely different personalities. So how did these personalities help shape and hold up the romantic ideas. Over the next three weeks, I will attempt to discover how this was done.

John Keats was always surrounded by death; even as a young boy, when he lost his mother and brother. This caused Keats to contemplate life and the legacy left, after death. But Keats wasn’t always a poet, he was a trained surgeon. Though he had a real talent in the medical profession, the horrid sights affected him deeply. In the end he “feared that he should never be a poet, & if he was not he would destroy himself”. With the new discovery of empathy, Keats sought to heal the soul with his words; choosing his passion, Art, over the prestige of Science.

Lord Byron despised Keats’ quiet contemplation, calling his style mental masturbation. But Keats life of solitude was his attempt to reach towards meaning. With the experiences of death came depression, but also a more intense love for life.

“How astonishingly does the chance of leaving the world impress a sense of its natural beauties upon me! Like poor Falstaff, though I do not “babble,” I think of green fields; I muse with the greatest affection on every flower I have known from my infancy—their shapes and colours are as new to me as if I had just created them with a superhuman fancy.” 1820

Images of life and death haunted Keats; in 1820 Keats displayed increasingly serious symptoms of tuberculosis. Death terrified Keats; the thought of his poems drifting into obscurity scared him. The thought of immortality plagued him, he wished for his words to live forever.

This Grave
contains all that was Mortal
of a
Young English Poet
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821

Keats’ memory didn’t dissolve has he had predicted. After his death, his words were read more intensively by his fellow Romantics, as well as people today. Even Shelley thought that Keats’ suffering conveyed the sense of the sublime often sought by the Romantics.

Cultural Profile – The Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood

Posted January 24, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Art, Culture / 0 Comments

I mentioned avant-garde in the previous entry so I thought it was only fitting to look at the originals. The Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood has been considered the first avant-garde movement in art. They throw away the rule book of art to create something different and exciting. They believed that the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name Pre-Raphaelites.

The brotherhood rejected the rule and formula of art that were been taught by Sir Joshua Reynolds and the Royal Academy of Art. They considered the work ‘sloppy’ and formulaic, they believed that Sir Sloshua (Sir Joshua) was stopping them explore other styles, they wanted to return to the abundant detail, intense colours, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art.

The brotherhood stop up against the norm and followed their own doctrine:

  • To have genuine ideas to express;
  • To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
  • To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote;
  • And, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.

Influenced by Romanticism, they thought that freedom and responsibility were inseparable so they followed the principles of realism. The Brotherhood was met with lots of controversy in there struggle against the Royal Academy of art, but ultimately they influenced and changed art history as well. When the brotherhood disbanded the artists who had worked in the style still followed these techniques (initially anyway) but they no longer signed their works with “PRB”

Cultural Profile – Byron

Posted January 22, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Poetry / 0 Comments

Lord Byron is probably best known as a poet for the romantic period. widely read and influential, considered one of the greatest English poets of all time.

So I wanted to look more into the personal side of his life. Which is sometimes described as; ‘upper-class living, numerous love affairs, debts, and separations.’ I’m not an expert but this is what I’ve managed to piece together and thought it was very interesting, I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me.

As a teenage he feel for a distant cousin Mary Chaworth, which his mother thought, “He has no indisposition that I know of but love, desperate love, the worst of all maladies in my opinion. In short, the boy is distractedly in love with Miss Chaworth.”

Byron expressed a sense of melancholy;

“Ah! Sure some stronger impulse vibrates here,
Which whispers friendship will be doubly dear
To one, who thus for kindred hearts must roam,
And seek abroad, the love denied at home.”

Later in life he had an affair with Lady Caroline Lamb which involved a lot of obsession from either side. Once the affair ended Lady Caroline became emotionally disturbed and lost a lot of weight, Byron described this as if he was been “haunted by a skeleton”. Lady Caroline Lamb described Byron as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”

Through the rest of his life he still seemed to continue with marriages and affairs, and numerous amount of debt, due to his reckless disregard for money. Later in life he became involved in The Carbonari, which were a secret revolutionary societies whose goals were patriotic and liberal. They played an important role in the Risorgimento and the early years of Italian nationalism. He then went on to fight in the Greek War of Independence, against the Ottoman Empire, which is where he developed sepsis causing him to develop a violent fever and died.

Interestingly enough Byron often described his affairs as ‘violent and passionate’.