The Connection of God and Nature in Bryant's Thanatopsis

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  • Topic: William Cullen Bryant, Life, Thanatopsis
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  • Published : February 9, 2000
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The Connection of God and Nature in Bryant's "Thanatopsis"

"Thanatopsis", by William Cullen Bryant says that nature tells us different things at different times. When we are having good times, God and nature attribute to that. When we are having bad times, God and nature are willing to help us through our problems. In this poem, Bryant makes a connection between God and Nature through society, imagery, destiny, status, and trust.

Although ‘Thanatopsis' is the Greek word for meditation on death, it also can be seen as a meditation on nature. Nature is being portrayed as the main influence and supporter of the society: "She has a voice of gladness, and a smile/ And eloquence of beauty, and she glides/ Into his darker musings, with a mild/ And healing sympathy, that steals away/ Their sharpness, ere he is aware." (4-8) More over, the poem indicates clear examples for a relation between nature and God. In fact, Nature is a direct connection to God: "[...] all the infinite host of heaven..." (46) Therefor reflecting back to the previous statement, God is always there for people, especially for those who are suffering.

The poem also is mainly based on thoughts about death. The following lines are descriptions and images of death: "When thoughts/ Of the last bitter hour come like a blight/ over the spirit, and sad images/ Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall/ And breathless darkness..." (8-11) But the three succeeding lines that no one should be afraid and that Nature and God have the power to reconcile: "Go forth, under the open sky, and list/ To Nature's teachings, while from all around/ Earth and her waters, and the depths of air/ Comes a still voice." (14-17)

Even if you die alone the living will not live forever and eventually have the same destiny: "So shalt though rest, and what if thou withdraw/ In silence from the living, and no friend/ Take not of thy departure? All that breathe/ Will share thy destiny." (58-61)

The death is...
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