Tenderloin-San Francisco, 2017

I decided to rewrite William Wordsworth London, 1802. I chose the Tenderloin neighborhood because I spent most of my childhood down there. It is riddled with crime, drugs, homelessness, sex, etc. When people think of San Francisco, they think of the beautiful landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, etc. Or maybe how it is an expensive place to live and how it’s a city that is always developing–especially downtown. However, nobody ever talks about the flaws of the city. Sure, price could be considered a flaw but nobody ever mentions the dark truth behind downtown. Every time I drive by the Tenderloin, I feel paranoid and unsafe. I’ve seen my fair share of drug dealers, prostitutes, and crime scenes throughout my life and I have the Tenderloin to thank for that. This is why I drew inspiration from Wordsworth, he saw London differently during the Industrial Revolution. He saw the flaws that the Industrial Revolution was creating and hope he could go back to a time when John Milton was alive. So every time I have to get across town through the Tenderloin, I see the problems that are often hidden from our eyes in the media. In discussion, Hannah showed us a music video by Lily Allen. The video is inspired by Wordsworth’s poem. And because of that, I was also inspired by the music video to rewrite his poem. So next time you drive downtown, “blink twice and you might see all its lies”.


Dirty streets, incapable to have tourists walk by.

Day and night, parents keep their children in-doors,

Drugs and porn all sold in various video stores.

Criminals are caught with no alibi,

Yet they still deny.

Everyone here is poor,

The city is rotten to its core.

It feels as if the police don’t even try.

A horrendous city filled with blood.

It’s a shame that only a few share the wealth,

While the rest are in bad health.

No hands are clean,

They all swim in mud.

No one lives beyond their teens.

  • Christopher Luong

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

Lines composed a few miles above an Aqueduct

Théodore Gericault’s Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct is a beautiful landscape painting that uses colors, landscapes, people and buildings to create a romantic scene which connects with Williams Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.” In Gericault’s painting, we can see the aqueduct leading into a set of buildings on overlooking a cliff. This scene can almost be directly described from one of the opening lines form Wordsworth poem that reads:

—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky
Wordsworth describes these cliffs ass lofty and secluded which very much looks like the painting as there is not very much man made structures present or in focus of the painting besides the aqueduct. Wordsworth also mentions the connection of the landscape with the ‘quiet sky’ and this can be seen in the landscape as well. If we look at the color of the sky on the left side of the painting are similar to those used on the cliffs and fields on the lower right side of the painting using yellows, orange and reds to form this connection with the landscape and the sky above. This can also be seen with the taller mountain behind the cliffs that uses dark green, blue and black to look like the cloudy sky present on the upper right hand corner of the painting.
The Romantic idea of the relationship between man and nature is very much present in both of the works. In Wordsworth, he writes about his experience visiting the same location at different points of his life and how he viewed and experienced the landscape differently and how it stayed with him for all these years. He writes:
For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.
Now as he’s older, Wordsworth is explaining how he learned to view the landscape in relation to man and their ‘sad music’ that is not harsh but has enough power. Wordsworth is viewing nature now as it connects to humanity and how we effect it. It’s beautiful to think about a quiet river running through a silent forest but wordsworth still hears the sound of humanity in the background with enough power to transform this place into something else. In the painting we can see this theme as well. The only humans in the image are close to the front of the scene but are tiny in comparison to the mountains and cliffs being portrayed in the background. It’s also interesting to notice how the humans are interacting with nature directly in the image and the man made structures are lonesome and show no human interaction. The aqueduct is also very present in the painting and I believe its importance as a man made structure designed to carry water like a river made it the center and title of the piece. The aqueduct sits high above the natural waters and in relation to the perspective of the image seems to be running opposite or perpendicular to the waters below.
-Noel Nevarez

A Beautiful World of Ethereal Places and Ephemereal Wonders

Their colors are distinct as those of the sun and regularly and obviously blended, though less vivid, fine specimens may be found any night at the foot of the upper Yosemite fall, glowing gloriously amid the gloomy shadows and thundering waters, whenever there is plenty of moonlight and spray.

