The Characteristics of Romanticism

Works of romanticism are exhibited in art, poetry, and music. Romanticism places an emphasis on emotion, a love of nature, and how individuals connect to it. William Cullen Bryant To a Waterfowl and Thomas Durand’s painting Kindred Spirits both classified as romantic because both works reflect emotion, the awe of nature, and the importance of imagination.

In To a Waterfowl, Bryant uses awe of nature, emotion, and the importance of imagination. The way in which Bryant uses awe of nature in this poem shows through the language he uses to describe nature. It shows his regard and love of nature. The reader is actually able to see in their mind what he is writing. When Bryant states, Whither, midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of the day, far through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue thy solitary way? (Bryant 64), the reader is able to see with their imagination the waterfowl flying solo in the early morning hours or across the backdrop of the late evening sky. When Bryant describes the evening sky as the heavens that glow with rosy depths it shows his admiration of nature.

Bryant also uses emotion in this poem. He speaks about walking alone as the waterfowl flies alone. In his statement, He, who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky, they certain flight, in the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright. (Bryant 64), Bryant expresses the loneliness that he must have felt during his long daily walks. But he also talks about the comfort he finds in knowing that as God is with the waterfowl he is also with him.

Lastly, Bryant exhibits the importance of imagination by envisioning the activities of the waterfowl. In his statement, Seekr’st thou the plashy brink of the weedy lake, or marge of river wide, or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean side? (Bryant 64) , he wonders what the waterfowl might specifically look for. He talks about the waterfowl seeking water, flying in the cold thin atmosphere, and finding a summer home. These examples show what one might imagine a waterfowl does.

Durand uses awe of nature, emotion, and the importance of imagination in his painting Kindred Spirits. The painting is a depiction of Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant taking in nature while being together as friends. The painting illustrated the idea of communing with nature. The two men in the painting who remain friends in real life each wrote a poem about a piece of the American landscape that they each enjoyed. The painting is a reflection of their enjoyment of nature.

In the painting, the friends enjoy an imaginary landscape together. This expresses the emotions of harmony and adoration of nature. In the painting, the kindred spirits share a passion for nature. Togetherness, fellowship, and affection for the same things in life prevail as emotions that all humans feel deeply and desire.
Lastly, Asher Durand creates his painting using his imagination as a guide to create a place that he thought Bryant and Cole would appreciate. The painting is a depiction of the ideal features of two regions in the Catskills Mountains(Kindred Spirits Composition). The two regions in the Catskills mountains are the regions Bryant and Cole each were each fond of. Durand’s bringing these two regions together in this way shows the importance of imagination that is emphasized by romantic works.

In conclusion, the characteristics of romanticism still remain vibrant in today’s world because people use emotion, imagination, and awe of nature in art, music, poetry, and book writing. Today you can see it expressed in different types of poetry like poems such as William Cullens Bryant’s poem, To a Waterfowl. William Cullen Bryant’s poem expresses the beauty of nature, the emotional connection with a bird through imagination during his walk through life. Individuals also see it expressed in Thomas Durandr’s painting Kindred painting because he also uses the beauty of nature, emotion, imagination to create a painting of a mythical place that is peaceful.

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