Discuss the differing responses of Blake and Wordsworth to the Cult of Reason

Essay by hughmourUniversity, Bachelor's May 2010

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Discuss the differing responses of Blake and Wordsworth to the Cult of Reason.

In order that we may fully grasp the politics, or more importantly, the ethics of poets in the Romantic period, it is necessary that the contemporary reader gain some understanding not only of the time in which these poets wrote, but also of the period which immediately preceded it, the century of lights, or the Enlightenment, a period not only of critical importance for the notions of nature, science and reason which were widely embraced and explored during the 18th Century, but also for its culmination in France of mass murder and persecution and ultimately terminating in Military dictatorship under Napoleon. For it is out of this cauldron of events, politics and ideas that emerge the Romantics. It would be easy to generalise about the specific aims of the enlightenment and how they are manifested in the Romantics, for like fog, both are ungraspable, intangible.

Therefore, rather than embark upon such a foolhardy exercise, this essay will focus on the responses of William Blake and William Wordsworth to the Cult of Reason. Accurately analysing the responses of both poets to the Cult of reason is exceedingly difficult to do through the analysis of their poetry, though this essay will attempt to do so. In order that we provide an interesting response to such a question, it is necessary that we look not simply at the responses to the cult of reason as present in the poetry of either man, but also in the motives of the "cult" itself and why and how it emerged. Beginning with such a discussion, this essay will look firstly at Book the ninth from Wordsworth's Prelude and secondly at Blake's The Tyger. The analysis will highlight the difference in...