Charlotte Smith – a short biography


Charlotte Turner Smith ( 1749-1806 ) was a celebrated British poet and author of the 19Thursdaycentury. She was well-known for plants like ‘Elegiac Sonnets’, ‘The Old Manor House’and ‘Beachy Head and Other Poems’, among voluminous others. William Wordsworth has been known to hold said that she was“a lady to whom English poetry is under greater duties than are likely to be either acknowledged or remembered.”( as explained by Sarah M. Zimmerman in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography )

Charlotte Smith was besides known to hold had a pathetic married life. Her male parent married her off to Benjamin Smith, who turned out to be violent and unfaithful and this experience tended to have as a prevailing subject in her plants.

When it comes to Charlotte Smith, there is a overplus of verse forms to take from. Firstly, I would wish to concentrate on ‘Love and Folly’, a beautiful verse form approximately Love as the sufferer and Folly as the 1 with a inclination to ache Love. One can non assist but inquire if this verse form was intended to be a contemplation of Smith’s married life. The subjects of Love, the Foolishness of Love and Degrading Relationships hence run their class throughout this verse form.

Love and Folly’basically describes the heartache that comes with falling in love. ‘Cupid’ is repeatedly referred to in the verse form, as evidenced by the lines ‘badly thrown, yet irresistible darts’and ‘quiver’d gamester smil’d and won’. ( ) ‘Cupid’ is described as being person who is highly blithe and person who does non care about the effects of his actions. It is besides said that Cupid was non like that earlier. The lines ‘was one time less cruel and perverse’, turn out this. ( ) Therefore, ‘Cupid’ could be a direct mention to Smith’s male parent, who was the one to convey her and Benjamin together, which resulted in a married life fraught with sorrow.

The verse form moves on to touch upon the small battles happening in every relationship that so construct up and go immense wrangles: ‘Loud and more loud the wrangles grow’ .( ) When Venus prays to Jove, inquiring him to kill Cupid, Jove refuses, which is why, even today, ‘Cupid’ moves around, conveying two persons together, irrespective of whether they want to be together in the first topographic point.“For Love, Tho blind, will reign around the World”( ) says Jove, intending that battles will ne’er stop and people will fall in love and go on to be in love, however.

This verse form can be taken to intend Smith praying to Venus, inquiring her to salvage work forces and adult females from the awful destiny that awaits them if they fall in love.

The Swallow’is another 1 of her beautiful verse form. It deals with the subjects of Nature versus Science, Freedom and Longing. There is besides an extended usage of Imagery and Symbolism in this verse form.

In this verse form, the storyteller observes a sup and envies it it’s freedom. The storyteller admirations which places the bird has seen and hopes to hear the bird sing:“let my ear your music catch’. ( ) The technique of Juxtaposition has been used here. The sup has been really good juxtaposed with Charlotte Smith’s ain life. While the bird roams freely, researching the continents of Asia and Africa, Charlotte Smith was trapped at place, with an opprobrious hubby. Africa and Asia are beautiful, alien venues that the storyteller longs to see.

It is an established fact that birds migrate. If it is excessively cold, they travel to warmer topographic points and if it is hot, they travel to cooler topographic points. The sup in this verse form has travelled to warm topographic points and the storyteller envies this, possibly because, as I have mentioned earlier, the ambiance in the poet’s ain house was ‘frigid’ to state the least. She did non hold the autonomy to get away to a topographic point that was ‘warmer’ or friendlier. This means that birds are free from hurting, because they can get away from rough conditions. Therefore, the lines‘I wish I did his power possess’( ) are of import in this context.

In the last stanza, the poet brings up the subject of Nature versus Science. She says that scientific discipline has a limited range because Nature is cryptic and beautiful and created by God. This is summed up by the lines‘Alas! How small can be known, Her sacred head covering where Nature draws ; allow baffled Science meekly ain, Her enigmas understood entirely, by Him who gives her laws.’( )

The technique of Imagery is witnessed throughout this verse form.‘The furze is xanthous on the fireplace, the Bankss with speedwell flowers are cheery, the oaks are budding ; and beneath, the hawthorn shortly will bear the garland, The silver garland of May’ .( ) These are beautiful lines and they capture the beauty of Nature. It makes the poem come alive for the reader, which is what Imagery is meant for, in the first topographic point.

