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Autor: anton • December 1, 2010 • 882 Words (4 Pages) • 650 Views
Nature versus Nurture:
A Time Old Debate
Once upon a time, two poets sat down to tell a tale. They both wanted to tell this story to their children. One looked outward and described the life that he wanted for his child. One looked inward and described the desire for that child to come into the world and begin living life. The poems were both masterpieces and have become classics. The assignment of a young student from her illustrious instructor is to compare the two poems and illustrate their similarities and differences. Ironically, the poet whose child lived and thrived to become an adult probably had homework just as inane when he was a student. Since that is the main similarity between your narrator and the child, let us illustrate the differences between the two poets.
Anna Letitia Barbauld wrote "To A Little Invisible Being Who Is Expected Soon to Become Visible" to her imaginary future child. She writes of the maternal instinct to, "lay her burden down,/ That her glad arms that burden may resume" (17-18). She is curious as to what kind of life her child will have and what kind of person they will be. Her main concern is the birth of the child. She commands the child, "Haste, little captive, burst thy prison doors!/ Launch on the living world, and spring to light!" (29-30). Future mothers, of children real or imagined, all share much the same sentiment. Poets would especially understand this need for release. Every time they write a poem, it goes through a period of waiting and when ready, it is birthed to the nation.
While Barbauld is waiting for her child with anxious heart, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is waiting for his child to grow with bated breath. As his child lies in the cradle by his side, he imagines the life that he will introduce to his child. His imaginings are full of nature and her beauty. Coleridge remembers his lonely, miserable childhood at boarding school and vows that his child's maturing years will be much different. Nature and her wisdom will infuse his child with riches beyond imagining. The "Great universal Teacher! he shall mold/ Thy spirit" (63-64). Nature and God will entwine to capture his son's imagination and creativity. His spirit will be free and his soul will fly.
These are very poetic images compared to the nurturing sense that the reader receives from Barbauld's poem. While Barbauld stays grounded in reality, Coleridge flies on the wings of fantasy almost as if his poem is a dream. This is a major difference in the two poems. Coleridge uses very visual descriptions of nature and memories, such as, "But thou, my babe! shalt wonder like a breeze/ By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags/ Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds" (54-56). These images contrast deeply with lines from Barbauld such as, "And see, the genial season's warmth to share,/ Fresh younglings shoot, and opening roses glow!" (9-10). As both poets discuss nature, the reader gets a very different feel from the