William Cullen Bryant is a famous American author of the Romanticism era who focused on nature. His poem titled “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood” describes the whimsical power of nature and its connection to humanity. Bryant appeals to the reader’s senses in this work, creating a strong and explicit message. Bryant believes that nature will outlive the man-made environment.
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The literary works of Romanticism are characterized by excessive attention to nature. The movement’s assumption is that “there is a division of negative and positive in the works of that time” (Oroskhan and Zohdi 30). In “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood,” the author relies on such words as guilt, misery, crime, and sorrow to explain the negative side of the surrounding man-made world.
Reading these words in the context of the era during which the author wrote made me imagine the world of Romanticism as an ungodly place. As I concentrated on imagining an average city existing back then, the first thing that came to mind was narrow streets, litter, and rags, which is very powerful, if unsettling, picture. Afterward, Bryant makes a soft transition to happy and more positive tones – “the rivulet sends forth glad sounds” (Bryant).
He uses woods as a place of healing and sustaining for humans. Bryant uses words reminiscent of birds chirping in order to paint an almost Disney-like picture in the reader’s mind. The forest appeared to me as a place of physical and spiritual healing. Humanity came out of the woods and lost touch with its roots, which is the underlying reason for unhappiness. This poem, like most works from Romanticism, is concentrating on human nature, inner conflict, and emotions.
In “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood,” the author influences visual perception by writing, “enter this wild wood And view the haunts of nature” (Bryant). To me, it was like a fairy-tale, as in it creatures, plants, and birds live together like a big family rather than engage in a vicious struggle for survival. Bryant’s imagery also appeals to sounds – “and musical with birds that sing and sport,” “the rivulet sends forth glad sounds, and tripping over its bed.”
Furthermore, he describes touch: “the cool wind that stirs the stream in play shall come to thee” (Bryant). Reading these lines allowed me to briefly travel into the whimsical and magical world of nature, detached from somber realities. I discovered that the best way to experience the sounds, the imagery, and the sense of touch is by closing one’s eyes and placing one’s hand at a trunk of a tree, a rough stone, or a similar surface, which was not polished or formed by human effort.
The aspects of positive romanticism inspire the admiration of nature. The authors of the Romantic Movement, including Bryant, “were constantly searching for the meaning and spiritual refreshment” (Sultana and Islam 64). Overall, it encourages readers to remember where they come from and consider that nature has the most power and strength in this world.
Bryant, William Cullen. “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood.” Academy of American Poets. Web.
Oroskhan, Mohammad Hussein, and Esmaeil Zohdi. “Negative Romanticism: An Exploration of a Sense of Isolation in Yushij’s Afsaneh.” International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, vol. 70, 2017, pp. 30-36.
Sultana, Sabera, and Mohiul Islam. “Investigating American Romanticism: A Comparative Study.” IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 21, no. 4, 2016, pp. 58-65.