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?La Belle Dame Sans Merci , ?An Advancement Of Learning? And ?Roe-Deer?, Essay, Research Paper


spiritual correspondence between man and nature can be illustrated as being a

?spiritual communication? between the two, which is the affect of how they

interact with each other. The use of nature in a way that is both beneficial to

man and nature can be described as a harmonious spiritual correspondence. The poems I have analysed, ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?, ?An Advancement of Learning? and ?Roe-Deer?, have their focal point

revolving around encounters between man and nature. Each poem is unique to one

another due to these differences; the time they were written, their themes, the

representations of man and nature used, the rhythm and rhythmic pattern of

each, the imagery used and lastly the similes and metaphors. These differences

will allow me to explore the concept of a spiritual correspondence between man

and nature in each poem, and thus justify these poems as being good or bad

representations of Sir Paul Harvey?s comment.?

? There is a definite likeness

between these poems, as they are all thematically linked. An example of this is

that in each, there is some sort of conflict between man and natures

representations i.e. the knight and the faery, the boy and the rat, and also

the man and the deer. Beyond the words of the poem, an on-going interaction

between man and nature can be found. In ?La Belle Dame Sans

Merci?, this interaction results in man, or the knight in this case, losing out

in a spiritual conflict to nature, or the faery?s child, ?And I awoke and found

me here, On the cold hill?s side?. The quote itself actually is a good example

of how Keats brings about a cold feel to the poem at this point, which is

ironic as we associate cold temperatures with loss. However, this conflict takes

a new twist in the Heaney poem, ?An Advancement of Learning?. This time the

conflict goes one step further and is ironically portrayed in a militaristic

style with ?I established a dreaded bridgehead? and ?This terror (the

rat)?retreated?? and was actually won by man, or the boy in this case, ?He

trained on me. I stared him out?. This is also a good example of Heaney showing

that man, in this poem, is dominant over nature. ?This idea of man winning the conflict brought over from ?An

Advancement of Learning? is not the main feature in ?Roe-deer?, as here a

conflict ceases to exist. In this poem, it is the outcome of this on-going

conflict that is affecting nature at this point in time. This conflict, which

for man took a new turn after the industrial revolution, has resulted in man

and nature living separate from one another even though they are symbiotic. In

this poem, nature is trying to get back to man, as ?The deer had come for me?.

But is faced with the barrier, which is symbolised by the car, and it seems as

if man, who has manipulated and corrupted nature by now, does not want to.

Instead, it is the deer which dictate nature?s position to man, as they ?ducked

through the hedge?away downhill over a snow-lonely field?. So already I can find some

examples of the spiritual correspondence between man and nature in all three of

these poems, which are all thematically linked by this on-going conflict/

correspondence between man and nature. Nature and man?s

representations in each of the poems are all quite different, but all have a

part in the basic story of this on-going interaction between man and nature.

?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?, being the earliest of the three poems, has the

?knight-at-arms?, a chivalrous character, and the ?full beautiful faery?s

child?, a fantasy character, as nature and man?s representations, as the whole

poem has been based upon a fantasy story. This typical style of writing, using

fantasy stories to illustrate something, is shows that this poem has a strong

sense of spiritual correspondence between man and nature, as Keats has had to

dream this poem up, whereas in ?An Advancement of Learning?, or even

?Roe-Deer?, the poets may have actually been through these experiences, and

these poems could just be showing their emotions at the time. And therefore, it

is true to say that ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci? is a natural example of a poem

that has been based around a spiritual correspondence between man and nature.

