19th Century British
1. Students will be able to identify the different poetic meters.
2. Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of
English and Italian sonnets.
3. Students will be able to distinguish between romantic and
4. Students will be able to discuss some of what the 19th
century brought to the world of poetry.
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barret Browning
(1806 - 1861)
Fell off a horse and injured her spine at the age of 15. From this
she never fully recovered. She also had developed a lung
Supposedly had read many Shakespearean plays before the
age of 10.
Her family owned sugar plantations in Jamaica where they
relied on slave labour.
Elizabeth herself was a strong supporter of the anti-slavery
Married Robert Browning in a private wedding due to her father’s
strict forbidding of any of his children to marry. They then snuck
away to live in Italy.
Her marriage to Robert is said to have had a large impact on the
improvement of her health.
The doubt and disbelief she found in being loved by Robert, she
expressed in her Sonnets from the Portuguese.
There are no direct descendents of the poets because their only
son, Robert Wideman Browning, never had children.
“Elizabeth died in her husband’s arms in 1861.”
Cry Of the Children
Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers---
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows;
The young birds are chirping in the nest;
The young fawns are playing with the shadows;
The young flowers are blowing toward the west---
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
They are weeping bitterly!---
They are weeping in the playtime of the others
In the country of the free.
(Sonnets from the Portuguese)
The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
To love me, I looked forward to the moon
To slacken all those bonds which seemed too soon
And quickly tied to make a lasting troth.
Quick-loving hearts, I thought, may quickly loathe;
And, looking on myself, I seemed not one
For such man's love!---more like an out-of-tune
Worn viol, a good singer would be wroth
To spoil his song with, and which, snatched in haste,
Is laid down at the first ill-sounding note.
I did not wrong myself so, but I placed
A wrong on thee. For perfect strains may float
'Neath master-hands, from instruments defaced,---
And great souls, at one stroke, may do and doat.
(Sonnets from the Portuguese)
Pardon, oh, pardon, that my soul should make
Of all that strong divineness which I know
For thine and thee, an image only so
Formed of the sand, and fit to shift and break.
It is that distant years which did not take
Thy sovranty, recoiling with a blow,
Have forced my swimming brain to undergo
Their doubt and dread, and blindly to forsake
Thy purity of likeness and distort
Thy worthiest love to a worthless counterfeit:
As if a shipwrecked Pagan, safe in port,
His guardian sea-god to commemorate,
Should set a sculptured porpoise, gills a-snort
And vibrant tail, within the temple gate.
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me I shall not see the shadows,
With showers and dewdrops wet; I shall not feel the rain;
And if thou wilt, remember, I shall not hear the nightingale
And if thou wilt, forget. Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
Born into a family of critics, artists, and poets. From which it could
be said she inherited her creative genes.
At the age of 14, due to her family’s “severe financial difficulties”,
she reportedly had a nervous breakdown and left school.
After this her life was plagued with periods of depression and
related illness. Because of this she turned to religion, which is
apparent in her poetry.
As Christina aged and matured, her writing reflected other
concerns and focused on some of her other interests.
Feminist themes have been identified in her later works.
Christina Rossetti died of cancer December 29, 1894, at the age
A Better Resurrection
I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me
She left the rosy morn,
Where sunless rivers weep
She left the fields of corn,
Their waves into the deep,
For twilight cold and lorn
She sleeps a charmed sleep:
And water springs.
Awake her not.
Through sleep, as through a veil,
Led by a single star,
She sees the sky look pale,
She came from very far
And hears the nightingale
To seek where shadows are
That sadly sings.
Her pleasant lot.
Rest, rest, a perfect rest
Shed over brow and breast;
Her face is toward the west,
The purple land.
She cannot see the grain
Ripening on hill and plain;
She cannot feel the rain
Upon her hand.
She gave up beauty in her tender youth,
Gave all her hope and joy and pleasant ways;
She covered up her eyes lest they should gaze
On vanity, and chose the bitter truth.
Harsh towards herself, towards others full of ruth,
Servant of servants, little known to praise,
Long prayers and fasts trenched on her nights and days:
She schooled herself to sights and sounds uncouth
That with the poor and stricken she might make
A home, until the least of all sufficed
Her wants; her own self learned she to forsake,
Counting all earthly gain but hurt and loss.
