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Comparing Man’s Downfall in Second Coming and The world is too much with us

Man’s Downfall in Second Coming and The world is too much with us

Although W.B. Yeats wrote roughly a century after the Era of Romanticism, his Romantic precursors influenced his writing greatly. One of his most famous poems, “The Second Coming,” echoes both Blake’s The Book of Urizen and Shelley’s most ambitious poem Prometheus Unbound (Bloom 530). Despite less criticism on the relationship between Yeats’s poems and the writing of another one of his Romantic predecessors, William Wordsworth, Wordsworth’s reproach of greed and materialism in a waxing industrial society influences Yeats’ poetic interpretation of the apocalypse. Both Wordsworth and Yeats depict man’s downfall; “The world is too much with us” foreshadows and describes the reasons for the predicted apocalypse of The Second Coming. A cultural concentration on redundant commercialism, loss of focus on nature, and lack of conviction fuel both poems, yet only Yeats envisions the graphic result in an eventual takeover of man.

In the first four lines of “The world is too much with us,” the speaker laments man’s shift of focus from nature to materialism:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon (Wordsworth 1394)!

Wordsworth, normally writing in a much softer tone indicative of the Romantic style which he helped to define, begins the sonnet with a strong, scolding voice associated so specifically with Milton (Levinson 644). He emphatically condemns the “vulgar materialism” of the age exhibiting the human race’s frivolousness and frets that instead of looking to Nature (their own and the surrounding), human…

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Cantor, Jay. “History in the Revolutionary Movement: Men Made Out of Words.” The Space Between: Literature and Politics. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.

Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Dennis Poupard. Vol. 11. Detroit: Gale, 1983. 540-541.

Levinson, Marjorie. “Back to the Future: Wordsworth’s New Historicism.” South Atlantic Quarterly 88 (1989): 633-659.

Profitt, Edward. “Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming.'” Explicator 49 (1991): 104-105.

Wordsworth, William. “The world is too much with us.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed., the major authors. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1996. 1394.

Yeats, William Butler. “The Second Coming.” The Norton Anthology of English

Literature. 6th ed., the major authors. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1996. 2280

Split Sisters and Split Personalities of Goblin Market

Split Sisters and Split Personalities of Goblin Market

“I have 50 different personalities, and still I’m lonely” (Amos). Perhaps everyone is truly composed of multiple personalities embodied within one whole. Whether these split personalities are actual or purely metaphorical, no one human being has a single sided mind, and a single sided position on everything. Within the brain many battles are raged between opposing sides of issues, between the personalities. “Goblin Market” is one of Christina Rosetti’s “sister” poems, a form in which she used sisters to “represent different aspects of the split personality that was caused by conflicting attitudes and mixed emotions towards love” (Bellas 66). The two opposing young sides of a single person’s brain are separated into two different beings, two sisters. During the poem, the two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, contrast and become contrasting opinions and factions on love, femininity, and sensuality, eventually maturing and reconciling their conflicting beliefs into a mutual ground.

“Laura’s love of the fruit is insatiable” (Mayberry 90). Lizzie is a more Victorian image of love “cautious, timid, and tedious” (Mayberry 43). In the Victorian days respectable women were expected to be good Christian women. Rossetti is a demonstration of these expectations. In reference to the awkward moral at the end of the poem Martine Brownley says.

“Undoubtedly that was the only way that the quiet devoted recluse could tolerate what she had procured in the poem. The woman who pasted pieces of paper over the more explicit lines in Swinburne’s poetry could never have faced the actual implications of the stunningly effective parable… which somehow welled up from her unconscious self” …

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…look” for the first time in her life. The Victorian element of the 1800s has been brought down to a more reasonable level through Lizzie. The wild feminist in Laura has been tamed by the life threatening experience and the overpowering devotion of her sister.

Works Cited

Amos, Tori. “Tori Amos in Conversation.” Baktabak Recordings 1997.

Bellas, Ralph A. Christina Rossetti . Illinois State University, Twayne Publishers Boston, 1977.

Harrison, Anthongy H. Christina Rossetti in Context. University of NC Press, Chapel Hill and London: 1988.

Mayberry, Katherine J. Christina Rossetti and the Poetry of Discovery. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London. 1989.

Brownley, Martine Watson, “Love and Sensuality in Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market.” Essays in Literature 1979 Western Illinois University Vol. No. 2 Rpt in TCLC.

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