.. peaker dreams of bringing back the dead poet John Milton to save his decadent era (cliffnotes.com). My final, and best example of nature as a theme in Wordsworths work comes from the poem Tintern Abbey. It opens with the speaker declaring that five years have passed since he last visited the location and encountered its peaceful scenery. He examines the objects he has seen before, and describes their effect upon him: the steep and lofty cliffs (5) impress upon him thoughts of more deep seclusion (6).
The speaker leans against a dark sycamore tree and looks upon the cottage and the orchard trees bearing unripe fruit. He sees the wreaths of smoke (17) rising up from cottage chimneys between the trees, and imagines they might rise from vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, (20) or from the cave of a hermit in the deep forest. The speaker then describes how his memory of these beauteous forms (22) has worked on his mind in his absence from them. When he was in crowded towns, or even alone, the memory of the scene provided him with sensations sweet, / Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart (27-28). His vision of the woods and cottages offered him tranquil restoration (30).
He was affected by these images and they influenced his actions, making him more kind and loving. He believes the memory of the scene offered Rierson 7 him access to a mental and spiritual state in which the world seemed less of a burden, and he becomes a living soul (46) with a view into the life of things (49). The speaker then says the memory of the woods has affected him so strongly that he returns to the memory in times of fretful stir (52). In the present moment, the speakers memory of his first experience in the woods combines with his present view of them, and he relishes in the memorys revival. Happily, he knows that his present experience will provide many wonderful memories for future years.
The speaker is aware of his maturity now and realizes what he missed the first time he encountered the scene. As a young boy, the speaker bounded o’er the mountains (68) and through the streams. In those days, nature made up his whole world: waterfalls, mountains, and woods gave shape to his passions, his appetites, and his love. That time has past, he says, yet he does not mourn it, for though he cannot resume his old relationship with nature, he has been adequately compensated by a new set of more mature gifts. For example, the speaker can now look on nature, not as in the hour / Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes / The still, sad music of humanity (89-91).
Now, the speaker can feel the presence of something more powerful from the glow of the setting sun. He feels the energy of the ocean, the air upon his body, and now has a deeper understanding of man. This energy seems to him a motion and a spirit that impels / All thinking thoughts… / And rolls through all things (100-102). It is for this reason, the speaker still loves nature, still loves the mountains, pastures and woods, for they harbor his purest thoughts and protect the heart and soul of his moral being (111). Rierson 8 Even though the speaker now has a better understanding of the importance the memory of the scene has given him, he says he would still be satisfied with the memory, for it reminds him of the time he spent there with his sister.
His dear, dear sister, (121) is also his dear, dear Friend (116). It is his sisters voice and mannerisms that remind the speaker of his former self, helping him to see the man he has become. Realizing he has grown within the five years that have passed, the speaker offers a prayer to nature that he might continue to deeply relate with his surroundings, as he says, Nature never did betray / The heart that loved her (122-123). Nature’s power over the mind that seeks her is so strong that it makes that mind resistant to evil tongues, (128) rash judgments, (129) and the sneers of selfish men, (129) instilling instead a cheerful faith (133) that the world is full of blessings. The speaker then encourages the moon to shine upon his sister, and the wind to blow against her, and he says to her the memory of this experience will heal her in later years, if she should feel sad or dreary. He also tells his sister if he should die, the memory of the woods will help her to remember the love he found in nature.
He says this so his sister will remember what the woods meant to him, though he had not seen them in five years, they became more dear to him–both for themselves and for the fact that she is intertwined within the memory. The theme of Tintern Abbey is best described as a childhood memory that has bonded with the beauty of nature. According to critic Matthew Arnold, Both generally and specifically, this subject is hugely important in Wordsworth’s work, reappearing in many of his poems (Encarta Encyclopedia online criticism). With this poem, Wordsworth emphasizes the theme: that the memory of pure communion with nature in childhood works upon the mind even in adulthood, when access to that pure communion has been Rierson 9 lost, and that the maturity of mind present in adulthood offers compensation for the loss of that communion. Wordsworth uses the speakers experience as an example of how humans are capable of seeing nature, and only by creating a relationship with nature, will humans gain the strength needed for dealing with life.
Tintern Abbey is a monologue, in which the speaker talks to himself, referencing specific objects in the scene, and occasionally addressing others–once the spirit of nature, occasionally the speaker’s sister. Critic Donald Davidson states, The language of the poem is striking for its simplicity and forthrightness; the young poet is in no way concerned with ostentation, instead speaking from the heart and in a plainspoken manner (great poets.com. The poem’s imagery is composed of the natural setting in which the speaker is surrounded by. Tintern Abbey, also includes hints of religious sentiment. Even though the speaker never describes the Abbey in the poem, the idea of the abbey being a sacred place to the spirit, saturates the scene as though the forest and the fields are the speaker’s abbey.
Donald Davidson states, This is reinforced by the speaker’s description of the power he feels in the setting sun and in the mind of man, which consciously links the ideas of God, nature, and the human mind–as they are linked in much of Wordsworth’s poetry (great poets.com). In conclusion, The publication of Lyrical Ballads represented a landmark moment for English poetry; it was unlike anything that had come before, and paved the way for everything that has come after (Encyclopedia Britanica online). According to the theory he set in the preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth wrote poetry that resulted from the spontaneous overflow (Wordsworth 161) of emotions. He wrote poetry in the simple language of common people and much of his poetry originated from an emotion recollected Rierson 10 in a state of tranquility (Wordsworth 161). Wordsworth surrendered to his emotions so the tranquility of his feelings dissolved into his poems. Critic Donald Davidson states, This explicit emphasis on feeling, simplicity, and the pleasure of beauty over rhetoric, ornament, and formality changed the course of English poetry, replacing the elaborate classical forms of Pope and Dryden with a new Romantic sensibility (great poets.com) Wordsworth gave memorable expression to the romantic mindset developed by his German predecessors and contemporaries (Encarta Encyclopedia).
Romantics focused on the importance of emotions, love and pleasure. They stressed imagination over reason, and believed in the spiritual superiority of nature rather than harsh mechanical shrewdness. They believed art was created to restore a lost harmony between the individual and nature and between nature and society. Wordsworth stated, the poet writes under one restriction only, namely, the necessity of giving immediate pleasure (Wordsworth 165). The pleasure derived from writing poetry was a loving acknowledgment of the beauty of the universe (Wordsworth 165) to Wordsworth, and indicated to him that the human mind was the mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature (Wordsworth 169). Wordsworths most important legacy, besides his lovely, timeless poems, is his launching of the Romantic era, opening the gates for later writers such as John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron in England, and Emerson and Thoreau in America (Encarta Encyclopedia). Bibliography Works Cited Abrams, M.H., et al.
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