Poetry steeped in the mesmerising elements of nature has a certain charm to it. This charm was what made nature one of the dominant themes in the poetry of the Romantic era. Numerous poets created their own unique metaphors and personifications for several aspects of nature but there were some who left a particularly notable mark on the way Romantic poetry grew and transformed. Here are ten such poets who romanticized nature significantly.
10. Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo truly captured the spirit of the Romantic era with his writing. He was a real contemplator of nature. His poetry described nature with all its immensity, beauty and ugliness, in different seasons and in different moments of day and night. These descriptions were often accompanied with those of love. Hugo combined the sublime and grotesque aspects of nature to paint a picture of aestheticism. This is most accurately represented in his famous poem, Apostrophe to Nature. The last stanza of this poem read: “O virgin forest, crystal spring,/ Lake where no storm for long can fling/ Darkness, clear heaven-reflecting face,—/ Pure soul of Nature unslumbering,/ What think you of this bandit base?”
9. Walter Scott
Sir Walter portrayed a romantic vision of Scotland in his poetry, which was chiefly coloured with rich descriptions of the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands. He wrote about the wild beauty of nature, both in his novels and poems, eloquently describing the picturesque landscape of the countryside. He also associated tamed nature with historical evolution and a triumph of reason. His poems like The Lady of the Lake have become memorable historical narratives incorporating various natural elements to convey various themes and emotions.
8. Alfred Lord Tennyson
Alfred Lord Tennyson focussed more on the imagery than the emotion associated with the representation of nature in Romantic poetry. His poem, Come into the Garde, Maud, is a good example of this. A few lines from this poem read, “From the meadow your walks have left so sweet/ That whenever a March-wind sighs/ He sets the jewelprint of your feet/ In violets blue as your eyes…” Tennyson’s poetry recognised the various moods of the poet. He regarded nature as merely the physical world as interpreted by different kinds of people and relating to different points of view.
7. William Blake
In his poetry, Blake associates nature with different elements and we find that it is seen in communion with God. There is a portrayal of an instinctive harmony in the relationship between Man and Nature. Blake was not a worshipper of nature. Instead he was critical of those who did indeed worship it. His poetry centred on a more natural appreciation of the world around us. In his poem, Nurse’s Song, we see children playing outside while nature acts as a gentle guide for them. Their only concept of time comes from the sun and the moon and the light they give. The children respond to the nurse, wanting to play until the last lights in the sky are gone.
6. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
For Coleridge, nature had the capacity to teach joy, love, freedom, and piety, crucial characteristics for a worthy, developed individual. An appreciation of the environment and its various elements was directly linked with the process of personal growth. His poem, To Nature and Lines on an Autumnal Evening reflect this ideology perfectly. By linking his personal joy and sadness with nature, Coleridge portrays the undeniable relationship that every individual has to his or her surroundings. His poetry allows the reader to connect with the natural environment on a more instinctive level.
5. Emily Dickinson
While Coleridge focussed on the connection between the individual and the natural world, Dickinson perceived the relationships among all natural things. Her keen observation helped her understand the universality of human experience and the universal truth to be found in nature. Private emotions, such as unfulfilled love, took on the importance of great and profound events which were in some way or the other connected with the environment. Her poem, If You Were Coming in the Fall, represents this idea beautifully through the lines, “If you were coming in the fall,/ I’d brush the summer by/ With half a smile and half a spurn,/ As housewives do a fly.”
4. Percy Bysshe Shelley
Shelley’s poetry portrays both the calm as well as the wild side of nature. According to Shelley, nature cannot be tamed since it is a dynamic force. His poetry is a celebration of both the splendour and deadliness of various aspects of nature. The lines from his poem, The Cloud, “I wield the flail of the lashing hail,/ And whiten the green plains under,/ And then again I dissolve it in rain,/ And laugh as I pass in thunder,” are the perfect example of Shelley’s approach to the depiction of nature in his poetry.
3. John Keats
Keats is well known for transforming natural objects into poetic images. His poetry is more descriptive as he focuses on the beauty of nature instead of finding a hidden meaning in everything. His famous poem, A Thing of Beauty, is full of beautiful imagery and is a celebration of the natural world. It emphasises the joy we find in the trees, flowers, sun, moon and so on. John Keats’ poetry is a reminder of the tranquility to be found in nature and how we need to appreciate it.
2. Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken has to be one of the most popular poems ever written. Replete with beautiful forest imagery, it is the best example of how Frost romanticized nature in his poetry. His descriptions tend to be earthy and of the soil and yet he manages to read surprising aesthetic peaks. His praise for nature in his poems is much more subtle than that of most others in this list. Instead of simply focussing on descriptions of scenery, he connects the elements with deep, philosophical ideas which make his poems more profound.
1. William Wordsworth
Wordsworth was a devout worshipper of nature and wrote about it like it was a living entity instead of as a passing theme or background. He spiritualised nature and often referred to it as a mother or guardian in his poetry. Composed under Westminster Bridge, is one of Wordsworth’s most beautiful poems. In this poem, he eloquently describes the serenity and beauty of an early morning in London. Another memorable poem is I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, or more commonly known as Daffodils. It focusses on the relationship between the individual and the natural world. The way Wordsworth personifies daffodils in this poem creates a magical imagery in the readers’ mind and brings them closer to nature.