Many older people will look upon the past as being a better time or having better qualities than the present, but this is hardly a recent concept or a feeling unique to a particular generation. No doubt, there are moments in a person’s life, when a glance in the rear view mirror clearly reflects some better times than those currently experienced, but the reverse is just as prevalent.
William Wordsworth in his poem: Sonnet. -To Milton 6 written in 1802, laments the bad times that existed in England at the time and penned his nostalgic feeling and longings for another time in the poem, especially in line seven and eight:
“Oh, rise up, return to us again
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power”
Milton died in 1674, thus Wordsworth is referring to a time in the early to mid 17th century, when conditions in England apparently were substantially better than in the early 1800ds. The seventeenth century in England was a time of great upheaval, civil war, James the 1st, Charles the 1st, Oliver Cromwell, 25 John Milton, and Robert Owen were prominently featured in the history of that century. Owen was the first to institute a patriarchal socialist system amongst the working class and partial abolishment of child labour. There was so much misery, food riots, and starvation, religious fervour (Calvinism, Puritanism and more) so why he is nostalgic about this era is perplexing, especially since he had no personal experience from that time? This age lay in the historic past rather than within his own lifetime, thus his feelings for those “better
This begs the question as to just how far back in history a person can project his nostalgia without loosing touch with the reality that without personal experience in a particular time period, he or she is really fantasizing that these times were better than the current.
Mathew Arnold in his poem:” The Scholar Gypsy” written in 1853, also expressed nostalgia for the past, although looking back only as far as his own youth.
O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames;
Before this strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims,
Its heads o’ertax’d, its palsied hearts, was rife…
Are my own feelings and fond recollections of my childhood and those times therefore nostalgia? I would rather attribute them to happy memories of a time when all things seemed possible, when dreams seemed reality and the winds of optimism prevailed regardless of how tempestuous reality at times became. It is difficult to argue that a happy childhood, filled with love and care, is the foundation stone on which a mature, well-adjusted adult’s life rests. Adolescence is a time when the glorious prospective of things that have yet to materialize fuels both dreams and idealism and the present is judged relative to its ability to conform to the standards that one’s youthful verve once exacted from society. Unbridled optimism prevails until such time that reality, however kind or callous; proclaim that life is not a free ride; that daily bread comes with a price tag attached.
A high degree of self-reliance and strong survival skills in an increasingly complex and overpopulated world are essential tools that must be acquired early in life.>
This work by K. Larsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.