Individualism, Balance and Nature Essay Example
Individualism, Balance and Nature Essay Example

Individualism, Balance and Nature Essay Example

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Individualism, Balance and Nature Hannah Costley Veering away from the conventional attitude, fuelled by ideas of individualism and political liberty, authors, poets, intellects and playwrights played a part in the Romantic Movement of 1790-1860. Influenced by the French Revolution and the works of Jean Jacques Rousseau and William Godwin, intellectuals and artists strove to breakaway from the scientific mindset and enter a world that glorified natural sublimity and the equilibrium of nature.

The movement was a response to the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment as a way for an artist to express him/herself without the limitations and constrictions imposed by the harsh regimes of society. In regards to poetry in particular, poets focused primarily on The Individual, The Natural Balance of Life and Nature. These three major concepts are encompassed in the majority of the works


produced by poets of the Romantic Era; allowing them to capture the abstractness of their emotions and reflections into a concrete body of words.

Throughout the 16th and 17th century, science seemed to dominate the way in which people thought and carried out their lives. After having been exposed to a life beyond religion, rules and regulation, intellects were hungry for information and existence began to be governed and dictated by the material world. The Romantic Poetry Era was an expressive movement started by a group of poets (Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelly and Keats in particular) as a philosophical and poetic revolt against rationalism.

Nature, not just the physicality of nature, but human rational and the balance of life, heavily influenced the writings of the Romantics. In the majority of Keats’ odes, he stresses upon the importance of accepting that with

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the good comes the bad, with the right comes the wrong, with the pain comes the joy. An example of Keats’ emphasis on coming to terms with the mixed nature of life is in “Ode on Melancholy” when he specifically orders us to realise that with joy comes pain and sorrow.

In line 22 Keats writes “…Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips bidding adieu” and this perfectly depicts his notion of being compliant with the beauty in the balance of contradiction for although we do experience brief moments of bliss and happiness, it cannot last forever and pain and anguish will soon slot into the empty space joy leaves behind. Another poet that wrote about the balance of life was William Blake. In his poem “The Tyger” he address the issue of symmetry and the equal presence of good and evil; “Did he who make the Lamb make thee? (Line 20), this line seems to be a question directed to God asking him how he could create something so pure (the Lamb) and another thing so malevolent. The entire poem is a series of questions that omit a sense of awe in them, as though Blake is trying to imply that there is beauty in fear- and one of the key components of the Romantics ideology, which was to find the beauty in everything. Being more literal now, it cannot be denied that the Romantics utilised numerous numbers of natural imagery.

In “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth, the visual imagery and personification of nature is so powerful that you feel everything Wordsworth seems to be experiencing as he writes the poem. The personification of the “never

ending line” (Line 9) of daffodils that “toss their heads in sprightly dance,” (Line 12) conjures up an image of flowers performing a ballet and the diction of the word “toss” implies that the movement is natural and effortless. Daffodils” brings us back to appreciating the peace and harmony nature gives us- contrasting to the hustle and bustle of the cities and industrialisation. Due to the emergence of the industrial revolution, the poets used their works as a mean to criticise the sudden move to urbanisation and the removal of our focus on nature. The natural imagery that is so prominent in the majority of the Romantic’s works triggers a myriad of emotions in the reader and makes us realise that we have become so focused on the material world. To Autumn” is a prime example of Keats lionizing nature as it focuses on nature alone; separated from emotions and lacking a narrative voice. The final element of the Romantic Era that played a prominent part of poets’ works is the emphasis on The Individual. Keats, Wordsworth and Blake found it important to incorporate their own lives and experiences into their poems. Emotions and passion kindled their writings and the protagonists/speakers of their poetry possessed a fierce sense of individualism and independence.

John Keats seems to merge his own struggle with tuberculosis and death (such as in his poem “To Sleep”) with our own personal conflicts, so not only do we have glimpses of his pain, but we also manage to incorporate our own feelings and encounters into our reading experience of his poems/odes. I can relate to Keats’ conflicting desires to work yet laze around

all day as he describes in his “Ode on Indolence. ” Keats’ personification of Ambition, Love and Poesy helps us understand what is important in Keats’ life and what drives his fervour and passion.

The Romantic Period saw the notion of “understanding the world from the human view” rather than the “scientific view” come about and the new concept is evident in the writings of the Romantics. If a land developer, a painter and a farmer all stood together and looked upon a field, each of them would see something different. The artist would see a potential subject for their next piece, the land developer would see an opportunity for building and the farmer would see the field as a source of income and nutrition for is family- the Romantics strove to capture each individuals mindsets.

In the poem “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron, a woman is vividly described as complete perfection. She is compared to “the night” and “the stars”; possessing no flaw, representing true beauty- however, would all people see Byron’s lover as beautiful? Romanticism allows for opinions and individual viewpoints therefore Byron’s poem is a specific description of this woman from Byron/the speaker’s perspective- ignoring the fact that others may not share the same opinion of her. Ode to Psyche” is a perfect example of a romantic poet, in this case Keats, focusing on the individual. In the last stanza of the ode, the speaker specifically states that he/she themselves will build a sanctuary for Psyche and worship her alone. “A bright torch, and a casement ope at night, To let the warm Love in! ”- This concluding line emphasises the fact

that the speaker has opened themselves up to embrace the presence and power of Psyche.

Psyche is a symbol of the soul; and by the speaker opening up their soul to the beauty of life and the every changing presence of nature; they are revolting against society’s scientific mindset and are glorifying the individual. The Romantic Period saw a huge turn in the history of literature. The cold structured form of writing morphed into an emotional abstract painting of prose and poetry. It gave poets the ability to express themselves and address issues that had utmost importance in their lives. The Romantics created art with their words; the universe being their canvas.

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