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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Document length: 3124 words

Compare and contrast William Wordsworth and John Keats' attitude towards nature in the poems "Ode To Automn" , "Ode To A Nightingale", "The Solitary Reaper", "Daffodils" and "To A Sky-Lark".

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Introduction

Compare and contrast William Wordsworth and John Keats' attitude towards nature in the poems "Ode To Automn" , "Ode To A Nightingale", "The Solitary Reaper", "Daffodils" and "To A Sky-Lark" William Wordsworth and John Keats were two of the greatest poets of the Romantic age. Keats belonged to the younger generation of the Romantic poets who revolutionised the nature of poetry in English literature. The poems showed their great devotion to nature, they emphasis on to imagination to the super natural and also the reverence they showed to every object in nature. The poems I have chosen "Ode To Autumn" , "Ode To A Nightingale", "The Solitary Reaper", "Daffodils" and "To A Sky-Lark" all show even by the titles themselves how the poets give importance to common everyday objects of nature. All these poems show how passionately the poets felt about nature and they link different objects or experiences in nature with a greater understanding about the mystery of nature and the cycle of human life. Wordsworth and Keats through their poems "To A Sky-Lark" and "Ode To A Nightingale" express the desire to escape from the human world into the world of nature's singers. "To A Sky-Lark" is written in a sober but fairly joyous mood. The sense of enjoyment of the sky lark's song and the uplifting effect it has on the poet is shown through the repetition of "Up with me, Up with me into the clouds". The poet obviously enjoys the skylark's song and declares to the skylark "Had I now the wings of a Faery/ Up to thee would I fly". In an exuberance of delight he wishes that the skylark would "Lift me, guide me high and high/ To thy banqueting-place in the sky." Keats too also wishes to disappear into the dim forest with the nightingale. He wishes to "Leave the World unseen/ And with thee fade away into the forest" but for Keats his desire is to escape from the world of suffering.

Middle

Therefore it is only appropriate that their poems should be full of natural imagery. I feel that Keats's use of imagery is more vivid and elaborate while Wordsworth uses more simple language in his portrayal of images and the simplicity of the images is sometimes very effective. In "Ode To A nightingale" Keats qualifies the nightingale as a "light-winged Dryad of the trees". He describes the spring season in vivid, almost sensual language where "The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;/ White hawthorne, and the pastoral eglantine; ". Even the musk-arose is " full of dewy wine./The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves" In "Ode To Autumn" Keats vividly pictures autumn as a season when everything in nature is filled with a "mellow fruitfulness". Autumn is differentiated by the "swell (of) the gourd". The "plump...hazel shells" and "the mossed cottage-trees" are "bend with apples". His poem is "o'er-brimmed" with images. While we can visualize the images of ripeness and fruitfulness in the first stanza, the sound images in the last stanza have a pleasant impact on our auditory senses. He writes of the "wailful choir" of "the small gnats" . The "loud bleat" of the "full-grown lambs", the singing of the "Hedge-crickets" and how "with treble soft/ The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft" while the "gathering swallows twitter in the skies". It is simply amazing the way that Keats with a minimum of words is able to recount so effectively the sights and sounds of autumn. The use of onamotopoeic words like "wailful", "mourn", "bleat", "whistle", "twitter" etc. brings alive autumn to our senses. Keats's interweaving of visual and auditory images is like a feast for our senses. Along with the sounds of autumn he describes how the "barred clouds bloom" on "the soft dying day" and how the "stubble plains" and touched with a "rosy hue". Wordsworth's images does not over brim our senses like Keats's does but they are nevertheless effective in helping us to conjure a vivid picture in our minds.

Conclusion

The regular four, eight-line stanzas of the poem also follows a rhyme scheme of ,ababccdd, though in the first and last stanzas the "A" rhyme is off. The poem "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud" has a regular four six-line stanzas with a regular rhyme scheme ,ababcc,. This simple poem is one of the loveliest and most famous of Wordsworth's poems. Here also he revisits the familiar subjects of nature and memory. The plot is extremely simple, portraying the poet's wandering and he discovers a field of daffodils by a lake, the memory of this pleases him and comforts him when he is lonely, bored or restless. The sudden occurrence of the memory of the daffodils which "flash upon the inward eye/ Which is the bliss of solitude" shows how Wordsworth once again reaffirms his belief that nature has a sustained effect on us if we are sensitive to her. With the "inward eye" and the mind's ear we can listen and record the "still sad" or joyous music of nature and replay it when we are in need of relief or consolation. Throughout the poems I have analysed, I have learnt the profound impact that nature had on these poets. Somehow while analyzing these poems I feel a sense of loss because in all my life, living in a big city, I have never even once thought of nature as a concrete or a physical reality around me. Of course I have seen flowers, birds and lakes but mostly these have been in city parks where these objects of nature have been carefully guided and moulded or controlled by the hand of man. I am resolved from now on to be more aware of the presence of nature around me. After all it does not take much effort. All what I have to do is lift my head up to see the brilliant sky with its changing colours and moving clouds and there! I have nature right above me and around me.

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