Blog Three: Poetry in ‘The Winter’s Tale’

Own topic: Comment on the purpose of Shakespeare’s use of poetry in The Winter’s Tale. What is the effect?

Miranda Raison as Hermione and Kenneth Branagh as Leontes in Branagh’s and Rob Ashford’s production of The Winter’s Tale at the Garrick Theatre, London, 2015

Image obtained from: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/05/12/darkness-and-radiance-winters-tale/ 

Shakespeare cleverly incorporates poetry within The Winter’s Tale in order to musically capture and represent progressions within the play. There is a transition from a more conversational tone in act I scene 1 to the use of iambic pentameter in act 1 scene 2:

POLIXENES:
Nine changes of the wat’ry star hath been
The shepherd’s note since we have left our throne
Without a burden. Time as long again
Would be filled up, my brother, with our thanks,
And yet we should for perpetuity
Go hence in debt. And therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
With one “We thank you” many thousands more
That go before it.

The excerpt above from act 1 scene 2 amplifies that poetry allows for certain aspects to stand out and it also provides a shift into something more musical. Picturesque speaking is used to capture movement and rhythm. The “wat’ry star” is a metaphor for the moon that reveals the passage of time. When examined in conjunction with the poetic technique of enjambment in the first few lines, it becomes clear that poetry is used in order to represent some of the meanings it intends to convey. The use of continuation from line to line symbolises the continuation of time as well as the continuation of thanks that Polixenes later emphasises in the excerpt.

There are also instances in the play where poetry is used to show the transition from harmony into disharmony. Poetry is also used in Leontes’ aside in act 1 scene 2 in order to present to the audience a language of emotional disturbance that is indicative of his building jealousy. The alliteration and assonance in “paddling palms and pinching fingers” creates sound that is evocative of hostility and tension. As the words are read, you can imagine Leontes spitting them out of his mouth with aggression. There is also the break in language in “we must be neat- not neat, but cleanly, captain”, which signifies the instability and turbulence that Leontes experiences at the stage of the play. Enjambment is also used symbolically throughout this aside to represent his continuing spiral into a hole of jealousy and rage. The inconsistency between this continuing enjambment as well as breaks in language, helps the audience to somewhat experience the confusion and emotional turmoil that Leontes becomes enveloped by.

Peer Review Two

Here is a link to Bella’s creative blog that captures the emotion of jealousy: https://bellablogs98.wordpress.com/2020/04/24/short-script-the-family-dinner/

Hi Bella,

Thanks for this creative blog you have composed that so vividly captures the emotion of jealousy! I liked how you have taken the ideas that Shakespeare uses in his plays and applied them to a more contemporary situational context that many readers would connect with. It was helpful that you included the characters at the top for reference as well as provided a contextual introduction to help readers dive into the building tensions and chaos that unfolds. The descriptions of character actions and mannerisms made the script much more easier to imagine. You really brought the jealousy to life throughout the script by skilfully building imagery and tone into your dialogue. One of my favourite parts was the last drunken speech by Sophia, which really captured the emotional turbulence and instability she was experiencing. You achieved this through the use of questions, pauses and repetition, which indeed created the chaotic atmosphere of the jealousy she was experiencing. It would be great to see a soliloquy woven in there in order to further reveal character thoughts and emotions. Thanks so much for your brilliant work, I really enjoyed it!

Peer Review One

Skye’s blog can be accessed here

Hi Skye,

Thanks for this excellent blog which showcases how your understanding of Shakespeare’s place in the world has been enriched by your virtual tour of the State Library and Shakespeare room. I loved the range of insights you provided about the stages of life as depicted in the stain glass windows as well as how Ben Jonson’s poem heightened your appreciation of Shakespeare’s “well-turned and true-filed lines”.

Some corrections to be made:

“This speech suggests the mundane, repetitive and inevitable nature of life, he addressed the idea of a person never truly becoming who they are, that is, one merely acts out the roles in life before they die and we are insignificant in the wider picture.”

