I’d like to start by saying that when looking at Lines Written in Early Spring (page 102) and the image by Caspar David Friedrich, The Monk by the Sea, together as one, it makes the poem appear as if it’s coming from mother nature, as if Earth was its own entity reflecting on humans and our progress on Earth.
In line one, it says “I heard a thousand blended notes,” which can be seen in the white sky that has a mixed texture. This could represent the notes also being mixed if paper could actually mix that way–but that’s the beauty of it because here it is. Lines 2 and 3 also say “In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to the mind,” here, we could also interpret the sky as that changing of thoughts, where the sky is white, the pleasant thoughts, literally blend with the dark, the sad thoughts.
In stanza 2 lines 7-8 it says, “And much it griev’d my heart to think What man has made of man,” this line really took over the image for me and made me reflect on how I needed to come to Merced, a place that sometimes feels is as empty as in this painting (coming from a city such as Oakland, there’s no real empty space, and there’s like an abundance of empty space here–not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just ), in order to be able to reflect on the impact we, human beings, have made–which has been anything but good to the environment. Point being, the painting could be the point that mother nature decides to reflect on how we’ve developed.
That is like how in the earlier lines I mentioned where pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts. Throughout the rest of the poem, it is admiring its surroundings of birds and the breeze, which shows an appreciation of this space, though not reflected in the painting, because it is a beach, we can easily assume that there are these elements at this moment. But while there is an appreciation for this moment we’re in, there’s a slight inevitable part of us that can’t help but reflect on where we come from, which is probably not a place as serene as a beach–if you like the beach, at least.