How can we use nature as a way to understand romanticism?
For the Romantics, nature is an inseparable part of the human experience. The Romantic thinkers felt that there was a spontaneous "perfection" that existed within nature. When individuals partake in nature, they partake in this perfection. Romantic thinkers thought of nature as a way for individuals to interact with and become part of this perfection. When Romantic thinkers viewed nature, they saw a way out of conformist, cosmopolitan, and industrial society. This was a sanctuary for such thinkers and to embrace nature in the most wholehearted and authentic way allow individuals to mover closer to this perfection. In apotheosizing nature, Romantic thinkers believed that this was the path in allowing individuals to transform what is into what can and should be.
Nature was not only an important theme for the Romantic poets but it was a philosophical reservoir for them. A certain kind of shift of emphasis from urbanity to nature is part of the shift from Neo-Classical to Romantic poetics.
1. Rousseau's idea of a ' return to nature' was adopted as a slogan. The French Revolution, especially its philosophical background had a profound influence on the Romantics.
2. Nature and its focalization also meant a radical de-elitization of poetry from intellectual closetedness. The poet was now a regular language-user and a man talking to men, as Wordsworth said.
3. Nature was related to the omnipresence of divinity, in the minds of Wordsworth.
4. To Keats and a host of the Romantics, nature contained the paradox of static immortality and dynamic mortality. Fruition was death, as Keatsian Autumn would suggest.
5. Nature was related to the expansive power of imagination and humanistic emotion. Natural landscape in perfect blend with the rural folks is a typical Romantic theme.
6. As in Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, nature was seen in tandem with human nature--the creative psyche and its poetic development.
7. Nature was related to revolutionary change and the myth-making prowess as in Shelley's poems on the West Wind and the Cloud.
8. Nature was an 'addition of strangeness to beauty' to the Romantics and it had an intense bond with their mystical outlook.