The two poems in which I feel use nature as a source of inducing emotion and meaning to the reader are London, William Blake and To Autumn, Lord Byron. Both poems present nature in highly contrasting forms. To Autumn is a strongly appreciative poem of nature. It presents the cycle of nature and season, a depth to which the narrator appears to be contemplating what autumn represents. The poets is gives a calm and peaceful feeling which is purely created by the scenery and way in which Byron presents nature. London on the other hand contrasts the beautiful scenery of To Autumn by portraying an image of a poverty ridden city where depression is rife. There seems to be an apparent link between the poems which shows how the presentation of nature alters the emotions felt by the reader towards the way of life.
Landscape is a main factor that distinguishes these poems. It appears to be the foundation of the poems meanings. The landscape is created by both poets through nature, either in its natural form or of the lacking appearance of natural form.
To Autumns main theme is natures seasons and the transitions that take place to nature over time. The narrator is describing the ripening of fruit, possible in an orchard. The beauty of natures changing form is something that is being contemplated by the narrator as they delve to find a deeper meaning in nature. It could be seen that the narrator concludes the cycles has different stages as does life. Within the first stanza the narrator appears to be admiring the ripening process of fruit and how it is preparing to grow fully until it is in perfect form, as suggested by;
‘To Swell the Gourd, and plump the hazel shells’.
The ‘maturing sun’ shedding light onto the fruit seems to be the fruits necessary inspiration to ripen into its ideal form. The sun represents the inspiration nature is giving nature on earth. The poet personifies the Sun and seems to indicate the ‘bosom’ is a creature with a mind of its own;
‘Close blossom-friend of the maturing sun; /
Conspiring with him how to load the bless/’
The second stanza seems to be presenting the harvesting process and the suns setting upon the fruit. This stanza suggests the presence of natures implications over humans. It again emphasises the peacefulness and tranquillity induced by nature. Natures control over humans is shown in this case through the plants created by nature;
‘Drowsed with the fumes of poppies’
The admiration of nature through its landscapes, scenes and creatures appears to create a feeling of peaceful, tranquil emotions. There are no challenges presented to natures ripening process. The poem narrates the simplicity and ease nature develops at.
This leads on to the contrasting themes presented in ‘London’. ‘London’ has a serious lack of natural form. It was written in the time of the industrial revolution and could be a protest by Blake against this absence of natural form. It presents the city of London, and contrastingly to the natural beauty in ‘To Autumn’ and the natural course nature develops, it show the effects of destroying nature through urbanisation. The interference of human in adjusting the landscape seems to be the cause of the despairing feeling throughout the poem. The poem portrays a place of misery and despair. The
Near where the charted themes do flow, /’
Indicate the way in which humans are trying to restrict and manipulate natures natural course. The repetition of ‘charter’d’ suggest the limitations human have put on nature and in due course on themselves. The freedom in ‘To Autumn’ is emphasised by the vastness overwhelming presence of nature. Contrastingly the restricting landscape presented in ‘London’ is reflected in the lack of freedom suggested to the reader.
The use of light in ‘London’ is a direct contrast to the use in ‘to Autumn’. The ‘black’ning church’ and ‘midnight streets’ give a repressing feeling with an implication of despair. Light is a source given by nature, the lack of it in ‘London’ emphasises the lack of nature through out the city. In ‘To Autumn’ the sun is personified and is the giver of life to natures plants, ripening them and creating perfect form. The sun has a ‘Clos bosom-friend’ that suggests a caring and nurturing instinct.
The Presence of Humans is an obvious factor throughout London. There is misery within the city portrayed, and although humans are represented, they appear a more generalised object than individual characters themselves. There is a sense of misery created by the restrictions the inhabitants of the city are living under. The restrictions that have been implemented on these humans, seems to be a reflection of the restrictions the human race has put on nature. In the poem man has destroyed the open vastness of nature that represents freedom. The circumstances they have created for nature, by rectifying buildings, seem in turn to have impacted their way freedom.
Through destroying natures natural course they have destroyed the nature of humans. There is no interaction between humans with in the poems and the population seems to be generalised object, as opposed to each individual having a personal character. This could be linked to the destroying of natures difference and replacing the individual areas with identical building all created of concrete and blocks. To support the theory that the humans misery was self inflicted through their choice to destroyed nature, the narrator states that the people are restricted by ‘mind-forged manacles’.