Charlotte Smith suffered from depression for most of her life and the sup could therefore intend several things for her. It could be a Symbol of Liberty and Joy and the poet’s desire for the same. Since Smith was besides a women’s rightist, the sup could be a Symbol of adult females eventually interrupting free from the bonds of patriarchate. Therefore, the sup symbolizes all the things that Smith desired in her ain life.

Charlotte Smith was a Romantic poet, but it is besides apparent that a batch of her verse forms explored the subject of Sadness or Melancholy. Several other poets besides wrote upon the lines of these really themes, but Charlotte Smith does it attractively. This is made clearer through one of her celebrated verse forms, ‘Beachy Head’ .

Beachy Head’ was published posthumously and it represents melancholy in a different mode, as compared to the other two verse forms mentioned supra. This poem trades with the ‘status quo’ in Charlotte Smith’s times, the tests and trials faced by adult male and the significance and importance of clip. Even the rubric of the verse form is important. Harmonizing to a thesis written by Olly Hunt from the University of Brighton, ‘Beachy Head’ was a celebrated self-destruction topographic point. This serves to foreground the subject of sorrow in the verse form.

The verse form starts with rich descriptions of Nature. ‘On thy colossal acme, stone sublime!’ and ‘The ruffling tide of inundation ; glitter the sands’( ) are illustrations. There is an feeling of being situated at a tallness ; about detached from the remainder of the universe. As readers, we become mere perceivers of Nature, projecting off our day-to-day responsibilities for some clip.

Ah! whoishappy? Happiness! a word

That similar false fire, from marsh effluvia Born,

Misleads the roamer, destin’d to postulate

In the world’s wilderness, with privation or woe—

Yettheyare happy, who have ne’er ask’d

What good or evil means’( )

The above lines indicate the nonsense of life. By stating that Happiness is nil but a word, the poet sets a sombre tone for the verse form. She says that felicity as a construct is equivocal and that those who have heard about this construct are invariably looking for it whereas those who have ne’er asked what it means, are the 1s who are genuinely happy.

Ah! hills so early loved! In illusion still

I breathe your pure acute air ; and still lay eyes on

Those widely distributing positions, mocking alike

The Poet and the Painter’s uttermost art.’( )

These lines express the poet’s love for the hills that she likely visited earlier. It is a known fact that Charlotte Smith suffered from arthritis, which means that she could evidently non climb mountains and hills, even if they were her favorite spots offering beautiful positions of the universe. Therefore, through these lines, she conjures up images of the hills and what she thinks the universe would look like from the top of them, with the aid of her imaginativeness. Nature has hence motivated her to compose this verse form, functioning as a Muse.

Towards the terminal of the above stanza, when she says,‘Those widely distributing positions, mocking likewise ; The Poet and the Painter’s uttermost art’, ( ) she is seeking to state that no affair how hard the Romantics attempt to portray Nature through their verse forms or pictures, nil comes near to the existent beauty of Nature. She believes that these colossal positions from hills and other topographic points mutely mock creative persons, cognizing that they can ne’er capture the existent kernel of Nature.

Even though this verse form invariably shifts from one subject to the following in a dizzying manner and focal points on the general and so on the person in the wink of an oculus, there is no denying that it is a beautiful verse form.

Charlotte Smith besides wrote a figure of sonnets. One of her celebrated sonnets is titled‘To a Nightingale’and has frequently been compared to Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

Nightingales are a repeating and of import motive in literature. They depict both Isolation and Sorrow, but besides represent the fable of Philomela, who was raped by her sister’s hubby, Tereus. It is said that Philomela was turned into a nightingale and the voice of a Luscinia megarhynchos is hence said to intend the hushed voice of the inexperienced person or the voice of melancholy, harmonizing to my research on Grecian fables.

