The writers of the Romanticism period were completely different from the previous Enlightenment period. Romantic artists and writers rejected the rules that guided their predecessors. Rather than using the elevated language of the neoclassicists, the Romantic poets write in the language of the common people. They didn’t look for judicial evidence to confirm outside themselves, yet they looked within to the truths of emotions and imagination. Romanticists rejected the emphasis on reason, order, and intellect and placed it on the individual, subjective matters, irrational thoughts, and visionary elements.
Along with the captivation of the genius, the hero, and the exceptional people, and the new view that creativity is better than abiding by formal rules, the romanticists developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature. This attitude is prominently seen in Shelley’s “Ode to The West Wind,” and Wordsworth’s “Nutting.”
“Ode to The West Wind,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, is an ode calling upon the West Wind. Shelley uses passionate language and symbolic imagery to portray his recognition of the beauty of it. He first acknowledges the extraordinary power of the West Wind by saying:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!
Shelley observes that the West Wind can both destroy nature and preserve nature. The wind can cause storms, erosion, and floods while also bringing rain and scattering seeds. Shelley also wants to be inspired by nature. Shelley believed that a true poet must be inspired. He wants the West Wind to surround him and create beautiful things with him. He says this by stating several things:
“Make me thy lyre”
“Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
The speaker asks the wind to spread his thoughts throughout the land so that they might be renewed. Shelley looks up to the wind as the ultimate inspiration. He eagerly yearns to be influenced by the West Wind just as the trees in the forest, which are greatly touched by the movement of the West wind. The West Wind is a symbol of his true inspiration.
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William Wordsworth also shows his deep appreciation for nature and its beauty in many of his writings. Wordsworth was very much in love with nature and thought to be more so than any other romanticism writer. The description of nature as a tranquil peaceful and beautiful place is common in Wordsworths’ poems. Wordsworth’s poem “Nutting” describes a youthful encounter with nature that he experienced which left him in awe of nature’s beauty. When he arrives to a place in the forest where no one has been before he is struck with overwhelming joy. He says:
“A virgin scene! – – A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights in; and with wise restraint”
He is describing the joy he feels when he has discovered a place which is untouched by anything or anyone. He goes on to tell us about sitting under a tree in the clearing and playing with the flowers. After realizing what he had been doing he says:
“Their quiet being: and unless I now
Confound my present feelings with the past,
Ere from the mutilated bower I turned
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings
I felt a sense of pain when beheld
The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky.-“
When he had realized that he had torn things up in the pristine, untouched place and destroyed it from its natural state, he became very upset and pained to think about what he had just done. Throughout the poem he uses slight, yet detectable language that portray what he feels about his actions and others who do the same as he did. He uses words such as: “tall and erect,” “a virgin scene,” “merciless revenge,” and “mutilated” to show his true pain and feelings for what he did. His underlying meaning in the poem is that people come into nature and tear it up and think nothing about it. He believes that people of his time don’t appreciate nature for the beauty and serenity it brings to people.
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These works are enriched with the notions of the Romanticism period. Both of these writers show their profound adoration for the true beauty of nature. The Romanticists were determined to express themselves more honestly and deeply. As seen in these two works, nature was more to them than just trees and rocks. The Romanticists’ thoughts began with feelings which are reflected in their deep appreciation for nature. Unlike the Enlightenment writers who sought to embody the outer world and create rules for imitation. Romanticists sought the internal facts of imagination, and their works honored the inner vision.
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