British Influence on the Birth of American Literature by Linden Peach

April 3, 2017 | American Literature | By admin | 0 Comments

By Linden Peach

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It is often handled less fluently and with a great sense of unease. William Bryant's attempts to articulate a close, intimate relationship with nature are evident in poems such as 'After A Tempest', 'Lines on Revisiting the Country', 'A Winter Piece' and 'A Summer Ramble' and they confess the influence of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads which Bryant read first at the age of sixteen. 9 Although Bryant's autobiography is left unfinished at the description of the literary influences on his life, Richard Henry Dana has recorded Bryant's enthusiasm for Wordsworth and how the Lyrical Ballads 32 British Influence on the Birth of American Literature heightened Bryant's general awareness of nature: I never shall forget with what feeling my friend Bryant, some years ago, described to me the effect produced upon him by his meeting for the first time with Wordsworth's ballads.

The 'affiuence of love and song', the 'divine consents/ Of man and earth', the 'world of beloved and lover' and 'nectar and ambrosia' suggest richness, allurement, peace, contentment, harmony. Emerson himself wrote: 'I am somehow receptive of the great soul, and thereby I do overlook the sun and stars and feel them to be the fair accidents and effects which change and pass'. In Emerson's work the impulse towards communion with nature is interrelated with a conscious yearning for a consummation which he never finally achieved.

Ironically, Bryant most successfully followed Wordsworth when the latter was most light-hearted and glib! Bryant's derivation of the concept of joy in nature from Wordsworth is evident in the way in which 'A Summer Ramble' (1826) confesses the influence of Wordsworth's 'To My Sister'. In both poems the poet decides to spend a day relaxing in the wooded countryside and calls to a female companion. Wordsworth takes his sister and a young boy, while Bryant is accompanied by his wife. Wordsworth's poem does not involve a detailed working out of an intimate, emotional involvement with nature but the projection of a sense of ease, joy and happiness in contact with nature: My sister!

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