– John Muir

Dear my fellow venerable peers and aspiring scholars, I present to you a plea.

Awaken your slumbering reverence of nature within. This world that we share asks for our appreciation now more than ever. The strength of a movement is determined by the collection of the will of its individuals. Wordsworth intuitively composed his poetry at a time of boiling industrial forthcoming, but do not hesitate to relate its antiquity to the pertinence it has in a world of modern environmental peril. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads is as contemporary to our present problematic endeavors with Earth as you could possibly imagine. Their words continue to speak for a voiceless mother Earth, the most beautiful of all planets we have ever encountered. As students of the University of California, Merced, we are granted an opportunity to embrace a pioneering spirit that has fueled and characterized the United States of America for centuries. Considering our proximity to the greatest wilderness of them all, Yosemite, we are living embodiments of Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis, which spoke to the roaring passion for Western expansion and human inquisitiveness. Go forth and revel within the temples of awful (awe-inspiring) natural wonder, avoid the temptation and distractions of modernity, as they serve no true purpose to your free-spirited soul.

Wordsworth and Coleridge have me lost in a world of beauty and pain. Romanticism speaks to me like a siren-wailing fire truck calls to a lonesome canine to howl incessantly. I’m enamored by this imaginative prose, delicate as a rose, insinuating thoughts of philosophical scorn, like an unforgiving thorn. I have literally and figuratively lost myself in the forests of the Sierra Nevada, blanketed by chilling darkness, but it was then, that I had ever felt more alive. I was young then, and my eyes scrambled in the twilight in fear of black bears. I know now, that these lovable bears in comparison to fearsome grizzlies of the north or population dwindling from receding landscapes of polar bears, are not to be feared. Fresh mountain wind,  towering sequoias revived me from my past loathsome troubles that lay insidious within my mind for so long. The landscapes of this breathtaking mountain range lay etched in my thoughts even with my eyes closed, and are now ingrained in me for the rest of my existence.

The painting “Buttermere Lake: A Shower”, instills moody thoughts in a gloomy overcast. I initially see a bleak landscape of melancholy, that speaks of a desolate past. The rainbow from the painting reminds me of Lower Yosemite Fall’s moonbows. We are within 2 hours of North America’s tallest waterfall. An exciting thought to contemplate itself. I look within these dark clouds of anguish and uncertainty, however, and I find hope. Just as I once lost my wallet and my keys in Yosemite and panicked for my life, I would eventually calm down and see that they were exactly where I had placed, underneath a pile of my belongings. There is always hope even in death and absolute remorse. Even if you cannot see it, there is always light somewhere within or somewhere far beyond the twilight zone. It is only in darkness that light truly shines. Be courageous in the face of overwhelming odds. Fight on until your last dying breath, and submit to no oppressive force. I reference another poem that carries my sentiments. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” – Dylan Thomas

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

Joseph William Turner’s painting carries multiple aspects of Romanticism within its frame. It is an encapsulation of the feelings and emotions of The Lyrical Ballads. Expostulation and Reply discusses enjoying nature even if its morals and lessons taught are not as direct as a lecture of philosophy or a laboratory session of science.

"You look round on your Mother Earth,
          As if she for no purpose bore you; 
          As if you were her first-born birth,
          And none had lived before you!"

William is expostulated by Matthew. Why does he seem to mindless observe the world with his mind adrift in solitary rumination?

"Nor less I deem that there are Powers
          Which of themselves our minds impress;
          That we can feed this mind of ours
          In a wise passiveness.

William explains his penchant for wonderful Mother Earth. He feels that he assimilates notions of patience and lessons of wisdom in the stillness of meditation and deep contemplation.

Landscapes like the one Turner paints and the ones that you can come across after hiking to a viewpoint are so powerful, that you can’t help but lay speechless. I recall the times I’ve been such amazing views like Glacier Point and Angel’s Landing, and I sat startled and comforted by the immense grandeur for hours.

