Bell ringer
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Bell Ringer. Explain the difference between the two words listed and determine whether or not both words are used in the English language. accept / except a lot / alot all right / alright all ready / already allude / elude. “ Thanatopsis ”. By William Cullen Bryant 1794-1878 Pg. 277.

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Bell Ringer

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Bell ringer

Bell Ringer

  • Explain the difference between the two words listed and determine whether or not both words are used in the English language.

  • accept / except

  • a lot / alot

  • all right / alright

  • all ready / already

  • allude / elude




William Cullen Bryant


Pg. 277



  • Emphasis on Imagination

  • Love of Nature

  • Colorful Language

  • Fascination with the Supernatural

  • Fascination with Death

  • Encouraged Individualism

  • Strong Sense of Emotion

  • Patriotism



  • communion - the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings

  • musings - deep thoughts or contemplations

  • shroud - a garment a dead person is wrapped in for burial

  • blight - a thing that spoils or damages something

  • elements - one of four substances, earth, air, fire, or water, formerly regarded as a fundamental constituent of the universe

Bell ringer

  • pensive - thinking deeply or seriously

  • quarry - a place, usually a large deep pit from which stone or other materials have been extracted

  • Rude swain- an uneducated youth

  • Pall- coffin cover

  • Hoary-seers- white haired prophets

Bell ringer

Bryant created the word “thanatopsis”

by combining two Greek words.

thanatos - means death

opsis - means sight

* a way of thinking and looking at the concept of death*

About the author

About the Author

William Cullen Bryant

  • was inspired by Lyrical Ballads, a volume of poetry by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

  • was attracted to a deist philosophy, which states that divinity can be found in nature.

  • started writing poetry at age nine.

  • wrote “Thanatopsis” when he was seventeen.

  • was considered to be an outspoken liberal because he supported social reform, free speech, and the abolition of slavery.

Inverted sentences

Inverted Sentences

English sentences usually have a subject, verb, complement or object word order.

Bryant rearranges his sentences, so he can keep the same meter throughout the poem.


“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”

Lines 1 16

Lines 1-16

What does nature do for those who communicate with her?

Note the word “ere” in line 8 which means “before.”

Nature comforts them even before they begin to think dark thoughts.

When the speaker talks about “sad images” that make him “grow sick at heart,” what is he referring to?

All of these images refer to death.

Lines 17 30

Lines 17-30

When the poem reads, “Comes a still voice,” whose voice is this?

This is nature’s voice.

What does it mean “to forever mix with the elements”?

Nature says once we die, we decompose and become part of the natural rhythm of earth.

Lines 31 51

Lines 31-51

In lines 31-32 how is nature consoling the speaker?

You are going to die, BUT you will not be going through this alone.

When nature says that the dead will be “with kings,/The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good,/Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,” what characteristic of Romanticism are these lines demonstrating?


* When thepoem reads, “The globe are but a handful of the tribes that slumber in its bosom,” it is saying at this time more people are dead than alive. This is not true today because of the growing population rates.

Lines 52 72

Lines 52-72

What does the segment “each one as before will chase his favorite phantom” mean? Is nature giving advice to the living here?

Yes, nature is saying that one should not chase after insignificant or unimportant things in life.

What comfort does nature offer in lines 71-72?

People who are alive will eventually join the dead.

Lines 73 81

Lines 73-81

In the last segment of the poem the speaker’s voice resumes. Instead of talking about death, what is he giving advice about now?

The speaker is talking about life and says to live life to its fullest, so when you do die, you welcome it as you would welcome a sweet dream.

Opinion question: Do you find nature’s advice about death comforting or disturbing and why?

Analysis activity

Analysis Activity

  • Paraphrase the lines assigned to you.

  • Determine what the lines actually mean.

  • Identify poetic devices.

  • Explain how Bryant uses the device to convey/reveal meaning.

  • Share your discoveries with the class.

  • Take notes!

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