OUR POETRY ARCHIVE
“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”
~Percy Bysshe Shelley~
Literature, during the Modern-Romantic Period, was engulfed in imagination, along with grasping an emotional sense of nature. Poets embarked on spiritual journeys within their minds, as they perceived the world around them. L.P. Smith, in Words and Idioms, states the meaning of “romantic” as, “false and fictitious beings and feelings, without real existence in fact or in human nature…old castles, mountains and forests, pastoral plains, waste and solitary places and a love for wild nature, for mountains and moors.” The concept of reason in earlier literature had moved on to spiritual, individual freedom of expression. Three poets who emerged themselves in nature and beautifully expressed their imagination on paper were: William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
William Wordsworth, who was born in 1770, grew up in the world of literature and poetry which was used for instruction and information. Wordsworth did not reject traditional writing, but began writing poetry with simplicity and emotional feeling. He had a great love for nature and found harmony within the setting of suns, oceans and blue skies. In his lyrical, meditative poem “Tintern Abby,” he paints a picture with his words which brings him great joy and serenity. Wordsworth returns five years later after his first visit to Tintern Abby, and writes of the majestic simplicity of the scene:
Five years have past; five summers, with the length/ of five long winters! And again I hear/ these waters, rolling from the mountain-springs/ with a soft inland murmur. –Once again/ do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs/ that on a wild secluded scene impress/ thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect/ the landscape with the quiet sky/ The day is come when I again repose.
Wordsworth found joy and peace in nature, within the midst of hope of social change in England. He was at rest and found tranquility during disagreeable politics, religious practices and social injustice. His approach to life’s turmoil, written in a serene fashion, differed from the Early Age Modern poetry writers. For example, Vittoria Colonna wrote in her poem, “Between harsh rocks and violent wind,” of life’s struggles in a more violent state found in nature. Colonna writes,
Between harsh rocks and violent wind I feel/ the waves of life striking my fragile bark/ which I have neither wit nor art to steer/ All help will come too late to save me now/ In one brief moment bitter death extinguished/ the lodestar of my life, my constant guide/ I have no help against the turbulent sea/ And threatening clouds, Now ever more I fear/ Not the sweet singing of the cruel sirens/ Nor shipwreck here between these lofty cliffs/ nor sinking helplessly in shifting sands/ but to sail on forever in rough waters/ cutting my furrow with no gleam of hope/ for death conceals from me my sheltering pot.
Colonna finds herself shipwrecked between “lofty cliffs,” where Wordsworth beholds, with a deep connection, the “steep and lofty cliffs” found in nature. Through his imaginative philosophical mind, the cliffs that he observes brings elevated thought of grandeur, while Colonna analyzes the lofty cliffs as a life struggle too hard to overcome, bringing no hope and pending death. A similar use of words, as Vittoria Colonna, is found in John Keats’ poetry.
John Keats, born in 1795, is also a writer in the Modern-Romantic age. In Keats’ poem “Ode to a Nightingale,” the reader experiences great emotional distress of a man. This distress is found in the evaluation of Keats’ life throughout his poem. Like Wordsworth, Keats uses the power of his imagination and the power of poetry through the struggles of his life:
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet/ nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs/ but, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet/ wherewith the seasonable month endows/ the grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild/ white hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine/ fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves/ and mid-May’s eldest child/ the coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine/ the murmurous haunt of flies on summer’s eve.
Keats’ poetry and his very imaginative scenes in the “Ode to a Nightingale,” is a great example of traditional, classic writing of early periods of literature. Along with Keats’ use of traditional, classic writing, Johann Wolfgang Goethe also has a wide range of writing style in his poem, “Faust.”
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, born in 1749, was also a writer in the Modern-Romantic age. He became a famous writer in Germany. He used a wide range of style in “Faust.” This various use of style included: The Bible, Greek tragedy and comedy, Dante, Shakespeare, sixteenth century German comedy; to name a few. Along with his use of various literature style, he uses the same concept of painting a picture of society through nature.
When a fragrance has descended/ all about the green-girt plain/ richer air with mist-clouds blended/ evening dusk comes down again/ lulls to infant-sweet reposing/ rocks the heart with whispering sighs/ and this wanderer feels it closing/ on his daylight-weary eyes/ Now to night the world surrenders/ sacred love joins star to star/ little sparkles, greater splendors/ glitter in the lake reflecting/ gleam against the clear night sky/ deepest seals of rest protecting/ glows the full moon strong and high.
Goethe places the reader in the midst nature, the cosmos and the essence of mankind. Like Wordsworth and Keats, he brings the power of nature through his words, along with the traditional classic style of writing of many earlier writers.
In the Modern-Romantic age, there was a growing emphasis on an individual’s connection to nature. This emphasis is seen through the writings of William Wordsworth, John Keats and Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Though all three writers had various influences of previous literary periods, the concept of the imagination and spiritual connection to nature is apparent in their work. These concepts are found in the words of Johann Wolfgang Goethe,
“And thus, when with our heart’s whole hope for guide
Towards our goal, we have struggled on unthinking
And find fulfillment’s portals open wide
From those unfathomed depths, a sudden mass.”
Please take time and enjoy the talent Our Poetry Archive has added to the January 2017 General Edition. Those who would like to participate in our upcoming editions, please send three poems and a profile picture, along with the explicit confirmation, of your permission, for publication in OPA well before the 21st of every month. We are also extending an open invitation for our next Continental Edition, which will feature poets from Africa. Please send 3 poems, both in English and your native language. As with the General Editions, please send a profile picture and the explicit confirmation, of your permission, to publish your copyrighted materials to Our Poetry Archive. Please specify, in the subject line of your email, which edition you are submitting to, to avoid any confusion, and to assure your poems are published in the correct edition. Those who are submitting to the Special Continental Edition, please state your country of origin, mother language, nationality, and where you reside. Thank you! Our Poetry Archive’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Stacia Lynn Reynolds, editor, sincerely thanks each poet, poetess and reader who is actively involved in this wonderful blog and continued support of Our Poetry Archive. Happy New Year!
From The Editorial Desk