*Separate this into two sentences to enable clarity of expression.

“During the tour we also discussed the first folio and Ben Johnson and how he anticipated Shakespeare’s long-lasting significance on the world of literature and theatre, his poem To the Memory of My beloved, The author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us”

*Star new sentence before “his poem…”

*Correctly capitalise title of Ben Jonson’s work (refer to anthology)

It would be great to see organisation of information into paragraphs as well as addition of some images in order to bring your blog to life. Overall, you have done such a great job in sharing your insights! Keep up the awesome work 🙂

Blog Two: Ben Jonson’s Celebration of Shakespeare

How has your appreciation of Shakespeare been enhanced by your reading of Ben Jonson’s poem To the Memory of My Beloved, The Author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and What He Hath Left Us?

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Portrait of Ben Jonson obtained from: https://shakespeareandbeyond.folger.edu/2019/09/03/ben-jonson-school-elizabethan-education/

My reading of Ben Jonson’s poem undeniably intensified my appreciation of Shakespeare and his works. It is interesting that the works of Shakespeare, such a highly esteemed writer, were not even published during his lifetime but yet have enormously permeated into and held relevance for a variety of contexts and the lives of people within those contexts.

Ben Jonson was a rival of Shakespeare who captured this concept with his tribute poem he wrote to Shakespeare after his death. He raised the notion that although Shakespeare was an unlearned genius of his time who didn’t know much Latin or Greek, he was better in his art than ancient Greek and Roman dramatists. Jonson affirms that Shakespeare “was not of an age, but for all time!” This excerpt elevates Shakespeare beyond simply being a person or product of his particular social and historical context. It reiterates that Shakespeare transcends any particular age or period because his works hold enduring relevance for the whole of humanity.

Shakespeare is embodied in the lines of his work as emphasised by Jonson in “Look how the father’s face Lives in his issue”. My visit to the State Library and Shakespeare room helped to affirm this idea for me as well as take it further to also come to the realisation that we are all embodied in Shakespeare’s work in one way or another. This is because as humans we are all on a continuum, experiencing and dealing with some form of the human condition in our everyday lives, whether it be joy, adversity, conflict or some aspect in between. Shakespeare awakens us through his lines and challenges us to think about our lives in new ways. Ben Jonson uses constellations as a powerful metaphor for the luminary power of Shakespeare’s work in enlightening us all about the human state. His work will be an everlasting presence like the constellations, shining brightly over literature and the world forever.

 

Works Cited

Johnson, Ben. “To the Memory of My beloved, The author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us”. The Norton Anthology English Literature. The sixteenth century and the early Seventeenth century. Reidhead, Julia, Johnson, Marian. New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2018.

Blog One: Tumultuous Turmoil

Write a prose soliloquy in which you are Hamlet commenting on the world around you in 2020.

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‘Tis a tumultuous turmoil that we have all found ourselves amongst.

What shall I do with my days other then stew in the melting pot of garbage that is the world around myself, in the hope that everything doth not boil over.

Oh God! God almighty, pray for us all for it is thee who is omnipotent and the prescriber of humanity’s destiny.

I urge that thou shalt during these trying times, help humanity to piece back together the broken jigsaw puzzle of the smothering and weighty world in which we are enveloped.

It is in such a hastily a manner that all uses of existence and life as we all knew it have come plummeting down.

Ravaging sickness like a broomstick, sweeping with all its might and fight over the surface of the whole globe, pushing lives off the edge and plunging them into the inevitable deep darkness.

Why am I here? How doth I be here? In the midst of all this commotion?

Oh God! Is this the wake up call you had written for all of us? Because rather than waking, most have succumbed to the abysmal depression that now looms over their lives.

‘Tis indeed because life as we knew it is no more.

