Posted: February 17th, 2023
Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this privileging of emotion can be seen in William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” where he uses his personal relationship with nature to express his intense emotions: “Thus I champ’d the grass; thus graspt the element / Through which the eternal sentiment of joy / Burst forth like lively sparks among asleep stones / And glist’ning stars did twinkle on my sight (1-4).” Here Wordsworth uses imagery associated with nature—grass and stars—to describe his joyful reaction upon revisiting a place that brings back memories from childhood. By using language evoking sensory details like grass beneath feet and stars twinkling before eyesight he creates an image that conveys vivid emotions within himself as well as within any reader experiencing it alongside him.
In Percy Shelley’s poem “Ode to The West Wind” he also expresses sentiment towards Nature while using emotional language: “Thou dirge of the dying year / To which are shivered woods…Be thou me, spirit fierce! Drive my dead thoughts over sea (15-17)”. His use of personification here allows him to directly address Nature creating an intimate relationship between himself and Nature that helps express strong feeling toward it including grief at its passing beauty: “Make me thy lyre even as thine heart/ Make me all months in one! What if my leaves are falling lo! (37-38)”. Here Shelley turns himself into a metaphor for autumn making himself part of Nature thus blurring boundaries between them creating an intense relationship that carries deep emotions within it rather than intellectual thought or reasoning.
Overall then these poems demonstrate how Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats value emotion over thinking through their use of imagery related specifically but not limited too nature paired with passionate descriptions aiming towards stirring up certain reactions inside readers hearts more so than mindsets likes Rousseau claimed feeling before thinking thereby privileging feeling above rational thought.
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