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Essay/Term paper: Comaprison of nature

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Composition

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Comparison of Nature

Both Shelley, in "Ode to the West Wind," and Wordsworth, in "Intimations of Immortality," are very similar in their use of nature to describe the life and death of the human spirit. As they both describe nature these two poets use the comparison of how the Earth and all its life is the same as our own human life. I feel that Shelley uses the seasons as a way of portraying the human life during reincarnation. Wordsworth seems to concentrate more on the stages that a person goes through during life. Shelley compares himself to such things as clouds, leaves, and waves. He is writing the poem as if he were an object of the earth, and what it is like to once live and then die only to be reborn. On the other hand, Wordsworth takes images like meadows, fields, and birds and uses them to show what gives him life. Life being what ever a person needs to move on, and with out those objects can't have life. Wordsworth does not compare himself to these things like Shelley, but instead uses them as an example of how he feels about the stages of living. Starting from an infant to a young boy into a man, a man who knows death is coming and can do nothing about it because it's part of life.

When a man becomes old and has nothing to look forward to he will always look back, back to what are called the good old days. These days were full of young innocence, and no worries. Wordsworth describes these childhood days by saying that "A single Field which I have looked upon, / Both of them speak of something that is gone: The Pansy at my feet Doth the same tale repeat: Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?"(190) Another example of how Wordsworth uses nature as a way of dwelling on his past childhood experiences is when he writes "O joy! That in our embers / Is something that doth live, / That nature yet remembers / What was so fugitive!" (192) Here an ember represents our fading years through life and nature is remembering the childhood that has escaped over the years. As far as Wordsworth and his moods go I think he is very touched by nature. I can picture him seeing life and feeling it in every flower, ant, and piece of grass that crosses his path. The emotion he feels is strongly suggested in this line "To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears." (193) Not only is this showing the kind of fulfillment he receives from nature but also the power that nature possesses in his mind. So when Wordsworth refers to nature as meadows, clouds, and birds he is referring to his childhood and how all these things help him remember how is used to be.

Shelley's feeling for nature is the same but the way he uses it is different. Shelley writes about how you shouldn't fear death because when you die you are reborn. A key example of this is in the first three stanzas "O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being / Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead / Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing." (676) This stanza is using autumn as death and soon winter will be here just like death is near at the end of a life. In the next Stanza "This yellow and black, and pale, and hectic red, / Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O Thou, / Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed." (676) Here Shelley describes how death has come in the form of a dark wintry bed for the leaves, or as a grave for human beings. Then in the last stanza Shelley illustrates rebirth as spring. "The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, / Each like a corpse within its grave, until / Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow." (676) Spring is like rebirth and winter is like death. When compared to nature everything is dead in winter, the trees the grass etc. In the spring all those things that were once dead are now coming back to life. Shelley believes that as we start to die, we also are closer to rebirth. I also said that Shelley compares himself to nature. Throughout his poem he compares clouds, leaves, and waves as being free and able to move about without worries. In these three lines he shows the readers how he wants to be these items of nature, "If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; / If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; / A wave to pant beneath thy power." (677) I asked myself why of all things did he choose these? This is what I came up with, a cloud to be closer to heaven, a wave or part of the ocean to be able to move freely without worries, and a leaf to enjoy to pleasures of the land, the beauty. This way he copes with his feeling of emptiness that sometimes comes over him and these parts of the Earth help him get through it. When I refer to Shelly's poem as a poem of rebirth I really get the feeling that he stresses it in the end of the poem where he says, "Drive my dead thoughts over the universe / Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth." (678) Here I feel that Shelley strongly wants the thoughts of death to end and to start the rebirth process so that he can get to the better part of life. Perhaps Shelley doesn't feel he fulfilled his life now to it's true potential. At the end of this poem Shelley asks, "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" (678) Now I wonder if this is just another line emphasizing rebirth and the similarities between the seasons. Or is Shelley saying this because he is getting the sense that the closer he gets to death the more he questions whether rebirth is real.

So after close examination of both these pieces of literature I feel that the differences between these two poets is that Wordsworth looks back on how life was and Shelley wonders what's after death. I would have to say that they're very similar in the way that they use nature as a way of portraying human life. The use of how nature affects them and their love for nature brings me to that conclusion. So what makes these pieces so powerful? Really it's not the reasoning between life and death; it's the comparison of how other living things on Earth that we take for granted are similar to us as a human race. When these two poets look at a flower or a sunset they see more than just a pretty flower or a beautiful sunset they see what life is made up of, which is wonderful at times and ugly at other times. Like the saying goes you can't have good without evil.


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