The Affliction of Margaret By William Wordsworth H
The Affliction of Margaret By William Wordsworth H William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is one of the most popular English poets. He is credited with beginning the Romantic movement in English poetry Romantic poets sought pastoral subjects not urban and tried to use real rather than formal language [Romanticism is] the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings composed by a man [who has] also thought long and deeply H The poem Themes: Loss/Grief Religion Parent/child (family) relationships Nature Love
H Key terms: Rhyme structure Personification End-stopping Simile Alliteration Juxtaposition Monologue First person The poem Was included in a volume of poetry which Wordsworth described as founded on the affections It has echoes of the prodigal son parable in the Bible (Luke) First person monologue (Wordsworth assuming the voice of Margaret) It is the story of a woman who has not heard from her son for seven years H The Affliction of Margaret This is a long poem with eleven, seven line stanzas It has an ABABCCC rhyme structure Where art thou, my beloved Son, Where art thou, worse to me than dead? Oh find me, prosperous or undone! Or, if the grave be now thy bed, Why am I ignorant of the same That I may rest; and neither blame Nor sorrow may attend thy name? Seven years, alas! to have received No tidings of an only child; To have despaired, have hoped, believed, And been for evermore beguiled, Sometimes with thoughts of very bliss! I catch at them, and then I miss;
Was ever darkness like to this? Generally, the language is simple and direct He was among the prime in worth, An object beauteous to behold; Well born, well bred; I sent him forth Ingenuous, innocent, and bold: If things ensued that wanted grace, As hath been said, they were not base; And never blush was on my face. Ah! little doth the young one dream, When full of play and childish cares, What power is in his wildest scream, Heard by his mother unawares! He knows it not, he cannot guess: Years to a mother bring distress; But do not make her love the less. Neglect me! no, I suffered long From that ill thought; and, being blind, Said "Pride shall help me in my wrong: Kind mother have I been, as kind As ever breathed:" and that is true; I've wet my path with tears like dew, Weeping for him when no one knew. Wordsworth wrote this in "the very language of men" in the style of everyday speech. Although he does not use dialect words or abbreviations My Son, if thou be humbled, poor, Hopeless of honour and of gain, Oh! do not dread thy mother's door; Think not of me with grief and pain: I now can see with better eyes; And worldly grandeur I despise, And fortune with her gifts and lies. Alas! the fowls of heaven have wings, And blasts of heaven will aid their flight; They mount -how short a voyage brings
The wanderers back to their delight! Chains tie us down by land and sea; And wishes, vain as mine, may be All that is left to comfort thee. Perhaps some dungeon hears thee groan, Maimed, mangled by inhuman men; Or thou upon a desert thrown Inheritest the lion's den; Or hast been summoned to the deep, Thou, thou, and all thy mates, to keep An incommunicable sleep. I look for ghosts; but none will force Their way to me: 'tis falsely said That there was ever intercourse Between the living and the dead; For, surely, then I should have sight Of him I wait for day and night, With love and longings infinite. My apprehensions come in crowds; I dread the rustling of the grass; The very shadows of the clouds Have power to shake me as they pass: I question things, and do not find One that will answer to my mind; And all the world appears unkind. Beyond participation lie My troubles, and beyond relief: If any chance to heave a sigh, They pity me, and not my grief. Then come to me, my Son, or send Some tidings that my woes may end; I have no other earthly friend! H ABABCCC rhyme structure + Simple language = Does it make? this sound like a nursery Rhyme? If so, what effect does this have?
The Affliction of Margaret Wordsworth writes about a woman in the first person so we understand her story from her own perspective. It is Margarets only child and he has been missing for seven years Is there a selfpitying tone to this or do we feel genuine sympathy? A question is repeated to let the reader know what Margarets affliction is: her son is missing Wordsworth has her addressing him directly. Why? Where art thou, my beloved Son, Where art thou, worse to me than dead? Margaret wants to Oh find me, prosperous or undone! know where her Or, if the grave be now thy bed, son is whether he Why am I ignorant of the same is successful, poor That I may rest; and neither blame or even dead. Nor sorrow may attend thy name? Seven years, alas! to have received No tidings of an only child; To have despaired, have hoped, believed, And been for evermore beguiled, Sometimes with thoughts of very bliss! I catch at them, and then I miss;
Was ever darkness like to this? H Margaret describes the mixture of emotions that she has felt which has ultimately left her with sadness and despair. The tone is one of pride as Margaret tells of how well brought up her son was Margaret talks of how a son will always bring worry and stress to his mother, yet she still remembers him fondly. Wordsworth rarely uses one word when several will do He was among the prime in worth, An object beauteous to behold; Well born, well bred; I sent him forth Ingenuous, innocent, and bold: If things ensued that wanted grace, As hath been said, they were not base; And never blush was on my face.
