Golden

This week’s task was to take the first sentence of any Hopkins poem and write my own poem about the arrival of Spring. Many of Hopkin’s poems such as ‘God’s Grandeur’ and ‘The Starlight Night’ are the same length, consisting of only two stanzas, and follow the rhyme pattern A B B A A B B A / C D C D C D. His poems experiment with language, specifically aural imagery and alliteration. These are all things that have influenced my poem.

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring —
Ice melts as cold nights perish and there are no more chills
I look to the sky as the birds dip and dance over daisies and daffodils
Bees buzz by my ears and I’m in love with their sting
Trees swoop and twirl, leaves tangle and swing
I run to the lake, a smile splashes on my face and my joy overfills
For Paradise is upon us and serotonin Spring instills
As I fly through these fields of yellow, my heart will sing

Clouds glide through my hair, weeds tickle my feet
I close my eyes as sparkling rays whisper in my ear
This burn on my skin of gold and richness is so sweet
Not a single drop of rain or grey cloud is near
As I stand here in this immensity of colours I am complete
Because Spring is among us; beauty is here

Nineteenth Century human and social issues that are prevalent in the 21st Century

This unit deepened my originally very limited knowledge of Nineteenth Century literature. Blogging taught me about a range of historical movements that involved revolutionary social change, technological advancements and political debate. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring numerous writers and artists whose impact and perspective on the world has shaped the current society we live in. However, despite the progress that has been made on a number of human and societal issues, these nineteenth century writings are still relevant today as many of these problems continue into the twenty-first century.

For my first blog, I wrote a poem about a time when nature was the teacher. This poem reflected ideas seen in Wordsworth’s poetry, specifically in ‘The Tables Turned’ where he says “let Nature be your teacher”. My poem confronts humanity as a whole and questions the way we treat our environment, looking towards the 2020 Australian bushfires and how they were a message from nature, pleading us to be better. Wordsworth’s poems urge readers to learn from nature which is a notion that is still relevant today due to environmental issues caused by human behaviour.

In my second blog, I continue to explore issues that are transparent in both a contemporary and nineteenth century society by delving into a study of ‘The World is Too Much With Us’ by William Wordsworth. In this sonnet, Wordsworth suggests that humanity has become too concerned with materialistic desires and trends, and as a result we have lost our connection with the natural world. Personally, I feel that this statement is even more prevalent in our current society. As new materialistic objects are designed, and as technology advances, humanity’s connection with nature falters, and the wisdom that is evoked by interacting with nature becomes less attainable. Through this blog, I gained clear insight into the human and societal issue of consumerism that continues to grow as society moves further away from living simple lives in nature.

My third blog portrays Romantic ideas seen in ‘Milford Sound’ by Eugene Von Guerard. I discuss the sublimity of nature embodied through the painting, and its rejection of Enlightenment ideals that focused on scientific reason and hierarchical status rather than the beauty of nature. This Romantic belief that nature is divine and that interaction with nature stimulates one mind, is a notion that I believe has not been fully accomplished in contemporary society. In the twenty-first century many people are occupied with the idea that money and career success will bring happiness, therefore I think the message that Romantic artworks portray is necessary to remind people that interaction with nature is the ultimate way to internal fulfilment.

My fourth blog is a letter to Charles Dickens where I commend him on his confrontation of human and societal issues addressed in his novel ‘Hard Times’. The novel explores how humanity had become overly concerned with factual information and necessary human qualities such as compassion and modesty had lost value. This idea that we need to re-focus on our humanity rather than false ideas of knowledge through academia is seen in Romantic poets’ works such as Wordsworth and Shelley. This is applicable to current society where people have become overwhelmed by monotonous city life and lost an appreciation for basic human qualities.

Overall, despite improvement on multiple human and social issues, there are still many issues from the nineteenth century that are visible in our current society. A study of nineteenth century literature can confront people into realising these issues, and encourage one to help make a change.

