Wordsworth and Keats: Exemplar Analysis

Explore the ways change is presented in Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth and one other poem of your choice.


Both Romantic poets William Wordsworth and John Keats ruminate on the essential nature of change in our lives in their poetry through the symbolic representation of Nature in the seasons; sense of ageing and loss as well as an acceptance of this. The inevitability of To Autumn where “summer have o’er-brimm’ed” and the inexorable movement of time, “sinking” into winter highlights Keats euphemistic approach to ageing and decay in a pastoral and empowering tone. Similarly, Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality reveals natural progression from childhood into adulthood and whilst he laments that loss of innocence, as prized so highly by Romantics, Wordsworth celebrates the importance of passing the baton of joy and memory to the next generation. Both poets exult the pastoral ideal by placing it centrally in the symbolism of their poetry and underscore this pantheistic approach with the metaphor of ‘day as life’ in “the sunshine is a glorious birth” leading ultimately to night and death “the setting sun” as their main depiction of change.

However, where both poets offer a more subtle comment on change, Keats and Wordsworth also consider the immortality inextricably tied to Nature through the changing of the seasons and the re-emergence of the sun each and every day: “The innocent brightness of a new-born Day”. The personified and untainted day, coupled with the movement of winter into spring, champion this sense of rhythmic change that are balanced by the eternal aspects of Nature. The uplifting and celebratory tone in both poems reinforce this comforting awareness held universally by Romantics that despite Humanity’s endeavours, we remain connected to Nature and a communal spirituality.

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