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RETRIBUTION, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Retribution" is a poem by William Cullen Bryant that explores the themes of justice, morality, and the consequences of human actions. The poem is notable for its contemplative tone and its exploration of the complex relationship between cause and effect.

The poem opens with a description of a solitary figure walking through a forest, surrounded by the beauty and serenity of the natural world. However, the speaker soon reveals that this idyllic scene is merely a prelude to a deeper exploration of the human condition, and the ways in which our actions can have profound consequences.

As the poem continues, the speaker reflects on the idea of retribution, suggesting that the universe has a way of balancing the scales of justice and punishing those who act against the moral order. He writes, "And Nature, the old nurse, took / The child upon her knee, / Saying: 'Here is a story-book / Thy Father hath written for thee.'"

Through a series of vivid and evocative images, the speaker describes the ways in which individuals who have acted against the moral order may be punished or forced to confront the consequences of their actions. He writes of "the cruel scourge of Fate," "the avenging Angel's breath," and "the power that sits on the Judgment-seat."

However, the poem also offers a sense of hope and redemption, suggesting that even those who have acted immorally can find a path to salvation if they are willing to confront the consequences of their actions and seek forgiveness. The speaker writes, "For all is pure that is received / In the heart that hath forgiven."

Overall, "Retribution" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that invites us to contemplate the nature of justice and morality, and the ways in which our actions can have profound and lasting consequences. Through its use of vivid imagery and philosophical reflection, the poem reminds us of the importance of living in harmony with the moral order, and of the power of forgiveness and redemption in the face of wrongdoing. It is a timeless reminder of the complexity of the human condition, and a tribute to the enduring values of justice and compassion.


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