Also, the fantasy style poem brings about a strong contrast with the style used

in the more recent poems of Hughes and Heaney, who have chosen to use more

realistic representations in their poems with the boy and the man, and the rat

and the deer, and therefore demonstrates how these poems might have been based

upon real-life events. The faery in ?La Belle Dame

Sans Merci? is illustrated in romantic notion as being a thing of natural

beauty otherwise, as it would have to be for this poem to work, as the knight

would never have fallen in love. Therefore, it again shows the typical style of

writing in that day and age as everything is portrayed as being beautiful and

natural, and as knights in shining armour- a romantic notion. In this poem,

nature is dominant and therefore powerful, as everything in the poem can be

related back to nature as ?the sedge has wither?d from the lake?? and even the

imagery used has a strong link with nature, ?she found me roots of relish

sweet, And honey wild, and manna dew??. This imagery actually shows a romantic

side to nature and man, as the poem portrays man?s ignorance towards nature?s

power, and therefore has nothing to stop him falling in love with nature?s

concoction of natural beauty. ?This is also quite a contrast to ?An Advancement of Learning?, as

this time the dominance lies with man and man?s manipulation of nature with

industrialisation and urbanisation; ?The river nosed past, Pliable,

oil-skinned??. Out of this sickening image of nature comes another revolting

image, this time of the rat, ?a rat Slimed out of the water and My throat

sickened??. Therefore, a time span of one hundred and fifty years has seen the

?beautiful faery?s child? turn into ?a slimy rat?. This has come about after

the industrial revolution, which has led to nature being overpowered by man, as

there is no faery?s child to stop man. Rather, nature has been manipulated and

corrupted by man, which is why a sickening rat rather then a beautiful faery?s

child ?slimed out of the? ?oil-skinned? ?water?. The more modern day image of

nature shown in Hughes? poem, ?Roe-deer? is one of more natural consequence, as

there is no ?sickening rat? as nature?s representation. The only referral to

this poem as being modern is where the man is in the car. There is no negative

illustration of nature or man, and there is no dominance of the two in the

writing. The poem is well balanced with man and nature?s representations, as

these are not chivalrous, sickening or beautiful and therefore not biased

towards man or nature. Even the universal theme of an encounter between the two

takes a new turn with a brief harmonious encounter. In this poem, the

representation of man and nature has more of a spiritual corresponding message

with nature trying to retrieve harmony with man, and for a split second, man

obeying, ?They planted their two or three years of secret deerhood clear on my

snow screen vision??, and therefore shows the lengths at which Hughes shows the

Deer going to, to make man understand that they need each other.????? In each of these poems,

different circumstances bring together man and nature. In ?La Belle Dame Sans

Merci?, the knight meets the faery lady ?in the meads?, and immediately falls

in love. However, the opposite of this is true in ?An Advancement of Learning?,

where they are brought together by hate and fear. ?Roe-deer? shows man and

nature being brought together by co-incidence, or by the deer?s efforts. The

idea of love, hate and co-incidence can be explained by the time they were

written which also explains many of the other differences of the three poems

such as their individual styles and outcomes. ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?

obviously has the main difference with more archaic style of writing and

traditional portrayal of man and nature. This poem has nature as the victor

over man, with love and beauty as its main weapon.? The knight is defenceless against nature, which is another ?time?

difference because in ?An Advancement of Learning?, it is the boy that

overcomes the rat. Again, in the writing the dominance of nature can be found

which is typical of the era it was written in. This again has a direct

comparison to ?An Advancement of Learning? as this time the dominance is with

man. The storyline in ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci? is also reminiscent of Keats?

own battle with a natural disease of Tuberculosis, as here again man has sadly

been beaten by nature. ?An Advancement of Learning?

shows the industrial revolution and its direct affect on nature, as nature has

been corrupted with man?s waste, which is why the rat is seen negatively. The

style of writing also has a direct link to the time it was written, as the

writing includes images of modernisation, ?Hunched over the railing, Well away

from the road now?? which, if compared to a similar line in ?La Belle Dame Sans

Merci?, ??sedge has wither?d from the lake, and no birds sing.? again demonstrates

the difference in the writing due to the time in which they were written. ?Roe-deer? also demonstrates

