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1  universe of time and change. The original version of Thanatopsis is more characteristic than its inconsistent introductory and concluding lines, now the oftenest quoted of all his writings. If Bryant was the Puritan in his austerity and morale, he was quite as much the Pagan in the universality of his ideas, and in his temperamental adjustment to brute fact.On nature and man's relation to nature, one who reads without prepossession will find the American Wordsworth equally elemental. He raises his hymn in the groves, which were God's first temples,--venerable columns, these ranks of trees, reared by Him of old. And “the great miracle still goes on” ; and even the “delicate forest flower” seems
But more frequently nature is herself enough, in the simple thought that personifies and capitalizes: it is She herself that speaks to man, in his different hours, a various language. But it is only casually, as in Among the trees, that he wonders if the vegetable world may not have some
An emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this great universe.A forest Hymn.
dim and faintonly casually, for conscious mysticism was foreign to Bryant's intellect, and the conception had yet to be scientifically investigated in the laboratories of the Hindoo botanist Bose. Here nature, as herself the Life, is simply an hypostasis of the racial imagination in which Bryant so largely shared, just like his intimate personifications of her phenomena, her flowers, her winds, and waters; it is not a philosophic idea, but a primitive instinct. “Nature's teachings” for men are simply the ideas that suggest themselves to Bryant himself (not inevitably to everyone) when he observes what goes on, or what is before him:
sense of pleasure and of pain,
As in our dreams;
The faintest streak that on a petal lies,
May speak instruction to initiate eyes.The mystery of flowers.
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