Colour and Experience in Nineteenth-Century Poetry by Richard Cronin

By Richard Cronin

This examine examines phrases used for color as they seem within the paintings of a few of the 19th century poets, which opens tips to a dialogue of the relation in 19th century poems among language, adventure and price. the writer lines in all of the poets Keats, Browning and Hopkins the forging of language that mediates among a process of values and the flux of expertise. color phrases turn into the most important symptoms of a manner of the area that defines the poetry of the 19th century. Richard Cronin is writer of "Shelley's Poetic Thoughts".

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She notes, for example, that tributes to Newton's optical discoveries tend to begin with a hymn to light echoing one of Milton's several celebrations of light in Paradise Lost, most commonly the invocation to Book III. Such echoes work to sustain the traditional association between light and divinity, so that when poets such as Mallet and Thomson proceed from a celebration of light to a description of the various colours derived from it, the movement is felt as a transition from the infinite to the finite, from the heavenly to the earthly.

In his The Poetry of Growth, 1 he identifies the rainbow and various related phenomena as Wordworth's and Coleridge's central symbols for the imagination. Coleridge's definition of the symbol as the 'translucence of the infinite through the finite' suggests how the rainbow may represent the defining activity of the poet's imagination, for, in the rainbow, light, the type of the infinite, shines through a translucent water-drop to produce the bow. The rainbow becomes, in this reading, a symbol of peculiar authority, for it is the symbol of the symbol-making activity itself.

What it represents is white light, white radiance, and it 24 The Romantics suggests a sceptical answer to any Shelleyan faith that in the contemplation of such light we may extricate ourselves from the fallacies of colour. Regulus escapes from colour into darkness, for to stare at white radiance is to be blinded. Colour, then, is fallacious: it offers no trustworthy knowledge of the real world. So far Turner is in agreement with a conventional line of eighteenth-century thought. A painter who subscribed to this notion might be expected to eschew colour, to adopt a linear style capable of representing solid truth, to aspire, perhaps, to a style something like Flaxman's in his illustrations to Homer.

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