- Nov 2020
yet each tree was touched here and there with vivid snatches of the brightest red; the smaller twigs close to the trunk forming brilliant crison tufts, like knots of ribbon. One might have fancied them a band of young knights, wearing their ladies’ colors over their hearts. A pretty flowering dogwood close at hand, with delicate shaft and airy branches, flushed with its own peculiar tint of richest lake, was perchance the lady of the grove, the beauty whose colors were fluttering on the breasts of the knightly oaks on either side.
This writing is an absolute perfect example of romanticized and even heroic themed literature. The personification of the trees as characters who complement each other paired with the reoccurring theme of the application of femininity to nature both contribute to American pastoral romanticism. The careful, detailed, and delicate descriptions of nature within this excerpt are key signs of its romantic qualities, which results in the reader consuming nature more poetically and intellectually. This influence creates and supports a relationship with nature that is characterized by inspiration, awe, and observance. This personified narrative supports pastoral leaning tones by emphasizing a courted relationship between the trees and describes the dogwood as this desired beauty of many. This leads one to further question what American pastoralism exactly means. Here Gordon M. Sayre points out the oxymoron of the idea. “In Marx’s formulation American pastoralism is an ideology that has mediated conflicting desires for technological progress and bucolic retreat, “a desire, in the face of the growing power and complexity of organized society, to disengage from the dominant culture and to seek out the basis for a simpler, more satisfying mode of life in a realm ‘closer,’ as we say, to nature”” (1). This definition understands American pastoralism as a progressive search for technological advance, but also as a desire to live a simpler life more in touch with nature. I think Cooper’s A Dissolving View leans heavily into an emotional connection with nature, but not so much in a simple way. This poetic comprehension of nature provides a deep appreciation and admiration of nature which submits to the gratuity motifs of pastoralism, but more so aligns with a romantic enlightening idea of nature.
Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, Volume 69, Number 4, Winter 2013, pp. 1-23 (Article)