In literature nature has a significant role. The word ‘nature’ suggests the whole universe and every created object-living or non-living. Browning had his own attitude to nature according to his temperament and poetic sensibilities. In the present essay let us have a glimpse of the treatment of nature in the poetry of Browning.
Browning, nurtured in the Romantic atmosphere of poetry, did not overlook the influence of nature on man; but in a bid to forge a new kind of poetry consciously eschewed overemphasis on nature and attempted to focus on human nature. More precisely, to Browning Love was more important than Nature.
It was an established practice of the Neo classical writers to minutely and painstakingly perceive distinct/specific natural phenomenon and then extract the unspecific/universal from them. The Romantics showed in their creative writings a reverse trend. It’s a fact that the Romantics viewed nature more subjectively than objectively. Browning found the solely sense perceptions not as important as the intuitive and instinctual vision of the semantic aspects of objects in nature. In Nature Browning discovered a redoubtable character endowed with the variegated feelings of human beings, and inducing in us very mixed reactions of her mighty impact-benign, terrible and awe-inspiring. “Nature and Passion are powerful”, and Browning’s poetic device of harmonizing the animated Nature and primal passions in Man is very subtle and skilful.
As a poet Browning was attracted more by the Italian painting, sculpture and music than by its picturesque landscape. Landor’s epitaph on himself: “Nature I loved, and after Nature Art” can be applied in the case of Browning only by inverting the word-order, and in that reconstructed word-order Browning would have declared: “Art I loved, and after Art, Nature.” In nature Browning saw the elemental powers doing good as well as evil. Browning is not at all partial and does not show any temperamental inclination to magnify the benevolent powers by minimizing the evil ones.
Browning finds nature in her totality. In other words, he observes in nature the harmonious co-existence of calm, serene beauty on the one hand, and ruggedness, ugliness and the grotesque on the other. As offspring of mother nature we have similarity with the luminous, radiant and beautiful things as well as with the monstrous, rugged ones. Browning’s instress and poetic temperament was more fascinated by things grotesque, rugged, top-heavy like the toad-stool, lop-sided, etc. This element of ruggedness is thus amply reflected everywhere in his treatment of human characters, in the depiction of landscape, in the use of verse form, and vocabulary.