No more dining. No more socialising and sharing with thy neighbours. Jobs up in smoke. Plunging economy. Travel banned. Sport suspended. Hobbies no more. Limited gatherings. Social distancing.

How frightening it is to ponder that humans no longer have a route to experience escapism.

We must simply be who we are and where we are in these uncertain moments.

Locked in prison to be guarded from the unseen killer on the loose. How ironic that we have lost our lives in the process of trying to save them.

How ironic that the murderer is out on the loose and we, whom it sets out after, have been confined to our cells.

If this is the case, we cannot really be innocent…God what have done we?

 

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Images taken from:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hamlet-fictional-character

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/italy-falling-apart-coronavirus-pandemic-doctors-tough-choices-2020-3?r=US&IR=T

https://www.wired.com/story/why-the-coronavirus-hit-italy-so-hard/

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/shelter-in-place-order-california-explainer-martial-law-968749/

Summative Entry

How can Visionary Imagination – as expressed in the creations of William Blake, Patrick White, Brett Whiteley and others -be a positive influence in the contemporary world?

Over my course of study this semester, I have reached a sense of enlightenment about the importance of the Visionary Imagination for the contemporary world. By examining the works of composers such as William Blake, Patrick White, Brett Whiteley and Patti Smith, I have realised that the Visionary Imagination will allow me to live my life both more consciously and gratefully. I have been inspired to be more awake to the gifts of life that I come across everyday and see beyond what is simply in front of me in order to reach a heightened level of cosmic consciousness.

My first blog examined Patti Smith’s song My Blakean Year. This song released in 2004 is a perfect example of the relevance of Blakean ideas for contemporary society. Her song highlights the positive influence that the Visionary Imagination can have on the modern world. She has been inspired by Blake to appreciate the miraculous moments and sense of divinity that are woven into everyday life.

 

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Image taken from: https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/patti-smith-year-of-the-monkey-memoir.

“So throw off your stupid cloak

Embrace all that you fear
For joy will conquer all despair
In my Blakean year”

Through these lyrics, Smith urges responders to challenge themselves and push themselves outside their comfort zones because that is where one can best evolve and learn about themselves. She uses Blake’s idea of interwoven joy and woe to inspire us to wake up to what is beautiful in our lives despite the grief that may consume us.

Inspired by Blake’s ideal that both joy and woe are essentials to the make up of the human being, I wrote my own poem that captures this idea in my second blog. I started my poem with his lines from Auguries of Innocence:

“To see a world in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour”

I wrote my poem with the intent of magnifying the importance of recognising the extraordinary aspects behind what most would perceive as the mundane. The Visionary Imagination could be a positive influence for the contemporary world because it will allow people to be awake to all they should be thankful for in their lives, even if they are overwhelmed by grief and adversity.

Like Patti Smith, Patrick White has also been inspired by the Visionary Imagination of William Blake. In his novel Riders in the Chariot, Patrick White amplifies the important characteristics of those people who would normally be marginalised by society. One such character is the Indigenous artist, Alf Dubbo, who mirrors William Blake’s visionary condition but in an Aboriginal context. In my third blog, I placed particular emphasis on chapter sixteen of the novel wherein Alf Dubbo was compelled to paint despite being unwell. It is Alf Dubbo’s Visionary Imagination and kinetic consciousness that allows him to start to bring paintbrush to canvas and create his art. Perhaps if we all adopt more of a Visionary way of seeing the world around us, we too will open up the creative gates of our imagination and be compelled to construct our own forms of art.

