More than anything else, Romanticism is a celebration of Self; and, to the Romantic composer, it was the expression of a personal experience that links one human being to another and all human beings to the larger truth. ‘ A multitude of modes and doctrines encapsulated the Romantic revolt, the basis of which lie within such tenets as imagination, individualism and idealism.
This paved the way for Romantic composers such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsmith to convey an appreciation of personal experiences within the bounties of the natural world, as well s to celebrate one’s comprehension of the inner self, in order to ultimately link individuals to one another and to the larger truth of life.
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Texts such as Coleridge This Lime Tree Bower my Prison and Frost at Midnight , as well as Wordsmith’s I wandered lonely as a cloud (also known as ‘Daffodils’) capture the myriad of newfound emotions and realizations which permeated the principles of Romanticism, and the heightened value of one’s sense of self and experiences which aided the association of humankind with the facets of nature, and each other. To the Romantics, the natural world was a sanctuary in which individuals were entitled the eight to self-expression and connection to the raw marrow of existence.
In This Lime Tree Bower my Prison, Samuel Taylor Coleridge outlines how an appreciation of nature (a highly Romantic outlook) may result in a greater understanding of Self and connection to others, as well as to the universe and beyond. In his imaginative journey, Coleridge (1797) stimulates the reader’s senses with his vivid description of the “roaring dell, redwood’s, narrow, deep”. The onomatopoeic resonance of “roaring” is repeated to resemble the continual sound produced by the moving water, utilizing Coleridge detailed use of imagination to psychologically transport himself to the described site.
From this, Coleridge is celebrating his newfound realization of self, that he is simply content with the fact that nature is all-surrounding, acting as liberation to the soul even on the darkest of days. Coleridge also celebrates the experience as a reflection to the connection he has with his companion Charles Lamb (to whom the poem is dedicated), as they both share the same passion for nature. Coleridge mentions that Charles “Struck with deep Joy may stand, as I have stood, Silent with swimming sense…
The alliteration of ‘s’ allows the audience to absorb the intoxication and great passion felt by both Charles and Coleridge, that ultimately, their shared interest in nature allowed them to become closer to not only one another- but to the Greater Power. Durra (1959, p. 519) outlines and supports the aforementioned presence of connection as he mentions “the poet’s soul in Joyous communion with man, nature, and God,” implying that, indeed, Romantic notions encapsulate Coleridge celebration of Self and expression of experiences which outline connections with others and the larger truth.
Similarly, the power of Romantic attributes towards one’s sense of Self and connections is deeply rooted within Coleridge Frost at Midnight (1798) whereby the serene appreciation of the natural world allowed the persona to emancipate his psyche from troublesome societal practices. The persona (presumably Coleridge) employs imagery to represent the school he attended as a prison: “l gazed upon the bars… Awed by the stern preceptor’s face… So that he may portray his formal education as ineffectual, and that a lack of Romantic exposure to the natural world deprives the soul of enrichment ND identity. To his son, Coleridge wishes otherwise- an education amidst nature whereby he “shall wonder like a breeze. ” This simile emphasizes the babe’s future freedom in learning from the “Great Universal Teacher” (God), as Coleridge determines that “he shall McCollum thy spirit… From this, it is clear that Coleridge is not only at ease and confidence with his son’s future education, but with his own richness of faith and understanding of his place in life- his sense of Self- which is ultimately due to Coleridge later exposure to Romantic notions, as oppose to his early years. Furthermore, this reflection allowed Coleridge to strengthen his understanding of -and connection to- the greater world, as Sunders (1967, p. 34) states that “. .. He very centre of Coleridge system is his belief that the imaginative mind is never static, and that its dislocation from time and space is really a mode of its essential union with all time and space. ” Thus, Coleridge was aware that his imagination allowed for a closer connection and harmony to the components of time and space. It can hence be seen that the poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge demonstrate that indeed, the Romantic Movement was vital for one’s outward elaboration of self, and expression of experiences which link humanity to one another and ultimately, to the larger truth.
In addition, William Wordsmith (a Romantic composer) allowed for the expression of Self and connective experiences to become apparent in his works, such as his overtly Romantic poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (or ‘Daffodils’-1802). In congruency to Coleridge This Lime Tree Bower my Prison, the persona gains solace when in dismal times, simply upon recollecting the various beauties and bounties of nature in his mind’s eye. In the opening lines, Wordsmith employs simile in description of his swift movement across the valley to be “… s lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills” the enjambment between these lines indicates Wordsmith’s confident sense of self, that he is most aware of whom he would like to be, and is content and comfortable as such. Wordsmith Romantically personifies the daffodils as “Fluttering and dancing in the breeze… Tossing their heads in sprightly dance” so as to portray them as an integral part of his comfort, having equal importance as positive human company for his connection to the larger truth of life and its natural features. Race (1990, p. 7) mentions in his commentary that “Wordsmith invites us to remember with him, imprisoned in our solitudes, the universal order of which we ourselves, the waves, the trees, the daffodils, and the stars, are all individual parts… ” And that the poem’s Romantic essence places emphasis on “the relations of man and nature… ” From this, the audience may infer that this expression of connection and self-realization was only achieved by Wordsmith due to his Romantic reflection and appreciation. It can henceforth be concluded that, upon analysis of Coleridge This Lime Tree Bower my