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GREAT BRITISH LITERATURE PART 1: POETS' CORNER AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON



The first poet to be buried here, in 1400, was Geoffrey Chaucer. Not because he was a poet but because he was Clerk of the King's Works. Nearly 200 years later, Edmund Spenser (1553-1598) who wrote 'The Faerie Queene' for Elizabeth I, one of the longest poems in the English language, asked to be buried near Chaucer – perhaps with an eye on his own literary reputation. 

And, so began a tradition of burials and memorials which continues to this day. The Deans of Westminster decide who receives a place based on merit though they consult widely.


Famous writers and poets buried in the Abbey, among others:


  • Charles Dickens

  • Thomas Hardy

  • Rudyard Kipling

  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Fill in the chart with the title of the works


A CHRISTMAS CAROL - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

TESS OF THE D’UBERVILLES - THE JUNGLE BOOK - THE LADY OF SHALOTT (POEM) THE CANTERBURY TALES  - GREAT EXPECTATIONS

CHAUCER

SPENSER

DICKENS

HARDY

KIPLING

LORD TENNYSON


The Faerie Queene

















Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in India in 1865. He travelled widely during his life, living in England, India, the United States and South Africa. During his second visit to India, from 1882 to 1889, he worked as a journalist, keeping exhaustive notes about life in that country. These notes became the basis of many books, including the children’s story The Jungle Book.


Kipling was an immensely popular author during his lifetime, producing a vast amount of novels, poems, a semi-autobiography and several collections of short stories. His poem “If” is now included in innumerable anthologies around the world, and the Disney version of “The Jungle Book” became one of the most popular children’s films of all time. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.


IF…. Which one do you think it’s Kipling’s poem (1895), and which one a song by Pink Floyd (1970)?

IF - by ___________________

IF - by ___________________

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:


If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:


If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

If I were a swan, I'd be gone

If I were a train, I'd be late

And if I were a good man,

I'd talk with you more often than I do


If I were asleep, I could dream

If I were afraid, I could hide

If I go insane, please

Don't put your wires in my brain


If I were the moon, I'd be cool

If I were a rule, I would bend

If I were a good man,

I'd understand the spaces between friends


If I were alone, I would cry

And if I were with you, I'd be home and dry

If I go insane, will you still

Let me join in with the game?


If I were a swan, I'd be gone

If I were a train, I'd be late again

If I were a good man,

I'd talk with you more often than I do

Pink Floyd's song available here

Poem translation available below (at the end of the lesson)


Can Kipling's poem somehow be compared to this song, written by Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) in 1970, same year of the Pink Floyd's song? Why yes? Why no?




THE JUNGLE BOOK (1894) - Do you know all the main characters ?


Baloo -  Bagheera  -  Mowgli  -  Shere Khan -   Akela



A very young boy, called __________ lives in the jungle. __________, the tiger, wants to look after him, and so do the wolves. ______________,the wolf leader, decides that the boy will stay with the wolves.

______________ the bear and _______________ the panther also look after him. The boy stays in the jungle for ten years.


When Akela becomes old, Shere Khan thinks he might now get Mowgli with the help of the young wolves who don’t like him. Mowgli defends himself by throwing fire at his enemies, but he must leave the jungle. He says goodbye sadly to his friends and family and goes to live in the village.


Can you now put the 6 chapters into the right order, and recreate the story?


Chapter_____________: Mowgli taunts Shere Khan and traps him in the middle of the river. Mowgli charges the cattle to stampede, and Shere Khan is trampled to death. When Mowgli is skinning the tiger, Buldeo comes and tries to take the tiger skin for himself. He can make good money by selling it. But Mowgli and Akela scare Buldeo away. Buldeo tells the villagers that Mowgli is not a boy and that he has strange conversations with the wolves. The villagers stop Mowgli from returning to the village. Now he is not welcome anywhere. He is too much a man for the wolves and too much a wolf for the men. However, he fulfils his promise and drags the tiger skin up to the mountain cave. He is welcomed back by his friends Bagheera and Akela and a small group of cubs who will hunt with him in the future.


