San Diego, 2017

I decided on trying to mimic Wordsworth’s “London, 1802,” in terms of rhyme scheme and content. I allude to the recent election and prototypes of the wall that will be built just south of San Diego along the border. While Wordsworth is essentially romanticizing the past due to the current events in France, I do so similarly but not too idealistically. I also include some of my nostalgia for past, in terms of how simple it used to be before I grew up. Given our time isn’t exactly in the same situation, the election has affected the Hispanic community in various ways, springing deep fear for their safety, their economic security, and social representation. The murals I mention are that of Chicano Park, a park underneath some bridges in Downtown San Diego that has beautifully painted murals depicting Chicano culture and its most recent addition being a political image. I will attach pictures of the mural below as well as translations to look alongside the poem. As a Chicano myself, my poem displays my thoughts on recent events.


Youth. Scars of swing sets and sunsets in Spring,

Laughter lifts the likes of lonely people like me.

Rust lines the lockers of a high-school sea,

To that transient tenderness, do I still cling.

Murals move my heart, still aching, still breaking,

Pausing, only to plead my principal plea:

Cease the construction, do not let it be,

He will not divide us, fists still shaking.

Barriers enclose, they do not protect,

Convicted citizens, families deported,

This is for you, a heartbroken ballad,

For the fearful, the exiled, the stolen,

And hatred for the treacherous architect.

Adulthood. Friends and family, never forgotten.

-Daniel Corral


Gericault and the Human

By looking at the first picture by Gericault, it becomes clear that we are departing from the normative expectations of Romantic paiting. The presence of human intervention within the verdant landscape is clear. Buildings rise from the tan, ragged landscape, flesh with the cold stone. The aqueduct appears on the left corner of the painting, one of the classic examples of molding the landscape to the needs of the homosapien. Humans can be seen at the center of the painting, yet, while they are central in terms of placement, they still are at the periphery the far edges of the landscape.

The element of humans seems to contradict the centrality of nature within romantic art, but these humans are one within nature, naked, nude and vulnerable. This element of the naturalistic man is purely romantic, since man is nude, one within nature.

Nature is a curative element for the human. It is the best reparative salve for the human psyche, medicine comes from the earth, and nature can heal the broken soul. “The Dungeon” reveals what happens when people are stripped from this natural setting, when the nature is lost. 

The dungeon is described as “made for man;” it is cold and dark, holds the bodies of humans in cells made for man by man (l. 1). The speaker asks of the guilty: “Is this the only cure?” (l. 5) He describes the punishment that this cure for immorality entails: “Each pore and natural outlet shrivell’d up…/ His energies roll back upon his heart,/ And stagnate and corrupt; till changed to poison” (ll. 6-9). The greatest punishment that man faces in exile is to be deprived of nature, to be deprived of the primal, the essential, and the real. 

The next stanza seems to present a better option: O nature!/ Healest thy wandering and distempered child” (ll. 20-21). Rather than chaining the offender: “pourest on him thy soft influences,/ Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets,/ Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters,/ Till he relent” (ll. 20-25). Man can reallign his moral compass within the grasp of nature, in the arms of the earth. 

This relates to the ideas of industrialization, foreshadowed in Gericault’s picture. Civilization looms on the right side of the painting, oncoming and foreboding. The cityscape of industrialization is a dungeon by itself, encapsulating man in an iron, concrete cage of his own design. Gericault, and the romantics, yearn for a time released from the chains of modernity. Every man is a slave, every man is a prisoner.


In-class blog comments

In-class blog comments exercise (15-20 minutes):

  1. Choose ONE of the four student posts (hyperlinked below) that presents an interesting perspective you never considered.
  1. In the post’s comment box, answer the following question: What is the most original idea presented in this post and how could the student’s interpretation be improved? (3-4 sentences will suffice)

Student blog posts:

1. Anna Diaz-Galvan:

2. Cait Grabill:

3. Jessica Mijares:

4. Cesar Ramirez:

Théodore Gericault (French, 1791–1824) Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct, 1818

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), The Abby in the Oakwood, 1808-1810

Caspar David Friedrich, The Monk by the Sea, 1809

Joseph William Turner (1775-1851), Buttermere Lake : A Shower, 1798

Ballads and Romance

I have chosen to discuss Théodore Gericault (French, 1791–1824) Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct, 1818. This painting exemplifies so many things about the time period of romanticism. The painting is very telling of the romantic period and how it has both a positive and negative light.  On the left side of the painting there is a sunsetting light that is showing the sweet aspect of the romantic period and on the right side near the rocky mountains is a sharp darkness which reveals the negative and ugly side of the romantic period. I think the darkness can be related to the pain of the romantic period and what the pain meant to society.

