The Wind in the Willows: Kenneth Grahame and Neopaganism

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The Wind in the Willows: Kenneth Grahame and Neopaganism

The beauty of the English countryside--cultivated or wild, pastoral or primeval, it was an endless source of inspiration for eighteenth-century Romantic poets. Such notables as Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley envisioned ancient and exotic Hellenic gods in familiar, typically British settings. Douglas Bush says of Keats, "For him the common sights of Hampstead Heath could suggest how poets had first conceived of fauns and dryads, of Psyche and Pan and Narcissus and Endymion" ( Pagan Myth 46). Later writers, clearly influenced by the Romantic world view, would describe idealized pastoral scenes in terms of "the rich meadow-grass . . . of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable . . . . the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous . . ." (Grahame, Wind 911). This was the haunt of Nature personified:

Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror-- indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy . . . he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humorously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward . . . . (912]

Pan's appearance in "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" constitutes my most vivid impressio...

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