In the Romantic Period in England there was a shift taking place in literature. Poets of the time period believed that a personal relationship with God or the Universe was more important than a larger collective religious or political one. The introduction of the Romantic Period in the Norton Anthology of British Literature states, “And the pervasiveness of nature poetry in the period can be attributed to a determination to idealize the natural scene as a site where the individual could find freedom from social laws (Greenblatt, 1377).” The poets of that day also believed that one could receive that personal relationship through the natural world. Literature focused on the individual great or small and was much more personal than it had been in the past. In accordance with the importance of the individual, Romantic poets expressed an importance and love of nature in their poetry. The poets William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley use their interpretations of nature, although different, to express the romantic idea of individualism. These poets used nature to express their feelings toward the individual and the importance they placed on a personal relationship with one’s inner self as well as God.
William Wordsworth loved nature and lived in remote natural regions of England for much of his life. He had a relationship with the natural world that he lived in and around and this is evident in his writing. His poetry describes how he learns more about himself, and his relationship with God through learning and becoming more acquainted with nature. This principle is portrayed in this passage of Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey. He says,
“For I have learned/ To look on nature, not as in the hour/ Of thoughtless youth; but hearing ofte...
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...she Shelley. Wordsworth suggested that the individual mind gains power and understanding from and because of the influence of nature. Shelley believed that the individual’s mind and imagination gives nature the power that it has over the individual. Although the method they used to establish individualism through nature was different, both of their works embodied that principle and epitomized the Romantic view of Individualism.
Greenblatt, Stephen. The Romantic Period. The Norton Anthology English Literature. Greenblatt et al Ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Mont Blanc.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Greenblatt et al Ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.
Wordsworth, William. “Tintern Abbey.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Greenblatt et al Ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.