Archibald Lampman's "Nature" poetry as reflecting the (im)possibility of construing Canadian identity

Source document: The Central European journal of Canadian studies. 2009, vol. 6, iss. [1], pp. 143-153
  • ISSN
    1213-7715 (print)
    2336-4556 (online)
License: Not specified license
The aim of this paper is to show on the example of Archibald Lampman and William Wordsworth how the two literary traditions intersperse and diverge on the ultimate Romantic subject – Nature. Descriptions of nature in the poems of Lampman and Wordsworth are often interior landscapes or "maps of a state of mind" (Atwood) important for defining one's identity. In Wordsworth's poetry man's identity is built and re-built on the basis of his close contact with Nature that soothes him and provides comfort for the years to come. On the other hand, Lampman's poetry speaks about the difficulty of coming to terms with Nature, of taming the unpredictable, cruel and often meaningless landscape. There exists in Lampman's poetry an attempt to reconcile with Mother-Nature and seek guidance from it, a prominent Wordsworthian trait which is juxtaposed to the feeling of being swallowed up by Nature's unconscious cruelty and bareness. The instability of the Canadian concept of "identity" and the inability to defi ne what it really is might be the result of this double-sided view of Nature.
Le but de ce travail est de montrer, à travers l'exemple d'Archibald Lampman et William Wordsworth, comment deux traditions littéraires se croisent et divergent au sujet du plus important concept romantique, la nature. Les descriptions de la nature dans la poésie d'Archiblad Lampman et William Wordsworth sont souvent des paysages intérieurs ou des "cartes de l'état de conscience" (Atwood) essentiels à la définition de l'identité de chacun. Dans la poésie de Wordsworth, l'identité de l'homme se construit et se reconstruit sur les bases de son contact intime avec la nature qui l'apaise et lui fournit la consolation pour les années à venir. Quant à la poésie de Lampman, elle parle des difficultés à essayer de comprendre la nature, à dompter le paysage imprévisible, impitoyable et souvent dénué de sens. Il existe chez Lampman une tentative de se réconcilier avec la Mère-Nature et d'être guidé par elle, trait wordsworthien majeur, et parallèlement le sentiment d'engloutissement par l'inconsciente cruauté et le dépouillement de la Nature. L'instabilité du concept de l'"identité canadienne" et l'incapacité de la définir peuvent être le résultat de ce double rapport à la Nature.
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