The Development of the Feeling for Nature in the Middle Ages and Modern Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Development of the Feeling for Nature in the Middle Ages and Modern Times.

Rosse answers him: 

                       Ah, good father,
  Thou see’st the heavens, as troubled with man’s act,
  Threaten his bloody stage; by the clock ’tis day,
  And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp. 
  Is’t night’s predominance or the day’s shame
  That darkness does the-face of earth entomb
  When living light should kiss it?

The whole play is a thrilling expression of the sympathy for Nature which attributes its own feelings to her—­a human shudder in presence of the wicked—­a human horror of crime, most thrilling of all in Macbeth’s words: 

                  Come, seeling night,
  Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,
  And with thy bloody and invisible hand
  Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
  Which keeps me pale.

In Hamlet, too, Nature is shocked at man’s mis-deeds: 

...  Such an act (the queen’s)
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty
...  Heaven’s face doth glow,
Yea, this solidity and compound mass
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.

But there are other personifications in this most wonderful of all tragedies, such as the magnificent one: 

  But look, the dawn, in russet mantle clad. 
  Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastern hill.

The first player declaims: 

  But, as we often see, against some storm
  A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
  The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
  As hush as death....

Ophelia dies: 

  When down her weedy trophies and herself
  Fell in the weeping brook.

and Laertes commands: 

  Lay her i’ the earth,
  And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
  May violets spring.

Thus Shakespeare’s great imagination gave life and soul to every detail of Nature, and he obtained the right background for his dramas, not only through choice of scenery, but by making Nature a sharer of human impulse, happy with the happy, shuddering in the presence of wickedness.

He drew every phase of Nature with the individualizing touch which stamps her own peculiar character, and also brings her into sympathy with the inner life, often with that poetic intuition which is so closely allied to mythology.  And this holds good not only in dealing with the great elementary forces—­storms, thunder, lightning, etc.—­but with flowers, streams, the glow of sunlight.  Always and everywhere the grasp of Nature was intenser, more individual, and subjective, than any we have met hitherto.

Idyllic feeling for Nature became sympathetic in his hands.



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The Development of the Feeling for Nature in the Middle Ages and Modern Times from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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