Miriam Patrick

B. Hill American Literature to 1900 8 November 2002

Romantics Before Their Era

Writers have always been classified into groups. Some of the groups would include Neo-Classicists, Romantics, and Realists. The movement known as Romanticism is said to have started around the year 1785. However after reading Native American literature, there is proof that there were Romantics many years before the late 1700's. This is evident when one compares "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson and "To Feed My People" a Cheyenne story by setting, prolixity, and the references to nature.
Romantics loved to use nature as their setting. Emerson put it well when he writes, "Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or mourning piece. the air is a cordial of incredible virtue." (Nature 191). The air is described as a cordial, medicine, which has a wonderful moral of excellence. In "To Feed My People", the race takes place "From the Devil's Tower. to the Teton Mountain" (People 122). Nature is very important in this story, as it serves as the place where the race, to decide which animal is dominant, takes place. The buffalo comes to the race with her hair "as shaggy as if she never combed it" (People 122). The buffalo woman is described as though she didn't take care of her hair. Romantic writers admired primitive things, so they included this into their stories.
Romantic writers loved to be very wordy or prolixic with their stories. In "Nature", Emerson uses complicated words to describe something simple, "To a man laboring under calamity, the hear of his own fire hath sadness in it" (Nature 193). Where as in "To Feed My People", they use prolixity to describe, in great detail, the buffalo woman, "Her waist was tiny and narrow, and her legs were so thing she looked as if she could never run on them. Around her waist she wore a little fuzzy apron, that looked as if it were made from the same shaggy heir she wore on her head" (People 122). So, even though the two stories use prolixity in different ways, they both make use of this common concept of Romantic writers.
Nature is a very important part of Romantic literature, often used to describe characters, and to teach morals, or ideas. "The prairie falcon spread his great wings and rose from the ground. he soared along, using all the wind currents to carry him" shows how the Cheyenne people used nature to describe the movement of the falcon (People 122-123). Emerson used nature to teach morals. He makes that point that few adults can really see nature. He backs up this idea with examples from nature, itself. "The sun illuminates itself only in the eye of man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child. The lover of nature is whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other." shows how that only a true lover of nature, such as an innocent child, will truly see the sun for all its worth (Nature 191).
After one has compared "Nature" and "To Feed My People", it is obvious that while "To Feed My People" came many years before the Romantics it shares the basic ideas and concepts of the Romantic movement. These ideas include the closeness to nature and prolixity. The Romantics shared these and many more ideas with the world through their literature. Over all writers use many techniques to get a point across or to simply fill in the reader in as to what is going on in the story.