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Wordsworth and the Romantic Era
One of the first and earliest Romantic Era poets was William Wordsworth. Romantic Era poetry was centered around man?s relationship and fascination of nature and the overall awe of life on Mother Earth. ?The landscape with the quiet of the sky,? that?s Wordsworth. The reliance on metaphors and personifications to explain a passionate relationship toward nature and life?s wonders, that?s the definition of Romanticism.
Although Wordsworth never had an official philosophy or religion that others could use to classify him by, he seems to have rolled in segments into his poetry that hinted a somewhat ?naturalistic? religious attitude. Sometimes when being described or written about, the word pantheism is mentioned. Today, actual Pantheists define this as believing that all of life, that being nature, Earth, and specifically the expanding universe, to be what you would call ?God.? Pantheists have a deep appreciation and respect toward all of the life that cycles around us. That cycle or continuing force is the power that is the overall force in life, neither above or below us, but along and within us. But Wordsworth did not focus much on the cosmos or the universe, or even the ?overall force? for that matter, but more on his fascination and love for the beauty and life here on Earth. Pantheism isn?t just used to describe his personal philosophy, but the content of his works:
…These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man?s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ?mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration: ? feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure…
?Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey? is a significant Wordswroth poem in that it truly shows his love relationship with nature. Wordsworth would often go for walks out in nature, paying special attention to the most natural and everyday things that the common person would miss. What he witnessed while outdoors provided him with a soothing thought while in times of hurt and loneliness. You could almost say that these ?sensations sweet? curing him in his times of misery could be equivalent to that of a theistic religious person getting comfort from God. A similar observation could be made of the general people around the time of the Romantic Era. Of course, during this time the Industrial Revolution was centerfold, giving way to massive cities, developments and industrial sickness. Any common person during this time may have longed for a walk out in the woods while doing wage-slaving factory work. Some may have found a chance to get out of the city and, like Wordsworth, found home and joy out in the natural settings. This, in fact, is what Romantic poetry was. This longing for nature in place of the material world, away from the aristocracies and wealthy business owners, and living a free and individual life.
This definitely would not have been an accepted outlook in Wordsworth?s time. The Church still had great power and influence on society throughout Europe. Even if not persecuted, it would not have been a socially accepted view within the rich materialistic hierarchy, and anyone who had such a stance would be rejected or labeled as an infidel. Wordsworth argues how this is such a comforting way to see things:
If this be a vain belief, yet, oh! How oft ?
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart ?
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro? the woods?
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
Not until the end of his life, when his philosophy changed and his ?nature worshipping? was replaced with the traditional Christianity, did he lose ?faith? in nature. Wordsworth and the Romantic poets after him had one main inspiration, the natural world. The landscapes and beautiful settings of Wordsworth?s poetry were enough to cry at the sight of. The escapes to the natural world from the entrapping materialistic world were a personal Heaven for those in tire of the current settings. Nature was the side that they took because it couldn?t lose no matter what the circumstance. A faith in nature is hard to lose because nature cannot be destroyed in any place but someone?s mind. It is always balanced and everything in it continually functions to survive. This balance provided a home to those who were sick of the hurtful and painstaking labor world but also despised the rich enslaving one. Wordsworth?s Romanticism can be looked at as being ?born-again? in a world of industrial and material evil.
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