The premiss of Smith’s ‘To a Nightingale’ is rather similar to that of ‘The Swallow’, which I have already mentioned. Here, the poet finds a particular nexus that connects her to the Luscinia megarhynchos and its mournful vocal. She understands the emotions behind the nightingale’s vocal, but admirations where this sorrow comes from. ‘What mean the sounds that swell thy small breast’. ( )

Although the poet does non cognize why the Luscinia megarhynchos is so sad, she sympathizes with it because she excessively knows what it is like to be unhappy. This is once more another index of the fact that Charlotte Smith suffered from depression. At the same clip, she is drawn to the Luscinia megarhynchos because she hopes that it can in bend, sympathise with her. The brace of them hence, are united in their isolation.

The poet addresses the Luscinia megarhynchos as ‘Poor melancholic bird that all dark long ; Tell’st to the Moon thy narrative of stamp woe’. ( ) By conveying the Moon into the frame and by tie ining it with the subject of unhappiness, Smith expresses a all right trait of the Romantics, i.e, utilizing an component of Nature as a looking glass.

‘Ah! songstress sad! that such my batch might be,

To suspire, and sing at liberty—like thee! ’( )

These lines refer to the fact that the poet envies the Luscinia megarhynchos because it can show feelings through vocal. She wishes that human existences were like the Luscinia megarhynchos, showing their true feelings and sorrows to the universe, without any 2nd ideas. But she is besides glad because as a poet, she can show her sorrow through poesy, if non vocal. She believes that she and the Luscinia megarhynchos are really similar.

Smith’s sonnet LVIII ‘The Glow-Worm’ is another 1 of her all right plant. The cardinal figure in this sonnet is a small male child, to whom the universe is like a bright new treasure. Children, like Nightingales, are on a regular basis used in poesy, to heighten the consequence it has on the reader and Smith has extensively used both in her plants. As kids are considered to be guiltless and the voice of God and Truth, poets strive to set across to readers the universe from the point-of-view of kids. This definitely makes for beautiful poesy.

‘WHEN on some balmy-breathing dark of SpringThe happy kid, to whom the universe is new,Pursues the eventide moth, of mealy wing,Or from the heath-bell beats the twinkle dew ;He sees before his inexperient eyesThe superb Glow-worm, like a meteor, shine’ .( )

These lines suggest how small things mean the universe to kids. The sight of a small glow-worm fills the kid with felicity and the verse form so moves on, stating the reader about how the kid captures the glow-worm and treasures it, carefully enveloping it with foliages:

Then, ere he kip, collects ‘the moisten ‘d ‘ flower,And commands soft leaves his glistening award enfold, ’( )

However, the verse form ends on a sorrowful note, when the kid realizes that the glow-worm which was so bright and beautiful at dark, turned ‘rayless’ and dull in the forenoon:

‘Yet with the forenoon frissons to lay eyes onHis limpid hoarded wealth, rayless as the dust!— So turn the universe ‘s bright joys to cold and blank disgust.’ ( )

This besides means that joy can turn into sorrow without warning and that all good things finally come to an terminal. It suggests that a kid grows up shortly and becomes merely like the other misanthropic grownups around him, losing his artlessness and sense of trust in the procedure.

Imagery as a technique has been used good here. The verse form starts with descriptions of spring-time, with the lines ‘balmy-breathing dark of Spring’ , ‘sparkling dew ; ’ and ‘dewy grass’. Towards the terminal of the verse form nevertheless, the images change, bespeaking obtuseness and the absence of visible radiation, with the lines‘rayless as the dust’and ‘cold and space disgust’. These images bring to mind the image of a composure and peaceable hayfield or a Metaphor for the juvenility of the kid and of him being untouched by the universe and its purposes. This kid still regards the universe as charming and fantastic and these really traits of the kid service to foreground the blue significance in the concluding lines of the verse form:

‘Yet with the forenoon frissons to lay eyes onHis limpid hoarded wealth, rayless as the dust!— So turn the universe ‘s bright joys to cold and blank disgust.’ ( )

Another verse form that besides brings out the subjects of Childhood versus Adulthood and the hapless manner in which maturity bargains so much of a child’s good qualities, is apparent in another one of Smith’s sonnets, titled ‘The Gossamer’ .

Gossamer by itself is a flimsy substance, largely spun by spiders. This is a direct contemplation of the values and beliefs that kids hold. These beliefs are non strong and solid. The poet has assigned them the quality and texture of gossamer and by comparing these values to something so flimsy and easy destroyed, she intends to state that a child’s worldview and all the things he believes in, can be destroyed one time he becomes an grownup.

