“Thanatopsis” is a poem about life and death. It is also about the nature’s ability to soothe our pain. The poem is filled with thoughts about death and its inevitability. The speaker of the poem suggests that when we have dark thoughts and worries about a death, we should turn to nature and listen to its voice. The voice of nature reminds us that we came from the earth, and we will return to it. However, we will not be alone as we will literally join the majority. This idea is meant to comfort the readers; it suggests that death is nothing but the dream-filled happy sleep.
This poem is not about religion or religious views, still the speaker resembles a preacher, and the poem resembles his sermon. Such an impression is caused by the way the speaker is explaining things. He tells the readers how to behave, what to expect, how to feel. He encourages the readers by giving good news after the bad ones. Yes, we are all going to die someday, but everything will be all right.
The speaker’s perspective can be compared to a perspective of a ghost, who just left the body and is raising above all worries and hardships of the human life. He is drifting slowly while pondering about life existence and wonders of nature.
Nature plays an essential part in the poem. It is personified and is referred to as a lady. This makes it more relatable to the reader, think of Mother Nature. This analogy helps to associate nature with warmth and kindness. This lady is able to comfort us and soothe our fear of death.
Since this poem is about passing, the reader should not be surprised by numerous images of graveyards and coffins, present in “Thanatopsis”. The idea of being buried in a box, the confinement of the grave is opposed to the open space and freedom of nature. The speaker stresses that our lifeless body will only be buried in the box, and our soul will have a chance to rise above and will not be stranded by any restrictions and confinement. The ocean is another powerful symbol in the poem. It represents the natural world; however in this poem the ocean is enormous, scary, tragic and sad. It is opposed to the golden and shining sun, a symbol of life.
To sum it up, this poem is about death. Its main purpose is to remind us that the end is approaching, but at the same time it reassures us that we should not be afraid of it. After all, there is no flying from fate so we might as well accept the fact that our life will end some day and enjoy every moment of it while we still can.