Advertisements

Blog Archives

A Short Analysis of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘To Flush, My Dog’

On Barrett Browning’s wonderful dog poem

‘A dog is a man’s best friend’, they say. But one hopes that in this case, as the old jest has it, ‘man embraces woman’, and that what the anonymous author of this proverb had in mind was the close bond between dogs and humans, whether men or women. Flush, the name of the cocker spaniel belonging to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), was clearly a close friend of his poet-owner, and Barrett Browning penned this lovely poem about her beloved dog.

To Flush, My Dog

Loving friend, the gift of one,
Who, her own true faith, hath run,
Through thy lower nature;
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
Gentle fellow-creature!

Like a lady’s ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
Either side demurely,
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
Of thy body purely. Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

A Short Analysis of Christina Rossetti’s ‘Spring’

The meaning of Rossetti’s bittersweet spring poem

‘Spring’ is not one of Christina Rossetti’s best-known poems, but it is a fine poem about springtime. Rossetti (1830-94) celebrates the new life that the spring brings, as all of the ‘hidden life’ beneath the earth ‘springs’ into action, bursting forth upon the scene. Here is ‘Spring’:

Spring

Frost-locked all the winter,
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
What shall make their sap ascend
That they may put forth shoots?
Tips of tender green,
Leaf, or blade, or sheath;
Telling of the hidden life
That breaks forth underneath,
Life nursed in its grave by Death. Read the rest of this entry

Samuel Butler’s Erewhon: Dystopia before Dystopia

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle explores the looking-glass world of Samuel Butler’s pioneering anti-utopian novel

When I was an undergraduate English student at Loughborough fifteen years ago, I took an optional second-year module called ‘Other Victorians’. As this title implies, the module was intended as a sort of companion-piece to the core module ‘Victorian Literature’, which covered the canon of Victorian writing. On the one hand, you had George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son, and Tennyson’s In Memoriam. On the other, you had Florence Nightingale’s essays, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books, and Arthur Hugh Clough’s Amours de Voyage.

Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872) would stand firmly in the latter camp containing those ‘other Victorians’. His anti-utopian novel is part science-fiction, part social commentary, part adventure fantasy, part comic satire. Like many experimental Victorian works of literature, it resists easy categorisation. Is it even a dystopian work, a forerunner to Brave New World, We, and Nineteen Eighty-Four? Read the rest of this entry