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In "Thanatopsis," what does the author say Nature does during happy times?

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haleybrady | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 15, 2011 at 6:41 PM via web

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In "Thanatopsis," what does the author say Nature does during happy times?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 15, 2011 at 7:15 PM (Answer #1)

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This poem captures the way that Nature works to give solace and companionship to mankind in the manner that it seeks to sustain man and support him, whatever his feelings or emotions. The very first stanza explores how Nature does this:

To him who in love of Nature hold

Communion with her visible forms, she speaks

A various language; for his gayer hours

She has a voice of gladness, and a smile

And eloquence of beauty

This is saying that Nature is able to speak in a number of different ways to those who communicate with her. In particular, Nature seems to possess the ability to act like a mirror: when we are happy, Nature reflects our own happiness with her beauty and harmony. Likewise, when we are sad or depressed, Nature seeks to encourage us by being a solace and a healing force. It is important to realise that Nature is presented in this poem as some kind of exterior force that is shown to act for the good of humanity, and whom we will rejoin at the end of our life.

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