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Scribe Notes 5/21/09
Thankfully, on Thursday the 21st it was finally nice enough to go outside for class to read
poetry. After the class picked up books, paper, and pencils, we made the trek to our usual spot,
where it was apparent no one had mowed for quite a while. Despite this, we all settled down to
read. First was Tennyson’s In Memoriam, which is about Tennyson’s friend Arthur Henry
Hallum who died at the age of 22. Tennyson found it difficult to handle, and felt lost. To
express this, he wrote this extremely long elegy that can be divided into parts to enjoy separately.
It is extremely moving and personal; the first section we read clearly showed his depression. In
it, he attempts to explain that everything happens for a reason. In the last section we read,
section 130, Tennyson comes to terms with the death. It clearly shows some Romantic elements
through the famous quote, “Though mixed with God and Nature thou…”
Next, we read Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar. This poem was actually put onto his
tombstone, and expresses a crossing from treachery to safety. One famous quote is, “I hope to
see my Pilot face to face/ when I have crossed the bar.” We then moved on to Browning’s
Prospice. These are his ideas on death and can be contrasted with Tennyson’s. It shows that he
is ready to fight death, but on the other side, he just wants to see his wife.
After that, we learned a bit about Matthew Arnold. He was more a critic than poet, and
was extremely conservative. An evangelical, he pushed for modern ideas but felt people were
entirely phony about religion. He died in 1888 but looked in the future and saw that the world he
knew would disintegrate. His poem Dover Beach is about a man in a room with his lover who
tries to explain to her a difficult concept while listening to the ocean. According to the handy
description on the next page, this poem expressed “the anxiety experienced by an isolated
individual as he confronts the turbulent historical forces and the loss of religious faith in the
modern world.” Arnold was concerned about “where do we go from here, and what’s going to
happen?”
We quickly went through a number of other poets and there works in little detail.
Included was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Silent Noon, which includes a lot of nature and is written
very prettily. We skipped by Brontë, and of course everyone in the class was incredibly
disappointed. We read George Meredith’s Lucifer and Starlight, which showed cultures
fascination with dark heroes. Last, we read Christina Rossetti’s Sleeping at Last, which Mr.
Bennett described as good emo poetry. Instead of heading in early, the decision was made to sit
and enjoy the nice weather for a bit longer, which we all did happily before heading back into the
school.
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