Poems on Art and Nature


Poster¡G Sarita Chuang at 18:55:20 11/19/97 from c441-56.svdcc.fju.edu.tw
Mentioned¡G
WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN*D ASTRONOMER, by W. Whitman 
1. From the second line, the readers feel that the astronomer was, indeed, very learned, because he presented lots of proofs and figures on the board. Besides, he presented those information very neatly; they were arranged in columns, and were very organized. The astronomer also gave the students lots of materials (line 3). So, the first four lines make us feel that this lecture was full of information, the teaching materials were abundant, and the lecturer was very qualified to talk about such topic, since in line 4, the speaker of this poem mentioned that the astronomer lectured with much applause. 
2. The speaker of this poem responded to the lecture with some kind of indifference. I said indifference because in the first stanza, he showed no interest in listening to the lecture. In the last four lines, he simply went out of the lecture room. The grammatically ambiguous wording of line three and line four creates a contrast between the astronomer*s eagerness to deliver his knowledge and the speaker*s boredom about this lecture. 
3. The speaker went outside; obviously it*s because he became tired and sick. I think he became sick of the lecture because he felt even the learned astronomer*s knowledge means little compared to the nature itself-there are still much more mysteries in nature, especially in astronomy, which human beings don*t know anything about. 
4. This poem suggests the readers of the mystical aspects of nature. If the astronomer*s lecture is just a type of art that shows the astronomer*s own feelings and interpretation of nature. Such art is limited, compared to the nature itself. 
I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD, by W. Wordsworth 
1.In line 1, the speaker of this poem personified clouds. Clouds are part of nature, and they seemed lonely because the speaker himself felt lonely. Clouds are a reflection of the speaker*s state of mind. 
2. The daffodils are also personified in this poem. I think the daffodils are symbolic of the beauty that suddenly catches our attention in our daily life. The poet personified them because they made him feel happy, as if they were also creatures with emotion. I don*t think the daffodils are also lonely, because they are in a crowd, and always appear with some other things in nature, e.g., the breeze, the waves, etc.. The poet also used words like, *sprightly,* *glee,* and *jocund* to increase the cheerful atmosphere. 
3. In the final stanza, the speaker came to realize that the happiness and loneliness ere both created by his own thoughts. It is not the cloud, nor the daffodils that really controls his feeling. I think that*s what he means by inward eye. However, the splendid image of the daffodils remained in his mind, and brightened his days whenever he thought about it. 
4. The nature in this poem, compared to the nature in Whitman*s *WHEN I HEARED THE LEARNED ASTRONOMER,* is more lively, animated, and gleeful. In this poem. the nature (the dancing daffodils) is the source of pleasure, whereas in the latter poem, the nature seems like a body of mystery. 
THE DARKLING THRUSH, by Thomas Hardy 
1. The speaker of this poem felt uncertain about the approaching Twentieth Century, for he didn*t try to predict what would happen, he was not pessimistic, either. The nature described in the first and second stanza is filled with bleak and dreary atmosphere; we can feel that through the usage of such words, *spectre gray,* *winter*s dregs,* *desolate,* *death lament,* etc. The poet was trying to present a winter landscape with bareness. Besides, such bareness is symbolic of the turn of the century, of the end of an era, and of the uncertainty of the future. 
2. Personally, I would feel optimistic about the end of this century; and the beginning of the next. Although there are many wars or quarrels between different nations and races, and international peace seems still far away, I believe the rapid advance of human civilization, especially the aspect of computer technology and digital information, will bring more advantages than disadvantages to human beings. 
3. The third stanza introduces the presence of a thrush. The thrush*s song implies some kind of liveliness in the bleak winter landscape. The thrush*s song was so intriguing that the speaker described it as *ecstatic sound.* I wonder what*s the deeper meaning for the singing of the thrush? Maybe it is symbolic of the new age, the twentieth century. Or it is the symbol of hop. 
4. There are both similarities and differences between the speaker of this poem and the thrush. The speaker, being embodied in the winter landscape, is symbolic of the ending of the 19th century. The thrush represent the coming of the 20th century. In short, they both represent the changing of time, but the difference is that the speaker*s song is about the downfall of the old era, while the thrush*s song is about the uncertainty, and maybe a little hope about the beginning of the 20th century. 