This painting embodies the fantastical elements in the romanic period based on the castle that is shown just beneath the mountain.The symbolism that is evident within this painting is truly mimicking the symbolism that is in  the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.

In the poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” there is a lot of nature based symbolism. For example,

“And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work ’em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.”
This darkness in the poem is symbolized in the painting and shows how the killing of the bird relates to the darkness of the romantic period and how it can be somewhat evil to live in. The dark clouds that hover over the mountain relates to the line, “that made the breeze to blow” shows the power and strength of the romance that is embedded in the society at the time.


-Anthony Miller

Open Sea

The darkness seen in the painting with the monk is simple yet powerful. It is an intimidating picture to see as the raw power of the ocean is no match for one person and their prayer. To me, it almost looks as if a tidal wave or tsunami is forming with the shape of the clouds. It looks as if the monk is going to be swallowed up regardless of his religious belief. The way we heard Iron Maiden play the Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, it kind of seems aggressive as well as if it is going to wreak havoc among whoever interferes. We then know, with a change of thought and belief, that everything somehow doesn’t turn out as permanent as thought, and a second chance is given to the mariner. So maybe, in a way, the monk by praying, or his presence alone, signifies that there is light behind those massive clouds.

Deathly is the sound of “his bones were black with many a crack (Ancient Mariner line 181). I imagine the wave delivering crushing force, delivering a blow that crushes us until a black carbon form, our most simple element of remnants. Perhaps that is what our mind wants us to think. What if we, for some miraculous reason are able to persevere and defeat all odds?

I leave it with “Still as a slave before his Lord” (line 419) to signify the humbleness of our composition. For the mighty ocean to spare us, and give us another opportunity in teaching and learning is miraculous. For us to realize and learn from an experience is so profound. I do not take it lightly in the lessons I experience on a daily basis. I always carry some sort of regret in the sense of how could I have been a better person. How could I have made things different if I were to be the last person on Earth. Reflection, and the multiple prayers addressed in this reading remind us to be our best selves every day.


-Daniel Estrada

Humanity role and relationship to Nature

The painting by Theodore Gericault, “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” embodies the romantic themes present during the 18th century. this painting share themes with the Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads. This painting, in particular the builds and the tree in ruins, is representative of the themes and ideal of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The reason that it does is it shows the dichotomy of civilization and nature. In the painting, there are two specific points that i see it. The first one is the building with the 2 window.romantic-image-1 (2).jpg

this portion if the painting shows themes within the romantic literary because the base of the building blends smoothly into ground. Romanticism focuses on the blending of nature and humanity. for example, in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Wordsworth states that.

“Day after day, day after day,

we stuck nor breath nor motion”

This quote relates to the blending because they both show how humanity can only work around the will of nature. Even though humanity is the Apex predator, we still are subjected to the power and will of nature. The second place that shows romaric themes is the ruins with the tree coming out of it at the top left of the painting.


romantic-image-1 (4).jpgThese ruins are covered in moss and a tree growing out of it. This Oak tree symbolize the power nature holds over humanity. Even though, humanity is capable of create long standing architectural feats, they still will never outlast the will of nature. This tree growing out of rube shows how humanity can only work around nature, but never control it fully. At the end of the day, when civilisation leaves, nature will always reclaim the land. this concept of the absolute power is integral to the ideas of romanticism Humanity is only an inhabit in mother earth, meaning we that we can build around it and manipulate it to a degree, but we will never wiled the power absolutely control it.


-conor morgan

Exoticism of the Lower Class through Wordsworth’s “We are Seven”

The Romantic era sought beauty in the natural world as a way of responding to the industrial boom that modernized the western world. However, it did not only mean that people were focused on looking toward the horizon for beauty, or searching for the meaning of life in a mountain range, it also meant that literature, art and beauty would be more democratic. It meant that there was a complexity to the lives of the poor working class, and they too were able to express themselves poetically. With that being said, William Wordsworth is one of the pioneers who tried to incorporate the connection poor people had to the world. In his poem, “We Are Seven” there are class markers that the speaker of the poem identifies in the first stanza that mark the subjects of the poem, and even exoticizes them. The first line of the poem sets the tone by beginning with “A simple child” and this signals images in the reader’s imagination immediately about how to understand the family and domestic quality in the poem. Another class marker is when the speaker describes the the little “cottage girl” in stanza two, and these markers help to put into perspective how the cryptic moments in the poem are inherently tied to the class status of the family.  The little girl seems to be confused about what the title of the poem suggests, which is that she believes there are seven people in her household when in fact some of the members have actually died. The speaker of the poem seems to be conflicted about the “cottage” girl’s blissful ignorance because of her “simple” way of understanding the world–which seems to exclude the idea of passing away.

