Comparison of the Portrayal of Nature in Blake and Wordsworth
One of the most popular themes for Romantic poetry in England was nature and an appreciation for natural beauty. The English Romantic poets were generally concerned with the human imagination as a counter to the rise of science. The growing intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries placed scientific thought in the forefront of all knowledge, basing reality in material objects. The Romantics found this form of world view to be restrictive. They felt that imagination was crucial to individual happiness. The imagination also provides a common human bond; a means of sympathy, of identification. However, the absence of imagination, the Romantics felt, would lead people to indifference and a false sense of being. The English Romantics accepted the reality of the link between man and nature in the form of the human imagination as the basis of human understanding, rejecting the scientific world view of materialism. The Romantics attempted to discover the hidden union between man and nature. Imagination is a force, or energy, that allows such a bond to be made.
William Blake saw the human imagination as essential to human understanding of the world; he saw reality as a "mental construction." According to Blake, once the energy of imagination is used effectively to realize the connection between man and nature, the person gains freedom from the restraining bonds of uninspired thought.
Humans bring meaning to nature in the form of imaginative thought. Self-imposed social and intellectual restrictions deprive humans of experiencing nature and the true human spirit.
In Blake's Songs of innocence and Experience we have several poems which focus on nature. These poems include `The Piping Song', `Echoing Green', `The Lamb', `The Blossom', ` To Spring', `Laughing Song', `Night' and the `Nurse's Song', `The Garden of Love', `Earth's Answer'. Nature was a theme factoring in many of his works and Blake associates nature with different elements in these poems and we find that nature is seen in communion with God in the introductory poem and throughout these poems Blake points out the relationship and harmony between Man and Nature, children and Nature and he also talks about sex in Nature in `The Blossom'.
In "Nurse's Song", from Songs of Innocence, we find children playing outside, enjoying nature. In this verse, time is marked by signs in the natural world. The nurse implores:
"then come home, my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise. . ."
Nature acts as a gentle guide for the children; their only concept of time comes from the luminaries and the light they give. The children respond to the nurse, wanting to play until the last lights in the sky are gone. Again, scenes from nature appear.
"Besides, in the sky the little birds fly
And the hills are all covered with sheep."
In Songs of Innocence, the dominant symbol is the child....