Blake versus Keats
Although William Blake and John Keats have very different writing styles both poets use images of nature in their poems. Blake's "Introduction", from Songs of Innocence, uses simple language. Keats' "Ode on Melancholy" is dramatic. Although both authors use nature in their poems, Keats provides emotional drama to nature, while Blake's references to nature are very simple and unclear.
The nature imagery in Blake's "Introduction" is that nature is wild and unpredictable. The story tells of a piper playing happily on his pipe in the valley wild. The word wild implies an untamed place. The words valleys wild and pleasant glee contradict each other. The child on the cloud also symbolizes nature as sublime: the innocent child on the rain cloud. The child demands of the piper to play him a song about a Lamb. Lamb is a reference to Jesus. The child weeps while the piper plays because he is thinking about how Jesus sacrificed his life for our sins. The piper went from playing his music for his own enjoyment to having to write it down for all to hear. The piper "pluck'd a hollow reed" to write with; according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hollow means: "lacking in real value, sincerity or substance." Blake uses the term "rural pen", again indicating his country, or wild setting. The phrase "stain'd the water clear", implies there is something impure about his writing down the words to his song. Perhaps he would rather keep his beautiful music to himself and is unwilling to share it with the rest of the world. Although Blake has references to nature, they are unclear and leave us wondering what his true feelings about nature are.
John Keats' poem "Ode on Melancholy" has more vivid details about nature. He contrasts the joy of life to the melancholy that comes with it. In the first stanza he has many natural references to death, such as poisonous plants like wolf's bane, nightshade and yew-berries. He is very dark and sad in the first stanza....
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