One-week Assignment (Romanticism)


Read this poem by William Wordsworth:

A Night-Piece

------The sky is overcast 
With a continuous cloud of texture close, 
Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon, 
Which through that veil is indistinctly seen, 
A dull, contracted circle, yielding light 
So feebly spread, that not a shadow falls, 
Chequering the ground--from rock, plant, tree, or tower. 
At length a pleasant instantaneous gleam 
Startles the pensive traveller while he treads 
His lonesome path, with unobserving eye 
Bent earthwards; he looks up--the clouds are split 
Asunder,--and above his head he sees 
The clear Moon, and the glory of the heavens. 
There, in a black-blue vault she sails along, 
Followed by multitudes of stars, that, small 
And sharp, and bright, along the dark abyss 
Drive as she drives: how fast they wheel away, 
Yet vanish not!--the wind is in the tree, 
But they are silent;--still they roll along 
Immeasurably distant; and the vault, 
Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds, 
Still deepens its unfathomable depth. 
At length the Vision closes; and the mind, 
Not undisturbed by the delight it feels, 
Which slowly settles into peaceful calm, 
Is left to muse upon the solemn scene.

wan: pale
chequer: break up into squares or into a pattern
split asunder: break into small pieces, open up
vault: Norw. "himmelhvelving"
Can you see any typically Romantic features in this poem? Can you see any similarities between this poem and another poem or other poems (written between 1770 and 1850) that you have read? 

Many poems, stories and novels written between 1700 and 1850 are about freedom – personal freedom or political freedom – and justice. Choose at least two texts from Access with this theme. Compare the way the writer puts across his or her theme, and comment on how effective they are, and on other features of the texts you find interesting.

Here is a poem by a writer who never gets into textbooks. It is by Mary Alcock, who was born in about 1742 and who died in 1798. Read the poem, and write to the editor of New Access (a new edition of Access) suggesting why you think this poem should, or should not, be included in the new edition.

The Chimney-Sweeper’s Complaint

A chimney-sweeper’s boy am I;
 Pity my wretched fate!
Ah, turn your eyes; ’twould draw a tear,
 Knew you my helpless state.
Far from home, no parents I
 Am ever doomed to see;
My master, should I sue to him,
 He’d flog the skin from me.
Ah, dearest madam, dearest sir,
 Have pity on my youth;
Though black, and covered o’er with rags,
 I tell you naught but truth.
My feeble limbs, benumbed with cold,
 Totter beneath the sack,
Which ere the morning dawn appears
 Is loaded on my back.
My legs you see are burnt and bruised,
 My feet are galled by stones,
My flesh for lack of food is gone,
 I’m little else but bones.
Yet still my master makes me work,
 Nor spares me day or night;
His ‘prentice boy he says I am,
 An he will have his right.
"Up to the highest top," he cries,
 "There call out chimney-sweep!"
With patient heart and weeping eyes,
 Trembling I upward creep.
But stop! no more – I see him come;
 Kind sir, remember me!
Oh, could I hide me under ground,
 How thankful I should be!