3/10/2019

Nature's symbol found in "Tithonus" by Tennyson.

Nature plays a vital role in poetry. William Wordsworth, Tennyson's predecessor, saw in Nature the presence of God. Shelley and Byron found their apt symbol of revolution in nature. Coleridge treated nature as a medium for supernatural communion. Arnold' nature reflects deep human sadness. But Tennyson, has not symbolized nature for any deep meaning. In his poems, however
there are descriptions of beautiful scenes of nature which are as concrete as paintings.

The word pictures available in the poems of Tennyson result from his accuracy of observation placed above the faculty of
imagination. The scientific and materialistic spirit of his age in the backdrop has always influenced his treatment of nature. Being able
to penetrate the cosmetic optimism of his and scan the dark, ominous aspects of life, Tennyson's nature is infused with a specific
depression known as the Tennysonian melancholy'. This unique melancholy is preoccupied with the passing away of time, the world of flexibility and the transitory and temporal human life. Thus, his nature-picture sometimes becomes a vibrant effigy of the theme of mutability. The opening lines of "Tithonus" suggest the meaning of universal decay through a natural picture:
“The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to ground
Man comes and till the field and lies beneath
And after man a summer dies the swan”

Here Tennyson's illustration of nature is not of mystic, but that joy and ecstasy as of a rationalist. For this reason, Wordsworthian
the mystics discover is absent Tennyson was essentially a poet of the countryside, a man whose being was conditioned by the recurring rhythms of rural rather than urban life. The special power of producing that rather vapid species of composition usually termed descriptive poetry. Power of certain scenery, in keeping with some state of human feeling so fitted to it as to be the embodied symbol of it and to summon up the state of
feeling itself, with a force not to be surpassed by anything but reality.
Here is another example from Tithonus":

"A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born
As a "soft air fans the clouds apart",

Tithonus sees the "dark world" to which he belongs. Similarly Tithonus uses many images
of nature as he recalls those days of youth when he "felt my blood/Glow with the glow that slowly crimson'd all," experienced
"kisses balmier than half-opening buds/Of April," and Aurora's "rosy shadows bathe[d]" him. At once he wishes to be one of those "happy men with the power to die." He asks Aurora to release him and let him die so that he could forget the emptiness of his days of long life. The state of feeling to which Tennyson was most intensely drawn was
melancholy isolation. The word-pictures found in Tennyson's poetry give the picture of rural England. With a Keatsian sensuousness he delineates and glorifies the English moorland, holy rocks and "the chirping cry of summer doves'. Influenced by the Victorian realism Tennyson, unlike Wordsworth, is not infatuated by the scenic beauty of nature; rather
he visualizes in it an extension of human cruelty, decadence and waste.

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