English Bards and Grecian Marbles: The Relationship between Sculpture and Poetry Especially in the Romantic Period

By Stephen A. Larrabee | Go to book overview

XII. CONCLUSION

DURING THE ROMANTIC PERIOD in England poets responded to the sculpture of Greece in a variety of ways. Many of them stated directly the sensations felt when they beheld works of art. In recording in verse the actual experience of seeing sculptured works, Byron and Keats surpassed other poets of the time. A man of taste almost in spite of himself, in Childe Harold Byron described the "old antique" in the visits of his hero to the Italian galleries. The familiar Greco-Roman works had been somewhat staled by countless gentlemen who had marveled at their canons of proportion and Ideal Beauty. None the less, Byron gave the Apollo and the Venus a show of significance through his easy rhetoric and passionate sentimentality. In The Curse of Minerva a different method of statement appeared, with the imagined sensations of prize fighters and dainty maidens reflecting the poet's own experience and opinion of the Elgin Marbles. Keats, on the other hand, in the "Haydon" sonnets reported almost too accurately his experiencing of the "mighty things" from the Parthenon. A young poet untutored in the arts, he transferred to paper the dizzying rush of sensations with which he saw before him a new realm of artistic achievement in the grand style of the Greek sculptures.

Two lesser poets offered parallel statements. In Paris in 1815 George Croly, a disciple of Byron, enumerated the antiques in the Halls of Sculpture at the Louvre and minutely described their appearance. William Haygarth in Greece imagined the Elgin friezes in their original places on the Parthenon, even turning his eyes upward to gaze upon the "long procession" of marble men and maidens moving to the sacrifice.

Other poets left glowing accounts of their "soul-adventures" in the presence of Greek sculpture, but more often in letters or journals, in

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English Bards and Grecian Marbles: The Relationship between Sculpture and Poetry Especially in the Romantic Period
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vi
  • Contents xi
  • Contents xiii
  • I. Poets and Sculpture 1
  • Ii. the Early Poets 18
  • III- the Seventeenth Century Pre-Restoration: the Uses Of Statue-Craft 43
  • Iv. the Eighteenth Century 66
  • V. Blake 99
  • VI- Wordsworth And Coleridge 120
  • VII- Byron Byron and Art 149
  • VIII- Shelley Greece: "The Crystalline Sea Of Thought" 175
  • IX- Keats Keats, the "Greek" 204
  • X. Landor and Hunt 233
  • Xi. the Lesser Poets 257
  • Xii. Conclusion 277
  • List of Critical Terms 289
  • A Selective Bibliography 293
  • Index 299
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