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Ode on solitude
Transcript of Ode on solitude
Ode on Solitude
-Alexander Pope - 1688-1744
-Born in London to a Roman Catholic
-Diagnosed with Potts Disease at age 12 (a form of tuberculosis affecting spine growth)
-Height: 4'6" fully developed
-Poem was written at age 12
-Growing up, Alexander was hunchbacked, asthmatic, frail, and prone to violent headaches
-Appearance made him easily targeted by his enemies later in his life
-The Glorious Revolution (Revolution of 1688) was the overthrow of King James II of England by a Union Of English Parliamentarian with the Dutch stadholder William III of England
-King James' policies of religious tolerance after 1685 met with increasing opposition
-William crossed the North Sea and invaded. Revolution lead to the collapse of the Dominion of New England
-Revolution permanently ended any chance of Catholicism becoming re-established in England
Life of isolation is still a happy and quiet life and to maintain this peace, one must not only remain out of the world but also remain so isolated that others cannot pester them with the world’s problems.
Analysis of the Poem
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
-Attended Catholic school growing up. Though they were illegal, he still managed (born and raised Catholic)
-1700: family moved to a small estate in Binfield Berkshire (close to the Royal Windsor) due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles of London or Westminster. He described this area in his later poem "Windsor Forest"
-Age of 12, his formal education ended and from there started his self education system possibly relating to Ode on Solitude
-Studied English, French, Italian, Latin and Greek poems
-Never married. Had one life time lover, Martha Blount
Catholics in England
Catholics were denied the right to vote, as well as the right to live in the West Minster and London for over a century. As well, they were denied commissions in the army and the monarch was forbidden to be Catholic or marry a Catholic. This prohibition remained enforced until the UK's succession to the crown Act 2013 removed it.
-The context of this poem is based off of where Alexander lived at the time
-Forced to live in isolation from the world due to his beliefs as a Catholic Pope, he lived on a farm area filled with open land
-Considering he was only 12 when he wrote it, he didn't see much in this world. However, he was strongly influenced by it
-Due to the revolution, he felt isolated but still managed to live a life with his basic needs and remain happy
- Alexander was exposed to an environment where he had to work and constantly maintain his farm land. In relation to his poem, his native land was all he needed, referring to his parents' land in which he grew up on
Alexander is trying to demonstrate and help us understand that happiness can be achieved with simple isolation and to try to expand that one can danger the very happiness they have achieved. Alexander wasn't the most attractive human around nor was he the healthiest, in fact even though he had Potts disease he still understood that happiness is achieved with the most simple things out there. However Alexander was only 12 when he wrote this so he hasn't lived much to truly see the world
Whose heards with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest! who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me dye;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lye.
In the first stanza, Alexander paints a beautiful picture of a happy man. He shows how a man would be happy if his "wish and care" was figurative. "A few paternal acres bound" indicates all of his dreams and wishes paternally. Basically describing how a man can be happy with the connection of nature and never be away from it because it's his own native air. He is showing that he is satisfied with what he presently has and is not interested in increasing his property. His wishes and care are bound within the few acres of land given to him by his ancestors. At the time in Old England, whoever wanted more prosperity than what his natives had went to France and made money. However, this happy man does not wish to leave his native land but instead wishes to breathe his native air in his own ground.
The second stanza emphasizes the idea of owning land with everything to sustain life such as milk, bread, clothes from flocks, etc. He is suggesting that he is independent and that he can live on his own without any assistance from society.
The third verse emphasizes the significance of solitude life to be happy. He said that the happy man who lives on his own is blessed because he doesn't care about worldly things because he has a healthy body and peace of mind.
The fourth verse talks about how the man can sleep with ease at night on his farm and study with ease as "sweet recreation," showing how isolation from everything helps relax the mind and body.
Finally, in the fifth stanza, he describes how he wants to go unknown. "Let me live, unseen, unknown." He still wants to live happily, however he wishes to be in solitude. He even wishes his death goes unlamented.
Overall, he focuses on his own means for survival. This could be because of his illness growing up considering he wrote this at the age of 12. "We cannot search for a happy man in this world because he is very hard to find. He's a rare specimen but we can certainly identify one by tracing the characteristics of a happy life back to him."
In relation to the poem Ode on Solitude, Castaway is similar in many ways. For example, in the poem he goes on about isolation and how a man can be very happy when he appreciates the good things in his life such as the crops he has for food and the animals he has for food as well as clothing. In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks does not appreciate the things in life until he is in solitude on an island where he must battle for survival and find a way to accept what he has and make the best of it.
Alexander Pope was born a Catholic in the Protestant England, was forbidden to live in the London City and had to pay a double taxation. Ode on Solitude, which was alternately titled 'The Quiet Life,' was written by Alexander Pope to celebrate the virtues of a happy and satisfied life. In this poem, he discusses the characteristics of a happy life which are satisfaction, self-sufficiency and piety. Man was the fittest subject for his poetry.
Ode on Solitude is a poem that uses a third person point of view. In terms of poetry, the parameter used are five quatrain stanzas with a rhyme scheme of a.b.a.b. The poem doesn't use many official poetic or literary devices and only use fair amount of repetition and a little alliteration. It is a really straight forward poem celebrating a quiet life. Satisfaction and contentment run as the central theme.
By: Ahmad Al Johani