Comparing the Poetry of Wordsworth and Keats

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The Poetry of Wordsworth and Keats

John Locke (1632-1704) sparked the "Age of Reason" by teaching that all true knowledge must be empirically verified. Empiricism taught that "a statement is meaningful only if it can be verified empirically (Sproul 103)." Thus any statements about metaphysical entities (e.g. God, Unicorns, Love, and Beauty) would be meaningless terms because they cannot be proven by the scientific method. In revolt, Rousseau (1712-1778) cried: "Let us return to nature" (Schaeffer 154) because only in nature can the spirit of mankind be found meaningful. He saw the sciences turning mankind into mere machines bereft of essence. He cried that "Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains" because empiricism caused mankind to think that meaningful thought must be verified by science. Rousseau saw this as dangerous to the freedom of mankind and thus sparked the Romantic movement; which sought to revive mankind by portraying life and nature in all its glory. Two poets that romanced nature during this era were: William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and John Keats (1795-1821). This essay has been written to compare how Wordsworth and Keats use nature in their poetry.

The Wordsworthian Revolt

We will begin this inquiry by looking at Wordsworth, who is considered the first of the Romantic poets and published his first volume of poems in 1793. Wordsworth uses nature in three ways: He writes that (1) Nature should be our teacher, (2) We should find beauty in Nature, and (3) We should find our joy in Nature.

Wordsworth believed "nature was mankind's best moral teacher. Nature was, in fact, his rel...

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