.. is the cottage that the family lives in. Down from the ceiling, by the chimney’s edge, That in our ancient uncouth country style With huge and black projection over-browed Large space beneath, as duly as the light Of day grew dim the Housewife hung a lamp; An aged utensil, which had performed Service beyond all others of its kind. This descriptions compares the house to the world, showing its great vastness and how the light that is hung will bring light to the greatest depths of space. Appropriately the house was named “The Evening Star.” The lamp in the house can be seen as man in nature.
Without light nothing can be seen in the house, and without man the true beauty of nature cannot be exposed. As the poem continues we watch Luke grow up. At the age of five he is given a shepherds staff from his father, a sign of the passing of tradition from one generation to the next. When he reached the age of ten he worked with his father everyday, and “the old mans heart seemed born again.” (line 203) Michael is very proud to see his son follow in his footsteps and continue the tradition of the family. In the following lines Michael is forced to pay back a debt which he owes, and the only way he could do this is to either sell his land or have Luke work off the debt in the city.
At first the parents are excited that Luke may leave and come back rich and prosperous, as others have done before, but they soon realize that they do not want Luke to leave. “Thou must not go: we have no other Child but thee to lose, none to remember – do not go away, For if thou leave thy Father he will die. This talk between Luke and his mother shows how important Luke is to his father, and that if he left all would fall apart. Unfortunately Luke believes he is strong and decided to the leave the next morning. Before he goes his Father takes him to the brook with the many stones and asks him to lay the cornerstone for the Sheepfold. This is an important part of the poem, because it shows Michaels desire to pass on his tradition to his son.
He wants him to come back one day and finish what he has started, and to leave a permanent mark on the land. The two say goodbye and Luke leaves for the city. For a while Luke writes home telling his parents that all is well and he is doing fine. Then suddenly Luke is said to “follow evil courses” and he is never heard from again. This destroys the Father, who gives up hope in life and lets the unfinished wall collapse into “a heap of shapeless stones.” The story ends with Michael passing away, along with his wife a few years later after having sold the precious land. These two poems both show the importance nature plays in mans life and vice versa.
In “Tintern Abbey” we see Wordsworth himself use the image he saw in nature to comfort him in his life, and then pass this image on to his sister. This directly relates to “Michael”, as we see how important the land is to him and how his only goal in life is to pass on his land and tradition to his son. Wordsworth is portraying the idea that nature is everlasting and is something that can be experienced by many people, but also showing that these experiences have a profound effect on nature. This can be seen in the concluding lines of “Michael” .. Yet the oak is left That grew beside their door; and the remains Of the unfinished sheepfold may be seen Besides the boisterous brook of Greenhead Ghyll. Wordsworth also shows the growth of man in relation to nature.
This is seen in “Tintern Abbey” by the contrasting views Wordsworth has when he sees the abbey as a young man and again a few years later. At first he is afraid of nature as he would be afraid of the world itself, but as he grows to understand the world, he also grows to understand nature. In the poems man and nature seem to evolve together, feeding off of one another. Without nature man could not survive, and without man the true beauty of nature would not be uncovered. In “Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth uses the memory of the abbey to help him through life, and then shares this memory with his sister, in hoping that she will use it and pass it on to another. This gives Wordsworth a feeling of continuity in his life, that he was able to find something in nature and pass it on to another.
This idea of continuity is also show by Michael’s desire to pass on his land to his son, and the great disappointment he feels when he cannot. A tradition is just a specific memory passed on from generation to generation, as seen in “Michael” when Luke is given the staff and taught how to care for the sheep. This is a custom that took place for many years in the family and Michael wanted it to continue for many more years. I believe Wordsworth ended Lyrical Ballads with these poems for a reason. Tintern Abbey is Wordsworth’s own experience in nature and how he wanted to pass this on to his sister.
He found something in nature that brought out a sense of humility and a deeper understanding of man. I think everyone turns to nature at some point in their life, whether it be for the necessities of life or merely for the beauty it portrays. We all feel the need to pass on some kind of tradition in our lives, it is the one thing that gives meaning to what we do everyday. Sometimes we look to others for the answers and other times we turn to God or nature, but no matter what the outcome of our life is, we have each had an impact on the world in which we live. I think Wordsworth is asking his readers to reflect upon their lives and their memories, to find that one special moment, and pass it on to someone that they love.