Reviewing Cameron’s Blog

Link to Cameron’s blog: https://cameroncole.home.blog/2020/04/07/in-words-either-poetry-or-prose-vividly-describe-one-of-the-paintings-that-you-saw-on-our-virtual-tour-of-the-gallery-last-week/

Hi Cameron, I chose to peer review your blog this week as I was given this artwork in my quiz and was curious to read someone else’s thoughts on it. I really love the detail you give in your description of the painting. The highly descriptive language shows that you have thoroughly considered Westall’s intention behind every aspect of his painting. I especially liked how you said that “some trees find themselves still green, the hint of browning that tinges their leaves alludes to the inevitability of their deterioration” as this was an idea I had not considered. My only suggestion for a way to make this blog even better is to incorporate some Romantic themes into your description. For example, extending on this idea of gloom and the painting’s eerie atmosphere by saying that it creates a sense of authority in nature, humbling us as humans to realise our place in the world: an idea that was deeply embedded in Romanticism. Overall I think you did a really great job 🙂

A Letter to Charles Dickens

Dear Charles Dickens,
I am writing this letter to commend you on your exemplary depiction of real deficiencies in human behaviour and criticism of the education system in the Victorian era seen in ‘Hard Times’. I am in admiration of your novel as it exposes the negative effect of industrialisation on society as people became overly concerned with statistics and factual information. I can relate to your feelings of great disdain towards Gradgrind’s education system that focuses on the consumption of information, specifically calculations and figures. I believe that the character of Gradgrind perfectly epitomises authoritative figures in the Victorian age who thought that people should only be concerned with facts and this is all that children should be taught at school for creativity and imaginative processes are impractical. This belief that many people carried at the time was problematic as necessary human qualities such as compassion and modesty were dismissed due to the primary focus on information. I think you portray this brilliantly through Gradgrind’s influence over his children as he becomes disappointed and manipulative when Tom and Louisa show interest in the circus. They are taught to not be imaginative and wander about the world, which creates real human deficiencies such as the inability to form genuine connections with people and the deprivation of joy. These characters are a reflection of people in society, urging for change to be made which I think is admirable. Therefore I would like to say thank you for writing your novel.

Kind Regards,
Anna

Reviewing Victoria’s Blog

Link to Victoria’s Blog: https://victoriamartin.art.blog/2020/04/14/would-shakespeare-be-catfishings-next-victim/

Hi Victoria, I chose to peer review your blog this week as I was immediately intrigued by your title and curious to see how you were going to relate such a contemporary concept to Shakespearean times. I think you structured this really well, first explaining the notion of catfishing, and then incorporating two texts from the Renaissance to strengthen your argument. I like your use of rhetorical questions by asking the audience “ would Shakespeare fall victim to cat fishing?” and making me think about my own opinion. My only thought for improvement is that it could have been more effective to introduce your stance on this statement earlier in your blog rather than right at the end, therefore you could use your analysis of texts to further justify your argument, rather than a short statement right at the end. Overall, great job 🙂

Envy

For this week’s blog I stepped out of my comfort zone and into the world of script writing for the very first time. Whilst I usually enjoy creative writing and find it rather easy, I found it challenging to write this piece as I realised that script writing is very different to writing a narrative or poem.

Write a short script that depicts a man or woman collapsing in a rage of jealousy.

CHARACTERS:
Noah
Elise
Maya

Two sisters, Elise and Maya, walk up a driveway to a friend’s house for a birthday party. They come to a stop at the door and ring the doorbell. Maya looks at Elise suspiciously.

Maya: Bit strange that Noah invited you isn’t it?

Elise: What do you mean?

Maya: Well I’m his best friend so of course he invited me. We’ve known each other our whole lives. But I’ve never seen you talk to him… other than when you’re making fun of us.

Elise: Well we’ve been [Elise pauses as if looking for the right word] talking lately.

Maya impatiently rings the doorbell again, before turning back to her sister with a skeptical expression on her face.

Maya: Talking?

Elise: Dating, actually

Maya’s suspicions are confirmed but before she can say anything she is interrupted by the door being swung open.

Noah: Hey! My two favourite people. Please, come in

Elisa and Noah embrace in a hug and conversation. The stage goes dark and a single spotlight falls on Maya as she turns to the audience.

Maya: What else can be taken from me by her? My older sister. The golden child. Pretty, smart, charismatic and prefered by all except for one person who usually favoured me… until now I suppose. I can feel the sting of jealousy’s claws tearing into my heart, gripping so tight until I bleed. Perhaps that is the one thing I am better at. My sister has never felt pain like I have, envy like I have, nor worked as hard as I have to impress others. There I win. But everything else is hers.

