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we will look at two poets Keats and Byron. Like the other Romantics Keats also embodies a quasi-spiritual attitude towards Nature, as well as a Coleridge-like organicism. Like Shelley, he saw the creative mind and aesthetic consciousness as tied in to a sense of Nature, drawn from Nature. Ode to a Nightingale Here nature is embodied in a bird. As bird and the poet’s song merge, Keats suggests the merging of Nature and art, or Nature and the creative mind. The surrounding setting stimulate the imagination, and even when he cannot see, he can still see with his mind: (Refer Slide Time: 1:23) I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the bough, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves; And mid-May’s eldest child, The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, The murmurous haunt of lies on summer eves (Refer Slide Time: 2:03) Nature’s song as embodied in the nightingale’s music becomes the means to transcend the everyday and the fragility of human life. For Keats therefore Nature is a means of escape, the fragility of human life is too much. You will see some of these records from Wordsworth here, Wordsworth will also say that the world is too much with us, so we need to get away from it and the only way you can escape is by going into Nature. This what Keats would say, I will fly to thee, Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: (Refer Slide Time: 2:44) The poet acquires perfect happiness when listening to this song. The nightingale’s song is the poet’s only connection to the external world. But the poem also has a third aspect: fancy. Keats aligns the three – the bird, the poet and the imagination., or fancy. But there is also an ambiguity here. The merger with the nightingale or its song can lead to self-annihilation, suggests the poet, especially in the last stanza: (Refer Slide Time: 3:21) Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep? (Refer Slide Time: 3:55) The sound from Nature, the song from the nightingale bird, drives everything in the first half of the poem, and the second half, it shows how it all goes away. In fact, a 20th -century critic has termed the poet an account of the “turmoil” of “disintegration”, of “patterns flying apart not coming together”, that everything begins to collapse, and this is an important reading because it shows ambiguity at the heart of Keats’s representation of Nature. There is also another dimension to this poem on Nature, the natural process of suffering, age and sorrow: (Refer Slide Time: 4:32) The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few sad, last, gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs, Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes There is of course a suggestion that this is about ageing and death. Contextual readings by people who work at the intersection of medicinal literature have argued that this is actually the description of a hospital ward, where people hear others groan and cry and die, and there is despair, and people grow spectre thin before they die. (Refer Slide Time: 5:14) There is a clear ecoconsciousness in a poem such as “The Grasshopper and the Cricket”, that is our next theme and our next poem. Look at Keats, excerpt from “Grasshopper and the Cricket”: The poetry of earth is never dead: When all the birds are faint with the hot sun, And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead; That is the Grasshopper’s – he takes the lead In Summer’s luxury, - he has never done With his delights; for when tired out with fun He rests at ease beneath some pleasant heed. The poetry of earth is ceasing never. On a lone winter evening, when the frost Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever, And seems to one in drowsiness half lost, The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills. In ‘To Autumn’, however, Keats undertakes a sleight of hand. Instead of speaking of the inevitable nature of seasonal change, he presents the seasons themselves as having slowed down (Steve Curran’s argument): Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers That is, it is not a question of the change of seasons, but of the seasons themselves as slowing down. This is what Steve Curran says about “To Autumn”: “In this stark vision the sensate world of sound and sight is not an arena of recuperative health but exactly its opposite, a hospital ward where, whether the patient be old or young, decay is the common denominator; and those who tend the afflicted, unless they can maintain their scientific detachment, experience ‘leaden-eyed despairs’ (28) at the inefficacy of their intervention.” (Refer Slide Time: 7:33) Look at what he is saying: Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies (Refer Slide Time: 7:47) Steve Curran notes that painkillers and opiates in Ode to Nightingale, there’s so many of those leading to drowsy numbness, the swallows twittering like a sore throat - a subliminal pun perhaps, on swallowing - in “To autumn” are instances. Keats has a lot of therapeutic, palliative, alleviating, medication described through his text and Steve Curran’s20th century reading notes the list of painkillers and opiates in “ode to a nightingale”. So the drowsy numbness is actually an opiate being described, and opiate’s effects being described. The reference to the swallows which twitter in the skies at the end of “Ode to a Nightingale”, critics like Allen Bewell in the study of romanticism and colonial disease have argued might just be a reference to Keats’ own sore throat. (Refer Slide Time: 8:47) In Autumn In the poem “In Autumn”, this is a Nature of a rather tropical kind. I am following here Allen Bewell’s very convincing, very persuasive reading. Nature is of a tropical kind, with excessive heat and excessive ripening. Here are the lines from In Autumn, which indicate the Bewell might have a clear argument with him. fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells For Bewell, this is less about ripening than about over-ripening and over-ripening, which is on the verge of decay. The clammy could also be a reference, he says, to sweaty states of the human form, a person gripped with fever. When the poem ends, it is life waiting to be extinguished, towards the end of it. I have already mentioned the idea of subliminal pun in the term swallows. This is the conclusion to the famous Autumn ode: (Refer Slide Time: 9:52) Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. Byron Let us now turn quickly to Byron, specifically his fantasy dream poem “Darkness” which describes an Armageddon or apocalypse. This is not, please understand, a wonderful cheery Nature, it’s Nature catastrophically damaged. This is the way it opens. (Refer Slide Time: 10:28) The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars Did wander darkling in the eternal space, Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air; The world has turned upside down in the wake of a disaster. This is what he would say about what happens after the disaster, after the natural calamity: And others hurried to and fro, and fed Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up With mad disquietude on the dull sky, The pall of a past world; and then again With curses cast them down upon the dust, And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd And, terrified, did flutter on the ground, And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd And twin'd themselves among the multitude, Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food. Here is the description of what can be thought of as social entropy, that there is chaos following an earthquake and we know this right, after an earthquake or any natural disaster, the social order collapses. Byron is doing something interesting, Byron is speaking about the catastrophic state of Nature, which is reflected, which is mirrored in the problem of social entropy. So when Nature collapses, social order collapses, people are fighting for food and fuel, this is what he says, “the world was void/, the populous and the powerful was a lump,/ seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless and lifeless”. Byron’s darkness has an entirely different tone from what we have seen so far. Byron is actually speaking about the situation, end of the world scenario, which is more common to ecodystopias in the 20th century and 21st century literature. If you know eco-dystopias films, like the Book of Eli, or all those science-fiction films where the world is ending kind of thing, The Day After Tomorrow and others, nature collapses because of climatic change or something like that. When climate change occurs the world collapses, and the world collapses at a social level as well. You see it in any number of eco-dystopian novels from Margaret Atwood to J.J Ballard, Octavia Butler as where the world has more or less collapsed. Byron’s poem is speaking precisely that language, so I would suggest that we think about Byron’s Darkness, his famous poem Darkness as anticipating the eco-dystopias of the 20th century that when Nature collapses the world we live in will also collapse. It is an important ecological argument. It says, Byron says that we are alive, we flourish as a civilization only when we have a suitable, sustaining environment in which we can live. When that sustaining environment collapses we collapse, so Byron is actually anticipating many of the 20th -century authors that there is an intrinsic link between the so-called glory of human civilization and the natural setting in which the civilization is built. Clearly this is not a traditional, romanticized view or romantic view of Nature, Byron has more or less anticipated 20th century eco-consciousness and eco-dystopias.