How according to H.W.LONGFELLOW,  does Nature gradually lead us towards death in his poem "Nature"?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There seems to be a progression in the manner in which Nature treats us according to Longfellow.  He intimates that this is part of a larger design or a configuration that cannot be known to us.  When we are children, Longfellow opens with the idea that nature leads us for we are active participants in it and this allows for us to be led as our intelligences and sensibilities cannot outstrip this mother, who understands the path and leads us on it.  As we age and become older, our "play things," or aspects of our temporal state of being are taken away more.  Through this natural withering of the condition of being, we are "led" by nature into the next world.  The aged condition that awaits us all covers us in a shroud of "sleep," which allows us to be led more openly as the reality of what is beyond this life becomes more real, with definable features as we become older and age.  This process where we have changed, but the world and all of its natural splendor has remained intact is what allows us to be led.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short answer to this is that nature leads us like a mother leads a child.  Longfellow is saying that nature takes us by the hand, tells us it is time to stop playing, and leads us off to bed or, in this case, to death.

Longfellow extends this metaphor throughout both stanzas of the poem, vividly portraying nature as a very kind and loving mother.  By doing this, he seems to be trying to lessen our fear of death.

He argues that we are, when faced with death, like children.  We do not really understand what it is that we are facing.  He is saying that death is only frightening because we do not understand it and he says we should not be so afraid of it.

kartikmajumdar | Student

Substance/ title.


Ans:  H. W. Longfellow’s “Nature” is a fine example of Italian sonnet which has two parts, octave and sestet. Through a beautiful simile between a loving mother and nature the poet tells how nature leads us from life to death.


In the octave part of the poem Nature, the poet has presented nature as a loving mother and human being as a child. At the end of the day, the loving mother leads her half-willing and half reluctant child to bed with promises for more splendid play things instead of the broken ones. In the sestet part the same idea is reinforced. Nature, like a fond mother takes away all our earthly possessions one by one to prepare our mind for the ultimate rest, i.e., death. We cannot decide whether to go to the eternal world or stay in the temporal world. Finally, we surrender ourselves to the will of nature. Thus, the poem reflects an eternal truth and inevitable result of human life under the guise of a simple tale of a loving mother and her little child.Hence, the title of the poem is just and appropriate in more than one sense.

kartikmajumdar | Student

In the poem Nature’ Longfellow has presented the ultimate result of our life. Nature, like a loving mother, takes away all our worldly possessions one by one at the end of our life. Thus she slowly prepares our mind for the ultimate rest, i.e., death. We cannot decide whether to go to the eternal world or stay in the temporal world. Finally, we surrender ourselves to the will of nature.

kartikmajumdar | Student

In Longfellow’s sonnet, “Nature” we find that at the end of the day the loving mother gently leads her little child to bed by the hand. But the child does not want to go leaving his old playthings on the floor. The mother then promises him of more splendid toys. Thus, the child goes with her, but still gazing at his broken toys through the open door.