The Ages of Poetry

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The English Romantic poets of the 19th Century had a conception about nature that, over a century later, appears in the poetry of today. These poets have had a significant influence on the attitude and vocabulary a contemporary poet uses. Among the contemporary poets, Dana Gioia, in his two poems, "Becoming a Redwood," and "Rough Country," has drawn on the idea of the innocence and untainted part of nature that parallels the Romantic poetry of William Wordsworth and William Blake in their poems "Nutting," and "The Tyger." Also, Gioia has captured the wild-like and untamable demeanor of nature that many English Romantics have similarly captured. Finally, Gioia uses the concept of the sublime in his poetry to the extent that nature becomes dangerous to humans.

Many English Romantic poets have written about the innocent and purity that can be found in nature. In Wordsworth's "Nutting," he comments on the beauty of the innocence of an "unvisited" nook his character discovers. Wordsworth writes, "Unvisited, where not a broken bough / Drooped with its withered leaves, ungracious sign / Of devastation; but the hazels rose / tall and erect, with tempting clusters hung, / A virgin scene!" (Ln17-31) Wordsworth is commenting on the innocence and beauty of nature without human intrusion. This Romantic conception of innocence parallels Gioia in his poem "Rough Country." He writes, " a spot so hard to reach that no one comes-- / a hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies / and nesting jays, a sign that there is still / one piece of property that won't be owned." (17-20) This last line implies that this part of nature will remain untouched, this part of nature will remain pure and innocent, and a Romantic conception of nature that even Gioia has adopted in his poetry.

Another conception that the English Romantics held about nature was that nature is wild and untamable. This wild-like aspect of nature is described in William Blake's "The Tyger." Blake writes,...
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