5. The final stanza basically means that the thrush*s voice was ecstatic, but the speaker didn*t know the cause of such beautiful sounds. Maybe only the thrush knew the cause, which might be a blessed hope. In this stanza, the poet didn*t want to declare that things will be fine in the 20th century. He*d rather express the reality--that he knew nothing about the future, just as everyone did. 
6. The poem suggests a week human position in nature, and history. Humans are especially ignorant and helpless compared to the powerful nature, or the changing of time. Art, sometimes, is merely a reflection of such status in nature. 
THE DANCE, by William C. Williams 
1.When this poem is read outoud, I found it has a quick and sliding pattern. It must be the effect created by the poem*s sounds and rhythm. The repetition of *go round* and the usage of words like *kicking and rolling* create a happy atmosphere. But I think the meaning of this poem is more than just a description of Breughel*s *the Carnival,* because the dancers in this poem danced in an almost hysterical way. Could it be that the poet viewed the dancers in Breughel*s painting as vulgar, unrefined, even a little foolish? 
2. Although both Breughel*s painting and this poem are about the carnival, I think Williams emphasized more on the behaviors of the dancers, while Breughel painted the dancers at the back of his painting. In other words, we see men drinking, a couple kissing, and a couple running to join the dance in the front part of Breughel*s painting, but the dancers are merely at the background. 
3. If I were to write a poem about this painting, I would write in a more explicit way about the deeper meaning of this painting. That is, I would write about how people were enjoying themselves, and were having lots of fun, but they forgot the moral side. Because I noticed that Breughel painted a very small picture of the Virgin Mary and the Infant on the right up side of this painting with a certain reason. 
4. Since many of the lines in this poem end with weak sounds which don*t receive much stress, this corresponds with the irregularity of the wild dancing. 
5. I think the last line of the poem repeats the first line, because the poet wanted to make the pattern sounds like the music of the dance. In a song, or in any piece of music work, the last section is often the repetition of the first one. Such repetition also suggests the image of the dancers, *go round, go round, and go round,* an image of continuous dancing without any stop. 
6. This poem might suggest that art can reflect the local or daily life of common people. It might also suggest that although the canvas itself is smooth, after the artist finished his work, the painting gives a rhythmical feeling. The viewers can even feel the strong movement of the dancers from the painting. 
MUSEE DES BEAUX ARTS, by W.H. Auden 
1 Lines 5-8 refer to the painting, *The Census.* Line 9-13 refer to *The Massacre of the Innocents.* The remaining lines refer to *Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.* The first four lines are related to the 3 paintings because: 
1)The speaker of this poem viewed the artists who painted the 3 paintings as *the old masters.* And he wrote that they were never wrong about sufferings. 
2) All the 3 paintings express the idea of suffering, either the fall of Icarus or the massacre. 
3) The 3 and 4 lines convey the idea of human unconcern and indifference about others* suffering. The 3 paintings also convery the same idea. For example, the plowman continued plowing, didn*t care at all about the splashing sound Icarus made, when he fell into the water. 
2. Icarus was the son of Daedalus, a great architect who built the Labyrinth. Because Minos, the King of Crete, was angry that Daedalus helped Theseus to get out of Labyrinth, when Theseus went to kill the Minotaur, Minos decided to imprison Daedalus. In order to escape, Daedalus made two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers; on for him, and one for Icarus. As Icarus and Daedalus flied away, Icarus forgot his father*s warning and flied too close to the sun. The wax on his wings melted, and Icarus fell into the sea. 
3. The rhymes of line 5 end with the *ing* sound, and correspond to the meaning of this poem. The *-ing* form suggests that people just continue *doing* what they are doing, while others suffer at the same time. 
4. There is a certain pattern in this poem. From line 1 to 4, the lines get longer. But the lines get shorter, in the case of line 5 to 8, line 9-13, and line 14-21. I think the poet arranged this pattern because he wanted to show that from the artist*s point of view, the sufferings had little influence to other people. So the lines which describe the 3 paintings get shorter, while the first 4 lines get longer. 
5. The poem and paintings here suggest that artists and poets can select details from the nature. For example, Pieter Breughel could choose to do a *close-up* of the fall of Icarus, but he simply painted Icarus*s legs above the sea. Instead, the plowman in the front became the main character. this is Breughel*s way of showing suffering and human unconcern. The nature itself cannot be changed, so the artists change and select the things they want to use in their works. So do the poets.