In my last blog, I talked about my visit to the Brett Whiteley studio in Surry Hills. I was inspired by a quote that Brett Whiteley had written on one of the walls. It read “I once had mountains in the palm of my hands”. It is evident that Blake’s visionary thinking as expressed in Auguries of Innocence, had infiltrated the imagination of Brett Whiteley. I  created a poem that captures the essence of what this Visionary Imagination unit has been about; being able to cleanse our doors of perception and open ourselves to a seeing of the infinite as mentioned in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. My poem reads:

I once had mountains in the palm of my hands
and deep oceans in the blue of my eyes,
deeper than a deep I had ever known
even much deeper than the infinite skies.
Blake .jpeg
Image of William Blake taken from: https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Blake

Summative Entry

I have gained an immense appreciation for the richness and depth of American literature through my study of it over this past semester. The texts I have studied have been so engaging because of how historically charged and thought-provoking they are. Some of the areas of American literature that I have studied included transcendentalism, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, native and African American writing, as well as works of modernism, the Beat Generation and postmodernism. Through the collective study of these works I have come to realise that America is undeniably a nation of paradoxes.

In my first blog I took inspiration from the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson as stated in his essay Nature; “Nature always wears the colours of the spirit”. These words hold immense relevance for me because I find that my everyday life is ultimately an embodiment of them. Emerson in his essay Nature, utilises a variety of paradoxes to evoke the higher reasoning and ways of thinking that must be activated to be attuned to nature and the solitude it can offer. When my mind is open and I am optimistic, I find that I am more able to be attuned to my surroundings beyond a superficial level of seeing. I mentioned in my first blog that “it is the spirit of man that dresses and styles the world around him in a way that is synchronous with the happenings in his life at the time.” This means that ones sees the world in the way they style it. They either have the ability to dress it up as dull and unimpressive or explosive and extraordinary with their minds.  I used imagery and descriptions of my experience of camping as a child at Turon Gates to really bring this idea to life.

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Image taken from our campsite at Turon Gates. 

In my second blog, I then discussed the portraits of George Washington and King George III. I talked about the fact that the paintings are symbolic portrayals of the nature of both figures.

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Image taken from:  https://michaelgriffith1.com/2019/07/30/american-literature-2019-session-1/ .

The work of George Washington included him with direct gaze, representing the fact that in his leadership he had the the American people in his field of view and he was an advocate for them. Contrastingly, King George III is depicted with extravagant clothing and an indirect gaze, conveying his detachment from the interests of the people he lead.  I also highlighted the context of these works with the fact that America was freed from the oppression and tyranny of King George III when the United States Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776. It is paradoxical that America liberated itself from the shackles of British rule but have now found themselves in the hands of Donald Trump, who is caught up in the “dusty desert of dollars and smartness”.

The above quotation comes from my third blog on Du Bois, who glorified African Americans as the souls of America. They are much more in touch with their spirituality than most white Americans. America’s paradoxical nature is again affirmed through the fact that these same people who were once committed to slavery, use jazz music and other forms of expression to liberate themselves and project their spirit.

Similarly, Ezra Pound uses form as a means of liberation in his poem In a Station of the Metro. Blog Four discusses his shift away from conventional literary forms of expression, which was an ideal of the modernism movement. He does this by adopting a minimalist form that is characterised by a montage of quick contrasting images. Taking inspiration from In a Station of the Metro, I attempted two of my own poems of the same style:

Waves crashing and crushing the vulnerable sand,

Each whitewash a by-product of the tender kiss between land and sea.

 

Stuck inside the pot, stirred the chicken in the stock

Bursting to bounce out of the boiling bubbles, back to life.

To finish off, my fifth blog then examined the poem Illustration by John Ashbury. This work confronted me with the idea that a world that is swept up in the midst of materialism and empty relationships is meaningless. The nun committed suicide in an attempt to escape from the shallow world she saw herself surrounded by. Her death was a means of immortalising herself so that she would long be remembered on a deeper level for the life she lead.

From the rule of King George III, slavery and preoccupation with materialism to the transcendental experiences that are described in the essays of Emerson and Thoreau, it can undeniably be deduced that America has comprised a wealth of differing states and experiences. It is a nation of paradox.

 

 

 

Blog Five: What is Monumental?

