The Different Ways in Which People Deal
The Romantic Period in literature lasted from 1800 to 1860 and is characterized by subject matters surrounding love, nature, or patriotism, as well as the presence of a hero.
Another major aspect of the Romantic Period is the Fireside Poets; they were famous for rivaling the British in literature and writing about distinctly American themes. Romantic literature is often embodied in the form of poetry. Within these poems were messages of life and death, as well as the ways people dealt with it. William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” and “A Psalm of Life” all express common sentiments concerning death like that it comes in cycles, a person should live for the moment, and that life continues after death.Romantic literature is often themed around nature or natural instances such as death; death naturally occurs in cycles as shown in William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Tide Rises The Tide Falls” and “A Psalm of Life” .
People are born, they live, then they die; it is inevitable. In Bryant’s “Thanatopsis”, he metaphorically explains that when a person dies they are buried in the ground and will be essentially recycled back to the earth as noted in lines twenty-two through twenty-six:”Earth, that nourish’d thee, shall claimThy growth, to be resolved to earth again,And, lost each human trace, surrendering upThine individual being, shalt thou goTo mix for ever with the elements”.Bryant’s use of this metaphor clarifies that when someone dies, they will be returned back to the earth to be used as nourishment for the trees to grow or they will be broken down to “mix with the elements” and settle as a rock for the rest of their time until once again the cycle is disturbed and they change form once again. In Longfellow’s “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”, he repetitively uses the phrase “The tide rises, the tide falls”. Longfellow uses the ocean as an example of a cyclic creature when he uses “And the tide rises, the tide falls”; it shows that when something is created on the ocean’s shore it will be wiped away by “The little waves, with their soft, white hands” repeatedly and that nothing on the shore will last as long as the waves are there to erase them away. Longfellow also depicts a cycle in “A Psalm of Life” when he mentions that there are people constantly coming and going in lines twenty-five to twenty-eight:”Lives of great men all remind usWe can make our lives sublime,And, departing, leave behind usFootprints on the sands of time;”Longfellow stresses in each of his poems that men will come and go, leaving their footprints on the sand to be washed away and then replaced by someone else’s markings.
The cycle of life is necessary in Romantic literature because it shows that everyone lives and dies and that despite that life goes on.Bryant and Longfellow both include in their poems the idea that when a person is alive they should put forth the effort to live and make the most of their short time on earth. In “Thanatopsis” Bryant explicates that when someone is alive, they should make the most of it because they will eventually be summoned to their hollow of death in lines seventy-three through seventy-six:”So live, that when thy summons some to joinThe innumerable caravan which movesTo that mysterious realm where each shall takeHis chamber in the silent halls of death”.This embodies the idea of living in the moment because Bryant explains that at some point everyone will die and the final chamber of death is nothing like the world we know; it is puzzling and quiet. Longfellow also does this, especially in lines eight through ten when Longfellow writes, “The little waves, with their soft, white hands / efface the footprints in the sands.
/ and the tide rises, the tide falls”. This should encourage people to live for the moment because when they are gone, their prints in the sands of life will be erased. In “A Psalm of Life” Longfellow offers that everyone should aspire to “act, that each to-morrow / find us farther than today”. He is basically saying that what is done tomorrow will be greater than what was done today. Since a common focus of the Romantic Period was nature and living is natural, it only makes sense that living for today is a major focus in dealing with death.Not only do the three poems include sentiments of cycles and living in the moment, but they also contain the common idea that when a person dies the world around them does not stop.
“Thanatopsis” features many elements that include the idea of life continuing when people have died like in lines forty-five to forty-eight:”The golden sun,The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,Are shining on the sad abodes of death,Through the still lapse of ages”.Bryant explains that the planets will keep moving when you are gone as well as many other natural elements. In Longfellow’s “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”, he discusses a more everyday life continuing on in lines eleven through fifteen:”The morning breaks: the steeds in their stallsStamp and neigh, as the hostler calls:The day returns, but nevermoreReturns the traveler to the shore,And the tide rises, the tide falls” .Not only will people continue to move on in life, but room for new life is made and it too will get to make its mark on the shores of life. Longfellow also displays the movement forward in “A Psalm of Life” in lines twenty-one through twenty-four when he asserts:”Trust no Future, Howe’er pleasant!Let the dead Past bury its dead!Act,-act in the living Present!Heart within, and God o’erhead!”.From these lines Longfellow urges one to not live for the past because it is gone and cannot be retrieved, but that one should live and act for now because life is still going on around you.
The movement forward in life is one of the many ways that people deal with death.In conclusion, these poems display the different ways in which people deal with death whether it be by moving forward and burying the past or living for the moment. Bryant and Longfellow suggest three major themes concerning death in their poems, and they include life being a sequence of events that begin with birth and always end with death, advancing on in life when someone dies, and lastly,”carpe diem” or seizing the moment. The subject matters of all of the poems include the habits in which people put to use in order to deal with the hardships of managing losing someone or coming to an end themselves.