technological advances with man. Man is placed in a car, which symbolises a

barrier between the two. The man sees the deer through the ?snow-screen? and

this is where the deer notice him. The poem represents nature?s want for

progress with man and its need to once again live in harmony with man, ?I could

think the deer were waiting for me?password and sign?? which is quite different

to the previous poems where the spiritual correspondence is represented by a

conflict between the two forms. In ?La Belle Dame Sans

Merci?, there is a strong use of imagery, which is also typical of the time it

was written. The dialogue in the poem tells us how the knight is dying, ?I see

a lily on thy brow?, which is common imagery for death. This idea of death is

furthered when Keats writes, ?And on thy cheeks a fading rose…?, where the

?rose? is used as a metaphor for death. Also, when describing the faery, he

writes, ?And her eyes were wild?, which gives the reader a devilish image of

the faery. Behind all of the imagery in this poem can be found another

development in the correspondence, as ?I shut her wild, wild eyes, with kisses

for?, which demonstrates man?s interaction with nature. However, the negative

use of imagery in this poem can be found where the knight is dreaming. Keats

conjures up this image of ?pale kings and princes too??, who have all been used

and abused by nature in the on-going conflict/ spiritual correspondence between

man and nature. Therefore, the use of imagery in this poem has been used in a

negative way; first of all where the dialogue occurs, and then where the knight

is seeing ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?s? previous victims, ?Pale warriors, death-pale

were they all??. However, there is some positive imagery where Keats describes

the faery and how the knight embraces her. The use of traditional

imagery in ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci? is countered by that of a more modern

?disgusting? use in ?An Advancement of Learning?. ?The river nosed past,

Pliable, oil-skinned?? brings about a negative image of the natural world, and

also shows the devastation man has caused nature through the industrial

revolution and urbanisation between. Again, like in ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?,

the use of imagery in the poem also shows the progression of this on-going

conflict, but this time Heaney has used imagery to bring a sense of war to this

poem, as man is able to ?establish a dreaded bridgehead? and make nature ?retreat?,

which also is a result of the time it was written. In this poem, Heaney has

used imagery to conjure up words that do not actually exist, ?Slimed? and

?clockworked?, to give extra affect to the poem. His use of alliteration takes

effect when he describes how the boy saw the rat appearing from the water,

?Something slobbered, curtly, close, Smudging the silence??. This breaks down

the rhythm of the poem and therefore gives a sickening feel towards the rat. ?Roe-deer? however has a

stronger use and need for imagery than the other two poems. This time nature is

trying to get back to man. Hughes uses imagery here with the ?curtain?, which

is used to draw up the fine line that nature and man have to pass to get back

to each other. In order to ?get through? this curtain, man has to find the

?password and sign? for nature, and therefore the poem takes a new twist as

Hughes takes the reader back in time to find this password and sign where

nature and man were content with being symbiotic, ?To

remember this password and sign? where the trees were no

longer trees, and the road no longer a road??. However, after nature realises mans arrogance to unite,

the deer run off and ?the snow took them?back to the ordinary?. Hughes has used

imagery to try to reconcile the two forms, to try and reform their spiritual

correspondence and get it back to the times when man and nature were not trying

to overpower each other, but were actually living in harmony with each other,

but unfortunately this progress is not to be and things return to ?normal?.

This is again another huge contrast to the other two poems, where the imagery

is used to show nature victorious over man, and then one hundred and fifty

years later, over nature. Like imagery, similes and

metaphors play a definite role in each poem. In ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?,

?the sedge has wither?d from the lake, and no birds sing?, are two lines which

are metaphors for the time of year the poem is set in, Winter. This can also be

found in the next stanza, where ?The squirrel?s granary is full, And the

harvest?s done?. Typical of the time it was written, this poem is full of

metaphors. When describing the faery?s child, which in itself is imagery for

nature, his use of metaphors here is to bring a mystical feel upon the faery, as

her ?eyes were wild?. In the next stanza, he describes how the knight makes

garlands for her, which were to smell wonderful, ?and fragrant zone?. He also

illustrates how the knight and faery rode around all day; ?I set her on my

pacing steed??. The next stanza has its use of imagery to do with love and sex,

?she found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild and manna dew?? and also ?I

shut her wild, wild eyes, with kisses four?. The next use of metaphors is when

he is dreaming, and finds out the ?La Belle Dame sans Merci, Hath thee in

thrall?. He realises he is now dying, as he ?awoke on the cold hill?s side.?

