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Thomson's The Seasons, of which "Winter" is the fourth part, even though it has elements that look forward to the Romantic Period, is essentially a poem in the Augustan or Neo-Classical tradition in that it embodies the Augustans' belief in understanding the value of the past; faith in a better life than we find on earth; and the somewhat limited nature of man's understanding, particularly of God and, to a lesser extent, of Nature.
Perhaps the dominant impression of "Winter" is of a world disordered by violent weather, and juxtaposed with the image of disorder, is the image of a kind of new order left by various tempests that Thomson describes. This new order, however, in most cases is not easily recognizable by the observer, the wanderer. For example, this is a season in which normal order is reversed: rather than seeing the sun's rays come down "horizontal," the wanderer sees them vertically, as if they were lines of rain coming down.
The effect of this disorder is dramatic, for "the Soul of Man dies within him, loathing life,/And black with more than melancholy Views." For someone who has just made the transition from the relatively orderly Autumn to Winter, with Winter's disordering and violent storms, it is significant that Man becomes not just sad but "more than melancholy." This state of mind colors all that he sees and does and experiences during this period.
Thomson makes sure, however, that the reader understand that God is present in the midst of this wildness. When he's describing the types of tempests that occur, the first is personified as "The Father of the Tempest," allowing that God, in a conventional Christian context, is the author of all things, including these wild, disorienting storms so characteristic of Winter.
The effect of the Winter's storms on the villagers is also striking: the sit around their fires and "goes the Goblin-story-round;/Till superstitious Horror creeps over all." Not only does the disorderliness of Winter's tempests effect the people who work among the tempests, it affects adults and children who are safely away from the tempest's direct effects.
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