Toward the start of The Prelude, Wordsworth says something about seeing signs of Rev in the natural surroundings, as if nature were the manifestation of God’s mind for humans to interpret. But in “Anecdote of the Jar,” Stevens suggests that this human thing, a jar, is placed in the Tennessee woods, and an inhuman and sublime nature comes up and grows around it, enshrouding it. The artifice of humanity, incl our religions, is qualitatively different from a natural world that knows no such human stuff. And yet, nature and artifice interact. It’s probably a false dichotomy. My question is, does nature really arise from God, or is nature an atheistic barbarian? Nature for the Renaissance was different from nature for Darwin. But it’s a romantic thrill to envision a chapel in the woods, or an Excalibur jammed tight into a stone within this chapel. Makes me want to reread Stewart’s The Hollow Hills. Mary Stewart is such a powerful writer to me.
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