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Romantic Democracy, a paper on “Thanatopsis”

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Poems that are based on romanticism such as “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant express a certain feeling not obtained in other kinds of poems. Many people in the romantic era believed that man’s purpose was to become one with nature. They felt power and wisdom comes from nature. They also believed in humanitarian which was an elevated common man or noble savage. Intuition was said to be more important than reason. People stressed the concept of following instincts. The poem “Thanatopsis” is a good example of romantic literature because it displays the elements of man becoming one with nature, humanitarian, and feelings verse reason.

First of all, the poem shows several examples of how man should become one with nature. The poem states that nature has a voice of gladness and eloquence of beauty. This excerpt, “The golden sun, the planets, all the infinite host of heaven are shining on the sad abodes of death,” is a good example of being a part of nature. Another good example is, “Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim thy growth.” Basically, nature is described as a cause of happiness and wise doings.

Secondly, Bryant’s poem declares the importance of humanitarian. The poem expresses the idea of reuniting with loved ones. He also says the nature of death is not sad but peaceful in the works of Mother Nature. A sample of this might be, “Approach thy grave, like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.” The pursuit of happiness is said to overthrow the fear of death in humanitarianism.

Lastly, Bryant tries to get across to readers that feelings are more important than reason. Death is often portrayed as being sad but the author feels people should forget the stereotypical reason for being sad and listen to the feelings of blessedness. “Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night, scourge to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust,” is a good sample of following feelings. The poem says it is not good to think about dying. Bryant states everyone dies, therefore, you just take death as it comes.

“Thanatopsis”, by Bryant, clearly shows several examples of romanticism including man becoming a part of nature, humanitarian, and feelings being more important than nature. The author feels a personal relationship with nature is important. A key importance to the poem was to make readers understand that death should not be sad. After all, death happens to everyone sooner or later so it is not worth dwelling upon it. This romantic work of art exhibits the true beauty of romanticism and how it makes a person feel about life and death.

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