Reviewing Teneille’s Blog

Link to Teneille’s Blog https://thebestofliterature.art.blog/2020/03/16/wise-passiveness/

Hello Teneille, I really enjoyed your blog on ‘Expostulation and Reply’ as you clearly have a well-developed understanding of how one must be engaged in their surroundings to evoke a deeper understanding of the world – a theme that is addressed in many of Wordsworth’s writings. I liked how you immediately acknowledged the oxymoron of “wise passiveness” and used this to drive the rest of your blog, as well as adding in your own insight and experiences. When I read this poem, I was intrigued by Wordsworth’s argument that nature is the main source of intellect and that only by engaging with nature can one truly understand themselves and the world, and access knowledge. You touch on this when you mention that “Wordsworth writes that this form of understanding is not something that can be taught from books or logical thought” and when you say that “you might find [this knowledge] on a walk in spring, where the flowers bloom and glow beneath golden hours” but I would have loved to see even more on the significance of nature as this was a strong belief of Wordsworth’s.

Milford Sound

After viewing a wide range of artworks at the NSW Art Gallery, the one that made the strongest impression on me was Eugene Von Guerard’s painting “Milford Sound” as it captures the sublimity of nature brilliantly. This painting amplified my understanding of Romanticism as it dismisses Enlightenment ideals that focused on scientific reason and hierarchal status, but rather depicts the sublimity of nature. This notion of nature being superior and powerful was a typically Romantic concept.

I was instantly mesmerised by the vastness of the landscape Von Geurard has painted. My eyes were drawn to the salience of the lake, and then my eyes wandered up the mountains and into the sky. These layered elements of nature intensify the capacity of the landscape, accentuating its sublimity and thus our inferiority as humans who are minuscule in comparison to the immensity of the landscape. The large mountains that stand tall and seemingly reach into the sky remind us humans of our place in the world, humbling us into realising our subservience to nature. Also, the soft colours deliberately chosen by Von Guerard, such as gentle hues of purple, blue and grey further establish the beauty of nature which was a core theme in the works of Romantic-era writers. Furthermore, the wide shot used to capture the extensiveness of the scenery highlights the infinite quality of nature, alluding to its transcendence as the scenery extends beyond the confinements of the artwork’s small frame, suggesting that the beauty and superiority of nature is beyond human comprehension. This alludes to Romantic ideas of nature being sublime and evoking a sense of wonder and awe from the viewer.

Overall, my “virtual” excursion to the NSW Art Gallery profoundly deepened my understanding of literary themes such as Romantic ideas of nature. This was achieved by appreciating a multitude of artworks, specifically Eugene Von Guerard’s ‘Milford Sound’ which evoked a highly emotive response and stimulated a deep appreciation for the natural world.

*Eugene Von Guerard “Milford Sound” (1877-1879)

Reviewing Katrina’s Blog

Link to Katrina’s Blog: https://khuynhvo.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/hamlets-contemporary-soliloquy/

Hi Katrina, I really enjoyed your blog this week. The message behind it was really powerful and strong, and completely relevant to our contemporary society with the current Coronavirus pandemic. I also think you did a great job encapsulating Hamlet’s voice of despair and existential questioning as this blog very much reminded me of the infamous Act 3, Scene 1 ‘“To be, or not to be” soliloquy. My only recommendation would be to even further develop the language you use to be more “Shakespearean”; you do this really well at the end through your wording choices and extended metaphors.

The Shakespeare Room

I have always wondered how centuries after Shakespeare’s death, he still remains famous. His works are studied at a primary school level and university level. His plays are still being performed on stage all over the world. Even children’s films such as the Lion King have been influenced by the plots of Shakespeare’s plays. How is he still relevant? 

On Monday my Shakespeare class embarked on a “virtual” excursion to the NSW State Library Shakespeare Room where I would engage with a multitude of Shakespeare’s works and this lingering question of mine would finally be answered. 

Upon walking in the Shakespeare Room, the stained glass windows immediately capture your attention. They are seven separate images, depicting the seven ages of man from Shakespeare’s play ‘As you Like it’ (Act II, Scene VII). This consists of:

  • The “infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms”
  • The “whining schoolboy with his satchel” 
  • The “lover, sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad”
  • the “soldier, full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard”
  • the Justice who is “full of wise saws and modern instances”
  • The “Pantaloon, with spectacles on nose, and pouch on side”
  • The last stage: death “that ends this strange eventful history”
*Image found at https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/stories/shakespeare-library/shakespeare-room

I was mesmerised by this concept and the beautiful stained glass windows that illustrated an entire life in seven simple pictures. I also understood a little more why Shakespeare is so important as these ideas that he presented and language that he used were not only ahead of his time, but revolutionary.  

We then took a look at the First Folio which was published in 1623, yet still to this day is held in such high regard. With the exception of the Bible, this book is considered the most influential book in the English language, highlighting the importance of Shakespeare and his profound influence on society and culture. 

*Image found at https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/shakespeares-first-folio