84 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2017
    1. Gay, Ghastly, Holiday

      The last line of Dickinson's poem solidifies the poem's setting/context. We can use contextual clues to infer the last line's meaning. Dickinson uses specific words like "gay" and "Holiday" to stress this infered meaning. The word "holiday", is not a traditional holiday as we would initially envision. Using textual clues of horror, captivation, and acceptance of death, we can hypothesize that the "holiday" is in reference to a apocalyptic catastrophe. This hypothesis makes contextual sense to various other poems, as well as her personal life, where religious affirmation, "damnation" and the spiritual afterlife are concepts frequently explored.

    2. It sets the Fright at liberty — And Terror's free —

      To Dickinson, by accepting death, one could ultimately transcend the perception of death as a "terror" or horror, allowing an individual to find a sense of subliminal freedom/"liberty".

    3. Others, Can wrestle

      Resist or "wrestle" with the factuality of death.

    4. Looking at Death, is Dying

      This is a very ambiguous/interesting line from Dickinson. To me, it is emphasizing Dickinson's belief that "seeing" the death of others encourages the subliminal experience of your own death. In other words, the closest we, as living humans, can expereice death is ironically by witnessing others die.

    5. Just let go the Breath

      Give in to, or accept death.

    6. Stop hoping, now

      The last line of the second stanza definetly empasizes the poem's ominous impression.

    7. Truth

      Dickinson uses the word "Truth" to represent death/afterlife. Perhaps she uses this word instead of the word "death" to emphasise the temporal "truth" of all life; that all living things must eventually die and that this "truth" is inescapable. In context of the poem, the word "truth" could also suggest the speaker's "situational" truth or reality.

    8. 'Tis so appalling — it exhilarates — So over Horror, it half Captivates — The Soul stares after it, secure — A Sepulchre, fears frost, no more —

      This first stanza by Dickinson personifies the paradoxical perspectives/feelings we as humans view toward death. To Dickinson, humans are equally horrified and captivated by the fear, uncertainty, and thrill of death/dying. The last line in particular, comments to an non-living object's inability to think or feel; like an individual who is dead.

    9. Torment

      Dickinson is using the word "torment" here as a verb as opposed to a noun. The meaning of "torment" in verb form, according to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) is "to put to torment or torture; to inflict torture upon" or "to afflict or vex with great suffering or misery, physical or mental". Dickinson's word choice so far in the poem certaintly personifies a grim, pessimistic, bleak, and "dark" sense of contextual imagery.

    10. Gay

      Dickinson is using the word "gay" in this passage/context to describe, according to the OED, "something bright or lively looking" or something that is "brilliant", "beautiful", "noble" or "excellent/fine".

    11. Slumbereth

      Another way of saying "sleep".

    12. Sepulchre

      The word "Sepulchre" is a French term that, according to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) is described as "a tomb or burial-place, a building, vault, or excavation, made for the interment of a human body."

    1. Cut the string, gentlemen, and see what you shall see! Pooh! you are afraid to knock that chip off our shoulder

      "Cut the string" implies freeing the "tied" hands men impose on women. Fern is bluntly stating that the reason men "limit" women is because they are afriad that women will do the jobs of men better! ("knock the chip off our shoulder"). Women, truely free, will contest with male dominance.

    2. asp of sensuality likes coiled amid rhetorical flowers

      This is a wonderful simile. Fern is comparing an "asp" or "a small, venomous, hooded serpent, found in Egypt and Libya" (OED) to sensuality within Whitman's work. Fern, in context, notes the "sensuality" located in Whitman's poetry to be "amid rhetorical flowers" implying that Whitman's work (which is seemingly beautiful and captivating like flowers), can additionally contain hidden "poisonous" (conveying corruption) sensuality.

    3. happiness was born a twin, and so I would fain share with others the unmingled delight which these Leaves have given me.

      This is a very powerful, optimistic passage stated by Fanny Fern. Her statement, "happiness was born a twin" implies happiness's "contagency" through others. This implication is verified in the remaining second half of the sentence when she compares the joy or "happiness" Walt Whitman's work Leaves of Grass has given her and how she hopes to pass that happiness/joy on to others.

    1. head

      At first glance, the word "head" here is confusing or misleading as we initially think of it in noun form. However, the word "head" in this stanza is used as a verb to, according to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), implies "to surpass or outdo". In context with the whole stanza, Sojourner points out the hard, physical labor endured by countless African American women during the centires of slavery, and that gender has presidence over hard work.