Therefore, this poem could be a metaphor for Keats? own disease, which sadly

killed him, as he lost out to nature?s ?sting? (disease). ????????? As ?An

Advancement of Learning? is written with modern English, the use of metaphors

is quite rare compared to ?La Belle Dame sans Merci?. However, he uses

metaphors to add to the repulsiveness of the poem, ?on his knobbed skull?.

Also, the bridge could be a metaphor for his fear or rats, and the rats usually

inhabited the bridge, and therefore he ?deferred the bridge?. However, as he

triumphs over his fear of rats, he is able to ?cross the bridge?. ????????? The idea

of metaphors being less used now is also true of ?Roe-Deer?. However, the use

of metaphors here is very strong, as nature was waiting for man to remember the

?password and sign?, which is symbolic of man getting back to nature through

the ?curtain?.? ????????? The

rhythmic pattern of each of these poems is also very different. In ?La Belle

Dame Sans Merci?, the poem is actually a ballad. Each stanza is four lines, and

each line has eight syllables apart from the last, which has four. There is

also a definite rhyming pattern, which is smooth and fast. Compare this with ?An

Advancement of Learning? and also ?Roe-deer?, and the difference in the time

they were written once shows. In Keats? time the conventional type of poem was

written to a certain style, where the number of verses and rhyming pattern, and

also the number of syllables demonstrated which style the poem followed. Keats

has followed the style of a ballad. In the latter two poems, there is no

definite rhythmic pattern or even a set number of syllables. The only

similarity is in ?An Advancement?, where there are four lines to each stanza.

The stanzas in this poem actually follow on from one another, so the rhythmic

pattern of the poem does not change with each stanza.? ????????? In ?An

Advancement of Learning?, there is also alliteration used to give emphasis to

the negative description of nature, such as ?Something slobbered curtly, close,

smudging the silence??. In every stanza, the endings of two of the lines would

rhyme, ?when his grey brother scraped and fed, ?.on ceiling boards above my

bed?. This would be to make the poem reminiscent of a rhyming poem, but not too

much to turn this poem into one. This is because he has used alliteration at

different points in the poem, which makes the rhythmic pattern of each stanza

different to one another. ????????? In

?Roe-deer? however there is no attempt at any rhythm, and therefore the

technical side to the poem has nothing in common with any other of the other

two poems. There is however two lines to each verse to give some structure to

the poem, apart from the hard-hitting verse of ?The deer had come for me?. This

verse is probably the most powerful one from the poem, as it shows nature

coming to retrieve man, and therefore has been separated from the other

stanzas. In this poem, there are also, like in ?An Advancement of Learning?, a set

number of syllables to each line, which makes ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci? unique

from the other two in that this poem has a definite and solid structure to it. In conclusion to this essay,

I do find Sir Paul Harvey?s comment on the fascination with spiritual

correspondence, reminiscent of not only Keats? era, but also of Hughes and

Heaney, as these three poems show an on-going spiritual and physical encounter

between man and nature, which all adds to the depth of the spiritual

correspondence between man and nature. However, the point that Sir Paul Harvey

has made about poets of Keats? era being fascinated by spiritual

correspondence, is true on the basis of ?La Belle Dame Sans Merci?, as this

poem is a fantasy style poem that has been carefully conjured up to show a deep

spiritual correspondence between man and nature. ?Keats has set the conflict of his time, as having nature as the

victor, but Heaney has shown man as the victor after a hundred and fifty years.

Therefore, these two poems show the spiritual correspondence between man and

nature as being poor, as man and nature are both trying to win over one

another. But Hughes has shown that more recently, nature is trying to get back

to man, and man to nature, as in this day and age we are more conscientious of

our actions and their effects on nature, and are tying to once again live in

harmony to nature, and therefore have a good spiritual correspondence.

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