The ‘Marks of weakness, marks of woe’ are human traits and do not occur throughout ‘To Autumn’. To autumn has very limited presence of human. The presence that is there appear to only be there to admire the wonders of nature and in no way to interfere with its natural form. The attitude humans living in harmony with nature is what creates a far more relaxed and peaceful poem.
Immorality is another focus in ‘London’ that is contrasted by the harmony in ‘to Atumn’.
There is many suggestions that the people in ‘London’ are morally corrupt and live in a corrupt society. The ‘Chimney sweeper’s cry’ is one reference that shows this. Chimney sweeps were always small children carrying out a very dangerous job with inadequate protection. The matter adults were putting children in a position of danger which may have made them ‘cry’ suggests morals have been disregarded. The reference to the ‘Black’ning Church’ is another example. The church is a place of help for those in need, God is there to look after those who need help. Yet despair is rife surrounding the church and no source of aid is being supplied. Instead there is a negative dim portrayal of the church. The church within the poem is giving out a hypocritical aura.
There appears to be no negative moral within ‘To Autumn’, nature and the people live in harmony. As far as the poem explains there does not appear to be any moral corruption, there is a level of respect held by people. The poems moral message is to appreciate nature and the beauty of autumn.
The cycle taking place in ‘To Autumn’ is shown in all aspects on nature. The sun carries out a cycle through the day, rising in the morning and setting in the evening to create the ‘soft-dying day’. Even though the cycle is at its end it is portrayed as calm and peaceful this is because it is known it is not the end for ever. The cycle will continue and the beauty and lights the sun has produced during the day will continue on. Again at the beginning of the poem the reader is shown the beauty of fruit ripening until it is ready to be picked from its roots. When it is picked it is not seen as an act of destroying nature but as a part of its cycle. The poem is emphasising that even though autumn is nearing the end of the year and often bring cold and death of plants and nature, it is not the season of death as everything returns. The narrator is appreciating the beauty he sees in nature and the natural death and birth of aspects.
This is contrasted in ‘london’ there is no apparent cycle that is developed in the poem. It suggest the misery and poverty is endless. Nature can not be re created once it has been destroyed in such a way shown in the poem. Therefore the poets is suggesting the happiness and natural cycle can never be restored and the circumstances created are forever.
‘London’ is formed of four stanzas all containing four lines. Most lines contain eight syllables and there is a regular ABAB rhythm. The format is extrememly neat and compact. This could reflect the repression and restricted life the poem is portraying. Blake uses repetition throughout the poem to emphasis certain words. There are random capital letters placed at points in the poem where they are not grammatically correct, again this could be a method of emphasising these particular words. There is a first person narrative: ‘I wander thro’ each charterd street’, yet there is not personal emotion. The language is plain including no dialect but is forcesful, this supports the lack of personal opinions and feelings portray. This again could be supporting the theme of a generalised and restricted population that cannot think for themselves.
‘To Autumn’ is presented in a more relaxed from, there are three stanzas of eleven lines each. The length of them makes it easier Keats to present the meanings of the poem though a story telling manner. Each stanza has a different theme and they lead on to one another. The active verbs in ‘To Autumn’ such as ‘run’ ‘bend’ and ‘budding’ emphasis the process and development in the cycle of nature. Post modifiers such as ‘sitting carelessly’ are also present, this is to emphasis the tranquillity the poem is presenting. Keats also uses archaic language to emphasise the ancientness of the process taking place in autumn. The language gives a detailed, vivid, visual image. The use of soft letters again shows the calmness as the poem sounds calm when being read aloud.
‘To Autumn’ and ‘London’ differ all aspects shown portrayed in the poems. The landscape, attitudes of people and feelings induced when reading the poems all differ. However the poem have a very similar theme, that nature is a source of good and beauty. Blake portrays a world without nature and emphasises that as a result of this people are poverty stricken and miserable. When reading the poem there are feeling of sorrow and disgust at the controlled immoral society. His overall message therefore must have a link with the train of thought; nature unhampered with induces peace and tranquillity. Keats is showing the beauty of nature even in one of the less favourable months. The people throughout the poem are happy in harmony with nature. The reader feels a sense of tranquillity when reading the poem. The poems therefore are highly contrasting yet their underlying moral message is similar and in their individual ways they are showing appreciation for nature.