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Poets often use nature imagery to comment on the relationship between humans and the natural environment surrounding them.

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Introduction

Poets often use nature imagery to comment on the relationship between humans and the natural environment surrounding them. Traditionally, this relationship is portrayed in a positive manner as it places emphasis on the concept that nature is representative of beauty; consequently, embracing this representation will enlighten the human experience. The facets of that relationship are represented within Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill" and Robert Frost's "Birches". Both poets invoke an image of nature that is picturesque, serene and innocent in order to convey a message that one can have a fulfilling life if they focus on the beauty that exists within the primary world. Conversely, Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode" contains a different interpretation of what one's relationship with nature should involve. The speaker feels that a simple appreciation of beauty is insufficient; one must identify with that beauty through the soul in order to be enlightened. Despite the fact that "Fern Hill" and "Birches" initially appear to express satisfaction about the value of superficial human experiences, when analyzed in conjunction with "Dejection: An Ode", the meanings of these two poems are altered. Frost's "Birches", Thomas' "Fern Hill" and Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode" all convey different levels of dejection upon initial examination; however, when contrasting the expressions of the speaker and the imagery patterns of the poem, these levels of dejection become increasingly ambiguous. ...read more.

Middle

All three poems are different in terms of dejection when examined on a superficial level as well as when taking into account the views expressed by the speakers of the poems. "Dejection: An Ode" appears to be the most melancholic as it deals with an individual's loss of self worth while "Fern Hill" and "Birches" present a more positive account of man's relationship with nature. However, all these interpretations are destabilized when one considers the dominant nature imagery present in each of the texts. Nature imagery plays a significant role in developing the poet's opinions of the natural world, as well as in discovering the ambiguity of the dejection within each of the poems. The imagery and setting of the poem play key roles in expressing the poet's views as opposed to the feelings of the speaker. Despite the fact that Coleridge clearly addresses the reasons for his dejection, it becomes increasingly difficult for the reader to accept that he has lost his connection to nature when one examines his description of the world that surrounds him. He describes the sky as containing: those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars, That give away their motion to the stars; Those stars, that glide behind them or between, Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen: Yon crescent moon, as fixed as if it grew In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue. ...read more.

Conclusion

This idea relates to the image of the birch which initially stretches out tall, but over time begins to fall towards the ground. The sacrifice of one's innocence with age is a concept that is distressing; therefore, it injects an element of dejection into Frost's poem that was previously absent. Coleridge, Thomas and Frost have all created unique poems that contain elements of dejection; however, the amount of dejection within these poems is blurred when considering the superficial meaning of the poem imposed by the speaker as well as the nature imagery incorporated within to the text. The meanings of "Dejection: An Ode", "Birches", and "Fern Hill" are altered significantly by the images the speaker is surrounded by. "Dejection: An Ode" moves from being a poem about loss to being a brilliant poem about the power of the beauty of nature. "Fern Hill" is initially about the beauty of life, but the images used turn it into a poem about the inevitability of death. Finally, "Birches" is about the innocence of childhood; however, it also deals the loss of that innocence as one begins to age. Clearly, all three poems contain elements of dejection at one point; however, the presence of that dejection is tested in Coleridge's case, and increased within the Frost and Thomas poems. It is incredibly ironic that the one poem that was an ode to dejection turned out to be the most positive of the three. ...read more.

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