Pre-romantic Poets and Their Works
The third stage of Neo-classicism saw some poets, like Robert Burns, Thomas Gray and William Blake. These poets showed more sympathy for the life of poor people. They were sentimental and certainly romantic. They cried; they laughed; they loved; they hated. The poetry written by these poets paved the way for the incoming English Romanticism.
Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)
Robert Burns (also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite
son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as
simply The Bard) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely
regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide.
He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a "light" Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English.
He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and his
influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) Auld
Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of
the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today include A Red, Red Rose; A Man's A Man for A'
That; To a Louse; To a Mouse; and Ae Fond Kiss.
Born two miles south of Ayr, in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland, the eldest of the seven children of William Burness and Agnes Broun.
Here Burns grew up in poverty and hardship.
He had little regular schooling and got much of his education from his father, who taught his children reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history and also wrote for them A Manual Of Christian Belief. In the
summer of 1775, he was sent to finish his education with a tutor at Kirkoswald. He began to write poems at an early age.
In December 1781, Burns learnt to become a flax-dresser, but during the New Year celebrations of 1781/1782 the flax shop caught fire and was sufficiently damaged to eventually send him home to a farm. He continued to write poems and songs and began a Commonplace Book in
On 27 November 1786, Burns set out for Edinburgh. On 14
December William Creech issued subscription bills for the first Edinburgh edition of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, which was
published on 17 April 1787. In Edinburgh, he was received as an equal by the city's brilliant men of letters and was a guest at aristocratic gatherings.
In 1788 he returned to Ayrshire, and finally gave up farming in 1791. It was at this time that, being requested to write lyrics for The Melodies of
Scotland, he responded by contributing over 100 songs. Burns also worked to collect and preserve Scottish folk songs, sometimes revising, expanding, and adapting them, including Auld Lang Syne, A Red, Red
Rose, and so on.
As his health began to give way, Burns began to age prematurely and fell into fits of despondency, and the habits of intemperance aggravated his long-standing possible rheumatic heart condition. His death followed a dental extraction in winter 1795.
Burns' poetry drew upon a substantial familiarity and knowledge of Classical, Biblical, and English literature, as well as the Scottish Makar
tradition. Burns was skilled in writing not only in the Scots language but also in the Scottish English dialect of the English language. Some of his works are written in both Scots and English for various effects.
His themes included republicanism (he lived during the French
Revolutionary period) and Radicalism which he expressed covertly in
Scots Wha Hae, Scottish patriotism, anticlericalism, class inequalities,
gender roles, commentary on the Scottish Kirk of his time, Scottish
cultural identity, poverty, sexuality, and the beneficial aspects of popular
Scots Wha Hae Scots Who Have
'Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, 'Scots, who have with Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, Scots, whom Bruce has often led, Welcome tae yer gory bed, Welcome to your gory bed Or tæ Victory. Or to victory.
'Now's the day, and now's the hour: 'Now is the day, and now is the hour: See the front o' battle lour, See the front of battle lower (threaten), See approach proud Edward's power - See approach proud Edward's power - Chains and Slavery. Chains and slavery.
'Wha will be a traitor knave? 'Who will be a traitor knave? Wha will fill a coward's grave? Who will fill a coward's grave? Wha sæ base as be a slave? Who's so base as be a slave? - Let him turn and flee. Let him turn, and flee.
'Wha, for Scotland's king and law, 'Who for Scotland's King and Law Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Freeman stand, or Freeman fa', Freeman stand or freeman fall,
Let him follow me. Let him follow me.
'By Oppression's woes and pains, 'By oppression's woes and pains, By your sons in servile chains! By your sons in servile chains, We will drain our dearest veins, We will drain our dearest veins But they shall be free. But they shall be free.
'Lay the proud usurpers low, 'Lay the proud usurpers low, Tyrants fall in every foe, Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty's in every blow! - Liberty is in every blow,
Let us do or dee. Let us do or die!'
On the Seas and Far away 《君子于役》
—《诗经?王风》 How can my poor heart be glad
When absent from my sailor lad? 君子于役，不知其期，曷至哉( How can I the thought forgo, 鸡栖于埘，日之夕矣，羊牛下来。 He's on the seas to meet the foe? 君子于役，如之何勿思！
Let me wander, let me rove, 君子于役，不日不月，曷其有佸( Still my heart is with my love. 鸡栖于桀，日之夕矣，羊牛下括。 Nightly dreams and thoughts by day, 君子于役，苟无饥渴！ Are with him that's far away.
On the seas and far away,
On stormy seas and far away,
Nightly dreams, and thoughts by day,
Are with him that's far away.
William Blake (28 November 1757–12 August 1827)
William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English
poet, painter, and printmaker. Though he was largely unrecognized during his lifetime, his prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in
proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language".
Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity,
and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterized as part of both the Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was deeply influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French
and American revolutions.
Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of
As the catterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so
the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
Infant Joy Infant Sorrow
"I have no name;
My mother groan'd! my father wept. I am but two days old."
Into the dangerous world I leapt. What shall I call thee?
Helpless, naked, piping loud; "I happy am,
Like a fiend hid in a cloud. Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!
Struggling in my father's hands, Pretty joy!
Striving against my swaddling bands; Sweet joy, but two days old.
Bound and weary I thought best Sweet Joy I call thee:
To sulk upon my mother's breast. Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!
The Lamb The Tyger Little Lamb, who made thee? Tyger! Tyger! burning bright Dost thou know who made thee? In the forest of the night Gave thee life, and bid thee feed, What immortal hand or eye By the stream and o'er the mead; Could frame thy fearful symmetry? Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright; In what distant deeps or skies Gave thee such a tender voice, Burnt the fire of thine eyes? Making all the vales rejoice? On what wings dare he aspire? Little Lamb, who made thee? What the hand dare seize the fire? Dost thou know who made thee?
And what shoulder, and what art, Little Lamb, I'll tell thee, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? Little Lamb, I'll tell thee. And when thy heart began to beat, He is called by thy name, What dread hand? and what dread feet?
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild; What the hammer? what the chain?
He became a little child. In what furnace was thy brain? I a child, and thou a lamb, What the anvil? what dread grasp
We are called by His name. Dare its deadly terrors clasp? Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee! When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?