william cowper

The Task. Book 1: The sofa

“By ceaseless action all that is subsists. Constant rotation of th’ unwearied wheel That nature rides upon maintains her health, Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads An instant’s pause, and lives but while she moves. Its own revolvency upholds the world. Winds from all quarters agitate the air, And fit the limpid element for use, Else noxious: oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams, All feel the fresh’ning impulse, and are cleans’d By restless undulation. Ev’n the oak Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm; He seems indeed indignant, and to feel Th’ impression of the blast with proud disdain, Frowning as if in his unconscious arm He held the thunder. But the monarch owes His firm stability to what he scorns, More fixt below, the more disturb’d above. The law by which all creatures else are bound, Binds man the lord of all. Himself derives No mean advantage from a kindred cause, From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease. The sedentary stretch their lazy length When custom bids, but no refreshment find, For none they need: the languid eye, the cheek Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk, And wither’d muscle, and the vapid soul, Reproach their owner with that love of rest To which he forfeits ev’n the rest he loves. Not such th’ alert and active. Measure life By its true worth, the comforts it affords, And theirs alone seems worthy of the name.”

this slowly unravels veshches like:

Corruption of virtue – by the citizen. Vomitorium. critic of luxury. The story of Rome becoming an empire, an elite/represented. Ease vs. labor = has become unbalanced. Double bind: he wants to celebrate the city BUT city is evil, feculent. Disinterested, good is not our trade. He has a conversational tone – there is a bit of inversion/awkwardness. What it connotes excesses of the language denotes: great sense of damnation. He thinks he is exiled from god. civilization occurred (line 70). Progress doesn’t lead to art/science/refinement of mind but to luxury (line 81). He condemns luxury. He feels guilt about civilization but it is civilization what makes critic possible. Eating/luxury infects the metaphorical body with corruption but also the literal body with decease. Boyish pleasure/apetite to the scenery. Enjoy what nature has to give (line 119). Pleasure in the “I” and the “eye” that sees nature: poet as a madman genius that is outside the order (line 157). Cannot imitate previous poets when you try to you find that you have your single voice/ have your own moral, proposal/critic for the aristocratic system (line 181-200). Poetry is to produce refreshment of sensation. Critique of artificial of landscape design – can gardening be non-artificial? (Line 288). Alliteration to push up, there is a contradiction betwixt humanity and nature (line 356). Labor and leisure/task vs. pleasure. In this pantheistic unity you have death in nature but from death comes life. Everything is in unity except humans- build a world of feculence. The balance is lost thanks to luxury. We are no longer nomadic, planting the seeds of corruption. spleen: english decease, maltripeo, depression, part of the body that produces a lack of interest in life. that happens because of repetition, being inside a whole. Seing petroleum everywhere. Black ooze. Living in a swamp. Not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (line 455). consonance: reiteration of consonant sounds. assonance: reiteration of vowels sounds. Double bind= repeat pleasure and yet he wants to be part of new paintings that give him access to other places (line 508). Humans live in a reality that they constructed.

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This entry was posted by Tournapin.

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