Nutting by William Wordsworth: Poem Analysis

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Nutting by William Wordsworth: Poem Analysis

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Romanticism was an international artistic and philosophical movement that began in the western Europe and flourished in the late 18th century. Romanticism refers to the birth of a new set of ideas, it’s about a mindset and a way of feeling, it has nothing to do with love. It fundamentally redefined how people in Western Cultures thought about themselves and about their world, and its influence on our lives today which remains immense. There are many well-known poets of this era. For example. John Keats, William Blake, William Wordsworth and others. All these poets exposed romanticism in different kind of ways. One of the ways that we will be examining, is in one of the poems by William Wordsworth called “Nutting” which dates back to the romanticism era.

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William Wordsworth's 'Nutting' is about a memory where he remembers a day spent collecting nuts as a young boy in the forest and while in the forest the boy celebrates the beauty of the woods surrounding him, but before leaving he pulls a branch of the tree crashing to the ground to pick up the nuts, This misdeed of the beautiful forest disrupts the entire scene, leaving the poet disturbed and ashamed of his doing. The first line which states, “it seems a day,” suggests a reflection and memory of a past event as mentioned above.

Wordsmith examines the relation between the individual (the boy) and nature (the forest) as in the opening of the poem , which has qualities of a story, with the narrator setting off on a quest with ‘A nutting crook in hand’ and wearing a disguise.

Lines 10-19 finds the explorer moving ‘O'er pathless rocks,’ in search of his treasure. The ‘dear nook unvisited’ perpetuates a sense of purity and magic in the surroundings and the narrator basks in the opulent natural setting – suppressing his natural and more animalistic desires. The sexual imagery is so strong in lines 17-19, William Wordsworth could be presenting the desire of man to conquer the land and its vulnerability personified.

‘The Banquet,’ suggests an almost desire or more appropriately ‘sexual appetite’ to destroy the untouched scene that is presented. He expresses pure joy as he sits ‘Among the flowers,’.

The poem is not only about romanticism, but one of greediness and the desire to conquer everything. He describes a ‘maid’ as a ‘violet by mossy stone’, undermining the idea of a more sexual interpretation .

The pace of the poem changes from line 43, ‘Then up I rose’ and the syntax changes from the previously relaxed use of iambic pentameter - which could signify the natural impulses of the narrator. The impulse lines 52 and 53 results in the boy jumping up and tearing hazel-nuts off from the branches. When he is finished, the ‘silent trees’ and ‘the intruding sky’ evokes a terrible sense of guilt at the destruction caused, which is one of the characteristics of romanticism, by responding to nature that leads to a deeper self-awareness.

The poem concludes in a tercet. The reference to ‘dearest Maiden’ has great significance, as the reader now understands that the poem was not only a personal memory but as a parable -with these last lines acting as the moral of the story. The poem is also full of an expression of spontaneous, intensified feelings and its use of simple and direct language and that is what romanticism is all about.  

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