Romanticism is a design of composing based in the late 19th century. It is defined by nature, private expression, emotion and creativity. Many authors in his time were part of the Romantic Movement and William Cullen Bryant was one of them. His poems have lots of Romantic ideals such as the altruism of Nature and the focus on feeling. Bryant is plainly a Romantic poet and his poems “Thanatopsis” and “To a Waterfowl” are plainly illustrations of this.
Nature is a big part of both “Thanatopsis” and “To a Waterfowl”.
In “Thanatopsis”, Nature actually has a speaking part. The personified Nature teaches the reader to not fear death, however accept it as a part of life. Nature in this poem is really comforting. She is explained in detail and is represented as calm and thoughtful in her way of speaking.
In “To a Waterfowl”, nature is likewise crucial and in this poem, it is more concrete than the Nature in “Thanatopsis”.
Bryant is talking about an only waterfowl that is flying through the air. The waterfowl belongs to nature and he questions it as if it would respond to. In Romantic poetry, it would answer, as in Thanatopsis, where nature in fact speaks with the reader. This also reveals the liberty and the magical aspect in his writing.
Idealism is also a big romantic characteristic in these poems. In Thanatopsis, realism would consider death a dark and horrible thing. However, the idealistic Bryant portrayed it as a part of life and that dying would bring you back to the divine Nature.
In “To a Waterfowl”, the bird is solitary because he is a freethinking spirit and is flying free from other’s conventional ideas. This appeals to the radical and the idealistic Romantic in him.
This poetry by William Cullen Bryant is clearly of the Romantic style. He uses nature in his poetry in an aesthetic way, stating it as a kind being. Idealism is used in a romantic manner, glorifying death and showing the freedom of life in its natural form. His poetry is full of content and emotion with forgiveness and love. Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” and “To a Waterfowl” are two excellent examples of Romantic poetry because they use Romantic ideas of freedom, idealism, and benevolence of nature.