Historical Implications: Understanding Poetry

Free Essay Sample «Historical Implications: Understanding Poetry»

There is no doubt in the assumption that poetry and literary language in particular should be viewed through the prism of the historical context in order to ensure better understanding of the specific literary work and delineate a particular framework. Thus, in the context of world literature, it is reasonable to shed light on the manifestation of the historical background in the poems of Wordsworth, Blake, and Pushkin. Respectively, in their poems Tintern Abbey, London, and The Bronze Horseman one can find the reflection of Wordsworth’s Romantic-era ideas about nature, Blake’s emphasis on the importance of charters, and Pushkin’s interpretation of social conditions.

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Although every author provides the potential readers with the particular shade of meaning and encompasses definite themes, it is essential to take into account the historical background that is formed by the peculiarities of the writer’s life as well as the tendencies of the epoch and social conditions. A detailed inquiry into the above-mentioned aspects can provide the reader with better understanding of the nature of the ideas that were meant by a specific author. It is reasonable to start with Wordsworth’s poem Tintern Abbey that relates to the author’s life and reflects his ideas about nature that were covered in The Preface to Lyrical Ballads. Evidently, Wordsworth’s definition of a poet is closely tied up with the peculiar features of Tintern Abbey: “What then is a Poet?  He considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting qualities of nature” (Wordsworth). In Tintern Abbey, one may see the reflection of the above-mentioned principles as the description of nature relates to the author’s mood in the poem. The author’s mood is closely connected with his recollection of the July tour in 1888 when Wordsworth visited the banks of the Wye. The author puts an emphasis on his affecion to nature, claiming that he “felt [it] in the blood, and felt along the heart” (Wordsworth).

In turn, William Blake’s poem London backs up the idea that every poem relates to the author’s life and has a particular historical background. Specifically, Blake’s work reveals his feelings towards the issue of charters that were peculiar to London and exerted tremendous impact on the people’s lives, thus showing his own experience and regret. The author expresses his anger, despair and disappointment by wandering “thro’ each charter’d street, / Near where the charter’d Thames does flow” (Blake). In this context, the implicit meaning of the word ‘charter’d’ tends to reflect the power and control over London. There is no doubt in the assumption that Blake’s attitude to the Royal charters was uncompromising and belligerent as he sympathized with the poor people that experienced them. The role of charters in this particular poem involves restricting people’s freedom and thinking. The author’s disillusionment is caused by the state of people’s lives that is particularly shown in the image of children that had to work in church. Blake’s life and his highly critical position of Christianity help understand the poem’s hidden meaning, thus providing the potential reader with multiple interpretations of London.

To interpret Pushkin’s poem The Bronze Horseman, the reader should get acquainted with Russia’s social conditions in 1824. At the contextual level, the poem tells a reader about flooded St. Petersburg, a landmark event which took place in 1824. However, taking into account the historical background of the poem, one may see the conflict that exists between ordinary people and authorities. This particular conflict manifests itself in the disagreements that occur between the former and the latter ones and reaches the level of social importance. The context provides a reader with the notion of flood that meetaphorically means that in Russia, government does not pay attention to the public’s interest. The flood is a result of the tsar’s decision to build the city on the banks of the river Neva despite the fact that it can have deleterious effects on the people’s lives. The tipping point in The Bronze Horseman lies in the assumption that Peter’s main aim was to create a powerful country that should attract everyone. However, Pushkin’s ideas conjecture that the the regime cannot prevent their country from God’s power. Bearing in mind the previous points, one can notice obvious problems in Russian social conditions. In the text of the poem, the main character Evgeny cannot put up with the fact that his beloved Parasha has died because of the flood. Taking into account the above-mentioned assumptions, the potential reader can make a conclusion that Evgeny is a victim of the underlying conflict and presents a symbol of ordinary people while ‘the bronze horseman’ is a symbol of the tsar that is entirely responsible for the social conditions that occurred in Russia. Therefore, The Bronze Horseman is a poem marked with a historical background that fully reveals its meaning.

To sum up the foregoing, it is paramount to admit that practically every poem has its own personal or social triggers that display its meaning and help a reader interpret it. The facts from the authors’ lives, their environment and even their writing traditions serve as a background for analyzing the story’s contribution into literature. Interestingly, poems are usually the mirrors that reflect the writers’ attitudes to certain issues. To come to grips with the meaning of their poems, it is paramount to conduct researches that reveal the nature of the poems. This assumption can be proved by the critical review of Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey, Blake’s London, and Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman. Every poem has its particular context that reveals new meanings and serves as a trigger for numerous interpretations.

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