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Harps And Abbeys: A Romantic Analysis Of Nature; Explores William Wordsworth's Poem "Tintern Abbey" And Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Poem "The Eolian Harp."

1137 words - 5 pages

Literary history is composed of different styles and themes depending on the political and cultural state of the civilizations. The Middle Ages brought forth a wealth of highly religious poems and stories. Likewise, the Age of Enlightenment severely affected the essays and works of the day, as evidenced by the scientific emphasis authors put in their pieces. It makes sense, then, that issues such as the French Revolution and the abolition of slavery would initiate another literary movement: the Romantic Movement. This movement manifests itself through themes focused on the self, emotion, and the rights of man. Some of the most well known products of the Romantic period are the poems, which tend to concentrate on nature and the poets' responsibility to their readers and environment. Two poems which illustrate these characteristics are William Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Eolian Harp." While both poems utilize typical Romantic techniques, allowing the reader insight into the society's views of mankind, they also shy away from a complete explanation, intentionally treading a little too carefully around their religious beliefs.During the Romantic period educated people began to appreciate the importance of individuals in a new way, giving rise to the abolition of slavery. However, slaves were not the only ones experiencing new freedoms. Poets also started breaking away from conventional rules. Despite an overall withdrawal from tradition, even the new-thinking poets complied with long standing religious views. In this way, the Romantic Period may seem more like a step into a more morally challenging period, like the Victorian era, than a full turnaround. The poetry, while maintaining basic structure and rhythm, no longer strictly adhered to traditional concepts of rhyme and meter. This gave the poems a more organic feeling, which fit well with the focus on nature. Poets would also try to use the vernacular instead of fancier language, enhancing both the natural and individual-oriented themes. Wordsworth felt so strongly about the revolutions in poetry that he wrote an extended introduction to his and Coleridge's anthology praising this form of verse above more traditional styles.This revolutionary style aids in Wordsworth's expression of nature in his poem "Tintern Abbey." This work is a perfect archetype for some of the major ideas of Romantic poets, with nature serving as one of the primary inspirations and backdrops of the piece. The poem begins with Wordsworth's description of Tintern Abbey. The abbey overflows with natural beauty, but the abbey itself surrounds a church. When writing the poem, Wordsworth never directly describes the church, in a way glorifying nature over Christianity. He mentions how nature moves people until they "are laid asleep/ In body, and become a living soul" (lines 46-47). By society's standards, a poet should attribute these emotions to a more religious spirituality. Wordsworth does...

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