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The Sublime and the Beautiful in the Poems of William Cullen Bryant

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ISBN-13:
9783638213967
Einband:
Ebook
Seiten:
19
Autor:
Jan D. Kucharzewski
eBook Typ:
Adobe Digital Editions
eBook Format:
EPUB
Kopierschutz:
0 - No protection
Sprache:
Englisch
Beschreibung:

Seminar paper from the year 2002 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1.0 (A), University of Dusseldorf "Heinrich Heine" (American Studies Institute), course: Hauptseminar American Nature Poetry and Painting, 2 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: At a first reading it might appear as if the poems of William ...
Seminar paper from the year 2002 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1.0 (A), University of Dusseldorf "Heinrich Heine" (American Studies Institute), course: Hauptseminar American Nature Poetry and Painting, 2 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: At a first reading it might appear as if the poems of William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)simply attempt to accurately represent nature, striving for a certain degree of poetical
realism. A closer look at Bryant's work however will reveal that the nature which is
described in the poems is also always a space constructed by the poet. There is a
consciousness to the depiction of spaces and objects in Bryant's works which goes
beyond simple representation. We are therefore not confronted with a lyrical I that just
tells us about what it sees, hears, and feels on a walk through the woods or a quiet
moment in the mountains, but with a creative force that builds a landscape with the
material of language.
In Bryant's poetry a landscape has an encoded significance similar to a text which can
be read and understood. Often this allegorical meaning is a culture-political one, for
Bryant was concerned with establishing a distinctive American identity in his work,
and he saw its manifestation in the landscapes of his country. Whereas the European
poets of that time could look back on a long artistic tradition, the American nation of
the early 19th century was not able to verify its existence through a distinguished
cultural past. What it could rely on though were the magnificent landscapes still
unspoiled by the assumed decadence and environmental corruption of the Industrial
Revolution, which was consuming both, nature and humans on the Old Continent.
The rise of national self-consciousness which followed the American Revolution
paved the way for new artistic approaches in literature and the fine arts. Painters and
poets alike began to glorify the grandeur of the national landscapes, not only by
painting or describing them, but by giving them a cultural significance through the use
of certain compositional devices.
Bryant's poems for example often promote his vision of a pastoral, Eden-like America
in which simple rural virtues are supposed to contrast with the decadence of the urban
European society. In his poems nature becomes a space which is both sublime and
fragile. The poet praises nature's permanence compared to the transience of man's
achievements and its ability to renew itself, yet he also articulates his fear of the
corruption of nature. [...]