Author Date


Degree Name



Germanic and Slavic Languages



Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Thomas Spencer

Second Faculty Reader

Marc Yamada

Honors Coordinator

Mark Purves


Haiku, Romantic Poetry, Kobayashi Issa, Joseph Eichendorff, nature, environmental poetry


This thesis examines the bearing that metaphysical philosophy about nature has on two late 18th century and early 19th century poets. Although living in different hemispheres and cultures, the works of Romantic poet Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff and haikai Kobayashi Issa both used interactions with nature to illustrate their own personal experiences. However, their differing metaphysical beliefs concerning nature impacted their presentation of their experiences as well as their experiences themselves. Eichendorff viewed nature as a medium through which the divine can choose to communicate. Nature’s purpose is to act as a vehicle for the divine. His descriptions of nature often focused on landscapes, portraying the sum of nature to be greater than any individual plant, animal, or geological feature that is part of the whole. In contrast, for Kobayashi Issa, nature has no underlying purpose. Instead, he focused solely on the individual components on nature, viewing himself as a fellow traveler through a transitory world with other creatures found in nature. In addition to affecting what natural phenomena the poems discuss, the differing metaphysical beliefs of the poets affected how they reacted to nature. Eichendorff always experienced the underlying tension of another presence in nature, whether it manifests itself or not. This often caused him to experience metaphysical grief and uncertainty. Issa did not experience this. Rather, he experienced human grief in his life and turned to nature to contextualize his own suffering. I consider the lives of both poets as well as their works that deal specifically with grief.