The son is described as a valuable possession. His qualities are listed and then Margaret says how proud she is. The innocence Ah! little doth the young one dream, of childhood When full of play and childish cares, doesnt What power is in his wildest scream, understand the affects on a Heard by his mother unawares! parent they He knows it not, he cannot guess: have Years to a mother bring distress; But do not make her love the less. Is this a wistful praise of youth She also absolves her son of blame he knows it or a lament on the worries of not. Is she excusing just her son or the callowness H parenthood? of youth in general? She believes that she does not deserve this torment as she has been a kind mother; what tone is suggested by this? Emphasises the volume of tears she has shed and the daily nature of them Margaret (ironically) tells
us how she has suffered in silence. Neglect me! no, I suffered long From that ill thought; and, being blind, Why is this Said "Pride shall help me in my ironic? What is wrong: Pride what does this she doing? Kind mother have I been, as kind suggest about the As ever breathed:" and that is true; mother? I've wet my path with tears like dew, She loves her Addressing her son Weeping for him when no one son better than directly, Margaret knew. any fortunes or appeals for her son to gifts. come home My Son, if thou be humbled, poor, Unconditional regardless of his Hopeless of honour and of gain, maternal love? situation. Oh! do not dread thy mother's door; OR Fortune is personified and shown to be Think not of me with grief and pain: fickle. Margaret naturally despises I now can see with better eyes; H not been good to
fortune because it has And worldly grandeur I despise, her. Margaret uses figurative language to suppose that her son may be an angel in heaven but unable to visit her as she is tied to the earth. Wordsworth juxtaposes the tone in these two stanzas; first the mother is despairing that her son is dead but imagines him in heaven, then she lists his possible grisly fates. Why? She imagines her son trumpeted into heaven if hes dead. Arrogance? Wishful-thinking? Selfcomforting? Alas! the fowls of heaven have wings, Is this the only And blasts of heaven will aid their flight;possible reason They mount -how short a voyage bringsfor him not The wanderers back to their delight! visiting? Chains tie us down by land and sea; And wishes, vain as mine, may be The tone All that is left to comfort thee. becomes depressing as Perhaps some dungeon hears thee Margaret groan, assumes the
Maimed, mangled by inhuman men; terrible fates Or thou upon a desert thrown that could have Inheritest the lion's den; befallen her Or hast been summoned to the deep, son Thou, thou, and all thy mates, to keep An incommunicable sleep. The alliterative m sounds emphasise the mothers vivid imagination running away from her as she H this image labours over This verse explains how Margaret does not believe in ghosts as she would have surely been visited. Does this contradict or confirm her Christian beliefs? What attitude does the mother show here? The loss of a son could be said to be against nature and Wordsworth describes no joy in nature Margaret (is he exploiting the romantic form and, if so, to what effect? An everlasting love? I look for ghosts; but none will force Wallowing in Their way to me: 'tis falsely said self-pity? That there was ever intercourse Between the living and the dead; For, surely, then I should have sight Of him I wait for day and night, With love and longings infinite. Her fears and
apprehensions are My apprehensions come in crowds; personified and I dread the rustling of the grass; are said to be in The very shadows of the clouds crowds which Have power to shake me as they overwhelm her. pass: Should she, could I question things, and do not find she, take arms One that will answer to my mind; against a sea of And all the world appears unkind. troubles, and by opposing, end Margaret has lost her faith in all them? that is good in theH world. She is beyond help/cant help herself The poem ends with a summary of what Margaret wants: either her son returned or some news of his whereabouts. Beyond participation lie My troubles, relief: Has her loneliness Most lines in the poem and arebeyond end-stopped The reader cannot help If any chance to heave a sigh, become her company? pity me, and not my grief. but feel sympathy Find the for lines They that
arent; what might Then come to me, my Son, or Margaret as she reveals send Wordsworth be trying to convey by allowing how lonely she is. Some tidings that my woes may these lines to end; run-on? I have no other earthly friend! Was she a good What is your opinion of mother? the son? Why has he left and never returned? The poem is a Monologue. It has one speaker who tells her own story. What other poems use this form? H Comparisons Loss of a loved one: Monologues: Digging, Storm on the Island Midterm Break Heaney The Song of the Old Mother, On My First Sonne On My First Sonne Jonson
The Affliction of Margaret Family relationships: Nature: Digging, Mid-Term Break, Storm on the Island, Death of a Naturalist; Heaney Catrin, On the Train, Cold Knap Lake Clarke A Difficult Birth, The Field Mouse Clarke On My First Sonne, The Song of the Old Mother, H Patrolling Barnegat, The Eagle, Inversnaid, Clare's Sonnet Review Sorting out Margaret's hopes and fears Working through the poem, try to find all the different things that Margaret says may have happened to her son - you may find that she repeats some. As you go, note them down. When you have finished, organize them into a list. In each case, write down her hope or fear, as far as possible in your own words; state what are her reasons (if she has any), or note that she has no reason for what she thinks, and finally, say how far you think this idea of hers is likely to be true. H
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