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The Knight In The Wood English Commentary

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The first descriptions in the poem are of savagery, 'the thing, rough and crudely done, cut in coarse stone,' these are to signify how imperfect the object is, made by an imperfect being thus indicating the objects inferiority. But, conversely these images could also indicate a certain sense of simplicity within the object; it is not needlessly ornate. The next are of disdain for the object, 'spitefully placed aside, as merest lumber,' the attitude of the collector lends to the idea that they prefer grandioso works of art, and the attitude that beauty is more defining in a pieces value than either historical value or the meaning of a piece. These feelings of discontent

and the sense of valuelessness regarding the work are reinforced in the later passages, 'It had no number, weeded away long since, pushed out and banished.' This is the end of the particular line of thought mainly concerned with the objects value and position amongst other artworks.

The poem moves away from the images of inferiority and onto descriptions of works that are vain and hollow in their message, with no body or substance beyond that of physical appearance. 'Insipid Guidos oversweet, and Dolce's rose sensationalities,' these are shallow works, of which there are many, 'in a great Roman palace crammed with art,' this is further emphasized in the next few lines, 'Curly chirping angels spruce as birds', spruce being the indicator that all the representations within each piece are similar in their presentation and appearance.

The mood shifts from the paintings and back to the sculpture, the images of barbarity return but the savagery is gone from the descriptions. Instead the focus is more on an interpretation and examination of the carving and its sculptor; 'this thing ill-hewn, and hardly seen did touch me', the viewer is given a divergent view of the object. While it is a thing of savagery and ineptitude it can still convey a sense of feelings and human emotion, far greater than that of the pristine and angelic faces of the saints.

'There was such desolation in the work; and through its utter failure the thing spoke With more human message... than all these faultless, smirking, skin-deep saints, In artificial troubles picturesque.'

This speaks as though the carver were a unintelligent and unskilled labourer, but through their work they can express more of their hopes, desires, pains and troubles than the paintings; the viewer can empathise with the carver in a way that cannot be said for the painters Dolce and Guido. 'In artificial troubles picturesque', does not indicate an empathy for either the painters or the saints within them, but more a sense of loathing, 'But martyred sweetly, not one curl awry', further emphasises this feeling of loathing or disdain, and can be interpreted as a stab or sarcastic comment on the painters lack of emotion or sentiment towards their characters.

The mood again changes back to the image on the carving but goes into



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