Chapter_____________: Mowgli grows up happily with the wolves. He learns the law of the jungle but also watches the men in the village. As Akela becomes weaker and weaker, Shere Khan gets closer and closer to the young wolves to get support to have Mowgli excluded from the pack. Finally, Mowgli realises that it is time to move on. But before he goes, he follows Bagheera’s advice: he gets the Red Flower from outside the house of a man. The Red Flower is the animals’ way of talking about fire. Animals are too afraid of it to use it as a weapon, but Mowgli is not an animal. He is a man-cub. He hits Shere Khan with a fiery stick and leaves the mountain-top, promising to return one day with the tiger’s skin. He cries for the first time and Bagheera sees he is now a man.


Chapter_____________: Once in Monkey City, the monkeys take Mowgli to a building with no doors or windows. Bagheera is the first to arrive and fights hard with the monkeys, which want to kill him. Mowgli suggests Bagheera gets into the water, where the monkeys will not follow him. Then Baloo arrives and some monkeys attack him as well. In the end Kaa comes down, kills a few monkeys and the rest are so afraid that they climb walls, running away from Kaa. The great snake starts a snake-dance which captivates all the animals, including the bear and the panther. Mowgli sees no fascination in it, and helps his friends not to fall under the snake’s spell. Mowgli has disobeyed the Law of the Jungle and is physically punished for his mistake.


Chapter_____________: Baloo, the old brown bear, is Mowgli’s teacher during his happy years with the pack. He teaches Mowgli the language of the jungle. He learns how to hunt, how to communicate in the different animal languages, survival techniques and all about jungle etiquette. Baloo and Bagheera also warn Mowgli to stay away from the Monkeys because they are foolish and have no law. But one day, Mowgli is kidnapped by the Monkeys. Mowgli remembers Baloo’s teachings and asks Chil, a big bird, to notify Baloo and Bagheera. Baloo asks Kaa, a ten-metre- long snake for help, and they track Mowgli to Monkey City.


Chapter _____________: Mowgli, the man-cub, arrives at the mountain top home of the wolf pack led by Akela. He is taken in by Mother and Father Wolf. But Shere Khan, the tiger, wants to catch and eat the man-cub. He is very hungry and in pain because his foot hurts badly. He is finally accepted into the pack after Baloo, the bear, speaks for him and Bagheera, the panther, gives the pack food in return.


Chapter_____________: When Mowgli leaves the Wolf Pack, he goes to a man village. There he is rescued by Messua and her husband. They believe Mowgli is their own son, who was taken by a tiger many years ago. Mowgli makes an effort to learn the ways and speech of man. One of the men in the village thinks Mowgli must work, so he is given the menial task of herding the cattle. One day, when he is looking after the animals, Mowgli hears from Grey Brother (one of his wolf cub step-brothers) that Shere Khan still wants to kill and eat him. Mowgli still wants to take the tiger’s skin back to the mountain-top. So, when Mowgli hears that Shere Khan has come back, he plans an ambush: he divides the cattle up into two groups. Akela takes the bulls to one end of the dry river and Grey Brother takes charge of the other cattle on the opposite end.


Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is Dorset’s most famous literary figure. His father worked as a stonemason and local builder. He went to the village school in Bockhampton at age eight and then moved on to schools in Dorchester. His formal education ended at the age of sixteen, when he became apprenticed to a local architect.


Many of his novels, beginning with his second, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), are set in the imaginary county of Wessex. Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), his first success, was followed by The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895), all expressing his stoical pessimism and his sense of the inevitable tragedy of life. Their continuing popularity (many have been filmed) owes much to their combination of romantic plots with convincingly presented characters. Hardy’s works were increasingly at odds with Victorian morality, and public indignation at Jude so disgusted him that he wrote no more novels. He returned to poetry with Wessex Poems (1898), Poems of the Past and the Present (1901), and The Dynasts (1910), a huge poetic drama of the Napoleonic Wars.

