William cullen bryant
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William Cullen Bryant. William Cullen Bryant. Considered an American Romantic poet Heavily influenced by the English Romantics William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge The first American poet to use blank verse and introduced it into mainstream American poetry

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William Cullen Bryant

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William cullen bryant

William Cullen Bryant


William cullen bryant1

William Cullen Bryant

  • Considered an American Romantic poet

  • Heavily influenced by the English Romantics

    • William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • The first American poet to use blank verse and introduced it into mainstream American poetry

    • Blank verse – unrhymed poetry that is written in iambic pentameter

      • Iambic pentameter – each line has five feet (or beats), each foot containing one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.


To a waterfowl

“To a Waterfowl”

  • Stanzas 1-3 are concrete images of the waterfowl.

  • First Stanza – Where are you going?

  • Second Stanza – What are you seeking?

  • Third Stanza – The author makes assumptions as to the destination of the waterfowl.

    • The edge of a lake? A river? An ocean?


To a waterfowl cont

“To a Waterfowl” (cont.)

  • Fourth Stanza – introduces the idea of a guiding power in human life (as instinct guides the waterfowl).

    • “Power” in line 13 = God/Nature

    • “Lone wandering, but not lost” = alone but not lonely

      • Why?


To a waterfowl cont1

“To a Waterfowl” (cont.)

  • In stanzas 5-8, the bird’s migration parallels the speaker’s journey.

  • Fifth Stanza – points out that the journey is a cumbersome one.

  • Sixth Stanza – reassures that the destination will soon be met.

  • Seventh Stanza – parallels the “abyss of heaven” with “thy sheltered nest”

    • “lesson thou hast given” = both fowl and man are guided by God/Nature

    • This “lesson…shall not soon depart” because it is a universal truth.

  • -


To a waterfowl cont2

“To a Waterfowl” (cont.)

  • Eighth Stanza – reinforces the idea of a guiding power in human life

  • Summary of poem – Both fowl and man are guided by God/Nature, both have solo journeys that are very difficult, and both end in rest.

  • Life Lessons

    • Trust in God

    • There is a reward awaiting you at the end of your life

    • No one is ever truly alone

    • Death is nothing more than a well-deserved and peaceful rest


Thanatopsis

“Thanatopsis”

  • Definition – a view of death

  • Lines 1-8 – Nature’s effect can be uplifting during happy times

  • Lines 8-13 – Nature can also create a feeling of fear and sadness. When?

  • Lines 14-15 – Therefore, turn to nature when you feel depressed about eventual death.


Thanatopsis cont

“Thanatopsis” (cont.)

  • Line 17 – “Comes a still voice”

    • Here begins the voice of Nature

  • Lines 18-30 – Hammers the point that we came from the earth and we will one day return to the earth.

  • Lines 31-37 – Comforts those who fear dying.

    • “Couch more magnificent” – Death is nothing more than the big sleep

    • We will all be united in death; it is a form of communion or fellowship.


Thanatopsis cont1

“Thanatopsis” (cont.)

  • Lines 37-48 – Nature honors those who have died by decorating the Earth, “the great tomb of man” (line 45).

  • Lines 49-56 – Unity in death is stressed again

  • Lines 31-72 – All lines function to let the reader know that Nature will join all those who have died in “ages past” and the living will all “share this destiny”


Thanatopsis cont2

“Thanatopsis” (cont.)

  • Nature concludes her statement in line 72

  • Original speaker resumes in line 73

    • Speaker asks the reader to trust Nature and approach Death calmly

      • Death is a natural inevitability

  • Poem is wrapped up with another Romantic view of death as sleep


Bryant s attitude toward nature

Bryant’s Attitude Toward Nature

  • Attitude is one of respectful admiration

    • Both poems suggest a belief that people have much to learn from nature

    • Both find beauty in nature

    • Both associate nature with holiness

  • Attitude is one of gratitude

    • Both poems express appreciation of the positive role that nature plays in life


Bryant s attitude toward nature cont

Bryant’s Attitude Toward Nature (cont.)

  • Bryant sees nature as having an educational and nurturing role in life

    • In “To a Waterfowl,” nature fulfills the speaker’s needs in teaching him some important lessons about life

    • In “Thanatopsis,” nature helps the speaker to understand death

  • Bryant sees nature as having an uplifting, calming role

    • In both poems, nature reassures the speaker about his life’s journey and about death


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