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Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Earlier, I couldn't remember the word for repetition of and (or other connectives). I remembered (or rather, looked in my book) and it is called polysyndeton. Doesn't roll off the tongue or stick in your head too easily, but I wouldn't want you to miss out on it!
Keep checking this blog! Poor Apollonius is feeling very neglected...


I know some of you have got frees this afternoon so thought I'd post this early. Much more detail to follow. I'd like youo to make a revision sheet for a poem of your choice. This should be broken  down  to :

  • Narrative voice and ‘voices’ more generally
  • Point of view
  • Key structural points: beginnings, climaxes, endings
  • Structural patterning, echoing, foreshadowing, repetition etc
  • Key significances, such as places
  • Characterisation (not character)
  • Aspects of time and chronology
Ms :)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Just in case it has got lost in all my holiday blogging (which it appears only one student is reading - oh woe!), you must have read The Eve of St Agnes for tomorrow's lesson.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Monday, 18 April 2011

Lycius and Apollonius

So, how does Keats build the characters of Lycius and Apollonius? 

We've already seen that the fluctuation in the perspective of the speaker changes our understanding of Lamia. (If you haven't read this or don't know it, ensure that you - look at the previous post.) Does our understanding of Lycius and Apollonius change with Lamia? As we begin to favour Lamia do we in turn disapprove of Lycius? 

Compare the characterisation of Lamia at the time we meet Lycius. It might be useful to do a character 'mood' chart here to see how our perceptions change.
The first description we have of Lycius is of a man with 'calm, uneager face'. He is 'thoughtless' and this empty headedness contrasts with the 'sciential brain' of Lamia. Lamia calls Lycius 'bright' and this echoes the speaker's earlier description of herself.  

Lycius' thoughtlessness changes suddenly on his meeting with Lamia. His language is full of exclamation and becomes fervent and obsessive. The exclamation creates disrupts the speech so that it seems broken and disjointed; this heightens the intensity of Lycius' reaction to Lamia.  Lamia, in response, toys with him to such an extent he faints! It's essential that you consider the impact on the reader with this characterisation. How do we respond to the characters as Lycius is 'tangled in her mesh' in a 'trance'? How does this compare with La Belle Dame Sans Merci?

'While, like breath, the stars drew in their panting fires'  is alexandrine. This is an intentional manipulation of the structure. As we discussed in the revision session, Keats was limited with how much he could convey with the iambic pentameter so any change in structure is significant. Here,  it could make it seem spell like. What do you think? 

The speaker then moves the narration to indirect speech: 'she whisper'd' and 'she said' whilst Lycius make 'eloquent reply'. We then get the bias of reported speech from the speaker. Do we then question the objectivity of the speaker? Does this make it seem as if the speaker is lying? 

It is clear that the impact of Lamia's upon Lycius is striking. As he 'from death awoke into amaze' he is characterised as the victim and Lamia is clearly reducing him to a 'woman's part'. 

This bias changes in Part II. They are both lost in the spell of love! (I realise that that is super cheesy!) They are so in love they can't even close their eyes (alexandrine - line 25). The 'purple lined palace of sweet sin' is a sexual metaphor. This may have shocked some audiences, but wouldn't have been  too shocking for Keats' Romantic audience. 

The lovers are returned to reality with a trumpet call. With the turn to reality, Lamia becomes reduced to playing the 'woman's part' that Lycius was earlier as she becomes insecure and desperate. The danger of the return to reality can be found in the diction, which becomes sinister (lines 50-55).  The control is turned as Lycius' human arrogance is shown when he wants to show Lamia off so other can  be 'confounded and abashed' by her beauty. Lamia is now at the mercy of Lycius' pride.

Lamia trembles, cries 'a rain' and is 'pale and meek'. She kneels and begs they do not have a public wedding feast. How does this compare with the presentation of her in Part I? What about Lycius? What's his response to her sorrows? How does our understanding of him change? He takes 'delight' and his face is 'fierce and sanguineous'. How does this compare with the initial 'calm and uneager' Lycius?

The tone changes and the speaker becomes ironic with 'Ha, the serpent! certes, she was none'. Lamia has now metamorphosed into a feeble, weak woman. The snake has gone. She loves the 'tyranny'.

We learn much about Lycius in this part of the poem. Keats uses monosyllabic words when he asks Lamia if she has 'some sweet name'. The reader is drawn to the fact that they have been lovers, but he has not asked her name. The monosyllables of the question enhances the implication of Lycius being simple (as in, a bit thick!). It is a combination of his stupidity and arrogance that lead to him having the wedding feast.
The reader's sympathies oscillate as the roles of abuser and victim fluctuate. 

More on the conclusion and Apollonius to follow...


