During the period of Renaissances in Europe, poetry took another dimension whereby the focus was mainly on matters to do with religion. This was mainly as result of the Counter Reformation. Literature writings were used as a means to express spiritual devotion, the nature of the human soul, and the yearning to leave this world. St. John of the cross is one of the writers who stand out from this period. He is known for writing the poem Dark night of the soul. This poem talks about the journey in which the soul goes into sometimes in a bid to connect with its creator, God (May). This journey is experienced by everyone and it involves the soul struggling hard to overcome difficulties so that it detaches itself from this world and reunites with God (May).
Such an experience is exactly what Christianity is all about. Christians every single day have to endure through painful experiences that are aimed at growing and maturing spiritually. There are two phases involved in this journey. The first one deals with the senses being purified (St. John). This means human senses are the main cause of impurity and for soul to reach and unite with the maker, it has to be purified. The second phase involves purification of the spirit. This journey of the soul usually occurs in the dark because it’s only under this condition that no one can see the other. This statement implies everyone has to go through this journey and they have to do it alone and not in a group or as a couple. It is an individual process that no one can help the other or even be interested in the other’s journey “… in secret, for no one saw me, nor did I look at anything …” (St. John). In the poem, the soul is likened to the bride and it intends to meet with the bridegroom who is its creator.
The enlightenment is a period in history during the 18th century. It was marked with Cultural Revolution where intellect and the power of reason was the main idea behind social reformation. During this period, there was a lot of interchange of intellectual ideas. One of the leading philosophers and writers of this period is Voltaire and Jonathan Smith. Both of these two writers had one aim in their work was to expose some of the persistent problems within their societies. The engaged literally elements such as use of satire and irony to bring out these inherent problems in their societies (Smith).
In their books, A modest proposal, and Candide, they bring out the disadvantages of people following a particular idea without critically analyzing to see if it suits them. For instance in “A modest proposal” the main character who is also the narrator of the story, fails to see that there is a problem with the moral aspects of his proposal. He instead dwells entirely on the economic progress of his proposal. A similar thing also happens in the Voltaire’s text, ‘Candide’. Both the two texts have a literally writing style that would capture the attention of the reader and at the end of it all, the reader would be enlightened about the issue that they are addressing (Cronk).
There are several issues that people would follow blindly without considering their moral implication. For instance, the narrator in the text ‘A modest proposal’ does not even think about how morally wrong it is to eat children. His main focus is on how the society would benefit from doing this immoral act. Similarly in today’s society, people normally engage in activities that would only benefit themselves. They fail to realize the moral implication in case the future generation does not survive.
Romanticism is also a period in history during the mid 18th century. It was marked with literature and artistic work. It aimed at revolting against the ideologies from the period of enlightenment. Some of the main writers of this era include William Wordsworth and Lord Byron. They are known for their work imitation of immortality and she walks in beauty love.
Lord Byron uses this poetry to bring out the wide nature of love. Love is not only meant for the a couple but it is intended to be extended to nature, God and to other people. At the same time love begins from the heart of an individual and is reflected outwardly by being kind and nice to things. He uses the description a lady in the poem to illustrate how love should be. The lady is also used to highlight the role of women in showing love to nature and to others. For instance, women posses a lot of grace and because of their beauty, the nature around them needs to be equally as beautiful (Gordon).
William Wordsworth on the other hand talks about the love of nature in his poem. The entire poem describes various aspects of nature and the manner in which they are beautiful (Wordsworth). He describes the rainbow and how it blossoms, the moon and how it brings delight, the waters and the birds’ joyous singing. “The rainbow comes and goes, and lovely is the rose” (Wordsworth) All this is aimed at appreciating nature giving people a reason to protect nature.
Cronk, Nicholas, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Voltaire. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Gordon, Goerge. She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron. 2009. 22 6 2011
May, Gerald G. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between
Darkness and Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper, 2004.
Smith, Nicole. “Social Critique, Irony, and Satire in “A Modest Proposal” and Candide.” 2010.
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Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez. revised. ICS Publication, 1991.
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William. The Oxford Book of English. Ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch. Oxford, 1919. 1250–1900.