Romantic Era Essay, Research Paper
The underlying theme in many works produced in the Romantic Era is the complete power of nature over humanity and the human spirit. In many such works, nature’s forces are used as metaphors for inspiration on the part of the poet. Such poets who embraced the custom of nature in their works included; William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Gordon, Lord Byron, and John Keats.
William Wordsworth wrote in a time when society and its functions were beginning to rapidly pick up. The poem that he Composed, Lines A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, gave him a chance to reflect upon his quick paced life by taking a moment to slow down and absorb the beauty of nature that allows one to see into the life of things (616-49). Nature played a major role in this poet s life but it was not all about his physical senses that he took as reality. It was due to the fact that he was a “worshipper of Nature” (616-52) and he knew that “nature never did betray” (617-122) him. And those thoughts were what had comforted and encouraged him to connect with nature through his mind. He wanted to declare to his readers that his mind not only receives emotion and knowledge from the outside world, but it also half creates by its own perception of eye, and ear (617-106). One example is when he had described returning to the Wye and how it had brought him in a blessed mood it was not because he had actually returned to a location, it was how Wordsworth s mind had shaped the experience.
A fellow poet and friends of Wordsworth, that shared similar thoughts and was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One of Coleridge s most famous works is Kubla Khan. Kubla Khan is a poem about the creative powers of the poetic mind. It is believed that Coleridge created Kubla Khan when he was in a deep sleep that was induced by the use of medication taken for his ill health. He fell asleep while reading Purcha s Pilgrimage about building of Kubla Khan s palace and garden. Through the use of vivid imagery Coleridge reproduces a paradise-like vision of the landscaped kingdom created by Kubla Khan. The poem changes from the 1st person narrative to speaker. Then the speaker attempts to recreate a vision he saw. Through the description of the visions imagined and the speaker s visions the poem tells of the creation of an enchanted beautiful world, a result of power from the human imagination.
The wonderful kingdom of the ancient Kubla Khan and the setting that surrounds it is described with heavenly, dreamlike vividness. The kingdom that Kubla Khan creates is described as stately pleasure dome. (600-1) The word dome is symbolic of completion, wholeness and unity. The image of a dome is like the hemisphere of the sky or a world. By describing the dome as a pleasure dome the poet presents Khan s kingdom as paradise-like. This paradise-kingdom consists of two twice five miles of fertile ground (600-6) surrounded securely by walls that are girdled (600-7) around. Its gardens are bright and blossoming with many an incense bearing tree (600-9) and are watered by wandering streams.
The location of the palace is important; it is built where Alph, the sacred river, ran. (600-3) The river is described as sacred because it brings life through its sinuous rills (600-8) in the garden of the pleasure dome. With out the existence of the river the pleasure dome could not exist. The river, the sacred thing that gives life to Khan s creation runs through caverns measureless to man/down to a sunless sea. (600-4,5) The destinations of the sacred river of the pleasure dome is unimaginable to man. The river metaphorically stands for nature as the source of life of all mans creation. As men cannot measure these caverns, the poet can not completely conceive the power and range of nature s influence on poetry but is dependent on it.
A completely off set poet from Wordsworth and Coleridge was George Gordon, Lord Byron. Lord Byron wrote many poems including When We Two Parted . Although much of Lord Byron s poetry does not directly deal with nature in the manner of trees, flowers and the surroundings of this world, it is still considered nature in the character of love and human emotions. In When We Two Parted, Byron talks about the individual, Half broken hearted. (676-3). It felt like the warning Of what I feel now. (676-11) A shudder comes over me . (676-19) This poem that Lord Byron created was a harsh description of a relationship of his. In this poem a man fell in love with a women with easy virtue. When the two lover s relation ended, it was apparent that she broke it off. People talked about her easy virtue, They name the before me, A knell to mine ear. (676-17; 18) As a result of her virtue the gentleman suffered in depression silently, In secret we met- In silence I grieve. (676-25) In this personal poem, Lord Byron uses what sounds like one of his own experiences in life or as a witness of something he saw.
Another reader that does not look at nature in the way of Wordsworth and Coleridge is John Keats. Keats expresses natural elements with a very moving style that gives the reader motives that appeal their senses. In the Romantic era, Keats was known to write poems with his sense of time slowly and clearly drawing to a close, very frequently interpreted as death symbols by many of his fans. It can be said that this was largely due to Keats’ affiliation with death. In Keats poem When I have fears , the poet considers his future death and expresses his concern for his thoughts dying before my pen has gean d my teeming brain, (639-2) so that they will live after him. Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till love and fame to nothingness do sink. (639-13,14)
Keats also, very often showed how easily natural beauty is lost and fades away yet still expressing that absolute beauty is always in a permanent state. The idea of an artist s works prolonging that artist s soul is repeated in Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn . This ode presents the idea that time, however certain and unchanging, is somehow suspended in the images engraved into this urn. The effect is created once more through moving form Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; ( 642 11,12)
A fellow poet that agreed with Keats to an extent was Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelly as well expressed a love for nature, but moreover nature in motion and the constant action of his surrounding world. He was very impressed by the forces of nature and their ability to change things on a tremendous level, where as he felt that many people take such things for granted. Shelley was a true romantic in the sense that his faith in the church and the Christian God were petty. Shelley s works indicate that his faith lied in the natural order of things as they eventually became over time and the true power of love and beauty in the universe.
Shelley wrote Ode to the West Wind, on a day when the weather was unpredictable and windy, the poem reflects the mood of the weather and expresses Shelley s desire for creativeness and intellect. The first section of the poem focuses on the description of the colorful autumn leaves being stirred by the wind. The line ” Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and preserver..”(626-13,14) shows the relationship between Shelley s desire to create and nature s force. The second section of the poem tells about the clouds in the sky that are forewarning ” the locks of the approaching storm”. (626-23)The fierce storm clouds represent Shelley s frustration in his lack of original ideas. The third section relates the winds effect on the waves in the sea, which Shelley describes as “.. Grey with fear and tremble and despoil themselves “(627-41)
With the underlining theme of nature in their works, in one way or another, each of the poets expressed their love for the true beauty of all that nature exhibits, gave an awe for it s incredible power over all things, and a had deep respect for its unseen endlessness.