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Compare and analyse the poems of Keats (“Ode to Autumn”, “Ode to a Nightingale”) and Wordsworth (“The Prelude” [extract]), with reference to the social, historical or literary background of the Romantic period.

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Introduction

English Poetry Coursework Essay Compare and analyse the poems of Keats ("Ode to Autumn", "Ode to a Nightingale") and Wordsworth ("The Prelude" [extract]), with reference to the social, historical or literary background of the Romantic period. The poems of Keats and Wordsworth are vastly different, and they perceive things in different ways, but it is possible to pick out some similarities in their poems. This essay will compare the poems 'Ode to a Nightingale', 'Ode to Autumn' (John Keats) and an extract from 'The Prelude' (William Wordsworth) and find a selection of similarities and differences between the two poets' works. Keats and Wordsworth's poems are about nature, but they perceive nature from different perspectives. Keats' Ode to Autumn personifies an aspect of nature: the season autumn ("may find thee sitting careless on the granary floor, thy hair soft lifted...", "or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,", "steady thy laden head", "thou watchest the last oozings"), and makes autumn seem much more than an intangible season. He also describes autumn as a "bosom-friend", which shows that he sees nature as a force of goodness. Wordsworth, however, depicts a part of nature as a menacing thing, "a huge peak, black and huge". The repetition of huge emphasises the size of the mountain, which is a common metaphor for an obstacle in the poet's life. ...read more.

Middle

His verses contain a lot of enjambment (one line running onto the next), and his choice of diction adds to the slow pace of the poem (Keats uses certain words to great effect in Ode to Autumn. Drawn-out words such as "fruitfulness", "bless", "mourn" and "bourn" heighten the drowsy mood of the poem and cause the reader to feel the same. He also uses this technique in Ode to a Nightingale with phrases such as "numbness pains", "dull opiate to the drains", "thine happiness", "shadows numberless" and "full throated ease".) However, though the pace of the poems is slow, the enjambment and the descriptions make the verses themselves seem fast with lots of things happening in each part, e.g. "Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn" [Ode to a Nightingale, 26.] Gnats are tiny things, and to make a choir there must be hundreds of them. This implies a lot of action, yet the drawnout words 'wailful' and 'mourn' make the actual line a slow paced one. Wordsworth's The Prelude is much more sedate. Though this poem also contains enjambment, the lines are broken with commas and colons. Because the poem is in the past tense, ("pushed from the shore") it seems more distant to the reader than Keats' poems, which are very much of the moment and draw in the reader by asking them questions ("Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?", "Where are the songs of Spring?" ...read more.

Conclusion

This is another similarity which the two writers share: they both describe spiritual experiences that have happened to them. Wordsworth describes the effect that the view of the megalith mountain had on him ("but after I had seen that spectacle, for many days, my brain worked with a dim and undetermined sense of unknown modes of being") and describes his feelings of "solitude" and "blank desertion" that were "a trouble" to his dreams. Keats uses a lot of very entrancing imagery ("soft incense", "embalmed darkness", "pastoral eglantine", "musky rose, full of dewy wine" and "murmurous haunt of flies" all create a very clear picture of the fantasy world Keats has conjured up in his imagination, influenced by the song of the nightingale) and emotive language (the poem is full of exclamations such as "Away!", "Adieu!" and "Folorn!" that seem almost like laments, especially in the case of "thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!") in Ode to a Nightingale, succeeding in drawing the reader into an bond with his thoughts where they can see, hear and smell everything that Keats is experiencing. This sort of empathy through poetry is very difficult to achieve, though Keats also manages it in Ode to Autumn through his descriptions of "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". Keats does not reflect much on his experience in Ode to a Nightingale, except only to wonder "was it a vision, or a waking dream?... ...read more.

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