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The Prairies

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The term romantic is defined as "literature depicting emotional matter in an imaginative form" (Morner). Romanticism was a cultural movement in the eighteenth century that had an impact on in many areas including music, art, and literature. The movement that Romanticism put forth was so powerful that today, scholars refer to it as a revolution that took place in rebellion against the austere views of groups like the Puritans from the previous centuries. Many images of nature in the writing at this time, as well as writers, encompass sympathetic interests in the past. One particular piece, William Cullen Bryant's "The Prairies" captures an strong sympathetic look to the past.

In his poem "The Prairies", William Cullen Bryant's exhibits a sympathetic interest in the past throughout this work. Bryant begins his poem by saying, "These are the Gardens of the Desert, these/ The Unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful, / And fresh as the young earth, err man had sinned-/ The Prairies" (L 1-4). Here Bryant shows that many settlers move West in an attempt to start a new society on the fertile land of the prairies like the many who precede them. Later in the poem Bryant states," And pass the prairie-hawk that, poised on high,/ Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not--ye have played/ Among the palms of Mexico and vines/ Of Texas, and have cripes the limpid brooks/ That from the fountains of Sonora glide/ Into the calm Pacific--have ye fanned"(L 17-22). These lines show the ever westward expansion of America all the way to the Pacific Ocean.(you need more in this sentence. What does it show?) During this on-going expansion, Americans came across many areas that were inhabited by people including the Indians and the "mound-builders." Bryant describes these primitive, yet advanced people as the mound builders as, "A race, that long has passed away,/ Built them;-a disciplined and populous race/ Heaped, with long toil, the earth." Later he compares the mound builders way of life to that of the Greeks. These lines help to show the simplicity of the life of the Indians and others who lived in peace on their sacred land. Bryant shows his appreciation for those who come before in saying, "Man's better nature triumphed then." (L 79)

After continual expansion of the American colonies, many Indian tribes were forced to leave their native land and move westward. Bryant explains that this had a major impact on the mound people, "The red man came/ The roaming hunter tribes, warlike and fierce, / And the mound-builders



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