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William Wordsworth's Poems and David Malouf's Novel, an Imaginary Life, It Is Evident How Different Times and Cultures Affect the Quality and Importance of the Relationship Humanity Can Have with the Natural World

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In both William Wordsworth's poems and David Malouf's novel, An Imaginary Life, it is evident how different times and cultures affect the quality and importance of the relationship humanity can have with the natural world. Themes that are explored in both texts include interaction with nature, the role of nature in childhood and adulthood, religion and the role of language. These all show the quality and importance of humanity's relationship with nature and how times and culture influence the relationship. Although they are influenced by very different cultural and social values, both writers have the same goal, which is to understand nature and become a part of it. Wordsworth learns through his interaction with nature in "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798," and "It's a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free," that there is a spiritual presence in the landscape. Ovid's interaction with nature helps him break down the divisions between people and their environment to become at one with it. Both writers demonstrate how interaction with nature is necessary to appreciate it.

The importance of humanity's relationship with the natural world is shown through the main characters interaction with the environment. The different contexts of the authors make Wordsworth's relationship with nature not nearly as physical as Ovid's. He is a gentleman from the early nineteenth century, and he would not "bush bash" to get places. To him nature is just a source of pleasure and a way to get closer to God. This is a reflection of his context and culture as this is what he is accustomed too. His world is much more civilised, "Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke." This demonstrates the domestic elements of his world. There is a contrast in environments in Tintern Abbey and the landscape around Tomis in An Imaginary Life. Wordsworth's environment appears to be fertile and suited to agriculture because it is domesticated but Ovid's hasn't even been explored. Wordsworth never loses himself in nature because the line between God and earth always remains. A contrast to Wordsworth's idea of interaction with nature is the child in An Imaginary Life. The child is at one with nature because he is part of it. At the beginning of the book Ovid's surroundings are just a harsh reality that he has to cope with in his new world. By the end of the book he realizes that he will always be part of the earth. "Then we shall begin to take back into ourselves the lakes, the rivers, the oceans of the earth, its plains, its forested crags with their leaps of snow. Then little by little, the firmament. The spirit of things will migrate back into us." The repetition shows that it takes time to become part of nature. Malouf gets rid of the line between people and nature so the characters can lose themselves in their environment. Ovid and Wordsworth interact with nature differently because Wordsworth is comfortable with his environment where as Ovid was sent into exile. He knows nothing of his new world and is constantly confronted with things he can't interpret.

It is evident in both texts that there is a lot that the environment can teach the characters. This teaching highlights the importance and quality of humanity's relationship with the natural world. However the different contexts of the characters determine what they can learn. Wordsworth and Malouf know that adult and childhood experiences are linked but they want to know how. In Tintern Abbey, Wordsworth shows the progression from child to adulthood. "When these wild ecstasies shall be matured, Into a sober pleasure." He remembers his childhood with passion but instead of wanting to relive it he chooses to take the wisdom from it. Once Ovid learns that he needs to reflect on his past, he finds himself, "more and more often slipping back to my childhood." What he thought happened in his past seems different now. He feels as if he is looking back at someone else's. "Slowly I begin the metamorphosis. I must drive out my old self and let the universe in." Ovid knows when he to returns to his childhood, he needs to understand what happened before he can move on from this stage of his life and become part of nature. It isn't till this happens that he can be, "immeasurably, unbearably happy." While trying to teach the child he realizes that the child has more to teach him then he has to teach the child. The child helps Ovid move towards unity with the natural world.

The quality and importance of humanity's relationship with the natural world is shown through the presence of God. Both the characters feel his presence differently because of their different backgrounds. The main thing Wordsworth sees when he looks at the landscape is the presence of God. He sees God as a figure who protects the earth. In Tintern Abbey he personifies God, when he says God "rolls through all things," because he gives everything life. The spiritual presence in the landscape makes it possible for him to interact with nature. He says, "And I have felt/ A presence which disturbs me with the joy/ Of elevated thoughts . . ./ Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns/, And the round ocean and the living air,/ And the blue sky, and in the mind of man." In a Beauteous Evening he uses religious imagery to enhance the peacefulness. The evening is "holy" and "quiet as a nun." Ovid has very different views on God. In Tomis the Gods need to be given offerings to be appeased. They believe that Gods can do bad things like make people have violent fits and fevers but they can also do good things like help with the harvest. Another thing they believe is that the Gods can take on different animal forms. Sometimes Ovid



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