Romantic Poets and the Representation of Memory
A paper on how poets from the Romantic era sought to convey the complexities of the human mind through the representation of memory in their poetry.
The paper shows how Romanticism was a period in human history where structure and form were abandoned for unrestricted thought and movement. It discusses its influence on poetry and how, through their representation of memory in their poetry, poets sought to illustrate the complexities of the human mind as well as explore Descartes’ supposition of I think, therefore I am. This paper specifically looks at two poems from the Romantic Era: The Nightingale by Coleridge and The Idiot Boy by Wordsworth. By conducting a thorough analysis of these two poems, the paper shows how many poets believed memory to be more than just observation to the past. Memories are loaded with the reminiscer’s interpretation of previous events and are therefore subject to the reminiscer’s culture, character and rationalizing process. The paper discusses how, by representing memory in this way, poets provide their own interpretation of how the human mind operates and what it really means to be fully aware as a member of the human race.
From the onset, the descriptions of the natural surroundings given by the narrator demonstrates the thought processes of the mind in capturing images from the outside. When the narrator talks of No cloud, no relique of the sunken day distinguishes the West, no long thin slip of sullen Light, no obscure trembling hues, they are not merely observations because the narrator talks of images that are not there. Instead, the narrator implies more about his expectations at seeing a cloud and a relique of the sunken day, and his surprise at finding neither in sight. This is an example of the mind interpreting more than just the surroundings but taking into account time and circumstance in evaluating what is going on outside the mind. This can also be gleaned from the choice of adjectives the narrator employs in describing his surroundings. The narrator observes the soft bed of verdure and vernal showers.
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