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Revision Session Wednesday 13th

Hello all
I'll be running the Keats revision session tomorrow afternoon. Some of you are on the register, but, if you haven't signed up, you are more than welcome.
We'll be linking the poems to Aspects of Narrative (rather than doing full poetry analysis).
Rm 5 1-3pm.
Bring a biscuit!
Ms :)

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Hello Y12
Right, I'm going to do another post about Lycius and Apolonius as well as some other general notes about Lamis. I will do a new post about Romantic allegory, which is also useful for Coleridge (you might have done it already with Mrs Archer). I also think it is useful, though not essential, for you to have an understanding of negative capability. So much more to come!

I have sprained my ankle (it still really hurts). Consequently, I have to sit down, which is not in my nature. However, I have endeavoured to turn my confinement into your academic gain! (There is little else I can do; I've read three books now and need a change of focus.)

In this week's lesson we looked at Lamia. We considered narrative voice and, in groups, we looked at the presentation of the characters. Keats' Lamia is based on the version told by Robert Burton in Anatomy of Melancholy (apparently, Keats' favourite book). In Burton's version Lycius is rescued by a wise philosopher from the charms of a lamia. Keats modifies the story and this increases the complexity of the narrative in to a sumptuous feast of ambiguity.

Hermes Keats's makes a significant modification to Burton's version in the the addition of the opening episode concerning Hermes, the nymph and Lamia. What is the relationship between the opening and the subsequent narrative? Immediately, Hermes is known for being cunning, which could heighten our suspicion.

The narrative and textual references provide a fantasy, mythical setting. You can consider this to be like in Science Fiction; we know we are in an alternative setting where the expectations of reality are different (think of Star Wars or The Fringe). Hermes is looking for a nymph of famed beauty. As his search goes on he gets hotter with a 'celestial heat'. The virginal 'whiteness' of the 'lily clear' cheeks to the 'blush'd ... rose' indicate that sex and lust will be involved in this poem. the censorship laws at the time would have prevented Keats form making any explicit reference. The contrast of the virginal whiteness and the red rose could also signal the loss of virginity. The following image of the Grecian god Hermes with his 'golden' curls' tussled on his 'shoulders bare' develops the sexuality in the poem. The rhyme on 'hair' and 'bare' heighten the sexuality as does Keats' use of alexandrine for this line.

The repetition of 'vale to vale from wood to wood' increase the sense of an unfulfilled frustrated search that Hermes is experiencing.

The end of the opening sees a shift in the focus of the narrative; the Hermes story ends. But why is it there? Look at the final twenty lines. The narrator creates a dramatic comparison to reality and illusion or dream and reality. With 'It was no dream; or say it was/ real are the dreams of Gods' Keats makes the reader aware that we seeing something that we know is not true. However, if the dreams of the Gods are real, the dreams of mortals must be deceptive. Although love for the nymph and Hermes has an edge of complication to begin, she 'sobs' and 'cower[s]', but this could also be seen to preserve her feminine modesty, love is uncomplicated. they go into the woods and do not grow 'pale, as mortal lovers do.' Love for immortals is uncomplicated and easily fulfilled (Hermes just has to touch her hand). The implication is then that love for mortals is complicated, difficult to fulfil and complex. It also states that mortal lovers grow pale; love will end badly. I'll draw you back to the earlier question: What is the relationship between the opening and the subsequent narrative? Feel free to leave a comment and get some debate going amongst yourselves. Prizes for those who do!

Lamia Part I
How do we respond to Lamia? Our introduction to Lamia creates intrigue and mistrust. She is 'bright', colourful and beautiful. She is in the form of a snake, but with a woman's mouth, teeth and voice. The speaker here says 'but ah, bitter-sweet!'. Not only does the oxymoronic statement create ambiguity about Lamia, we also have the interjection from the speaker with 'but ah'. this happens later, line 201, where the speaker says, 'we shall see'. Why are these asides there? Again, do add comments below. It will help your learning if you engage with the text. We spoke in class about associations with the devil and the Fall of Man and this would have had an impact readers in the 19th century.

Lamia goes on to repeat what has just happened to Hermes back to Hermes. This makes it seem like a premonition and creates intrigue. Lamia's change into human form is compelling. Her mouth 'foam[s]' and this foam kills the grass it lands on as it is so 'sweet and virulent', again, this creates ambiguity as to our sympathies towards Lamia. The image of this metamorphoses is in stark contrast to the earlier description. Lamia's eyes are 'tortured' and 'glaz'd' and the use of colour is darker and more sinister. The narrative breaks at the end of this stanza and the perspective shifts. The 'beauty' who is 'exquisite' contrasts with the former stanza, yet echoes the initial sight of her as 'bright'. The narrator also asks a question, as if he does not know, which he subsequently answers heightening the confusion. Again, this makes us aware that we are being told a story. It is also the point where we first hear her name. The description of Lamia is of a woman who is beautiful, but also intelligent. She has a 'sciental brain' which seems calculating, cold and led by fact rather than emotional. Why would this have had particular resonance with a Romantic audience?