‘I Looked Up from My Writing’ by Thomas Hardy is a six stanza poem that follows a strict end rhyme scheme. The poem rhymes consistently throughout in an ABAB, CDCD…etc. pattern. This piece, like many in Hardy’s repertoire, comments on the nature of war. The poem first appeared around 1916 along with a number of other poems on this theme.


I LOOKED UP FROM MY WRITING


I looked up from my writing,   

And gave a start to see,

As if rapt in my inditing,   

The moon's full gaze on me.


Her meditative misty head   

Was spectral in its air,

And I involuntarily said,   

'What are you doing there?'


'Oh, I've been scanning pond and hole   

And waterway hereabout

For the body of one with a sunken soul   

Who has put his life-light out.


'Did you hear his frenzied tattle?   

It was sorrow for his son

Who is slain in brutish battle,   

Though he has injured none.


'And now I am curious to look   

Into the blinkered mind

Of one who wants to write a book   

In a world of such a kind.'


Her temper overwrought me,   

And I edged to shun her view,

For I felt assured she thought me   

One who should drown him too.



POEM ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION


  • The speaker of this piece, who one might assume is Thomas Hardy himself, is introduced through a first-person account of his actions. How does the poem begin? What is the narrator doing?

  • What does he think the moon is doing in the sky?

  • How does the moon answer his question? In which stanza?

  • The moon then addresses herself to the writer again. Why?

  • Can you find “Personification” in this poem? Where?

  • How does the narrator react to the moon’s accusation?

  • Is there a moral or a message behind this poem?


THE RUINED MAID (1866)


  • What do you think “ruined maid” might imply or mean?


  • Use a dictionary and write the meaning of the word “ameliorate”


  • Below are six quotations from the poem. Choose one, and take it in turns to explain its possible meaning.


Based solely on these six quotations from the poem, what are your ideas and impressions? What do you think the poem is going to be about?


  • This poem is in the form of a dramatic dialogue. Hardy presents a conversation between two women. One of them is called ‘Melia. She has moved away and has changed in many ways. As they talk, the role and treatment of women during the Victorian era reveals itself as a major theme within the poem. At the time, women were not treated equally to men. They were forced to project an image of morality, and if they deviated away from that image, they were seen as being tainted or soiled.


In “The Ruined Maid”, Hardy uses IRONY and SATIRE. What is what?



This is a device writers use to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.

Aims to show the reader the absurdity of human follies and vices. Writers who use it want the reader to acknowledge such wrongs in society.

ORIGINAL VERSION


"O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!

Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?

And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?" —

"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.


— "You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,

Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;

And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!" —

"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.


— "At home in the barton you said thee' and thou,'

And thik oon,' and theäs oon,' and t'other'; but now

Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!" —

"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.


— "Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak

But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,

And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!" —

"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.


— "You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,

And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem

To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!" —

"True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.


— "I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,

And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!" —

"My dear — a raw country girl, such as you be,

Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined," said she.

ITALIAN TRANSLATION


"O' Melia, mia cara, questa poi!

Chi avrebbe potuto immaginare che ti avrei incontrata in città?

E da dove vengono abiti così belli, tanta prosperità?" -

"Oh, non sapevi che sono andata in rovina?" disse lei.


— “Te ne sei andata che eri a brandelli, senza scarpe né calzini,

Stanca di piantare patate e di zappare;

E ora hai braccialetti cangianti e piume luminose!" -

"Sì: è così che ci vestiamo quando andiamo in rovina," disse.


- “Giù alla fattoria usavi il "thee e thou”,

E anche “this oon”, e theäs oon,' e  t’other; ma ora

Il tuo modo di parlare si addice perfettamente all'alta compagnia!" —

“Si acquista un po’ di eleganza andando in rovina", disse.


— "Le tue mani allora erano come zampe, il tuo viso blu e cupo

Ma ora sono stregata dalla tua delicata guancia,

E i tuoi guantini ti stanno bene come a qualsiasi signorina!" -

"Non si lavora mai quando si va in rovina", disse.