  2. Dec 2016
    1. Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim        155   Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.

      In the second half of this stanza, our narrator describes the image of an unsightly oak tree.

    2. Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,   With that red, gaunt and collop’d neck a-strain,        80   And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane; Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe; I never saw a brute I hated so;   He must be wicked to deserve such pain.

      Throughout this stanza (80), Browning continues to describe the image of the half dead horse, as well as the orator's own befuddlement and dread toward the apparent validity of its actual existence. In other words, we see our orator begin to question what he see's. We will see this theme of madness continually being referenced and strengthen through the remaining progression of the poem.

    3. One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare, Stood stupefied, however he came there:   Thrust out past service from the devil’s stud!

      This three lines of stanza 75 personify the sudden image of a sickly horse.The description contains striking parallels to the well-known Medieval Age Horses of the Apocalypse myth. In particular, the apocalypse horse of Famine. This makes sense considering the previously described wasteland. The image further amplifies the reader's personification of both the wasteland and Browning's overall Medieval theme of the poem.

    4. Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim   Red leer to see the plain catch its estray.

      These two final lines of stanza 45 are just the orator's realization and distinct description of the coming dawn. The orator makes note of the reddish colored sky being "pulled away" by the surrounding wasteland. It should be noted that Browning's probable, intended vision was one similar to the exampled photograph.

    5. There they stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met   To view the last of me, a living frame        200   For one more picture! in a sheet of flame I saw them and I knew them all. And yet Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,

      As the poem finalizes, we get a visual scene of Roland crying out upon his, somewhat "forced" discovery of the Dark Tower. Yet we (the reader), are left with an eerie and ambiguous sense of negative capability as the poem immediately concludes and questions are raised ragarding Roland's looming madness.

    6. A sudden little river cross’d my path   As unexpected as a serpent comes.

      One of the key themes of this poem is the use of illusion through landscape. This plays further into Roland's (our narrator) mental stability, as we get the impression he sudden comes across a somewhat "random" river.

    7. Not see? because of night perhaps?—Why, day   Came back again for that! before it left,   The dying sunset kindled through a cleft: The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay,        190 Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,—

      Browning means to compare Roland's vision of the Dark Tower to an illusion, much like the famed "desert mirage", as in darkness, he sees a sudden flash of light.

    8. MY 1 first thought was, he lied in every word,   That hoary cripple, with malicious eye   Askance to watch the working of his lie On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford Suppression of the glee, that purs’d and scor’d        5   Its edge, at one more victim gain’d thereby

      The poem opens with our narrator, Roland, irritated at the intentional wrong directions given to him by a "hoary cripple, with malicious eye." Lines 5-6 see Roland imaging the old man's glee, leading Roland astray with dishonest directions.

    9. Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it toll’d   Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears   Of all the lost adventurers my peers,—        195 How such a one was strong, and such was bold, And such was fortunate, yet each of old   Lost, lost! one moment knell’d the woe of years.

      Roland is hearing spectral voices of lost adventures and old friends upon his (supposed) discovery of the Tower. But one must raise an eyebrow to these voices's actual existence. It is here, withing the last stanza of Browning poem, that one could strongly argue Roland's sanity, and the validity of his discovery. However, Browning does not distinctly verify Roland's mental condition, and brilliantly leaves the reader with a sense of subjective interpretation.

    10. What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?   The round squat turret, blind as the fool’s heart,   Built of brown stone, without a counter-part In the whole world. The tempest’s mocking elf Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf        185   He strikes on, only when the timbers start.

      Browning makes a beautiful allegory here following the supposed discovery of the Dark Tower by Roland, our narrator. In his moment of utter disparity, much like a sailor at sea trapped in a raging storm, who finds land as his ship begins to break apart, Roland spies the Dark Tower.

    11. tempest’s mocking elf

      A tempest is a massive storm (usually occurring at sea), while the word "elf" here implies something of trickery or mischievous.

    12. Burningly it came on me all at once,        175   This was the place! those two hills on the right,   Couch’d like two bulls lock’d horn in horn in fight, While, to the left, a tall scalp’d mountain … Dunce, Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,   After a life spent training for the sight!

      Suddenly, our narrator spies what (might be) the Dark Tower!

    13. Yet half I seem’d to recognize some trick   Of mischief happen’d to me, God knows when—        170   In a bad perhaps. Here ended, then, Progress this way. When, in the very nick Of giving up, one time more, came a click   As when a trap shuts—you ’re inside the den.