So with calm will she chose and bore the cross
And hated all for love of Jesus Christ.
I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.
John Clare (1793 - 1864)
John Clare was born into a farming family and began writing
after being inspired by poetry, written by James Thomson, while
still in his early teens.
As John was subject to only a brief education as a child, much
of his writing contained improper English, including incorrect
spelling and punctuation, and Northamptonshire dialect such as
'pooty' (snail), 'lady-cow' (ladybird), 'crizzle' (to crisp) and
After he experienced a quick flash of fame, Clare began feeling
the pressure to make himself re-known and make money with
which he could provide for him family.
As a result he resorted to alcohol. It was this alcoholism that
people blamed for his soon after mental illness which became
In an interview with a newspaper editor, John was recorded
saying, “I'm John Clare now, I was Byron and Shakespeare
In 1837 he was admitted to a mental asylum in Epping, accused
of being “unfit for society”.
In 1841 he escaped to rejoin his family, but was then readmitted
to the Northampton County Asylum. This is where he would
spend the last two decades of his life.
To John Clare
Well, honest John, how fare you now at home?
The spring is come, and birds are building nests;
The old cock-robin to the sty is come,
With olive feathers and its ruddy breast;
And the old cock, with wattles and red comb,
Struts with the hens, and seems to like some best,
Then crows, and looks about for little crumbs,
Swept out by little folks an hour ago;
The pigs sleep in the sty; the bookman comes--
The little boy lets home-close nesting go,
And pockets tops and taws, where daisies blow,
To look at the new number just laid down,
With lots of pictures, and good stories too,
And Jack the Giant-killer's high renown
First off, a foot is a pair of stressed and unstressed syllables.
There are five kinds of feet;
Iamb (Iambic) Unstressed + Two Syllables
Trochee (Trochaic) Stressed + Two Syllables
Spondee (Spondaic) Stressed + Two Syllables
Anapest (Anapestic) Unstressed + Three Syllables
Dactyl (Dactylic) Stressed + Three Syllables
In poetry, lines of feet are named;
- One foot: monometer
- Two feet: dimeter
- Three feet: trimeter
- Four feet: tetrameter
- Five feet: pentameter
- Six feet: hexameter
- Seven feet: heptameter
- Eight feet: octameter
Ex. Trochaic tetrameter (4 trochees, 8 syllables)
Tell me | not in | mournful | numbers
Ex. Anapestic trimeter (3 anapests, 9 syllables)
And the sound | of a voice | that is still
The two most commonly seen types of sonnet are the
Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet and the Shakespearean (English)
The Italian sonnet follows the rhyming pattern:
ABBA ABBA CDE CDE
The English sonnet follows the rhyming pattern:
ABAB CDCD EF EF GG
Sonnets are written in iambic pentameter (5 iambs, 10
Ex. That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | behold
Writing an English Sonnet
The English sonnet consists of three quatrains (four
consecutive lines of verse that make up a stanza) and an
ending couplet (two consecutive rhyming lines of verse).
Also described, or remembered as Q1, Q2, Q3, and C.
This sonnet is structured as if you were writing a story;
Q1: presents the situation or thought (ABAB)
Q2: further explains the situation or thought (CDCD)
Q3: twist or conflict (EFEF)
C: conclusion (GG)
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest,
Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Poem Analysis: Sonnet 43
(A) How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
(B) I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
(B) My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
(A) For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
(A) I love thee to the level of everyday's
(B) Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
(B) I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
(A) I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
(C) I love thee with the passion put to use
(D) In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
(C) I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
(E) With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
(C) Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
(E) I shall but love thee better after death.
Abstract Imagery: “Abstractions are words or phrases that refer to
concepts rather than specific things. Things like truth, beauty, love,
and pain are abstract.”
Concrete Imagery: Imagery in poetry is what the words of the poem
make the reader 'see' in their imagination. it is the colors, sounds,
and sometimes feelings evoked by the poem.
Caesura: “A natural pause or break in a line of poetry, usually near
the middle of the line.”
Enjambment: “The continuation of a complete idea (a sentence or
clause) from one line or couplet of a poem to the next line or
couplet without a pause.”