Quotes from the Romantics

 Friedrich, “Wanderer Above the Mists”

1.  “A cheerful life is what the Muses love, A soaring spirit is their prime delight. ” – William Wordsworth

2. “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher. “- Wordsworth

3.”Faith is a passionate intuition. “- Wordsworth

4. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”- Wordsworth 

5.  “Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future.”- Wordsworth

6. “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her. “- Wordsworth

7.  “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”- Wordsworth

8. “That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”

9.  “To begin, begin.”- Wordsworth

10.  “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. “- Keats

11.  “He ne’er is crowned with immortality Who fears to follow where airy voices lead. “- Keats

12.  “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of imagination.”- Keats

13. “It appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel.”- Keats

14. “Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity, it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance. ”

15.  “Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works. ”

16.  “You speak of Lord Byron and me; there is this great difference between us. He describes what he sees I describe what I imagine. Mine is the hardest task.”- Keats

17.  “A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent. “- William Blake

18.  “Active Evil is better than Passive Good. “- Blake

19.  “As a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers.”- Blake

20. “Do what you will, this world’s a fiction and is made up of contradiction.”- Blake

21. “Energy is an eternal delight, and he who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence.”- Blake

22.  “For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.”- Blake

23. “Great things are done when men and mountains meet. “- Blake

24.  “I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create. “- Blake

25.  “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”- Blake

26.  ” If a thing loves, it is infinite. “- Blake

27.  “Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow. “- Blake

28.  “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”- Blake

29- “The difference between a bad artist and a good one is: the bad artist seems to copy a great deal; the good one really does. “- Blake

30.  “The soul of sweet delight, can never be defiled.”- Blake

31.  ” The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. “- Blake

32.  “Those who restrain their desires, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. “- Blake

33.  “To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. “- Blake

34.  “What is now proved was once only imagined.”- Blake

35.  “If I could always read, I should never feel the want of company.”- Byron

36.   “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”- Byron

37.  ” In solitude, where we are least alone. “- Byron

38. “The ‘good old times’ – all times when old are good. “- Byron

39.  “The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain.”- Byron

40.  ” Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction. “- Byron

41.  “To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all. “- Byron

42.  “A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. “- Percy Shelley

43.  “Death is the veil which those who live call life; They sleep, and it is lifted.”- Shelley

44.   “Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”- Shelley

45.   “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar. “- Shelley

46.”The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself. “- Shelley

47.  “The soul’s joy lies in doing.”- Shelley

 “Funeral of Shelley” by Fournier

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm  Comments (14)  
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Ada Lovelace: The Enchantress of Numbers



Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron and Annabella Millbanke, was born on December 10, 1815.  After her parents separation,  she was raised alone by her mother.  Annabella was determined that her daughter would not fall victim to the ways of her, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”- father.   Annabella further believed that the way to avoid such madness was to strengthen one’s mind.  Therefore, despite a very sickly childhood which often kept her bedridden, Ada was given an intense education focusing on science and math.

During this time, Ada was tutored by such notables as  the social reformer, William Frend;  the polymath, Mary Somerville; and the British mathmatician, Augustus De Morgan.

On June 5, 1833, Mary Somerville introduced Ada to Charles Babbage, the English mechanical engineer and inventor.  They corresponded often regarding Babbage’s plans for building a Difference Engine, and later, an Analytical Engine.   Impressed by Ada’s scientific mind and passion for mathematics, Babbage nicknamed her, “The Enchantress of Numbers”.

In 1843, Ada translated an Italian article on Babbage’s plans for his Analytical Engine.  In her notes,  she advanced a process for calculating an order of Bernoulli numbers.  Unfortunately, the Analytical Engine was never built in their lifetime due to lack of funds.  However, it has been discovered that her sequence of numbers would have run perfectly.  Thus, Ada is considered to be the very first computer progammer in the world.

Ada Lovelace died of uterine cancer on November 27, 1852.  She was thirty-seven.

The United States Department of Defense named the computer language, Ada, in her honor.

John Polidori and The Vampyre

 On a frigid June evening in 1816,  Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin (later Shelley), Claire Clairmont, and Doctor John Polidori huddled together in their summerhouse on the shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.    With a  thunderstorm raging outside, Byron  passed the time by reading out loud from Das Gespensterbuch (The Ghost Book). Upon finishing, he challenged each occupant to write a ghost story.  Mary Godwin would go on to pen, Frankenstein.  

John Polidori would pen the first English vampire tale, The Vampyre.

 The darkly handsome physician had always been ambivalent towards the medical profession.   Sensitive and insecure, Polidori had been bullied as a child and turned to poetry for solace.  Now he wished to win Byron’s respect.   Unfortunately, the infamous poet never missed out on a chance to mock Polidori’s literary ambitions.

The day after the challenge was announced, Polidori wrote in his journal, “The ghost-stories begun by all but me.” 

Byron began a piece featuring a mysterious aristocrat named, Augustus Darvell, who made the narrator of the story promise to bury him after he died, but to tell no one of where.   More at home with poetry than prose, Byron soon abandoned his ghost story.

Mary Godwin Shelley later recollected, “Poor Polidori had some terrible idea about a skull-headed lady, who was so punished for peeping through a key-hole.”

Polidori abandoned that story and at some point turned his attention towards, The Vampyre.  Leaving behind the hideous features of Nosferatu, Polidori modeled his vampire into a sauve, sexually-attractive gentleman.  Naming the vampire, Lord Ruthven, (pronounced with a silent “th”) was hardly coincidental.  Byron’s spurned lover, Caroline Lamb, had used the same name in her own novel, Glenarvon, a fictionalized account of their affair. 

