Nature’s Effect on Romantics

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Nature has two forms: Nature as an external reality and Nature as an internal reality. Nature as an external reality is that which is depicted outwardly and nature as an internal reality is that which man has inside him. Nature inspires most forms of art throughout the Romantic Period. Sometimes it can lead to mere admiration like in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Eolian Harp” and “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison. ” Coleridge got his inspiration from nature and would translate it into his poetry. Nature was sort of a source of curiosity for him.

However other times a piece can describe how powerful, dangerous, and possibly destructive nature can be, like in Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Almost every author and artist from the Romantic Period used nature as a primary source in their work. Coleridge’s “Eolian Harp” symbolizes the relationship that man has with nature, as opposed to a typical love poem. He uses images of nature to explore philosophical and analytical ideas. The Eolian harp is the main focus of the poem, and is a representation of both order and chaos in nature.

The harp combined with a group of conflicting ideas, are part of what makes this poem unique. The other aspect of uniqueness to the poem contains a discussion around “One Life. ” This is the idea that nature and humanity are integrated with man’s desire to find the divine within nature. Although this is not considered a love poem, it does discuss sex, love, and marriage. Within the poem, love is compared to an Eolian harp. Coleridge wrote this poem about his wife, Sara, but discusses nature as his soul mate and ever constant friend who is playing him sweet songs on her harp.

Coleridge states “Where melodies round honey-dropping flowers, footless and wild, like birds of paradise, nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untam’d wings! In saying this, he is comparing his soul to hearing the music of a bird taking flight and not wanting to land. Coleridge also states in “Eolian Harp” that, “Not to love all things in a world so fill’d where the breeze warbles and the mute still air is music slumbering on her instrument. And thus, my Love! As on a Midway slope of yonder hill I stretch my limbs at noon. ” Here, he is referring to his struggle with the possibility of loving every aspect of his true love, nature.

Coleridge’s wife, Sara thought that his love for nature and philosophy that nature’s breeze sweeps tranquility and peace across the land was foolish and encouraged him to embrace Christ. Coleridge writes “For never guiltless may I speak of Him, the incomprehensible! Save when with awe praise him, and with faith that only feels; who with his saving mercies healed me. ” In this passage, Coleridge talks about expressing his love for nature and Christ and never being ashamed in doing so. Coleridge’s “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,” is also based upon his love for nature and spirituality.

As depicted in the title, this piece refers to nature as both beautiful and as a prison. Coleridge states “Well, they are gone, and here must I remain, this lime-tree bower my prison! ” This poem discusses a time in which Coleridge was forced due to injury to stay underneath a bunch of lime trees, while his friends were able to enjoy the countryside. Although he is in a physical prison under the trees, he does not find himself in a mental prison as well. He is satisfied to know that his friend Charles must be happy to be out of the city and experience the countryside and all it has to offer.

Coleridge writes “In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad, my gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pined and hunger’d after Nature, many a year, in the great City pent, winning thy way with sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain. ” He also finds himself realizing that being stuck under the lime trees is not as bad as he thought. He writes “Now, my Friends emerge beneath the wide wide Heaven-and view again the many-steepled tract magnificent of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea, with some fair bark, perhaps, whose Sails light up the slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles of purple shadow!

In this passage, Coleridge finds himself visualizing where his friends are and what they are seeing. They walk through a dark forest and past an immaculate waterfall. They emerge from the forest through the trees to the open sky and the ocean line in the distance. With his great love of nature, Coleridge is able to visualize every aspect of his friend’s journey through the countryside. He is in a sense putting himself in their shoes. The author feels that natural wonders can be found by those who appreciate nature.

As noted earlier, Coleridge does not find himself in a mental prison even though he is in a physical prison; he is able to use his imagination to visualize what he is missing. Another piece of work written by Coleridge depicts the dangerous and violent side of nature. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” tells a different tale of nature. This long poem depicts the events experienced by a mariner on his way home from a long voyage at sea. The mariner who experienced this is telling the story to the guest of a wedding.

The guest is enthralled with the story and can’t pull himself away even though he hears the sound of the bride coming down the aisle. Coleridge states “The wedding-guest here beat his breast, for he heard the loud bassoon. ” The mariner’s journey begins hopeful with beautiful weather, but the farther he gets out to sea, the worse it gets. A giant storm rises up causing the ship to crash into a sea of ice. Coleridge writes “With sloping masts and dipping prow, as who pursued with yell and blow still treads the shadow of his foe, and forward bends his head, the ship drove fast, loud roared the blast, and southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow, and it grew wondrous cold: and ice, mast-high, came floating by, as green as emerald. After being stranded with his crew for some time, a great sea bird appears, bringing wind with it and breaking up the ice around them. The ship moved into the fog, and the great Albatross followed it. To the men’s dismay, the mariner shot and killed the great bird. The ship was then made idle by calm seas, where the men and their ship remained. They were plagued by extreme thirst and the sight of slimy sea creatures crawling about the surface.

