form

A study of the speaker in Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nymph’s_Reply_to_the_Shepherd

 DISCLAIMER!!!!!!!!!!    [ Make sure you guys read this first (unless you already know it :)]

This is an essay that dwells on a work by Sir Walter Raleigh. I found myself entranced by this selection’s eloquence and delicate beauty of form and structure. Below is my take on the point of view the poem is built around and hopefully demystifies any cryptic verbal passages therein.

The “speaker” in Raleigh’s poem is a nymph that is having a conversation with a shepherd about the state of the world as it is. This is a very interesting poem for me because it has so many implied meanings about the way the world has shirked its youthful innocence and become a little too hardened for the tastes of the nymph. It is my belief the nymph portrays; fancy, love, romance, playfulness and fantasy. These are all the common thoughts that lift us all out of the mire that can be our physical reality. I believe Raleigh is using this language to connote a longing for the world to be very much the poetic and emotional environment that exists only in the minds of writers, children, and lovers. This beautiful poem is brought to life with the use of many metaphorical implications that convey the authors meaning in a muted and understated way.

               The nymph articulates to the shepherd within the first stanza that the world is no longer young nor its inhabitants truthful. She goes on to mandate that if these obstacles could be overcome then she may be inclined to love the world and the shepherd again.  These statements speak to the way of the natural world we live as humans. Notions of these delicate tenets are not the practiced law of the land and we as shepherds have done much deceit to propagate our own existence at the cost of paradise on earth.

               Following the lead stanza the poem develops further on the idea of the comparison of nature and its seasons with the knowledge that everything will die or at its very least fade. In such lines as “Time drives the flock s from field to fold, when rivers rage and rocks grow cold” there is a melancholy sense that an era is passing and will be marked by a future that is uncertain in terms of its predecessor.

               The third stanza is speaking about a relationship and how it withers in the winter’s onset. It draws contrast from the waning of the fields by also explaining the symptoms of spring and its refreshing and renewal factor in life. This alludes me to believe the stanza speaks about the possibility of the fear of losing an older love to a new fresher more youthful lover.

               “Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy bed of roses, thy cap, thy kirtle and thy posies / Soon break soon wither, soon forgotten – in folly ripe, in season rotten” This is especially powerful verse in the prose. Here the descriptors are not metaphorical or implied but plainly stated and relatable to everyday life. In this stanza the feelings of the nymph are concrete and final. She knows that all the earthly items of love and womanhood are doomed to be loved less over time. She is saying that the way in which the shepherd acts now is not an honest reflection on the way he will act in future days and this is merely an act of lust not love.

               In the second to last stanza there are some comparisons made that relate nature’s beauty to a thing of ornate jewelry that is customarily given to ones lover and is symbolic of their commitment. The nymph is saying that these things cannot dissuade her to fall in love merely in and of themselves.

               During the last stanza the nymph mandates what would need to be done for her to love the shepherd. She wants everlasting youth, undying love and the bliss of wonderment for eternity. These commitments speak for the underlying thoughts in every lover when they want to be sure that their mate is feeling the same way as they do. This is the common link in all relationships at one point or another. I think that both parties know the answer to their problems at this point. It seems folly to believe these things can come true in any other realm than ideal.

               In this poem are many contemporary and basically human references that imply to our fondness of natural beauty and the change of the seasons and how it correlates with our lives. To me this poem can be construed in any number of ways, but considering that my reading is the closest to the author’s actual intent then I believe the poem is about earth and humanity. I think Raleigh is writing about the loss of innocence and the ideas of whimsy and love that go missing throughout the routine of our lives. I believe he wants to encourage the reader to embrace the simple beauty of life and make a marriage to the idea that we all need to be grounded and realize there are many beautiful things in our surroundings and make every opportunity to appreciate these less logical and inspiring moments. This is an almost tragic poem and maybe intentionally requires one to act in defiance of the terms it defines in its structure. I greatly enjoyed this reading and found it to be one of my more favorite selections.

