To the Romantics, the imagination was a quality and that it belongs to everyone, not to a certain people. They believed that imagination is what made life interesting or beautiful, as it shaped our destiny and especially our personality. This is seen in three poems the ‘Ancient Mariner’, ‘The Nightingale’ and ‘Tintern Abbey’. These three poems use imagination, in different ways to appeal to the reader. Furthermore, these poems use imagination, to connect to other themes of the poems together such as truth, nature and the divine pathway.
Wordsworth uses ‘Tintern Abbey’, to show that the natural scenes of beauty implant themselves in the human memory and they feed the imagination, they are keeping it healthy: “These forms of beauty have not been to me/As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye”. They provide “sensations sweet”. The memories of the scenes pass into his “purer mind/With tranquil restoration”. He makes this sound like an “unremembered pleasure”, as it is the value and benefit of seeing nature, beautiful scenes working subconsciously on the mind and some, passively cultivating the imaginative powers available in our human minds.
Wordsworth explain that the natural scenes stored in his mind have given him ‘another gift/ of aspect more sublime’ It means he is able to transcend into a ‘blessed mood’ in which he no longer feels the ‘weary weight’ of this ‘unintelligible world’. Within nature we can access the sublime. In our existence, there is a spirit of momentum, energy, an oneness that humans share with the cosmos “A motion and a spirit, that...
impel/ All thinking things. ‘ Wordsworth takes this further to say that through our responses to nature, the human mind then selects the senses (sight, hearing etc) and arranges them in a pattern to create new meanings.
The memory works with the imagination and can unlock semi-divine powers. The Romantics defied the imagination. The creative process echoes God’s creation of Earth and man. The ‘Ancient Mariner’ implies that the albatross is a symbol of imagination; able to transcend the physical into the metaphysical ‘as it were a Christian soul’. The killing of the albatross represents the Mariner’s ignorance i. e. rest of society saw imagination as passive ‘From the fiends that plague thee thus/I shot the Albatross’.
Coleridge saw it as active and recognised its power. This poem is a voyage of Coleridge’s imagination; it gives scope to prove its conscious and the ‘silent screams’. He believed that imagination is an education to all of mankind, as it can help us escape our problems. ‘Their beauty might declare/I bless’d them unaware’. The imagination can takes beings into the unknown and the otherworld is represented by the sea. The power of imagination turns physical nature into spiritual nature.
Coleridge explains the depths of imagination and that imagination takes you to bad places but reinforces that you are alive. It is also access to other themes, such as death and Life-in-death. The ‘Nightingale’ portrays that the nightingale is a symbol of the imagination and that it access the theme of nature, which is the divine pathway and it stimulates it. The imagination constructs our own truth. Human
possess the active imagination, it is determined by our mood and life through our emotions and how we react to nature.
The supernatural: “(Even like a Lady vow’d and dedicate To something more than nature in the grove)’ represents the way the imagination can connect with the otherworld and the deep mysteries of life and existence. Also it represents the druidic priestess, which is imaginative in its own concept, as it is used in myths. Humanity loses oneself in the imagination and it is pleasure or beauty that is accessed and Coleridge deifies the creative power. Imagination has the power to shape both the conscious and subconscious; we solve our own miseries through imagination.
The word ‘Philomela’ is used as it is from the Greek myth when humanity shall become like birds, the ability to access the sublime or the imagination like the Greek Princess Philomela. Overall, The Romantics did not treat the imagination as being passive, but thought of it as close to God as possible. They believed that if we can understand it, then we can try to understand everything around us. They are also implying that without the imagination, we wouldn’t have solved any of our problems. They also believed that the imagination was something that linked humanity together both consciously and unconsciously.
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