I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

Close Reading: Sonnet 32 By Charlotte Smith

Romantic literature’s new sensibility often causes melancholy to recur, particularly in poetry. Romantic poets will recite their poetry to express personal feelings, anxieties, and poets use their imagination to do this. Shaftesbury and Addison said that the imagination is not to be subordinated the intellect. Instead, they focus on wild nature’s beauty as a source for melancholy. This paper will examine Charlotte Smith’s sonnet 32, “To Melancholy” as a representation and concept of the new world. Smiths Sonnet 32 addresses melancholy. Smith has stated that these verses refer to [t]o Melancholy. An element that is personified is one that is given the power and character of its own. This will make Smith’s mood the main theme of the poem, and all elements in the poem are matched perfectly to Smith’s feeling. There are many theories regarding Smith’s voice and whether Smith is speaking through her poems. Paula R. Backscheider, Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: Their Poetry, states that Kathryn Pratt uses individual sonnets for examples. […](Sonnet (LXXXV), that ”sets her speaker up as a theatrical observer .”(p-3322). The essay considers Smith’s voice in the poem. Because Smith lives in Sussex, the river Arun is near her home. The egocentric approach to nature’s beauty is what makes this turn. The poet’s imaginative power, in this case, through the use of pathetic fallsacies, subdues nature and modifies it to make her sad. Smith describes the landscape using sensory descriptions. Recurring back to the senses allows the reader to step into Smith’s world, experience her feelings, and even go to the setting of her poem. KristinM. Girten (Charlotte Smith’s Tactile Poetics) says that Charlotte Smith is known for her vivid visual imagery and her ability to transport us. In this instance, nature is shown in its most destructive and degrading form; her elements are capable of moving the world around them. The first eight lines focus on her environment and the beautiful and indulgent nature that she surrenders to. It’s as if she is wrapped in nature, absorbing it. Smith is believed by many to have been the author of the foundation of the Gothic novel. She can be clearly seen using gothic elements throughout the poem to convey her mood. Her use of sensorial descriptions, particularly through the senses, produces an unusual effect that makes the reader feel as though they are being haunted by the poet. This effect is most evident in lines 7-8: Strange sound, and mournful music,/ As night walkers, whose woes they bewail. Where the alliteration used of the sounds s and m reminds ghostly and spectral laments. Smith invokes the dark and obscure to help her find inspiration. The last Autumn’s evening veil begins to disappear, leaving behind a grey cloud of darkness that creates a sense of terror and death. Burke’s Philisophical Enquiry into the Root of Our Ideas of the sublime or Beauty explains how we can see the exacerbation of the sublime in the natural world. […] Fear is the most powerful passion that takes away the mind’s ability to act and reason. […] In order to make anything very horrible, it seems that obscurity is generally necessary. The structure of the second half of the poem is different. Here is the volta. We also find a sett, which takes us to Smith’s encounter with Otway on the shores. The river Arun seems to be the source of all elements in the poem. It also has the ability to link Otway with herself. Smith was an admirer Otway. Otway was known for having a special talent representing pure human feelings. Smith is trying this exact thing. The poetess believes that the river Arun is a bridge between past and future, and she can meet Otway through its waters. This is where she imagines that Otway is returning to life. This magical effect of nature and its components as a link between past and present can be seen in poems such Lines, which were written a few miles above Tintern Abbey. It is here that he turns his attention to the water of the sylvan Wye. With the only company of natural elements, he can evoke the past, and find relief in the pureness of the environment. This allows him `…to observe the daily life of the world (l. 47). Charlotte Smith is not focusing on the beauty of a perfect and ideal nature like Wordswoth. In fact, she doesn’t even include any other person in this piece. She is focused on her own feelings and only focuses on the elements that are most appropriate to her mood. It is fascinating to see her escape from literary preconceptions. Although she doesn’t invoke classical figures as guides, she does reference Otway who was born close to where she is writing. Smith realizes that her melancholic feelings can be cured by Otway’s inspiration and his ability to stress with her. The poet speaks directly to melancholy, using the literary term apostrophe. He recognizes that it has a magical power in her poetry and in her life. The sonnet structure following ABBA’s structure may be used to invoke the Petrarchean theme of love. This may be used as an ambiguous allusion. This poem rescues the Petrarchan Sonnet. […] Smith creates an authentic poetic persona that insists on melancholia. Smith uses Sonnet 32 to find a way out of a world she doesn’t understand. She returns to nature, isolation, and finds comfort and consolation. Smith sees melancholy as her ally, not her enemy. She transforms nature to suit her mood and calls Otway the ghost to help her. Smith is able, through this amazing method, to let go of preconceived notions regarding melancholy that were based on the society at the time. It works for her and she creates a beautiful poem that shows her creativity and sensibility. Bibliography To Melancholy.Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., established in 2014, provides a range of educational resources.

http://river-arun -=”” sign.html=”” tomelancholy Charlotte-smith=”” www.shmoop.com =””> Addison and Shaftesbury. Only Connect… A History of English Literature, Anthology and History with American & Commonwealth Intelligences: Vol. The 1800s. Edmund Burke wrote D 56. Philosophical inquiry into the origin of our ideas of sublime and beauty. LRP Module Handbook (2014). 4-5. Hughes, William. A dictionary that provides information on Gothic literature, its authors, works, terms, and related topics. Ingram, Allan, Sim, Stuart, Lawlor, Clark, Terry, Richard, Baker, John, and Wetherall-Dickson, Leigh published a book by Scarecrow Press, Inc. in Plymouth in 2013. Melancholy Experience in Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century: Before Depression,1660-1800. Palgrave Macmillan, a publisher. London: 2011. M. Girten, Kristin. Charlotte Smith’s utilization of tactile elements in her poetic works. The Eighteenth Century. Volume 54, Number 2 Summer 2013. Pages 215-230. 215-230 (Article). The University of Pennsylvania has its own publishing press. DOI: 10.1353/ecy.2013.0020 Pratt, Kathryn. Charlotte Smith’s Melancholia, Page and Stage. SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Volume 41, Number 3,Summer 2001, pp. 563-581 (Article). The Johns Hopkins University Press. DOI: 10.1353/sel.2001.0031 R. Backscheider, Paula. Eighteenth Century Women Poets: Their Poetry Inventing Agency and Inventing Genre. The Press from Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore: 2005. Smith and Hart, Monica. Charlotte Smith’s Exilic Personala. Partial Answers: Journal of Literature. Number 8, June 2010. Pages. 305- 323 (Article. The Press of Johns Hopkins University. DOI: 10.1353/pan.0.0183 Smith, Charlotte. Sonnet 32. LRP Module Handbook (2014). Pages. 34-35 Spiazzi, Marina-Tavella, Marina. Only Connect… An Anthology of English Literature Featuring American & CommonwealthInsights: Vol. During the 1800s. Zanichelli. 2nd Edition.

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