Advertisements

European religious edifice after the waning of the Roman empire

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe found itself trapped in a downward spiral in terms of the Humanities and civil order. This was a long period of ruling warlords, transient warriors and various cultures attempting to exact their dominance in their respective areas. Some of these efforts were unique and original to the world stage and others harked back to times of familiar but forgotten order. Through this time of uncertainty and weariness many of these cultures established their influence and weaved their tale into the collective story of European history as displayed through their constructions. I will preview some noteworthy examples from Germany, Italy, and France to attempt to clarify their cultural contexts and meanings in this new age for Europe. 

Germany 

Inside Charlegmanes' chapel at Aachen, Germany

“The Palace Chapel at Aachen”  

was the primary residence of Charlemagne. Emperor Charlemagne had attempted to steer Europe back onto the path of civil and human normality which was expressed under the earlier Roman Empire for over a millennia. He had adopted the Catholic Church and ordained it as the religion of his land which was to follow and convert as he did. Charlemagne constructed his palatial retreat in the Carolingian style of Roman, Christian, and Byzantine architectural treatises. The palace reflects his deep-rooted belief in the Christian faith and simultaneously adopts the Roman Basilica style as seen in the Church at san Vitale which was reported to have a great effect on the Emperor. The interior has columns and arches that recall the Byzantine ethos which also heavily influenced the San Vitale Church. The Palace also contained a great audience hall that emulated a classic Roman forum as well. In all, the palace chapel at Aachen was trying to revitalize the late Roman Empire by highlighting the virtuous aspects of creative and varied ability while combining new emerging religious fervor and merging them into a unique blend that defines a large part of historical timeline In Europe. 

Italy 

In Tuscany, the “Cathedral Complex at Pisa, Pisan artists began work on a complex that would attempt to channel past Roman greatness to an extent as seen in the previous example of Aachen. Here the decorum was decidedly more Roman with the facades being clothed in various marbles and richly decorated in tiered columns and decoration. The Cathedral proper is designed in the classic Roman Cruciform-Basilica style and is accented on its exterior in a way that suggests the styles seen on the Parthenon or Coliseum. Multi leveled expanses of the outside facades offer their own unique differentiations in exterior layouts that include the external portions of all the buildings within the complex. The grand presentation of these worship places are highly vested in their Imperial past and offer a true recalling of Romanesque history that their culture is responsible for. 

France 

Amiens Cathedral, France

“The Amiens Cathedral” represents another distinct movement in European religious/artistic history. Here concept of  Christianity has been taken on as a high art. The churches and cathedrals of this time have become a more centralized and an integral part to community life in a way that makes them major economic and civic epicenters to the villages and towns they serve. A movement to bring praise and glory to the religion was to adopt a style of construction called Gothic which was simply a new and decidedly French style that countered the more traditional Romanesque ethos. Here this new style was used to promote the greatness of God through ornate and architectural excellence. These large cathedrals were extremely costly and highly avant-garde in their construction methods.  Every available exterior surface seems to be covered in a symbolic pictorial homage to a teaching or parable from Christ and the Bible. At a time when illiteracy was rampant, these illustrations no doubt helped reinforce the sermons delivered in the pulpit and warned of the revenges and rewards the pious and sinister would befall in their final judgment. The exteriors generally revealed more of a skeletal framework from which windows and ornamentation where displayed rather than merely impressing the overwhelming scale and heavy presence that was custom until this point. Light was now a more valued commodity and with the usage of stained glass the desired mood of salvation was better achieved and appreciated. Also new techniques had to be used to cope with the drastic architectural changes. The walls where now higher, thinner and topped by sharply (and large) inclined spires and roof systems. Accordingly, new buttressing techniques were developed (flying buttresses) to ease the pressing forces of natural physics that were in opposition to these lofty and ornately delicate structures. Also important to note is the perfection of various vault types and styles that carry the weight of the megalithic creations.  In summation, the art of religion and human ingenuity peaked at the same time in France in the middle ages. This style was a clean break from tradition and placed new value towards functionality and art in the sphere of everyday use.