— "Chiamavi la vita domestica un sogno tormentato dalle streghe,

E sospiravi e ti disperavi; ma ora sembra

Tu non conosca scoramento né malinconia!" -

"È vero. Si è piuttosto allegri quando si va in rovina," disse.


— "Vorrei anch’io avere piume, un bel vestito,

E un viso delicato, e potermi pavoneggiare in giro per la Città!" -

"Mia cara, una rozza ragazza di campagna, come te,

Non me l’immagino proprio. Tu non sei in rovina," disse.

How has ‘Melia changed? Work in pairs to make a note of examples from the poem in the table below

Examine the content of this cartoon. In pairs, discuss the questions alongside and any other ideas you feel are important. Feed back your ideas to the rest of the class.


Now watch this video. Did you expect the meeting and dialogue like this?


LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK


STANZAS

QUESTIONS

YOUR NOTES

1 and 2

How has ‘Melia gained prosperity?



How/why is that ironic?



What is the rhyme scheme?


3 and 4

Why is it ironic that ‘Melia is fit for “high company”?



What is the reaction of the old friend?



Why do you think Hardy has decided to use the Dorset dialect? What is the effect?


5 and 6

Look carefully at what ‘Melia’s friend says in the final stanza. What is satirical about her dialogue?



Considering that Amelia has become more “sophisticated” in the eyes of her friend, why do you think Amelia slips back into her Dorset dialect when she says “You ain’t ruined”.



Overall, what is the serious point or the message of the poem?



At the end of each stanza, ‘Melia always has the last line. Each time, the last line ends with the refrain “ruined…’ said she”. Why is that ironic?



Why do you think Hardy decided to use the name ‘Melia (Amelia)? Look back at the definition of “ameliorate” and determine what Hardy’s message could have been.



by Riccardo Zambon, Saturday 3rd February 2024


EXTRA MATERIALS: "SE" - Italian Translation of "IF" by R. Kipling.


Se sei capace di mantenere la testa quando tutti vicino a te la perdono, e se la prendono con te.

Se sei capace di fidarti di te stesso quando tutti gli altri ne dubitano,

ma tenendo conto anche del loro dubbio.

Se sei capace di aspettare, senza stancarti di aspettare,

O essendo accusato di falsità, non rispondere con altre falsità,

O essendo odiato, non dare modo di odiare,

Senza nondimeno apparire troppo buono, né parlare troppo saggio;


Se sei capace di sognare – e non fare del sogno il tuo padrone;

Se sei capace di pensare – e non fare del pensiero il tuo fine,

Se sei capace di incontrarti – con il Trionfo e con il Disastro

E di trattare questi due impostori appunto allo stesso modo:

Se sei capace di tollerare il sentire della verità che hai detto

Attorcigliata dai furfanti per raggirare i babbei,

O di guardare le cose per cui hai dato la vita, distrutte,

E fermarti a ricostruirle con i tuoi arnesi sciupati.


Se sei capace di fare un solo cumulo di tutte le tue fortune

E rischiarlo in un unico lancio a testa o croce,

E perdere, e ricominciare ancora dall’iniziosenza mai emettere una parola sulla tua perdita.

Se sei capace di costringere il tuo cuore, nervo e tendinenel servire il tuo intento quando da tempo sono sfiancati,

E di tenere duro quando in te non c’è più niente

Eccetto la Volontà che dice loro: “Tenete duro!”


Se sei capace di parlare alle masse e mantenere la tua virtù,

O passeggiare con i Re – senza perdere la tua empatia per la gente,

Se né i nemici né gli amici più amati possono ferirti,

Se ogni persona per te conterà, ma nessuno in eccesso.

Se sei capace di colmare ogni inesorabile minuto

con ognuno dei sessanta secondi che vale la lunga corsa,

Tua è la Terra e tutto ciò che contiene,

E — cosa ben più importante — sarai un Uomo, figlio mio!

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