Friday, 24 August 2007

Working-class Ariel

Auden said that there were two modes of poetry; that of Ariel, singing private, formal lyrics of 'self-delighting beauty'; and that of Prospero, who hopes to hand down improving moral truths. Auden thought that 'every poem shows some sign of a rivalry between Ariel and Prospero'.

But there's something upside-down in all this. Despite the fact that 'Ariel' has become a synonym for the fey and otherworldly, the fact is that in Shakespeare's play he's the one who does all the work. Prospero is the game-player, the self-satisfier, the patternist; Ariel is the one indentured to labour, who has actually to engage with the real world, to get his fairy fingers dirty.

2 comments:

Ariel said...

"Ariel is the one indentured to labour, who has actually to engage with the real world, to get his fairy fingers dirty."

Jeez, tell me about it... ;)

Adam Roberts Project said...

Few have as good a reason to know it as I, Ariel me old mucker ...