O’er faded heath-flowers spun, or thorny gorse,The diaphanous Gossamer is lightly spread ; ’( )

The verse form begins with these lines, making a really dull image of Nature or, as is implied, childhood on the brink of dispersing. ‘Faded heath flowers’ and‘thorny furze’suggest this thought.

‘A thousand trembling eyeballs of lucid dewSpangle the texture of the faery loom,As if soft Sylphs, keening as they flew,Had wept departed Summer ‘s transient bloom’( )

This beady texture of the loom suggests a marring or a distortion of something. In this instance, it is the marring of childhood ideas and values. The Sylphs weep as they fly over the shrubs, which basically means shrubs covered with dew-drops. But, the implied significance here is that Sylphs excessively, mourn the loss of artlessness, with ‘Summer’ here stand foring the bright heat of childhood.

The verse form concludes with the undermentioned lines:

‘The glistening web: — So, evanescent, sliceBright positions that Young person with sanguine bosom believes:So vanish strategies of cloud nine, by Fancy made ;Which, fragile as the fugitive dews of forenoon,Leave but the wither ‘d heath, and wastes thorn! ’( )

Merely as the air current blows this web to the land, Adulthood gives Childhood a monolithic blow and it disappears into void, go forthing behind ‘withered heath and waste thorn’ , intending resentment and negativeness. Therefore, through this verse form, Charlotte Smith tells us the sad, inevitable narrative of our lives.

The last work I will be covering with is another sonnet, titled ‘To Sleep’ . It has a really drab and sorrowful tenor to it, foregrounding Smith’s background as a patient diagnosed with depression.

COME, barmy Sleep! tired nature ‘s soft resort!On these sad temples all thy poppies shed ;And command homosexual dreams, from Morpheus ‘ aired tribunal,Float in light vision unit of ammunition my hurting caput! ’( )

Here, the poet pleads for slumber to come to her, as a agency of flight from the universe she lives in. She is clearly unhappy. She asks for happy dreams, bespeaking that she might hold had incubuss antecedently. She is possibly covering with a batch of force per unit area, possibly from her hubby or from her life as a poet and author and merely wants to get away to a universe where there is no force per unit area and nil to make except relax. There could besides be a intimation of Euphemism here, with sleep really intending decease.

‘Secure of all thy approvals, partial Power!On his difficult bed the provincial throws him down ;And the hapless sea-boy, in the rudest hr,Enjoys thee more than he who wears a crown.’( )

With the aid of these lines, the poet speaks about how person who has so much wealth and everything at his finger-tips, finds sleep hard to come by whereas a provincial, who toils so difficult and does non hold adequate money, can kip easy and at peace. She is sad that she can non kip peacefully, like the provincial. This brings in the Rich versus the Poor dimension that could be classified as one of the subjects.

The concluding stanza is as follows:

‘But still thy opiate assistance dost 1000 denyTo quiet the dying chest ; to shut the cyclosis eye.’( )

This confirms that the poet experimented with opium in order to seek to kip peacefully. Unfortunately, opium could non set her to kip either. She is stuck between being awake and falling asleep and it does non look to be a really pleasant status. This verse form hence sums up Charlotte Smith’s province of head.

Acerate leaf to state, Smith managed to astonish a figure of celebrated poets, including Wordsworth, Coleridge and Walter Scott, who have all praised her in assorted ways. To reason, I would wish to cite Scott. He wrote,“she conserves in her landscapes the truth and preciseness of a painter” .( Zimmerman et Al )


  1. Charlotte Smith’. n.p.Web. 20ThursdayJanuary, 2015.

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  1. Melancholia in Charlotte Smith’s verse’by Olly Hunt. University of Brighton. 16ThursdayNovember, 2012. Web. 20ThursdayJanuary, 2015.

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  1. Smith, Charlotte ( 1749-1806) ’ . Sarah M. Zimmerman. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. October 2007. 19ThursdayJanuary, 2015.
  2. All verse forms of the poet’. n.p. Web. 20ThursdayJanuary, 2015.

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