The painting by David Caspar Friedrich, “The Abbey in the Oakwood” is a romantic era painting that embodies the idea of nature vs civilization, but it is also the negotiation between these two concepts in a coexisting manner. This reminds me of how the little girl says “two of us in the church-yard lie” in stanza six when she is referring to their grave sites, which are described as being “green” in stanza ten. This seems to be a deliberate way of assigning a lively color like green to a gravesite, which is obviously to keep the dead. There seems to be a duality here that is much like the painting where wee see a dead trees and an incomplete building because it has been abandoned. However, we still get the natural world working–the painting gives it life as a way of accepting the passing of things a part of the circularity. Although the painting is a little more cryptic, it definitely parallels the poem on how death seems to be in constant movement with nature, and ultimately man.

This duality of death and life looks kind of cryptic when it is attributed to the status of the poor. This could have something to do with the idea of not having tombstones adorned like aristocratic people did, as Wordsworth has alluded to in another poem, but it also has to do with the way in which the Romantics like Wordsworth and Coleridge looked to democratize the poor in conversation with the mainstream. In other words, they tried to de-marginalize the poor by including them in the center of their works. It is actually pretty marxist of them to do so, but it is also shows the gaze that is inevitable when people who do not belong to the working-class try to speak for them. To attribute death and its circularity to the working class shows more about Wordsworth’s gaze, than it might about poor working class people. The painting by Friedrich demonstrates a sort of othering that is attributed to these forgotten or “abandoned” people, as I have mentioned. By looking at this painting, it could be said that Wordworth looked at poor people in this way; he might have found them to be deserving of being brought into the mainstream of culture, but in a way he is also not one of them so he, in effect, has also exoticized them. romantic image 2

Cesar R

The Intertwining of Universal Chance


For my response, I propose to look at The Monk by the Sea (1809), by artist Caspar David Friedrich, and The Idiot Boy, by William Wordsworth (1800). I chose these two completely at random because I truly believe that all interpretations have merit, especially those which you allow to develop sporadically. To explain further, romanticism seems to be all about blending. It’s kind of a hot mess or art and literature that’s overlapping and colliding with one another to form this beautiful Hodge-podge of “savage” “normalcy.” Why can’t a story about an idiot boy be poetic? Why can’t a monk standing all alone by the sea be romantic? I would argue that anything (really, anything) can be both poetic and romantic. Therefore, these pieces were chosen at random and their intertwining is simply by the elements of universal chance.

To accomplish this close reading, I would like to direct your attention to page 247, lines 288 – 306, which read:

“And now she’s high upon the down, / Ad she can see a mile of road, / “Oh, cruel! I’m almost three-score; / Such night as this was ne’er before / There’s not a single soul abroad.” / She listens, but she cannot hear / The foot of horse, the voice of man; / The streams with softest sound are flowing, / The grass you almost hear it growing / You hear it now if e’er you can. / The owlets through the long blue night / Are shouting to each other still: / Fond lovers, yet not quite hob nob, / They lengthen out the tremulous sob, / That echoes far from hill to hill. / Poor Betty now has lost all hope, / Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin; / A green-grown pond she just has pass’d, / And from the brink she hurries fast, / Lest she should drown herself therein.”

In this section you can clearly see how this painting could be representing the scene depicted with “Poor Betty.” Firstly, Betty can see “a mile of road.” This implies that the world is still open, or stretched out in front of her. However, she remarks this sort of openness is actually mockingly “cruel” as there is “not a single soul abroad.” Not relying solely on her sight, “she listens” and yet she “cannot hear” any one either, further developing this sense of loneliness or isolation. Not only does she not hear “the voice of man,” but she also does not hear “the foot of horse.” This implies that not only is she removed from social society, but also the companionship of animals. Alas, she cannot even hear “grass” “growing,” even though in this moment of complete silence and isolation she should be able to “hear it now if e’er you can.” This depicts, like the painting, a further remove of loneliness and isolation. Just like in the image, even nature is barren and discomforting.