      Our narrator and protagonist is clearly, aimlessly wondering about in the labyrinth of mountains. Yet just as he continually approaches the edge of defeat, he finds a sudden "click" of inspiration, pushing him forward. Browning is never clear as to what this inspiration actually is, purposely aiding to the subjective interpretation of the reader.

    14. For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,   Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place   All round to mountains—with such name to grace        165 Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view. How thus they had surpris’d me,—solve it, you!   How to get from them was no clearer case.

      In this stanza, our narrator, continuing on his quest to seek the Dark Tower, suddenly comes to a change in scenery, as he exists a wooded area into a mountainous region. What's interesting here, is that he doesn't actually realize the dramatic change in topography; once again implying questionable elements of his mental stability.

    15. At the thought, A great black bird, Apollyon’s bosom-friend,        160 Sail’d past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penn’d   That brush’d my cap—perchance the guide I sought

      Our narrator, struggling with the will to continue his quest/journey, sees a black bird (mostly likely a crow or carrion), which he interprets as the devil's guide. This vision, of a demonic black bird, again raises the question of our narrator's sanity. As readers, we begin to wonder if our protagonist realizes his own mental instability, as he willing pursues his "cursed" quest.

    16. Apollyon

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), "Apollyon" is another name "given to the Devil or destroyer."

    17. palsied

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "palsied" is described as something "paralyzed" or "deprived of muscular energy or power of action; rendered impotent; tottering, trembling."

    18. Then came a bit of stubb’d ground, once a wood,        145   Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth   Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth, Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood Changes and off he goes!) within a rood—   Bog, clay, and rubble, sand and stark black dearth

      Here, again, Browning mixes descriptive language and subliminal allegory to personify the destruction of nature. This theme is an underlying motif within the poem, as deforestation and natural pollution at the hands of a rapidly growing industrial England, and their associated effects on the surrounding land/nature are becoming serious issues within both England and Europe in the second half of the 19th Century. In addition, our narrator makes a comparison to this destructive theme and earth itself to a "fool who finds mirth"(happiness/joy) in making something, only to "mars it" (destroy it).

    19. And more than that—a furlong on—why, there!   What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,        140   Or brake, not wheel—that harrow fit to reel Men’s bodies out like silk?

      Browning is making an interesting comparison here. Our narrator, upon continuing his travels, see the remains of war machines/engines, to which effects he parallels to an agricultural harrow, tearing the earth's soil like "men's bodies out like silk." Browning specifically references silk for two reasons; both its delicacy and fluidity, both of which are applicable to human physicality and disposition.

    20. harrow

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), a "harrow" is defined as "a heavy frame of timber (or iron) set with iron teeth or tines, which is dragged over ploughed land to break clods, pulverize and stir the soil, root up weeds, or cover in the seed."

    21. furlong

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), a "furlong" is described as "the length of the furrow in the common field, which was theoretically regarded as a square containing ten acres."

    22. Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank        130 Soil to a plash? Toads in a poison’d tank,   Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage—   The fight must so have seem’d in that fell cirque.   What penn’d them there, with all the plain to choose?   No foot-print leading to that horrid mews,        135 None out of it. Mad brewage set to work Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk   Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.

      These two stanzas portray our narrator's interpretation following the grimly remains of a battle. As he questions each side and their represented motives', he compares the battle to a watery prison, where participants fought with hatred/resentment against their enemy. Browning makes a comparison to such resentment, by paralleling the ancient religious struggle between Christians, Muslims ("Turks") and Jews.

    23. mews

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "mew" is defined as a "place of confinement, a cage, or a prison."

  3. Nov 2016
    1. plash

      According to the OED, a "plash" is "an area of shallow standing water, a marshy pool, or a puddle.

    2. pad

      According to the OED, the word "pad", in this specific textual context, is slang for "a track, a beaten trail, or a path."

    3. Tophet’s

      According to the OED, "Tophet" is "the proper name of a place near Gehenna or the Valley of the Son or Children of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where, according to Jer. xix. 4, etc., the Jews made human sacrifices to strange gods. Later it was used as a place for the deposit of refuse, and became symbolic of the torments of hell." Additionally, it was known as the place of punishment for wicked souls following death and a place of eternal fire (hell).

    4. cirque

      The French spelling for the word "circus" and implies a circular space or natural amphitheater.

    5. Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard!

      Our narrator is using his spear to wade through the river and as a result, is imagining it getting stuck in a dead man's hair/beard.

    6. To set my foot upon a dead man’s cheek,

      Our orator is stating his fear of stepping on a corpse in the river ("dead man's cheek").

