Getting past the language always seems to be my road block. I usually never know what to do about it. The confusing syntax as well as the uncommon words makes reading Milton’s poem much more difficult. Of course, knowing that the theme for this week is “Elegy and other Occassions” helped me understand the overall themes of the poems. I knew that at the heart of poem lied some form of commemoration, even if I did not see how exactly the author was going about this.
To get the ball rolling, the footnotes from Milton’s poem are both helpful and detrimental. They were helpful because I did not need to use the dictionary to look up unfamiliar words, however, I would get lost in trying to understand how the footnote or definition fitted with the rest of the line. For example, the line “Nor where Deva spreads her wizards stream” has a footnote describing in detail the different elements of the line. The footnote describes the geographical significance of the burial ground in northern Wales for the Druids. I feel that sometimes the information in the footnotes gives too much. It is not necessarily important to know it for the overall understanding of the poem/stanza. I took from the footnote that this was just another place where the nymphs usually stayed. Sometimes it is helpful to just ignore the footnote.
For poems where language was not that much of an issue such as “From In Memoriam A.H.H.” I just used the dictionary to look up unfamiliar words. I learned that the “yew” that Tennyson refers to is a tree. I learned that “hardihood” means boldness or daring. When in doubt look it up.