It’s a celebration of England and Great Britain.
It’s a poem about peace and prosperity but it’s born out of war.
It’s a descriptive poem: it concentrates on the woods around Windsor Castle, the residence of the monarch of England. There is a lot of natural description: it’s a local descriptive text. At the same time it’s a celebration of the greatness of the nation and the Queen.
There’s a political and ideological message. Pope wrote and published the 1st version in 1707 and in 1713 -> interesting because it was the year of the Peace of Utrecht which marked the end of the war of Spanish Succession.
In Spain the last Habsburg king Charles II died without children so a war broke out between France and the Bourbon dynasty and Austria and the Habsburg dynasty to decide the next king of Spain. The war was long (15 y) and in the end the only country that lost was Spain. The French imposed the King in Spain, The Austrians took all the territories of Spain in Europe and England obtained Gibraltar, the island of Minorca territories in North America and the Caribbean, the Asiento (only British ships could transport slaves to South America) -> the English projected themselves globally.
Pope rewrote the poem keeping an eye on what was happening in Utrecht. The poem is dedicated to the English diplomat who took part in this negotiation.
The poem is patriotic and royalist: it celebrates the nation and the monarchy as a symbol of this development/expansion/greatness.
It has got 3 sections:
-> 1st: natural description of the Windsor Forest and the landscape around it.
-> 2nd: historical excursus of the whole history o England and Britain from the Norman Conquest (1066) to the execution of Charles I.
-> 3rd: global panorama, the camera opens out to consider the position of England and Britain globally.
Windsor Castle is the symbol of the British monarchy and the continuity. It was first created by the Norman. It is the longest inhabited royal residence -> stability.
Forest: trees rooted in the ground -> solidity and continuity.
Metrical structure: heroic verse made up of iambic pentameters rhyming AABBCC.
It begins with a picture of the Garden of Eden -> Biblical Garden.
There is OPPOSITION and HARMONISATION of opposites in terms of
° LANGUAGE (agree-differ)
° SEMANTIC FIELD (light-darkness)
° OXYMORON (harmoniously confused)
° CULTURAL TRADITIONS (biblical and Greco-roman mythology)
Destructive forces (war ships) vs productive forces (fertility)
Oaks = ships, it’s a synecdoche (material for the object). It’s the traditional tree whose wood is used to make ships. It’s associated with MARITIME POWER AND COMMERCIAL POWER.
Territorial power “the Realms commanded”.
Mythological celebration of the fertility of England and Britain: sheep, fruits, vegetation and cereal crops.
The speaker is the personification of the river Thames which is like a prophet and can see the future.
NB: the river Thames is a double symbol:
Historic river, it’s part of English history
It flows, it’s a symbol of movement
-> it’s a combination of opposites
Idea of bringing to the other nations military control, light of religion and civilisation.
The river is a global waterway for GLOBAL COMMERCE: all the treasures will be created for England, the spices, the treasures of the sea and of the earth. England will accumulate them and bring them back to London -> enrichment and expansion. The ships bring there weapons, conquest and religion and will bring back treasures.
In the future, all the distant lands will admire our glory. NB: America too will go back to admire our greatness.
Important is the element of CONTINUITY AND TRADITION: we have the picture of development moving towards the future -> New horizons and possibilities.
The panorama becomes global BUT London is the EPICENTRE. The tone is IPERIALISTIC.
Contradiction about commerce:
It was seen as a force of CIVILIZATION: people get to know each other and everybody collaborates in the same trading network. It’s positive because it unites all mankind.
At the same time however, it is COMPETITION, so it divides nations because each nation competes with other nations to be more successful economically.
Pope maintained the positive connotations of commerce, but what the prevails it the sense that England is the Queen of Universal Commerce. The commerce is English.
Continua a leggere:
- Successivo: JOSEPH ADDISON - O FORTUNATOS MERCATORES, 1716, “The Freeholder”
- Precedente: ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)
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