Discuss  return to nature and the renaissance of wonder as characteristics of Romanticism.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The return to nature and renaissance of wonder are critical traits to Romanticism.  When Wordsworth writes that "poetry sees into the life of things," it is a sentiment that challenges the artist and the audience to envision a world that is fundamentally different than what is.  Part of this involves an embrace of wonder. The Romantic thinkers stressed that the individual notion of self is unique because everything it beholds is fundamentally different than what another   comprehends.  The human experience is a renaissance of wonder. For the Romantic thinker, to explore life through this prism becomes essential.  

The notion of wonder is something usually perceived to children. Young people traditionally perceive the world to be a type of intellectual playground where there is something new and vibrant in each moment of being, for each aspect of consciousness becomes something to be explored and studied.  There is no banal routine, and no absence of joy in the being of a child.  For the Romantic thinker, the reclamation of the self is akin to reclaiming this child- like wonder about the world and one's place in it.  The Renaissance of wonder is a state of being where individuals are more concerned with what can be as opposed to what is.  In Romanticism's reclamation of the self, the Renaissance of wonder becomes a part of its transformative quality.

The natural setting is the playground for this sense of wonder to emerge. For the Romantic thinker, the Renaissance of wonder is found in a love of nature.  The natural setting is what embodies all that is good, right, and wonderful in the world.  It is a setting in which human corruptibility is absent and a domain in which individuals have not tainted it, something that is found in the writings of Wordsworth and other Romantic thinkers:

And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean, and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man.

For the Romantic thinker, the love of nature is a realm where "a sense sublime far more deeply interfused" exists.  To discover this and to find it in one's experience of self is where the Renaissance of wonder exists.  The love of the natural setting is one of the first domains where wonder lives.  It is a condition in which individuals can find their voice, their sense of self, and the child-like wonder that makes life worth living.  Both traits are essential to understanding the transformative power of the Romanticism movement.