Bs. English (VI)
Project of Literary And Practical Criticism
Submitted By Karel
Submitted To Madam Zain-ul-Maqsood
May 19, 2018
Literary criticism refers to the field of study which defines, analyzes, interprets, and evaluates literary works. The different types of literary criticism include historical criticism, textual criticism, feminist criticism, and formalist criticism. In literary criticism one may analyze and interpret a particular work of a writer or the writings of a writer as a whole.
The course ”Literary and Practical Criticism” has helped me to develop a better understanding of different genres of literature such as drama, poetry, novel, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis, etc. After studying the course, I was able to analyze these genres well and was able to comprehend the author’s writing style and notions. For example, we learned about WordsWorth’s, S. T. Coleridge’s, and T.S. Eliot’s viewpoints about poetry. Their notions helped me in developing better understanding of poems and poetic diction.
First of all we learned about of notions of Wordsworth about through his Preface to Lyrical Ballads. William Wordsworth is a romantic poet. According to WordsWorth, poetry is subjective in nature. It reflects personal believes, feelings, and ideas of a poet. As is shown in these lines of ”The Prelude”
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again!
Trances of thought and mountings of the mind
Come fast upon me: it is shaken off,
Wordsworth said that Poetry is a spontaneous overflow of emotions. He says that in order to write poetry, one should take inspiration from nature and ordinary life. Modern man has gone away from the simplicity of nature and is indulged in the artificiality of city life. This is what we experience in most of Wordsworth poems. For example in his poem ”The Prelude ”, Worthsworth describes nature, common things of daily life, and the pleasure he finds in escaping the city life.
OH there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate’er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pine
In the above lines from ”The Prelude”, Wordsworth
talks about the breeze and how it gives joy and happiness to him. The description of breeze and the pleasure one finds from it is something very common. This shows how much Wordsworth is inspired by the simplest things of nature.
Moreover, Wordsworth believes that a poet is a man talking to a man, so the language of a poem should be the language of a common man. In the following extract from ”The Prelude”, this notion of Wordsworth is well reflected. We find no difficult vocabulary in it. It can be easily understood by everyone. Through simple and everyday language, the poet can easily make people understand his emotions and feelings, says Wordsworth.
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
In these lines Wordsworth says that I look around my surroundings and the best guide I fing is a wandering cloud. U would happily follow a wandering cloud to show me my path.
Unlike Wordsworth, T.S.Eliot has entirely different notions of writing poetry. Eliot belongs to the modern era. Eliot says that poetry should be objective in nature. It should not reflect the emotions and feelings of a poet. A poet should write poetry about what he really observes and understands.
In the poem, ”The Waste Land”, Eliot talks about the ruins and sufferings of the modern era. He writes about how people in the modern age are gone away from moral values and religion. People are indulged in unethical works that are leading them towards destruction. Eliot observed these things happening in his surrounding, so he wrote about them.
Eliot believes that a poet works as a catalyst. Eliot, in contrast to Wordsworth said that a poet is not a common man. He is different from the common people since his mind acts as a medium that presents the poetry.
Furthermore, Eliot said that a poet should write poetry keeping in mind the tradition. A poet cannot have complete meaning alone. In order to find the value of a poet’s work, his work needs to be compared and contrasted with the past writers.
Eliot, in his essay ”Tradition and Individual Talent”, states that art never changes though the material changes . The works of Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Homer will never lose its importance. Hence there is no qualitative improvement in art. The following extract of ”The waste Land” clarifies the poetic notions of T.S.Eliot. These lines demonstrate the objective nature of Eliot’s poetry and how he has used jis poetic mind to present things into verse.
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
In these lines, an unknown speaker claims that April is the cruelest month. Mostly April is associated with rebirth and happiness. We see flowers and beautiful things of nature everywhere. But if one feels lonely and sad, these stunning and attractive things do not matter for him.. they make him even more depressed and sad..
Another famous poet whose viewpoints differ from that of both Eliot and Wordsworth is S.T.Coleridge. Though Coleridge is a Romantic poet, his notions of poetry are very much different from Wordsworth. This shows the uniqueness and individuality of a poet.
Coleridge in his book ”Biographia Liiteraria” criticizes Wordsworth’s notions of poetry. He says that the primary source of inspiration for writing poetry is imagination not nature. He further adds when a poet takes inspiration from rustic and ordinary life, it becomes a common thing.
The Rime To Ancient Mariner is a famous poem by S. T. Coleridge. It is based on Coleridge’s imagination. Coleridge in his poem uses his power of imagination to create an unreal and Imaginary story of an ancient mariner. He describes the odyssey of the ancient mariner and the challenges he faces on his journey.
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?
The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May’st hear the merry din.’
In these lines the poet starts the story of the ancient mariner. The ancient mariner meets the wedding guest and starts telling his story to him. The wedding guest unable to escape the glittering eyes of the ancient mariner stays there and listens to him.
Coleridge also emphasizes on the use of supernatural elements in poetry. We would rarely find supernatural elements in the poetry of Wordsworth and T.s. Eliot. Coleridge’s poetry is filled withdemons, ghosts, and spirits as is evident in the following extract from the poem Kub;a khan.
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
In these line Coleridge describes a setting where a woman is waiting for her demon lover to come.
Coleridge also talked about poetic language. He said that the language of poetry should not be same as the language of prose. But Wordsworth preferred using the language of a common man in poetry. In contrast with Wordsworth poetic language, Coleridge uses language that cannot be comprehended by everyone so easily. In the following verses of” Kubla khan”, we can see that the language used is totally different from that used in ”The Prelude” of Wordsworth. Wordsworth used long verses whereas the verses of Coleridge are short.
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
In the above lines, the poet describes one of his dreams. In his dream, he saw an Abyssinian maod playing a dulcimer and singing a song about a place called Abora.
Keeping in view the above perspectives of different poets, we can see that how diverse a genre can be. Different poets interpret poetry according to their own experiences and observations. This is how we get to see new, unique, and creative works. Before studying the course of Literary and Practical Criticism, I was completely unaware about the fact that we can view a genre from such different lenses. This course helped me to observe the diversity in poetry.
Being the student of literature, it is my prime duty to have Critical skills. I should be able to analyze and comment on any genre of literature. This course helped me to develop critical skills in me. After reading the notions of these poets I can understand their writings better. Every writer has a unique style of writing and his own way to communicate with his reader. Once we get to understand what the writer’s views are about a particular genre and its functions, we can better be able to judge his works. Literary and Practical Criticism appears to be the best platform for me in shaping my thoughts about a particular genre.
This course helped me to know how literary criticism works. we see that no writer is perfect and so is their works. through Literary and Practical Criticism, we know the positive as well as the negative aspects of the poetry of a poet. The positive aspects show how better the poet is in conveying the messages that he want the people to know and the negative aspects show that there is still room for improvement .This course made me a critical thinker. Before studying this course I read and got inspired by such poems which appealed to my senses. But now I critically analyze a poem first and see what hidden message does the poem has then I decide whether to like the poem or not. Now I can better decide which writer to follow and get inspiration from.
In conclusion, Literary and Practical Criticism, I believe, is a course that needs to be taught to every literature student. It enhances our understanding of literary works and makes us able to judge different works wisely.