I make one last reference to another one of Wordsworth’s poems. I ask that you consider your lifestyle and your attachments to materials, just like Wordsworth attempts to convey the contempt of materialism. A life is meant to be fulfilled with experience, and not meaningless objects.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

The World is Too Much With Us

William Wordsworth

Earth day is on April 22. Also, National Park Week is April 15-23. On April 15 and 16 and again on April 22 and 23 you can visit any national park in the country free of charge. As the heavy snowfall from this year’s dramatic winter begins to recede in the Sierra Nevada, I encourage you to take part in experiencing our world within its raw natural boundaries, rather than dwelling within unsatisfying cities. The following link is a website that has been instrumental in my transition from childhood to young adulthood. It has guided me with a knowledgeable content of incredible hikes in Yosemite and also carries a comedic and informative style of prose. Check it out! http://www.yosemitehikes.com/hikes.htm

One last note. Last winter I explored Zion National Park, and after embarking on a notoriously scary but enjoyable hike, I found a drone sitting atop Angel’s Landing. Flying drones are strictly prohibited in these National Parks, and I felt obligated to find the owner before a ranger confiscated it. I’ve been looking for the owner ever since. After a considerable amount of time debating with myself internally over ethical matters, I decided to examine the footage of nature. I was absolutely blown away, and I feel compelled to share. I hope that everyone has the desire to embark on their own expeditions. I recommend the HD setting for enhanced theatrics.



Thomas Pham

Transient Beauty

In Théodore Gericault’s “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” we are presented to a scene where the sun is setting on the green plains and a river; among them, a castle and six curious figures seemingly delighting in the river’s refreshing coolness. In the distance, similar castles line the plains and form a picturesque sense of the quotidian. On further observation, I noticed the trees surrounding the scene have but little leaves on them, signaling the season to be Autumn. Coupled with the sunset, a bittersweet tone arises due to the end of summer, the end of the day, and the end of a season.

In relation to the Lyrical Ballads, “Two April Mornings” by Wordsworth encompasses the reflecting tone the painting conveys. I want to focus the attention on the two figures on the bottom of the painting, seeing as how the poem gives a few lines of conversation. It starts with someone asking Matthew, the second person, why he was sighing even though it was such a beautiful day. His reply:

“Yon cloud with that long purple cleft

Brings fresh into my mind

A day like this which I have left

Full thirty years behind.


And on that slope of springing corn

The self-same crimson hue

Fell from the sky that April morn,

The same which now I view!”

This reply I attribute to the figure sitting upon the rocks, watching the others play in the river and the surrounding clouds of dawn approach the scene. His remembrance of the day he “left behind” thirty years ago is indicative of a nostalgia he feels, but whether it is reflective or regretful, is not revealed. We later find that Matthew was thinking of his sister who has passed, and reflects on the ephemerality of life like the day; just as soon as it begins, the dawn quickly comes before you know it. Later in the poem, we are also told by the narrator that Matthew too, has died. He is described in his grave as clutching onto a wild apple tree in his hand, signaling his longing for the past. This reflective and nostalgic poem is very much Romantic in the sense that, it speaks of nature as relating to the soul of man. They share the same sense of transient beauty, much like a firework, traveling into the sky only to explode for some beautiful seconds until it’s gone forever.

-Daniel Corral

Observing Color in “The Abby in the Oakwood”

The painting entitled “The Abby in the Oakwood” by Caspar David Friedrich can be interpreted through the lens of William Wordsworth’s romantic poem “We Are Seven”. Wordsworth’s ballad “We Are Seven” can roughly summarized as a poem about a man inquiring about a little girl’s dead siblings. The speaker asks the child “Sisters and brothers, little Maid/ How many may you be?” (line 13-4), to which the child replies, “How many? Seven in all” (line 15). Initially this does not appear to be unsettling until the child reveals that “two are in the church-yard laid, / Beneath the church-yard tree” (line 31-2). Although the speaker attempts to correct the child by telling her that then there are only seven, she insists that “Nay, we are seven!” (line 69).

This is perhaps one of the most harrowing facets of the ballad: its quality of contrasting life and death; the child in the poem innocently insists that her siblings are still alive, while additionally revealing that they are dead. This is what gives the poem its chilling mood; the child (life), juxtaposed with her dead siblings (death). When viewing Friedrich’s painting, readers can recognize the same types of romantic themes, ideas, and feelings deployed in Wordsworth’s poem.