    7. forded

      According to the OED, the word "forded" implies "to cross or wade." Our narrator is thus wading/crossing the river.

    8. So petty yet so spiteful All along,        115   Low scrubby alders kneel’d down over it;   Drench’d willows flung them headlong in a fit Of mute despair, a suicidal throng: The river which had done them all the wrong,   Whate’er that was, roll’d by, deterr’d no whit

      This stanza, in its entirety, is an allegorical reference to the River Sytx (Greek term for "hate" or "detestation") which was the river in Greek mythology located in the underworld and often symbolized the boundaries between life and death, Earth and the Underworld. This allegorical reference also plays into the setting's theme of depression, death, and decay while additionally symbolizing our narrator's mental (as well as physical) progression into the "underworld" or madness.<br> I found this image to be fairly similar to my own personification of this particular setting.

    9. What honest man should dare (he said) he durst. Good—but the scene shifts—faugh! what hangman hands        100 Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands   Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst!

      The remaining text in this stanza continues to elaborate of the history of Giles. By using contextual clues (as the orator never fully elaborates) we can summarize that Giles was hung for acts of treason. What's interesting is our orator's specific mention of Giles honesty, increasing the text's ambiguity toward Giles's condemnation as a traitor. We get the sense that our orator feels that Giles was wrongly murder.

    10. throng

      According to the OED, the word "throng" is described as something in "oppression; distress, straits; trouble, woe, affliction or danger." In contextual sense, the word is again emphasizes the dark, depressive setting seen by the poems speaker.

    11. alders

      According to the OED, an "alder" (also known as River Birch) is a "European tree, common on riverbanks and damp woodland across the northern hemisphere, having rounded toothed leaves and bearing male catkins and woody female cones."

    12. congenial

      According to the OED, the word "congenial" is described as someone or something "partaking of the same genius, disposition, or temperament."

    13. howlet

      Another word for an owl.

    14. Giles then, the soul of honor—there he stands   Frank as ten years ago when knighted first.

      Again, we see our orator witness familiar faces; this time in the form of Giles, a fellow knight.

    15. Cuthbert’s

      Although it is never specifically stated by the orator, we can use contextual clues to hypothesize that Cuthbert was a friend/comrade of our narrator. Additionally, we get the sense that Cuthbert has long been deceased, increasing the narrator's confusion at his vision.

    16.  As a man calls for wine before he fights

      Throughout history, alcohol and military have been closely related. For example, both Greece and Rome gave their military legions wine before a major battle to increase their courage and moral.

    17. clods

      A variation in the spelling of the word "cloud."

    18. Calcine

      "to burn or reduce to ashes" (OED).

    19. Last Judgment’s fire

      Browning makes reference here to the Bible, in specific, to the book of Revelations and the famed prophetic fire that will engulf the world upon the return christian prophet.

    20. peevishly

      "with irritable discontent or bad temper" (OED).

    21. penury, inertness and grimace

      This sentence literally translates to "hardship or poverty", "inactivity", and "an expressive feeling of annoyance, embarrassment, ill-humor or pain" (OED).

    22. propagate

      "to reproduce or multiple" (OED).

    23. spurge

      The word "spurge", described by the OED as "one or other of several species of plants belonging to the extensive genus Euphorbia, many of which are characterized by an acrid milky juice possessing purgative or medicinal properties."

    24. cockle

      The word "cockle" was a word used in Old English to describe the flower under the scientific name of Agrostemma Githago.

    25. ignoble

      "Not noble in respect of birth, position, or reputation; of low birth or humble station" (OED). In context with the sentence, Browning uses the word to describe a scene of nature as "lowly" or "inelegant".

    26. For mark!

      This phrase is most likely in reference to the "mark time" tempo of a military march, emphasizing the orator's decision/claim to begin his march/journey.

    27. nought


    28. O’er

      Abbreviation for the the word "over."

    29. Pledged

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "pledged" (adj) can be described as "promised."

    30. leer

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "leer" can be described in this specific context as "a side glance or, a look or roll of the eye."

    31. Freelier

      This is simply just an obscure contextual spelling of the adverb "freely."

    32. obstreperous

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "obstreperous" is defined as "noisily" or with a "clamorous" (loud, persistent shouting) action.

    33. acquiescingly

      The word "acquiescingly" is the adverb form of the word "acquiescent", which, according to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) is described as "someone or the nature of accepting something without protest." So in context, the word describes the orators' willingness toward following the cripples' direction ("point").

