Thursday, December 29, 2011

the romantic imagination

Being as an English literature student I have always welcomed the chance of learning new ideas. I have seen myself as a small fish in this vast ocean of whose vastness I really don’t seem to have any idea. Although I have been a part of it since 3 years but every time I come across any new piece of work I have felt myself as a beginner, who have just started to know what literature is all about and the aura that it carries within itself.

I underwent a similar experience when I first read about Wordsworth – the man of romantic poetry!! Well let me make out very clear here itself, “romantic” doesn’t just mean what we (as the 21st century generation) perceive about it!! It is much more than our imagination can ever think about!! Romantics…romanticism…were much sought after words in post neo-classical age (18th century). Imagination was a fundamental part of that era. Poets of this age like William Wordsworth, S.T.Coleridge and so on were conscious of a wonderful capacity to create imaginary worlds. This belief in imagination was part of the contemporary belief in individual self. The romantics created the worlds of their own and also succeeded in persuading others that their world were not merely fanciful!! Their aim was to convey the mystery of things through individual manifestations; they appeal not to the logical mind but to the complete self, to the whole range of intellectual faculties, senses and emotions.

In nature all the romantic poets found their initial inspiration. Through it they found those exalting moments when they passed from sight to vision and pierced to the secrets of the universe. Nature lifted Wordsworth out of himself; he sought for a higher state in which its soul and the soul of man should be united in a single harmony. As a romantic poet his task was to find through the imagination some transcendental order, which explains the world of appearances and accounts not merely for the existence of visible things but for the effect, which they have on us, for the sudden beating of the heart in the presence of beauty. His poetry serves to enlighten the whole conscious self of man; wake the imagination to the reality, which lies behind familiar things; it makes us see that mere logic is not enough and that what we need is inspired intuition.

Wordsworth says that the duty of the poetry is ‘to treat things not as they are, but as they appear, not as they exist in themselves, but as they seem to exist to the senses…’. His poem “Tintern Abbey” distils and retells the maturation process of the poet himself, his imagination and his relationship with Nature through a narrative of Wordsworth time spend on the banks of Wye River and his remembrances of it. Wordsworth produced a style of poetry which was psychologically persuasive and based on direct autobiographical experience. In his view poetry was a philosophical vehicle and meditative activity formed from ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’; it was a means of apprehending a natural landscape charged with divine significance. His poetry is the poetry of consciousness becoming aware of itself, a poetry of transcendence in which individual soul touches Divinity by putting aside the petty needs of ego and materialistic distractions. He achieved morality from nature; it was “the anchor of my purest thoughts/the nurse, the guide, the guardians of my heart and soul”.  

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