The theme of death is stark in Friedrich’s painting. The scene is of an abbey in the wood, with what appears to be a cemetery. The top of the painting is set in the light while a line cuts across the center of the painting in which the bottom half is dark. This obvious contrast of colors mirrors the theme of the poem (life and death). This theme is further perpetuated by the content of the painting in which an abbey window is set in the light, while the cemetery is shrouded within the darkness. The church scene, which is obvious metonym for the revival or life, and the cemetery, a metonym for death mimics the romantic theme of life and death evoked in Wordsworth’s poem, but also the unsettling mood that accompanies it. Readers of Wordsworth’s poem can view Friedrich’s painting through the same lens and can conversely recognize the obvious similarities.


-Sara Nuila-Chae

Don’t Forget About Us

We Are Seven by William Wordsworth is best represented by The Abby in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich. The painting has a very dark feeling to it, as it displays what seems to once be a church with graves surrounding the area. Along with the graves, there are dead oak trees that accompany the remaining pieces of the church. Both image and poem convey ideas of death and darkness. However, there are visuals of light: the sky. In the poem, the child believes that there are seven siblings in total. Technically speaking, that is true but the girl is disregarding the fact that two of her siblings have passed away. The man argues that there are only five in total with two siblings dead in the physical world. Throughout the poem, both argue until the poem ends ambiguously for the reader to interpret.

So, let’s break it down to how this painting is so similar to the poem and the idea of romanticism.

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

  • William Wordsworth, 1805, Stanza 8, Lines 29-32, page 53

This following excerpt seems to be best represented by the painting by Friedrich. What lies beneath the church-yard tree are graves. In the painting, there seems to be a cross on the ground. The cross could be where the two fallen siblings lie. This excerpt also shows the innocence of the little girl as she directly states that her two dead siblings are buried beneath the church-yard tree while disagreeing with the speaker. She goes on to say that she spends time with her two siblings by singing, eating supper, and even playing there. She kind of paints a colorful image of how she spends her time during her visits. In a sense, she is showing her perspective of death. She doesn’t view her brother and sister as dead, but she sees them as if they were still with her. Whether or not that if that seems creepy to some, it definitely shows the innocence of a child– blind from the realities and concepts of physical death. Yet, this painting by Friedrich doesn’t really show any of that innocence or feelings of togetherness. Although, it does have a bright contrast as the sky is full white. The sky can be a representation of the girl’s innocence or Heaven. However, the speaker (man) that the little girl is speaking to seems to be seeing what the painting is showing.

“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.

  • William Wordsworth, 1805, Stanza 9, Lines 33-36, page 53

The man argues that there can only be five siblings if two are dead. He is showing signs of skepticism to her explanation of seven siblings. Now this is where the image that the little girl was once painting turns into dark reality that the painting is presenting. Yes, the two siblings are dead and the facts are there. The little girl said it herself, John and Jane are buried underneath the church-yard tree. As the reader goes through this poem, they see how things are changing as the two are arguing. It goes from the perspective of an innocent child to an adult–a total 180. With the aid of the painting while reading the poem, it shows how this imagery of pure innocence may be cracking as the man is stating more facts.

Or maybe the painting and poem display low and rustic life. To the speaker, he thinks the little girl doesn’t understand the concept of death. Maybe that is due to a lack of education–little to no knowledge of understanding physical death. Or maybe the man is Death himself by warning her to not interact with the spirits of the dead. Maybe she can’t let go of them, thus leads to the interaction between the man and the little girl. Let’s be honest, why would a man talk to a little girl in a graveyard? Anyways, one of the reasons why I believe the man could be Death is how he says that the girl is alive because of her limbs. And the reason why he is so algorithmic is because he is keeping count of the dead–keeping an equilibrium between life and death.

