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The quiet lake, the balmy air,
Or is the dreary change in me?
This poem shows how subjective was Scott's view of nature, and he seems in it to completely refute Ruskin's argument in his own verse.
That nature is not always sad to the poets we see in Wordsworth's beautiful poem about the daffodils, and the delight the recollection of them gave him:
"I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
“The waves beside them danc'd, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee;
In such a jocund company!
“To Daffodils.” R. Herrick.
But these same flowers suggested a sadder train of thought to Herrick:
“Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
Ne'er to be found again.”
Tennyson in this well-known passage shows how the same scene can be full of happiness or despairing sorrow, in accordance with the feelings of the lover: “Many an evening on the moorland
with the fulness of the Spring.
did we watch the stately ships, And our spirits rushed together
at the touching of the lips.
O my Amy, mine no more!
O the barren, barren shore!” And again in one of the most perfect of his short pieces he tells of a scene recalling to memory the friend he had loved and lost. How fine is the effect of the constant repetition of the words “All along the valley”! It seems to unite the present and the past, and to give a permanence and reality to the poet's dream and make it a living thing: “All along the valley, stream that flashest white, “In the Deepening thy voice with the deepening of the night, Valley of All along the valley where thy waters flow,
Cauteretz." I walk'd with one I loved, two and thirty years ago.
All along the valley while I walked to-day,
And the general effect of nature on the poetic temperament seems undoubtedly to be a sad one. Thus Tennyson writes:
“Tears, idle tears, ...
And Burns sings:
“Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird,
That sings upon the bough;
That sings beside thy mate;
And wist na o'my fate."
“There in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawie bosom sunward spread,
In humble guise;
And low thou lies!
That fate is thine, no distant date;
Full on thy bloom,
Shall be thy doom.”
Similarly the old ballad tells how
“Thy braes were bonnie, Yarrow stream,
And Rossetti writes, in his intense vision of human grief: “Her seem'd she scarce had been a day
“The One of God's choristers;