Coleridge writes “Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion; as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean. He uses symbolism relating how still the ship is in the water, to a painting of a picture. Coleridge does not refer to nature as beautiful and intoxicating in this piece of work as he does in his others. The violent and desolate side of nature is depicted in this dark piece of work. The story continues when the mariner sees a ship in the distance, only to realize it is a ghostly looking ship crewed by two ghastly figures.

Death and Life in Death who resembles a pale woman with long golden hair were on board throwing dice with each other. Coleridge reflects “Are those her ribs through which the sun did peer, as through a grate? And is that woman all her crew? Is that a death? and are there two? Is death that woman’s mate? The women won dice, and after whistling three times, the stars emerged as if fast forwarding the sunset. As this happened, all of the sailors began to drop dead, all except for the mariner, who still carried the corpse of the Albatross around his neck.

Coleridge states “One after one, by the star-dogged moon, too quick for groan or sigh, each turned his face with a ghastly pang, and cursed me with his eye. ” In the dark side of nature, the author is depicting the moon as representing and causing death, rather than the immaculate beauty that we know it by. After hearing the story, the wedding guest cannot figure out why the mariner is still alive and fears him. The mariner tells him that for 7 days and 7 nights that he had to sit on that ship amongst all of the corpses and sea slugs. Finally, the moon rose, the sea creatures became beautiful, and he was able to pray.

The corpse of the Albatross fell from his neck and sank to the bottom of the ocean. Coleridge relates this as “The self-same moment I could pray; and from my neck so free the Albatross fell off, and sank Like lead into the sea. Towards the end of the poem, nature begins to be looked at beautiful again. The mariner embraces the sea snakes and sees them for their beauty. When this happens, he is able to pray again and the burden is lifted off of him. This piece of work shows how nature can be both a treachery, and a blessing all at the same time. 8th Century poets all used some form of nature in their writings. Coleridge was one of the more popular ones who did so. He looked to nature as a source of inspiration, and guidance. In the three works of art looked at here, he finds a way to depict nature as beautiful, a prison, as well as a dark and dangerous demon. It can be noticed however, that in all of his pieces, no matter how nature is emulated, it always goes back to being beautiful and immaculate. In one piece we learn that he is injured and has to sit under a bunch of lime trees, while his friends go explore the countryside.

Here, nature is shown as a physical prison, yet not a mental prison. Later, he is able to see the beauty in the situation and appreciate what nature may be doing for his friends. He is also able to visualize what it is they are seeing and doing. This in itself is the true beauty and magnificence of nature. We also look at a piece where nature is shown as a lover, a wife. The poem is indeed about Coleridge’s wife, but he refers to her as nature in all its beauty. He takes everything he finds beautiful about nature and incorporates it into this piece in a brilliant way.

The last piece we look at is very dark and dismal. We are shown nature at its worst and most violent. For most of the piece, every part of nature depicted in the poem is treacherous and a burden. The great storm that threw them into an ice covered plat of ocean, the great sea bird that led them to fog, the still waters that led them to thirst, and the two patrons of death who killed all of the men but the mariner. It was not until the very end when the mariner saw the sea snakes as beautiful that the burden was lifted off of him and nature once again became magnificent.

Coleridge, among other poets have proven time and time again that nature plays a major role in the inspiration for 18th century romantic poetry. As shown in all three of these great pieces, although nature can be treacherous, it will always go back to beautiful. Nature served as a fundamental element throughout the Romantic Period. Artists of every sort used it in their art in one way or another. Painters painted elaborate, beautiful works that focused on the essence of nature and rarely contained people in them. If people were present, they were clearly overshadowed by nature.

The same concept is true for the writers who composed the remarkable poetry and stories of the time. The inspiration of each artist shows in how they present their pieces for art’s sake rather than trying to provide a moral lesson. In a sense, this Era served as a sort of revolt against the previous social and political norms that focused more on scientific rationalism of nature rather than mere appreciation of its wonder. Nature itself serves as an art form and the artists used their work to enlighten their audiences of its glory and spectacle. Emotion definitely made a debut in the artwork of the Romantic Period.

Nature brought forth powerful emotions and sensations that were not expressed in the previous Era. The influence and power it held helped to inspire artists and allowed for the imagination to run free. Many pieces of work showed how uncontrollable nature could be and some gave it somewhat supernatural qualities. Nature could serve as a protagonist or an antagonist and often would be personified. In conclusion, Romanticists utilized Nature as a primary component and inspiration for the artwork created throughout the Period. Nature contrasted significantly from the strong scientific focal point of the previous Era.

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