“But they are dead: those two are dead!
Their spirits are in Heaven!”
’Twas throwing words away: for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

  • William Wordsworth, 1805, Stanza 17, Lines 65-69, page 55

The poem ends with a heated conclusion between the speaker and the little girl. After explaining herself to the man, he says that her two siblings are no longer here (physically), but are in heaven (spiritually). Although the man is right in a realistic perspective, the little girl has the last say as she yells “we are seven!”. All in all, I visualize the little girl maintaining her innocence and the picture she painted for the reader mentally. Yes, her siblings may be dead, but she treats them as if they were still around by spending time with them. Her perspective on death is not so much about realism, but more on how she deals with it. Throughout the poem, she urges that she can have relationships with the dead. But the speaker is shoving the idea that the poor little girl is just delusional. From what he sees, he sees the painting. Nothing but the dark, harsh truth– and he only counts five because the painting shows five dark figures in the painting. Not seven dark spots, but five dark spots in the middle of the painting.

Screenshot at Apr 12 09-15-08

But I say this is a very good execution of one of the characteristic attitudes that define romanticism: the exaltation of emotion over reason and relying on the senses over intellect. The little girl is the embodiment of this characteristic. She would much rather believe that her brother and sister are still with her (emotion/senses) and is denying the fact that they are dead (reason/intellect). The man is stuck on the physical plane of the world, yet the little girl is able to see beyond that. To the little girl, the dead siblings still counts as being part of our physical world–whether it be physically or spiritually, she feels that they still belong.

  • Christopher Luong


The painting by Theodore Gericault, “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” seems to be a near close depiction of William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written At a Small Distance From My House, and Sent by My Little Boy to the Person to Whom they are Addressed.”  It is as if Gericault’s paintbrush is taking direction from Wordsworth’s poetic expression.  

In the painting we see a vision of perfection through the depiction of a day filled with leisure and great weather.  There are several people swimming along the aqueduct, simply basking in what seems to be an air of peace.  Similarly, in the poem, Woodsworth’s first words are that it was a “mild day of March.”  The word “mild” meaning that the climate is neither too hot nor too cold, setting the tone for how one may feel tempered when reading the rest of the poem.  The same feeling is evoked fromt the painting, where the sun light’s casting against the landscape and buildings, indicates the hour of dusk, hence indicating that a mildness has taken over that part of the day.

There also seems to be a Utopian fantasy taking place in both the art piece and the poem, when Woodsworth says: “Love, now an Universal birth/from heart to heart is stealing/from earth to man/from man to earth/-it is the hour of feeling.”  Now, instead of looking at the art piece first, if the lines are read first, and the art piece is looked at thereafter, one will see that a perfect world has been projected.  The illusion that “love” has been born on a “universal” level, meaning that everyone and everything is exuding a perfect sense of happiness and love, is entirely the definition of a Paradise world.  In the picture we see men inside of the water, casually relaxing and enjoying the themselves. That part of the art piece could even literally have those words “From Earth to man, from man to Earth -It is the hour of feeling” placed in that specific spot on the painting.

The combination of the perfect weather and the gentlemen’s’ sense of peace in Gericault’s painting goes quite well with Wordsworth last line when he says, “for this one day we’ll give to idleness.”  In other words, instead of carrying on with work, which is the daily protocol for survival, both painter and poet are saying that, instead, not worrying is the perfect way to enjoy life, and in that sense, the survival of one’s inner spirit is most important.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez


Lyrical Ballads: a word is worth a thousand pictures

For this Friday’s blog post (4/14), students will use ONE of the four paintings below as a lens for interpreting ONE of the poems from the Lyrical Ballads (except “Tintern Abbey” and the “Ancient Mariner”). What does the painting’s form, color, perspective, and setting reveal about the Romantic themes, ideas, and feelings conveyed in your chosen poem?  Evidence for your argument will be based on a specific close reading of the painting and poem.  Be bold and daring: use your imagination!!!

Please categorize your post under “The Romantic Turn” and don’t forget to create specific and relevant tags.  The post is due by Friday (4/14) 1pm, but students have the option to revise it until 6pm that day.  And please sign your posts so that your TA, Hannah, and I know who wrote what.  Warning: blank or filler “placeholder” posts submitted after the deadline will not receive a grade!

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