  Polidori cast himself as the innocent Aubrey who dies in a failed attempt to save his sister from the clutches of Lord Ruthven.

Evil triumphed.

The Vampyre first appeared in the New Monthly Magazine on April 1, 1819.   The story had reached the magazine editors along with a note regarding the circumstances of which it had come about during the summer of 1816.   The letter also claimed Byron as its author.  After Byron denied authorship, Polidori came forth, explaining in a letter to the magazine editor, “I beg leave to state, that your correspondent has been mistaken in attributing that tale, in its present form, to Lord Byron.  The fact is, that though the groundwork is certainly Lord Byron’s, its development is mine. . .”

Although Byron continued to deny authorship, and stated he disliked the whole subject of vampires and had no interest in writing about them, many readers still believed the famous poet was the author of the tale.  Byron’s suspected involvement in writing the tale, helped spur huge sales.   Polidori’s fragile ego was smashed once again.  To make matters worse, the book had been registered by the book publisher, which meant that Polidori lost the copyright.  The Vampyre became a bestseller.   Within two years, the novel was translated into German, French, Spanish, and Swedish. Polidori received a token payment of thirty pounds.

Polidori continued his literary pursuits.  In 1819 he published an unsuccessful play entitled, Ximenes.   This was followed by Ernestus Berchtold: The Modern Oedipus, a seamy tale involving the supernatural and incest.  Only 199 copies were sold.

 By 1821, Polidori was back living with his family in London, and deeply in debt.

On August 24th, 1821, John Polidori committed suicide.  It was a month before his twenty-sixth birthday.

Mary Shelley And The Night That Birthed Frankenstein

In the summer of 1816 a cold spell swept across Europe and North America.   The unusual chill caused snowfall in July and unparalleled thunderstorms.   Pamphlets were passed around predicting the end of the world.

During June of that year,  five of the most famous persons in the world gathered together in a summerhouse in Villa Diodati, on the southern shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.  “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know”*- Lord Byron, Dr. John Polidori, ethereal Percy Shelley, Claire Clairmont (eighteen years-old and pregnant with Byron’s child), and her stepsister, Mary Godwin (mistress to the married Shelley).

Mary Godwin (later Shelley) was born on August 30, 1797 to the radical political philosopher William Godwin, and  founding feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (authoress of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”).   Mr. Godwin never got over the death of  his wife who died due to complications during childbirth.  He taught young Mary to spell her name by tracing the letters on her mother’s tombstone.

Although both Godwin and Wollstonecraft had been disciples of the free love movement, he was outraged when his own daughter began a love affair with the married poet and refused to speak with her.

Mary had spent her childhood haunted by the idea that she’d murdered her mother and  was determined to prove her consequent life worthy.   It had not been easy growing up the child of famed revolutionaries.   Now,  practically disowned by the father she adored, and in the company of  the poetic geniuses, Byron and Percy, Mary felt an even greater need to prove herself.

On June 16, 1816, as candles flickered and lightning illuminated the room, Byron read from Fantasmagoriana,  a volume of German shudder stories translated into French.  Upon finishing, he challenged everyone in the room to write a ghost story.  This was just the incitement Mary needed.

Mary wrote, “I busied myself to think of a story,- a story to rival those which had excited us to this task.  One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror.”  

However, Mary was unable to think of an idea until June 22nd.   On that evening, the conversation turned to, “the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated.”  They discussed the experiments of Erasmus Darwin who had, “preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion.”

Mary began imagining a corpse re-animated.    Past midnight, she found herself unable to sleep.  “My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie.”   Her eyes closed, she saw, “a pale student of unhallowed arts….kneeling beside the thing he had put together.  I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”

Mary opened her eyes, but she was not able to dismiss the “hideous phantom”.  She later recalled thinking, “O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night.”  A few moments later she realized,  “I have found it!”

The next morning, Mary announced she had thought of a story.  Along with the dream, she brought with her  a lifetime spent devouring the works of Goethe, Dante, Schiller, Shakespeare, Milton, and Matthew “Monk” Lewis.

In writing, Frankenstein ; or, The Modern  Prometheus, she would further utilize the theory of vitalism which held that a life force separated living things from  non-living things.  Some believed in a connection between vitalism (or elan vital) and electricity.  In 1803,  Giovanni Aldini had claimed to make dead bodies sit up and raise their arms by applying electricity. 

Mary’s first words were, “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.” ( This opening spoken by Dr. Victor Frankenstein would later become the opening of chapter 4 in the 1818 edition and chapter 5 in the revised 1831 version).

Dr. Frankenstein discovers the secrets of creating life.  After gathering human parts from charnel houses, he infuses the spark of life into the being.  However, Frankenstein is immediately horrified at the ugliness of his own creation.    He casts the Monster out into the unfeeling world.  This Monster- sensitive and tender- seeks understanding from Man but is constantly spurned until he chooses suicide.

The Monster cries out,”I shall die.   I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me, or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched.”

As Mary began penning what at first was only intended to be a short story, she could have no idea that she was creating one of the most enduring characters ever invented.   The  unnamed Monster, rejected by his own father, (as Mary had been rejected by hers) would outlive all of the five men and women gathered together in that villa on the shores of lake Geneva.

*quote by Lady Caroline Lamb- lover to Lord Byron