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Wordsworth and Keats: The Nature-Image

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Autor:   •  March 18, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,247 Words (5 Pages)  •  793 Views

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The names Keats and Wordsworth are to a certain extent tantamount to Romanticism, especially from the perspective of modern academics. To many, Wordsworth and Coleridge are seen as the fathers of English Romanticism as they were the first to publish literary works that were seen as romantic with Lyrical Ballads in 1798. Yet although John Keats was only born in 1795, he still contributed much to the Romantic Movement and is in essence regarded just as highly as William Wordsworth.

One can argue that to a certain extent the Romantic Movement came into existence due to the French and American revolutions. This period in history exemplifies a time when people broke through the constraints of old social and political conventions. People were starting to see life and the world in a different way. For the first time after the age of reason took the stage, the Romantics placed an emphasis on the imagination of man. To them the imagination was more important than reason alone. The imagination could create a whole new and different dimension to normal reason, and as such reason should be seen as subordinate to imagination.

Charles Darwin is great example of a Romantic that used his imagination to explore new ideas. To Darwin reason was only employed as the backbone to substantiate his arguments. His imagination separated him from the accepted scientific knowledge about nature and the earth and in effect allowed him think laterally. The product was works that challenged science and religion with such a degree of persuasion that they changed the perception of most of the western world. Darwin's writings even influence our modern-day scientific theories, proving that the Romantics were not just part of a popular phase that dissolved into history, but that they were integral to the development of the human way of thinking. However, this train of thought seems to give the Romantics a great deal of credit. From another perspective, Wordsworth and Keats can argued to be two poets dazed through an infatuation with nature, or as two writers influenced by paganism who mastered the art of poetry in a time when the west was ready to embrace or at least consider a new worldview. But for the purpose of this essay, Wordsworth and Keats will keep their credibility as revolutionary poets (who did not indulge in any hallucinogenic substances).

After inspecting Romantic poetry it is fairly obvious that nature played an essential role not only as a muse, but as a subject in many of the poems. Nature was even at the core of Darwin's Origin of Species. It is with a certain conviction that one can state that nature ruled in the Romantic's thoughts. William Wordsworth reinforces this statement in The World is Too Much with Us, when he writes: "Little we see in Nature that is ours." In this poem, Wordsworth is making a plea to the audience and the world to start noticing nature for her beauty and grace and to rekindle our admiration for her divinity before we are overcome with the growing materialism. He states that "we are out of tune" because we're so caught up with our worldly lives.

Throughout this poem Wordsworth is showing a passion for nature that is so deep-rooted that he personifies the ocean as a woman who "bares her bosom to the moon." This in itself conveys a feeling of affection that is usually only found between two people. However, if one looks at the poem as a whole, it seems almost strange that one person can have such an enthralment with nature alone that he will spend the time to write something so beautiful about it. It is, of course, not the only example of the Romantics using nature in their poems. Conversely, it is a romantic poem that does not employ nature as an expressive tool to bring forth a different message. Nature is used here rather to represent itself, and nothing more.

John Keats, like William Wordsworth and the other Romantics, also enjoyed using the nature-image in his works. In Bright Star, Keats uses the image of a star to express his discernment of steadfastness. The beauty of the ocean and the fresh snow ("new soft fallen mask / Of snow (....)") is also exploited in this poem to emphasise his adoration for the loved one he speaks of. It is interesting to note that although Keats states that he would only want to be as "steadfast" and "unchangeable" as the star, he is still tremendously sensitive and gives the reader an unambiguous feeling of how he


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