John Greenleaf Whittier's Poem 'Snow-Bound': An Analysis of Romantic Poetry
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Romantic poetry is characterized by its length and verbosity, its use of sentimental imagery and themes, and its wistful tone. Moreover, romantic poetry tends to romanticize the past, longing for a time that is more innocent and pure than the big bad future. The past can be relatively recent, as in the times of mothers and grandmothers; or the past may refer to the classical era of history and ancient civilizations. During a time of industrialization and urbanization, a more pastoral past also became a common subject for discussion. A return to a simpler life, and an appreciation for nature, were also themes shared by all the romantic era poets. John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "Snow-bound" fills all the criteria for romantic poetry, and may even be the quintessential American romantic era poem. In "Snow-bound," a family is trapped inside their New England cabin. They use the opportunity for self-reflection, musing on the past, and bonding over their experiences. Natural imagery pervades the poem, which is narrative in style and epic in scope.
The snowstorm that prompts the narrative event is described in a typically romantic way, using lively diction that glorifies blizzard. References to Asian architecture and the leaning tower of Pisa coincide with the romantic near-obsession with ancient civilizations. The evocative imagery of the ancient buildings and exotic cultures coincides also with the striking natural imagery that is characteristic of romantic poetry. In