The reader's intrigue is enhanced when we hear the contradiction that she is both a virgin, but is educated in sex where in 'Cupid's college she has spent sweet days as a lovely graduate'. Why would Keats create this ambiguity in the narrative?

How do we respond to Lamia in the dialogue that she has with Lycius? Our understanding of Lamia is through Lycius' response to her. He is frantic and passionate while she is cold and bids him 'adieu!'. The narrator states that she is a 'cruel lady' and he is in a 'trance'. The use of alexandrine again is out of keeping with the iambic pentameter of the majority of the poem. Here, it seems like it is spell like and adds to the notion that she is enchanting Lycius; the narrator states that she tells him she is a 'woman, and without any more subtle fluid in her veins' even though she has already told him she is a goddess.

The poem moves to indirect speech and with this we lose the sense of truth that comes with dialogue as we are subject to the bias of the narrator. Can you find connections between Lamia and La Belle Dame sans Merci here?

Throughout Part I we have seen Lamia as a snake and then metamorphose in to a beautiful enchantress to seduce a young man. Does sympathy towards Lamia change towards the end of Part I? Identify words, phrases and narrative techniques that possibly change the reader's sympathy.

Lamia Part II
The end of Part I has seen Lamia move into Corinth. Their is a structural shift in the poem that corresponds to the movement of place within the narrative.

The ambiguity of where the reader's sympathies should lie is further developed. Lamia becomes the submissive partner. The narrator sees that she is like a mortal woman, weak, insecure and dependent. Poor Lamia! this perhaps reflects the rights of women in the early 19th century. However, when Lycius looks in her eyes he is 'mirror'd small' suggesting that he is a reflection and, in consequence, dependent on her for his existence.

Identify aspects of the narrative that are sympathetic to Lamia in Part II. Where does the sympathy turn? Is it ever directly sympathetic to Lamia? What poetic devices does Keats use to emphasise the speaker's sympathy or lack of it? Leave a comment!

I also invite you to make notes on the semantic fields. Look at heat, madness, sex, colour and disappearing. Find where they are in the poem and note any differences.
Here is an article that Mrs Archer passed on to you in your lesson, but you may have missed it. The video that has gone wrong for some reason in my last post is available here.

That's enough to be going on with.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


This isn't the BBC production, but you may find it useful... Listen with headphones as the sound is not great.

The Romantics: Nature [Part 1 of 6].avi

Here is a link to an excellent series produced by the BBC with Peter Ackroyd. I'll post some link later to specific videos, but, if you can bear to watch 18 10 minute videos, your understanding of the Romantics will be much improved.

Keats and Coleridge

Hello Y12

I hope you've been enjoying the sunshine, marvelling in the joys of nature like true Romantics!

There was an excellent series on the BBC a few years ago on the Romantics. Here is a link to Coleridge and the Imagination a Romantic Trainspotting as it details Coleridge's descent in to addiction. Here is a link to the friendship of Coleridge and Wordsworth.

Here is an extract of the same series about Keats. If you click on the link for Keats, Shelley and Adonais on the right hand side, it will take you to the subseqfuent video.

Watch the whole series via YouTube (first link is below); it is an efficient way to revise your understanding of the Romantics.

Finally, if you'd like some reading, this is quite a good biography of Coleridge and Wordsworth. I think you can even get it in the £2 bookshop on St Aldates - bargain!

More to follow ASAP.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Hi Y12

If you don't mind, I'm going to post a review of today's lesson later in the week. Realistically, this will be Saturday. The reason is that I am very tired - sorry!

I'm hoping that, as it''s the holidays, a few days won't matter too much (you're probably also tired). Do get in touch if you think it may.

Your homework is to read through the Allardyce booklet and annotate the rest of Lamia. My delayed post will give more information, as will the booklet though (so you've got something to do between now and Saturday!).

You also need to read The Eve of St. Agnes.

Finally, here is a biography of Fanny Brawne. This will hold greater resonance with those who saw the film Bright Star (a film named after a sonnet composed for Fanny by Keats). The film, for me at least (although a dramatisation rather than a factual account), made Keats seem more human.

AG and JK - it's your turn for cakes on the Wednesday when we return...

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Ok, Centola reference... Centola. S, R. 1997. ed. Bigsby, C., 1997. The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch. 4. Ms :)

Monday, 4 April 2011


Hello Y12
Please ensure that your essays have bibliographies. These must be completed to the Harvard system of referencing. This is:
Surname, Initial. Second initial if relevant., year of publication. Title of Book in Italics. Place of publication: Publisher.
This should look like this:
Baron, D. P., 2008. Business and the organisation. Chester: Pearson.
If you need any further help on how to reference a text or website, look at this site. It tells you how to reference everything just click one that you need and it'll show you underneath how to do it. You'll be using it for years if you go to university so it's worth getting the hang of it now. It is easy once you know how.
Also, please come to Wednesday's lesson with an electronic version of both your coursework essays. King Lear and All My Sons.
Hope all is well.