Romanticism officially began in 1798, when William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge anonymously published Lyrical Ballads. This work marked the official beginning of a literary period which had already begun many years before 1798. A work is defined to be of a certain period by its characteristics, therefore to be considered a Romantic work, the work must contain aspects which are termed “Romantic. A few typical “Romantic” aspects are: love of the past; sympathy to the child’s mind; faith in the inner goodness of man; aspects of nature having religious, mystic, and symbolic ignificance; and reconciliation of contrasting ideas to make a point. Wordsworth flourished in these ideas in a poem called Independence and Resolution. In this poem Wordsworth shows the reader what he thinks his life is like and what he wants it to be like. In its essence, Resolution and Independence is an open book to what Wordsworth feels his life is like.
It is about the past, present, and future Wordsworth. Wordsworth feels that his life is like a “traveler” on the moors (15). He feels that in the past he has always been like a small “boy,” who never “heard” or “saw” the beauties of nature (18). As a child, Wordsworth never understood life, because he never looked to nature for inspiration or guidance. Presently, Wordsworth feels he that he is “a happy Child of earth,” because he walks “far from the world. . . far from all care” (31, 33). He begins a search to find a way to live in harmony with himself, God, and nature.
During his search, he finds an old man, the leech-gatherer, who is one with himself, God, and nature. Upon seeing this man, Wordsworth is immediately amazed by the mien of this old man. Wordsworth admires this man’s insight on life, that Wordsworth decides that he wants to ecome the same way. Thus, in Wordsworth’s search for his place in eternity in nature, he finds an example that he wants to duplicate. Resolution and Independence includes many tenets of Romanticism including a love of the past.
Wordsworth loves the storm of the previous night and the “rain-drops” on the moors that it leaves behind (10). Wordsworth loves the old man, because the old man has so much knowledge from his past experiences. The poet enjoys reminiscing on past experiences: I was a Traveler then upon the moor I saw the hare that raced about with joy; I heard the woods and distant waters roar; Or heard them not, as happy as a boy; The pleasant season did my heart employ; My old remembrances went from me wholly; And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy A Second major Romantic characteristic is “wind” (1).
Wind is symbolic of the vitality of the poetic spirit. When wind is mentioned, the reader can assume that the next bit of the work is going to be lively, because the author feels his poetic spirit has been rejuvenated. Rain, or water, is another Romantic attribute mentioned: “the rain came in heavy floods” (2). Rain is symbolic of life, because water is the source and maintainer of all iving things. Rain is also symbolic of poetic inspiration. The rain of the past evening’s storm inspires Wordsworth to write this poem.
The reminders observed in nature and memories stirred in his mind urge him to continue on. The reminders in nature include the “rain-drops” and the “mist” that the hare kicks up (10,13). In Resolution and Independence, the ponds represent the poetic memory, or the poem itself. Wordsworth admires the old man, because he interacts with other poets memories, or poems. The act of the old man wading through Wordsworth’s pond is ymbolic the old man “reading a book,” or one of Wordsworth’s works (81). The old man inspires Wordsworth by stirring the water in Wordsworth’s pond.
This action allows Wordsworth’s past inspirations to resurface. Another Romantic tenet is the reconciliation of differences to make a point. Wordsworth wanted to stress his “dejection” by writing: And fears and fancies thick upon me came; Dim sadness-blind thought, I knew not, nor could name. (25, 27-9) Thought makes a Romantic poet happy (which is another tenet of Romanticism), and a blind man can not distinguish between any two levels of dimness. Hence, the usage of these contrasting points helps convince the reader that Wordsworth is ill at ease.
His point is made and well understood, thus making this a good literary technique. In conclusion, the poet is suffering from dejection without a cause. Wordsworth is strangely not at ease. He searches nature for an answer, but nature does not bring reconciliation to his distraught emotions. The poet has an overwhelming feeling of angst. Upon seeing the old man, Wordsworth is given a new hope for a way to gain the inner peace that he has been looking for. The old man serves as a role model for Wordsworth.