I imagined the painting “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct”, by Théodore Gericault, while reading the ballad “The Convict”, by William Woodsworth. The opening lines of the poem alone are enough to make the connection:
The glory of evening was spread through the west;
On the slope of a mountain I stood,
While the joy that precedes the calm season of rest
Rang loud through the meadow and wood.
The painting is awfully breathtaking; there’s a glorious castle on the side of a mountain with a drawbridge connecting it to the rest of civilization. In the left corner, you can see the sunset beautifully taking place, giving a brilliant glow to the tree and drawbridge a beautiful aura. Contrasting this is the top right corner, where there are, what seems to be, storm clouds forming or the darkness of the night settling in. There are two men presented in the painting, one who appears to be a begar and another is offering help. While neither are featured in “The Convict”, because they’re both outside and free, it gives a good visual to the idea of the two men in the poem could be. Additionally, the man who is offering help parallels Woodsworth in the poem, who is visiting a convict because of his guilt. I would consider this painting to be romantic because of the way that it beautifies and personifies the sunset. Emotions are also a key element in this painting because while you are in awe of the sunset that is being presented before you, there is a period of night and darkness that is waiting to take over. The mystery of the night, as well as the beauty of the sunset, are used to add romantic elements to this artwork.
The poem, in simple terms, is about, who presumably is Woodsworth, who is visiting a lonely convict who is imprisoned inside a beautiful mountain because he feels guilty that he’s captive and wants to set him free. This poem exemplifies romanticism because it is deeply rooted in powerful emotions. From the description of the convict, “His bones are consumed, and his life-blood is dried,//With wishes the past to undo;//And his crime, through the pains that o’erwhelm him, descried,//Still blackens and grown on his view,”, to the great guilt that Woodsworth feels toward the convict, a man that he doesn’t even know the name of, “Poor victim! No idle intruder has stood//With o’erweening complacence our state to compare, //But one, whose first wish is the wish to be good,//Is come as a brother thy sorrows to share.” The powerful emotions, the regret of the convict and the remorse that Woodsworth feels for him is more than enough to constitute this poem as romantic.