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Review of the Nature poems in the syllabus

Having analysed the nature poems in the syllabus, now I would like to make a kind
of review of them and then move on to the next theme in the syllabus- the theme of
conflict which has replaced the earlier theme of war.
What is obvious at the first glance is the fact that two of the nature poems are
about birds while the other two are about a river and a star. In other words, two of
them are living beings while the other two are non-living things that belong to the
nature.
Of all four poems about nature, Blakes To the Evening Star stands tall above
others due to its cosmic significance. The poem is about one of the favourite objects
of nature among the poets - the star. It is seen as a protector of the mankind
against the dark forces of the night. Thus, unlike the other poems about nature in
the syllabus, To the Evening Star sheds its light all over us and makes us aware
about the diurnal cycle and the whole creation that seeks refuge under the
protective influence of the evening star, a symbol of beauty as well as innocence.
The poem, To the Nile, on the other hand, belongs to the earth and to the dark
Nations of Africa. It used to nourish the Africa from time immemorial and continues
to serve them. Keats makes us appreciate both the historical glory of the Nile as
well as its breathtaking natural beauty with his typical sensuous language. Both
Blake and Keats use an elevated style in their poems which poses some difficulty to
the students who do not have much exposure to the classical style. Teachers should,
as far as possible, help the students to appreciate the beauty of the poems by
simplifying the diction and, wherever possible, using appropriate Sinhala translation
of the words and phrases. Visuals such as videos (as supplied by me in my
Literature websites) and pictures will motivate them to study the poems especially
since imaginative faculty of the modern generation is somewhat blunted by todays
exam-oriented education system.
Coming to the bird poems, the Eagle by Tennyson seems to possess the
mysterious power of nature, and in that sense, it is somewhat akin to the Evening
Star with its cosmic influence. However, while the Evening Star seems to
symbolize the benevolent forces of nature, The Eagle seems to symbolize the
malevolent forces of nature which strikes its victim with lightening speed. Also, like
the Evening Star, it belongs to the sky. Tennyson, with his superior craftsmanship,
creates a superb cinematic effect of a still frame by focusing on the regal
appearance of the Eagle perched atop the rock which contrasts sharply with his
sudden fall or swoop downward, a master-stroke of potential and the real power of
nature. The other bird poem, A bird came down the walk is a much lighter poem
by contrast, and it shows both the cruelty and grace of nature using minute details
which reminds us of the adage small is beautiful. The language is easy to

understand though rich in meaning. As a nature poem, it makes us appreciate both


the savagery and the gracefulness of the nature.
I hope this overview of the poems which come under the nature category of the
poems would have enabled you to understand various dimensions and
manifestations of nature represented by both living and non-living creation of the
earth. Good Luck!