The three pieces under analysis depict poets’ love for nature and attitude towards life and death. Each of the authors writes in blank verse that is one of the most powerful forms of poetry. Although devoid of rhyme, the pieces are rhythmic and reflect the most intimate thoughts and observations of the authors.
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Each of the three poems may be divided into several sections. In “Frost at Midnight,” there are five stanzas. In the first section, the narrator depicts the serenity of a frosty night and lets the audience realize that the narrator is the author himself (Coleridge 1-15). In the second stanza, the narration line moves from calmness to motion (Coleridge 16-23). The third part moves the readers to the narrator’s reverie of his childhood (Coleridge 24-44). The fourth stanza shifts the focus from the stranger to the narrator’s baby (Coleridge 45-65). In the fifth section, the narrator admits that there are things to be appreciated in winter (Coleridge 66-75).
Wordsworth’s “Lines” is divided into six stanzas. In the first section, the narrator describes that five years have passed since the last time he was in the place he is visiting (Wordsworth 1-22). The second part describes the speaker’s feelings during the five years that had passed (Wordsworth 23-49). The third stanza is short but meaningful: the narrator contemplates on the uselessness of memories (Wordsworth 50-57). The fourth section moves the readers back to the narrator’s impressions of his visit to the place (Wordsworth 58-99). The fifth stanza is a detailed description of why the author loves nature (Wordsworth 100-111). In the sixth part, the narrator remarks that even if he had not been able to notice nature’s beauty, he would not have neglected such feelings as kindness and sympathy (Wordsworth 111-159). Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” is divided into eleven parts: lines 1-8, 9-13, 14-21, 22-30, 31-37, 38-45, 46-50, 51-57, 58-66, 67-72, 73-81. In each of them, the narrator moves from describing death to admiring nature and its beauty.
Coleridge’s and Wordsworth’s poems are similar because they both are odes to nature and its numerous aspects that stir people’s souls. The difference in these two pieces is that Coleridge’s narrator addresses his baby son whereas Wordsworth’s speaker is all by himself. Also, the events in Coleridge’s poem occur within one night while Wordsworth’s story moves from present to past and back to present.
Even though the theme of Bryant’s poem differs slightly from the other two pieces, all three pieces depict similar feelings. In each of them, the poet is troubled by nature’s beauty and its laws by which every person will eventually die, and nature’s elements will come to an end. In “Frost at Midnight,” the narrator finds peace in quiet contemplation of frost under the moon: “Quietly shining to the quiet Moon” (Coleridge 75). In “Lines,” the narrator calls himself “A worshipper of Nature” (Wordsworth 152) and remarks that even after “many years / Of absence” (156-157) he will find peace in “this pastoral landscape” (158).
In “Thanatopsis,” the sense of peace is achieved through the realization of the inevitability of death that will take each person “To that mysterious realm” (Bryant 75). There are some stylistic similarities and differences between the poems. There is a common symbol – nature, but it is reflected in different modifications: the frost in Coleridge’s poem, the river is Wordsworth’s one, and the sun and ocean in Bryant’s piece. Each poem is rich is metaphors, similes, personifications, repetitions, and other devices: “Whose bells… / …stirred and haunted me” (Coleridge 30-32), “wreaths of smoke” (Wordsworth 17), “the fever of the world” (Wordsworth 53), “lonely streams” (Wordsworth 69), “the complaining brooks” (Bryant 41). Each poem is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter, but the number of stanzas and the frequency of changing thoughts in each piece are different.
“Frost at Midnight,” “Lines,” and “Thanatopsis” are considered some of the greatest masterpieces of blank verse poems dedicated to the theme of nature. The poets depict life and eternity in their works. Despite some differences, each piece is a proclamation of love to the world.
Bryant, William Cullen. “Thanatopsis.” Poetry Foundation, n.d., Web.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “Frost at Midnight.” Poetry Foundation, n.d., Web.
Wordsworth, William. “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour.” Poetry Foundation, n.d., Web.