A Description of the Morning
by Jonathan Swift
-an urban poem, but the title implies a country poem.
-gorgeous symmetry of rhyming couplets is in some ways a lie.
-hackney coach: rich were out partying, and are only returning now.
-Alludes to Iliad:
-but talks of Betty rumpling her sheets, not of Aurora (Betty should not have been in her Master’s bed-
messes up her own bed to lie about orderliness of household).
-Slipshod prentice- sprinkles water to keep down dust, and Aurora who sprinkles dew.
-Moll only cleans (or appears to clean) the public areas of the house.
-the youth is looking for nails from the carriage in the sewer edge (kennel-edge).
-chimney sweep is hawking his wares and the coal-man sells coal.
-Endless cycle of coal- making soot, getting clean, buying coal…
-Duns- bill collectors, hanging around door-step to get money from Lord.
-brick dust (from crumbling, dirty buildings) used to scour knives.
-Turnkey- jailer, he lets out thieves, they come back in the morning.
-Watchful bailiffs- night watch, finally shows up.
-finally continues in next generation with the “lagging schoolboys.”
-Addison wrote an extra
to discuss wit.
-3 types of wit: true wit, false wit, and mixed wit.
-wit was like patriotism is now- a term that is in conflict in a society.
-Addison was trying to edge wit away from historical definitions of wit.
-wants to wrench wit away from v. idiosyncratic, word play; v. cognitive concept.
-classic wit- comparing myself and my love to the legs of a compass (Donne).
(important quotations to go w/ notes are underlined in the book)
-Addison begins with John Locke
-Locke makes a different judgment/description about the difference between wit and judgment.
-begins to focus more on difference, compared to false wit of comparing/finding alike to
seemingly unalike things.
-“the common observation Men who have a great deal of wit and memory…”
-Locke is trying to pull in common observation- making fun of another’s belief
-“For wit lying in the assemblage of ideas…”
-he was separating ideas, good philosophy- avoid
being mislead, less interested at this
time in finding little similarities than in
finding little differences.
-allusion- referring to someone else’s work.
-striking lively on someone’s fancy- most
philosophical concept of wit according to Addison.
-Locke’s definition of wit and judgment is
self-serving, according to Locke’s definition of
judgment, by showing the difference
between wit and judgment, he is showing good judgment.
-true wit- separating slight
-some things that rub modern
individuals the wrong way: the tendency to talk of rules and laws of
art, drama, etc.
-try to sound