Cullen Bryant s early nineteenth century poem Thanatopsis, a collage
of imagery and ideas surround a central theme of the cycle of life.
Within this poem lies a story of great wonder and hope. The story is
that of the afterlife in which Bryant conveys a lot of the same ideas
of a majestic and heavenly paradise that are present in the Christian
Bible. Since Bryant was schooled heavily in theology, is Thanatopsis
based on the ideas that the Christian Bible holds of the afterlife?
immediately introduces his notion of spiritual unity among humans and
nature in the first line of the poem.
To him in the
love of Nature holds
her visible forms, she speaks
language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice
of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of
beauty, and she glides
Into his darker
musings, with a mild
sympathy, that steals away
ere he is aware (Line 1).
opening line of the poem the reader is aware of Bryant s use of
metaphorical language to describe the bond in which nature holds with
man. According to the first book of Genesis, God created all of
nature and delegated some of his authority over it to the human race.
He gave humans the promise of protection and forgiveness in return
for the service of watching over his creation. This is what Bryant
affirms to be the Communion in which man holds with nature. Since
nature is the circumstance for human existence, humans see it as
glorious as well as comforting in times of trouble. No matter how
lonely, or desolate a human soul can get, nature is still part of
man. This is a very strong correlation to the Christian Bible,
however it is not the only one that Bryant mentions in Thanatopsis.
Bryant goes on
to describe and almost tell the reader of the story not to fear the
final moments of life for all that is and was created Will share thy
destiny. (Line 61) Like The Bible, Bryant describes the afterlife as
a glorious heaven where The rivers that move in majesty (lines 40-41)
are but the solemn decorations all of the great tomb of man. (Lines
44-45) He is telling the reader not to fear death because there is a
better place where everything in nature will return and be reborn.
This theme is stated by Bryant throughout the poem and is identical
to the teachings of the Christian Bible. This theme can be related
back to the beginning of Thanatopsis where Bryant describes the unity
of nature and man. These two themes are framework of Bryant s grand
theme that everything that God has created will become one in the
afterlife, therefore everything is one during existence.
that all the creations of the earth will mix forever with the
elements (Line 26) , and new creations will send his roots abroad and
pierce thy mould (Line30) from their resting places. This alludes to
the circle of life which is described by the Bible to be the dead
rising and living life eternally in heaven. Bryant is simply using
metaphors and figurative language of returning to the earth and
rising to heaven to describe the beliefs and concepts of the Bible.
Even though there is enough proof to uphold this theory, one could
argue that Thanatopsis has nothing to do with the Bible.
could possibly be Bryant s take on the cycle of life. Bryant could be
trying to explain to himself or another person where a person goes
when they die. Bryant tries to dissuade one of fearing death
throughout the poem. He describes the glorious afterworld in a way
that would make a man most afraid of death, embrace it with open
arms. However Bryant does not describe post death status in
Thanatopsis. All we know from Bryant s view is that the afterlife is
glorious, so maybe he is not referring to the same heaven as the
Bible does. He could be praising the brilliance of life and death and
the organisms that take part in the cycle. Or maybe Thanatopsis is a
therapeutic work for Bryant himself. Maybe this is a reflection of
hope that Bryant used to overcome his own fear of death.
of view the reader construes out of this work, the theme is the same.
The evidence that Bryant based Thanatopsis on the theological
teachings of death and resurrection, found in the Bible, is apparent
throughout the poem. The ideas that have stood the test of time are
still living in another form of literature, Thanatopsis. Perhaps this
was Bryant s intention. To create an everlasting work that would
convey the ideas of Christian theology, and teach readers across the
globe about the death, resurrection, and a glorious afterlife.
Main Street Essay, ResearchPaper Main Street Sinclair Lewis was a ... that theBible should not be the only book that is read and ?everybody ... by institutions. First of all theThanatopsis club which is comprised of ...
... written "Thanatopsis," his best-known poem, at age sixteen; and most ... oratory, journalism, andtheBible—haranguing, mundane, and prophetic—all in the service of ... and Whitman as each "surveying the other curiously, like two beasts, each wondering what the ...