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Image of buildings in New York City taken from: https://pixabay.com/photos/new-york-buildings-tall-top-view-472392/

 

What are some of the confronting and complex ideas that John Ashbery prompts readers to consider through his poem Illustration?

John Ashbery through his poem Illustration undeniably provokes readers to consider a multitude of provocative and real ideas. It is the portrayal of a nun sitting on the top of a building in New York and threatening to commit suicide in order to escape from the meaningless irrelevancies of the world. Her death provides liberation from the empty friendships and other material items that people offer her.

“With that, the wind Unpinned her bulky robes, and naked As roc’s eggs, she drifted softly downward out of the angels’ tenderness and minds of men”.

Her nakedness when she plunges to her death is significant because it is symbolic of her rejection of the shallow ideals of the material world. She is freed from the heaviness of life when her bulky robes are unpinned. She also drifts out of “the minds of men”, affirming her need to be cherished and memorialised in some kind of way.

The second part of the poem is then written in the style of a remembrance eulogy that pays tribute to the novice. It is highlighted that the nun died in order to reach a more remote area of consciousness that a world so swept up in materialism couldn’t provide her with. This is amplified in the quote “Much that is beautiful must be discarded So that we may resemble a taller Impression of ourselves”. She had to escape from a world that was not allowing her to be the best form of herself. The conversational tone connects the reader to the nun and helps them to understand her experience.

She does not want to be remembered and famed on a superficial level but rather on a deeper one wherein she is recognised for the extraordinary things she has done in her life. This is expressed through her dialogue “I desire Monuments”, which demonstrates her desire to be enshrined and remembered beyond her death. Rather than a more literal reading, “monuments” should be interpreted in a more metaphorical way in this instance. She wants to immortalise her being and stir a deeper form of remembrance. Amidst a dynamic and material world, this poem ultimately questions the possibility of creation of a life and legacy that stretches well beyond the occurrence of one’s death.

Blog Four: Visit to the Brett Whiteley Studio

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Image of Brett Whiteley taken from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/whiteley-brett/

Talk about the most interesting aspect of your visit to the Brett Whiteley Studio. Use this an inspiration for the creation of a short poem or paragraph of prose.

I am writing this blog after visiting the Brett Whiteley studio in Surry Hills recently. Being in that space undeniably opened the creative gates of my imagination. When I walked upstairs in the studio, I was greeted with a bank of quotes that Brett Whiteley had marked onto the wall. The one that stuck out to me the most was “I once had mountains in the palm of my hands”. This immediately prompted me to think about William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence, which opens with:

 “To see a World in A Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour”

It is undeniable that Blake’s visionary imagination had projected onto Brett Whiteley and infiltrated his work. They both had heightened cosmic awareness and thus possessed the ability to go beyond a superficial way of seeing. This allowed them to recognise the extraordinary in what most would overlook or perceive as mundane.
I will now use Brett Whiteley’s lines as inspiration for the creation of a short poem of my own that captures his amplified way of seeing the world.
I once had mountains in the palm of my hands
and deep oceans in the blue of my eyes,
deeper than a deep I had ever known
even much deeper than the infinite skies.

Peer Review Four

Click here to be directed to Julia’s insightful blog about living deliberately.

Hi Julia,

Many thanks for your refreshing thoughts and insights in this blog. Your work is well set out in paragraphs, making it easy to engage with and follow. The visual aspect of your blog brings your text to life and creates that sense of living deliberately and freely that is at the core of your argument. It was effective that you included the quote from Thoreau at the start of your blog as a reference point for your readers. Your use of powerful language undeniably had the effect of inspiring me to work towards being the “engineer” of my own life. It would have been great for you to clarify what you mean in regard to living a life “bound by shackles”. You could possibly draw your own experience into this to create a personal and authentic engagement with the issue. Your blog finished strong with the inclusion of the rhetorical question, prompting readers to renew their perceptions. No spelling, grammar or punctuation errors were detected upon my reading of your work. Overall it was an awesome read!