William Bryant's and Henry Longfellow's use of nature towards death in poetry. Comparison.

Essay by JazzyFizzleHigh School, 11th gradeB, December 2006

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Nature is commonly used throughout the Romantic period. Romantic poets looked to nature as a way to show lessons, such as the organic cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth. The reader can easily relate to this, whether it be comforting or disturbing. Two authors, Henry Longfellow and William Bryant express their attitudes and feelings about nature in similar ways. Longfellow's "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls", and Bryant's, "Thanatopsis" show that they view death in a good way.

To begin with, Henry Longfellow uses nature in contrast with a persons lifetime. In "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls", Longfellow gives the logical impression that nature repeats its cycle without foreseeable end, while a persons lifetime is limited. An example to this can be found in the last stanza where he writes: " The day returns, but nevermore, Returns the traveler to the shore". Longfellow associates darkness with death, ocean with life, and light with heaven.

In other words, he is stating that once one reaches death, sometimes they are forgotten, but no matter what, they will never return to life. On the contrary, Longfellow does not want to give the idea that death should be feared. Instead, he simply wants one to be aware that death is indeed coming.

Furthermore, William Bryant uses nature as a form of motivation to comfort ones fear of death. In the beginning of "Thanatopsis", the meaning of the poem is pretty much stated. "To him who in the love of nature holds communion with her visible forms", simply reads that if one is in communion with nature, then nature will give you a message. The message will tell one how to live ones life, and it will be unique to everyone else who is in communion with nature. Hence,nature is ones friend.