Use of Metaphorical Language in Romantic Era Poems
Metaphorical language is used in poetry to highlight and allow the reader to examine the many themes and ideas it contains. In the the Romantic poems “Tintern Abbey” and “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” by William Wordsworth, the idea that memory acts as a source of escapism to the serenity of nature is explored and emphasised by the use of the metaphorical language of similes and metaphors in these poems. Both poems describe a picturesque landscape that the speaker feels joy and happiness in. The individual appreciation and awe of the natural world was a central belief of all romantic poets, which is highlighted in their poems by the use of poetic devices.
In the poem “Tintern Abbey”, Wordsworth uses the poetic device of a simile, to examine how memory allows the speaker to overcome the harshness of the contemporary world. Memory itself is a tool that can be used to escape the present, it captures a point in time that is of some importance to the person who frames it. The memory that is framed in the poem is nature, it is shown to give the persona joy, happiness and inspiration to do good. “These beauteous forms
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye.”
The “beauteous forms” describes the lovely view of the Wye river valley. The speaker is saying that even during his “long absence”, the “forms” themselves have been present to him. He uses the simile “as is a landscape to a blind man’s eye” to explain how his memory of the place is not like a blind man’s eye, his mind’s eyes have captured the view as clearly as his real eyes, offering him that “tranquil restoration” he desires when lonely or in crowded towns or cities. He further credits the memory of the scene with offering him to access to that mental and spiritual state in which the burdens of the world is lightened, turing to the memory often in times of “fretful stir”. Therefore through the use of the simile, I see how memory isn’t simply a recollection of the past, it is also a tool for escapism to nature, a sacred place that offers freedom and peace.
In the poem “I Wander Lonely As A Cloud”, the idea that memory and imagination can free us from our sorrows is highlighted through the use of language techniques such as a metaphor. Nature is shown to bring joy and happiness to the persona in this poem, and again the use of memory captures that joy. “For oft, when on my couch I lie
In Vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is bliss of of solitude
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
In this quote, the speaker explains why the “dancing daffodils”, which symbolises nature, is such a gift to him. When he’s at home on his couch and feeling down about life, and his mind is empty and “vacant”, or “pensive”, which means he is thinking sad-like thoughts the sublime memory of nature flashes in his mind. The metaphor “inward eye” expresses what Wordsworth felt about the vision of nature, to be a deeper, truer spiritual vision. It’s not the view of nature that is so empowering, but the deep serene feeling that comes with the memory of nature. It gives him peaceful “bliss” and solitude from the outside world. Therefore the poetic device of nature allows me to make meaning of the poem and it’s idea that memory acts as a source of comfort in time of deep sorrow, and can free us from society and take us to nature, a sacred place of peace.