When at last Betty does hear something, it is the “shouting” of “owlets.” It’s interesting to note, she does not hear owls, but their younger, immature counterparts. This sets up the dynamic that even if Betty is able to reintegrate into society, she will be like a child, incapable of interacting in a mature and fully formed manner. This concept is continued in the lines “fond lovers, yet not quite hob nob.” This implies that the lovers are premature, not fully connected or familiar yet. Still, this implies distance, even between lovers, who should be the closest of companions and the cure to loneliness. The next sound heard is an imagined one of a sobbing so “tremulous” that it “echoes far from hill to hill.” This again points out the vastness of unoccupied space, as does the image, and drives home the singular nature of isolation.

In the final stanza, we find out what is the result of all this isolation: “Poor Betty now has lost all hope.” It goes on further to say, “Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin.” Although here, one may assume she is contemplating on past wrongs, it become obvious in the next few lines that her thoughts are actually “bent” towards a literally “deadly sin,” that of suicide. Just as in the image, Betty is faced with a “green-grown pond.” While in the poem, she “hurries fast” “from the brink,” the image captures the moment in which the decision to live has not yet been made. It captures the extreme levels of depression caused by isolation, and the desire to “drown herself therein.”

Like in the poem, the image seems to depict a very melancholy, almost inviting or accepting disposition. The lone monk and poor Betty do not seem frazzled, but calm, as though they have a deep-rooted desire “become one with nature” and thus leave behind the life of the living (the constraints and cruelty of society). In the painting, this idea of life and death being in balance, in a yin-yang type cycle, is depicted through the use of colors in the image. The monk’s head (or upper body) matches that of the sand (the lower portion of the image), whereas his robes match the water. This conveys the concept if only he would upend his life, and enter into death, then full unity could be achieved.

However, this concept of ultimate oneness, or inclusion through separation is such a terrifying thought not only for those living in the romantic era, but for people alive today that it’s not surprising that when confronted with the option of embracing death, poor Betty flees from the brink. The absoluteness of death, for many is a terrifying concept and I believes keeps many running in an endless cycle of desperation, past the brink, wishing perhaps to slip into the depths, but being too frighted and uncertain to drown themselves therein.

Elle Lammouchi

I chose the Monk by the Sea painting and the Nightingale poem from the book of poems. The two share thematic and aesthetic similarities under the umbrella of Romanticism.

The painting depicts a Monk staring wistfully out at the ocean. The colors are muted and the focus is on the bottom of the painting. The scene embodies darkness and lack of natural life. The horizontal strokes lengthen the feeling of the painting; it does not feel like an afterthought but thematically important.

The poem is guided by gothic undertones and a yearning overtone. It describes a bird singing late in the day and details how it reminds the author of the Philomea, a much older character who was famously raped. The poem is dark and of moderate length and sentence length is moderate. There is no flashy rhyming, the poem is to he point and not adorned with much but allusions.

Knowing a Stranger

Using Turner’s “A Shower” painting to depict the themes and feelings evoked by the poem “near the Lake of Estwaite,” I felt an overbearing sense of isolation, loneliness, and emptiness. The words from the poem alone implied all these, but in relating it to the painting, I felt even more (visually) alone; I envisioned being inside the painting–the darker corners away from the human contact and life altogether.

For the close reading of the poem I simply skimmed it and looked for themes, or–as Romantic poetry ought to be dealt with–the emotions I felt: loneliness. I felt alone as the stranger was in the poem. With that in mind, I focused my attention to the barren and empty, dark points within the painting: the left corner that is hardly distinguishable from the rest. It creates this sense of detachment from society, from warmth, and from life.

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower exhibited 1798 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower exhibited 1798 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

This passage from the poem helped manipulate this feeling of an overcoming loneliness:

His only visitants a straggling sheep,
The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper;
And on these barren rocks, with juniper,
And heath, and thistle, thinly sprinkled o’er,
Fixing his down-cast eye, he many an hour
A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here
An emblem of his own unfruitful life:

I picture the stranger from under the barren trees of the left corner, somewhere outside of the painting, in a loneliness and isolation that we cannot see. That’s the point of it all though, we can’t know the stranger–who can know the strange and yet it still be deemed strange? We belong in the center of this painting; we belong in the warm homes just under the bright skies and tall mountains. We don’t know the stranger, nor ever will, as he sits outside the painting, under a dark, barren tree.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez