Romantic Poetry And Transcendentalism

Many great philosophers have used allegory literature to explain their basic principles. Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, used a cave allegory in order to explain how human minds interpret the ideal physical world. The Bible contains metaphorical representations that represent God’s will. Romantic poetry also contains philosophical representations. William Wordsworth’s view of nature in “Tintern Abbey,” depicts it as transcendentalist. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s view on reality in the novel “Mont Blanc”, however, is existential. These philosophical preferences are displayed by the creation of nature imagery and their reactions.

Wordsworth describes the stunning scenery of Tintern Abbey as a way to connect with the world. First, he describes the feelings he gets from the Abbey. He feels enlightened and like he’s in a state meditation. Wordsworth’s description of Tintern’s “unintelligible realm” (41) suggests that Tintern helps him to see the divine truths that are often hidden in real life. This is when “we are put to sleep / In body, and we become a living being” (46-7) Wordsworth explained that he is one with nature during his transcendent, meditative relationship with it, and a part the “soul”, which exists in all things. Wordsworth’s philosophical theme comes from this link between the soul with the outside world. This is made possible by the divine qualities found in nature and man. Wordsworth returns to this theme of nature’s universal presence in the poem later, writing, “While an eye made still / By the power, and the deep force of joy, we see into life of all things” (48-50). He gives nature a sense of life by giving it a human touch.

Wordsworth’s belief that there is a fundamental connection between the self, the world and oneself parallels later teachings by transcendentalist philosophers. American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson went to Europe to see his heroes Coleridge and Carlyle. Wordsworth’s beliefs were reinforced by him. Russell Goodman writes in “American Philosophy: The Romantic Tradition”.

Emerson is a direct bridge between American philosophy & European Romanticism ….Emerson writes about the ideas & projects of European Romantics and American philosophy (34-5).

Goodman’s claims are indeed matched by Wordsworth’s theme in “Tintern Abbey”. Wordsworth’s observation about “the unintelligible universe” (41) is similar to Emerson’s feeling intellect; Wordsworths sense of the “living spirit” (47) is similar to Emersons “marriage between self and world”. Wordsworth also believes in transcendentalist philosophy and poetry. Wordsworth claims that his emotions can help him identify divine qualities in nature when he’s in “that blessed state” (42). Emerson’s writings likewise show that Emerson believes nature and humanity are divine in themselves. He does not defer as much to God as Christians.

Wordsworth’s transcendentalist poetry examines the kinship among man and nature. Shelley, on the other hand, focuses on the individual interpretations of the world. Shelley views the human intellect and senses as key to understanding reality. These are his philosophical ideals about Mont Blanc. Shelley’s “own separated phantasy,” as he calls it, gives importance to his personal experience in the world. It is like he can only see it. Shelley’s poem continues this theme by depicting the world in a constantly changing backdrop, allowing Shelley to be the star of a theater. He writes: “My own, the human mind that passively / Now renders to and is received quickly influencings,/ Having an unremitting interaction / With everything around” (37-40). He emphasizes how his mind is centered on intellect as well as the senses. This gives rise to an individualistic outlook about life. Later in the poem, Shelley questions if he lies / In dream, but does the greater world of sleep / Spread far and inaccessible / Its rings” (54-7). This metaphor reinforces that reality and the universe were created by each individual for their own purposes. Shelley’s philosophy about reality is based primarily on the individual. This is evident when the images create a theme, but there is no reference to any deity or divinity.

Shelley’s “Mont Blanc” reflects the principles of existentialism. This philosophy gained popularity in early 20th century. The central feature of Existentialism is that people can make their own decisions and alter the world. This existentialist idea is reflected in Shelley’s reference to his Mont Blanc experiences and life (36) Marjorie Grene explains in “Introduction to Existentialism”, “existentialism”, a philosophy that asserts as its primary principle that existence precedes essence (2). Examining existentialism’s opposite, that essence precedes existence, can help us understand what essence is. The thirteenth-century Augustinians believed man’s perception of God as infinite was proof of his existence. Existentialism believes that you must begin with your sensuous experience and work your way up to the ultimate intuition of eternal truths. Shelley’s Mont Blanc experiences are based on this logic. To dream, you must first exist. Only then can you feel the essences or fleeting objects of a dream.

Wordsworth’s philosophical ideas rely on emotion, but Shelley’s rely on individual existence. The psychological introspection of the romantics, curiosity about unknowns, and their emphasis on emotion were all considered revolutionaries. Wordsworth and Shelley were both truly innovative with their philosophical ideas. Wordsworth, Shelley, who were both ahead of their time, are responsible for transcendentalism’s and existentialism’s ideas.

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