The Experience of Nature and the Formative Process in The Prelud
William Wordsworth and Edward Blunden use poetry to present the experience of skating in a vivid way through the use of powerful imagery and personification of nature. While there are many similarities that link both poems there is a contrast which is mainly in the form of the darker tones and impending danger in Blunden’s ‘The Midnight skaters’.
Both the prelude and the midnight skaters describe skating but represent it in completely contrasting ways, although they both describe an exhilarating, exciting feeling. In the prelude you feel the energy and excitement and also the sadness that Wordsworth feels as we were all children once, this is accomplished by the use of imagery throughout the poem, he begins with imagery to do with winter, such as ‘frosty’ and suggests the end of a winters day. Images of warmth, such as blaz’d” and ‘the sun’ contrast this. The use of words like ‘wheel’d’, ‘hiss’d’, ‘flew’ and ‘rapture’ creates the excitement and enjoyment of the boys. Wordsworth makes it seem as if the humans are animals running through the woods, the skaters are ‘shod with steel’ like ‘until horses’. At the end of the poem, he describes a vivid image of the sunset; ‘the orange sky of evening died away’. The midnight skaters, however, has a darker tone, this is achieved by the personification of death. Death himself is a very sinister character this is accomplished by the use of the word ‘he’ and the description of how he hates them ‘through the glass’. Blunden, like Wordsworth begins with imagery, such as the ‘icy pond’ and ‘black bed’ which represents the darkness throughout the poem. The use of words like ‘lurks’, ‘black’ and ‘hate’ creates a feeling of impending danger which is used all through the poem. In the first stanza, the sense of danger is less apparent than in the following two, yet it is there from as early as the second line; ‘the icy pond lurks under’, this suggests that the pond isn’t what it seems, which are explained further in the rest of the poem.
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The time at which Blunden wrote the poem is greatly significant. Having fought in the first world war, he was living in a time of great suspicion. Even at a simple, happy event like skating death could be lurking around the corner. The scene of skating can represent a battlefield itself, the skaters represent the soldiers, who were mostly very young and still naïve like the children skating; ‘What wants he but to catch earth heedless sons and daughters’. The ‘secret waters’ representing the enemy and death and the ice shows how close the soldiers were to die but how they didn’t even realize. The prelude is nostalgic as Wordsworth experiences the intense feelings of happiness that childhood brings when he is playing with his friends in the woods. It is also about the end of his childhood, and the end of the freedom he has, it is beautiful but yet sad.