Harps and Abbeys: A Romantic Analysis of Nature; Explores William Wordsworth's poem "Tintern Abbey" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Eolian Harp."

Essay by ingrid8675College, UndergraduateA+, March 2006

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Literary history is composed of different styles and themes depending on the political and cultural state of the civilizations. The Middle Ages brought forth a wealth of highly religious poems and stories. Likewise, the Age of Enlightenment severely affected the essays and works of the day, as evidenced by the scientific emphasis authors put in their pieces. It makes sense, then, that issues such as the French Revolution and the abolition of slavery would initiate another literary movement: the Romantic Movement. This movement manifests itself through themes focused on the self, emotion, and the rights of man. Some of the most well known products of the Romantic period are the poems, which tend to concentrate on nature and the poets' responsibility to their readers and environment. Two poems which illustrate these characteristics are William Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Eolian Harp." While both poems utilize typical Romantic techniques, allowing the reader insight into the society's views of mankind, they also shy away from a complete explanation, intentionally treading a little too carefully around their religious beliefs.

During the Romantic period educated people began to appreciate the importance of individuals in a new way, giving rise to the abolition of slavery. However, slaves were not the only ones experiencing new freedoms. Poets also started breaking away from conventional rules. Despite an overall withdrawal from tradition, even the new-thinking poets complied with long standing religious views. In this way, the Romantic Period may seem more like a step into a more morally challenging period, like the Victorian era, than a full turnaround. The poetry, while maintaining basic structure and rhythm, no longer strictly adhered to traditional concepts of rhyme and meter. This gave the poems a more organic feeling, which fit well with the focus on nature. Poets would...