    34. epitaph

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "epitaph" is described as "the inscription upon a tombstone." Browning's use of the word here implies the speakers' conceptualization at the words used to describe his life post imaginary death.

    35. Childe

      Browning spells the word "child" here as "childe" intentionally. The word "childe", spelled with the added "e", derives from Old English and literally translates to "young lord."Additionally, this specific spelling refers to a common spelling dominant in the Medieval Ages distinguishing the son of a nobleman who had yet to obtain knighthood. This is a key point of reference, playing an important role for interpreting some of the poems later, more mysterious themes.

  4. Oct 2016
  5. www.poetryfoundation.org www.poetryfoundation.org
    1. ghyll

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "ghyll" is an alternative spelling for the word "gill", which is defined as "a deep rocky cleft or ravine, usually wooded and forming the course of a stream". This description fits in accurately with the stanza's intended setting, as Coleridge uses words like "Dungeon" and "Witches Lair" to emphasize dark, wet, and mysterious places. Additionally, this also emphasizes Coleridge's overall attempt to place the reader in a setting of medieval mysticism.

    2. sacristan

      According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the word "sacristan" is described as "a parish of the church". This whole stanza emphasizes the grief of the Baron for his deceased wife, as he orders the sacristan to ring a massive bell each mourning in remembrance. The bell can be seen as a metaphor for Christabel herself. Coleridge uses both the synthetic inflection of the "bel" sound in both Christabel's name and the word "bell". This is intended, as the metaphor relates to the Baron's grief over his dead wife and the realization that his daughter is of marrying age, as the "bell" can additionally represent both death (mourning bell) and happiness (marriage bells).

    3. Irthing

      The River Irthing is a major river in northern England. The river itself is divided into various delta segments, spawning from the River Eden. Part of the river runs through the ancient Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall was built by ancient Celts to defend against northern Scot invaders. This is evident in Coleridge's text, as he proceeds to write about traveling northward, across the Irthing and into Scotland.

    4. cliffand tower

      "Cliffand tower" is a reference to Clifford Tower, located in present day York, in Northern England. The tower was built in the 13th century on a large mossy mound to hold prisoners, which makes metaphorical sense since Coleridge makes a textual reference to "the lovely lady's prison" early in the same stanza. The references of a prison relates to Christabel's imprisonment to both the physical, and metaphorical domination/curse of Geraldine.

  6. Sep 2016
    1. Voyage on gentle gales from Fairy-Land,24Where Melodies round honey-dropping flowers,25Footless and wild, like birds of Paradise,26Nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untamed wing!

      The notion of Elves in the previous line 22 helps play into Coleridge's, fantasy-like imagery he creates in the following lines. He goes on in line 24 materializing these imaginary Elven faeries whom manifest themselves in the beauteous sounds he hears in the mourning dew off flowers and birds. All this summarizes to Coleridge's overall connection to wind and nature's "otherworldly" tranquil/beauteous breath, created by the harp.

    2. Meek daughter in the family of Christ!

      "Meek", as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is "gentle, courteous, or kind". So here, Coleridge is describing his wife as a gentle angle or divine disciple (as he writes "in the family of Christ" on line 54).

    1. jubilee

      A "Jubilee", defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is a "Jewish festival of emancipation and restoration that was to be kept every fifty years". The festival was to " be proclaimed by the blast of trumpets throughout the land".

    2. The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;

      Wordsworth creates a very unique metaphor here by incorporating a natural storm with humanistic sorrow. The word "cataracts", defined by the OED as "a violent downpour or rush of water". Wordsworth uses the word "trumpet" to signify the powerful, explosive tone (usually used in ancient military) of the instrument in relation to the flooding of water. The word "steep", as defined by the OED means either something "extended to great height" or "the process of steeping or soaking". Wordsworth uses these meanings in duality, describing storm clouds as objects of great height that soak all beneath it. Wordsworth uses all these metaphors to place the narrator in the onslaught of an emotional, raging storm.

    1. Girt with a lucid zone, in gloomy pomp,

      This last line is in reference to the rings of Saturn. Barbauld is making descriptive scenes about the various planets in the Earth's solar system. The word Girt, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is an old term for a leather strap or bandage. It was used by doctors and sometimes to attach horse saddles. The word Lucid implies brightness or radiance while Pomp means to show or display. So putting it together in context, Barbauld is describing the rings of Saturn as attach or wrapped around the planet in a paradoxical display of gloomy brilliance.