Wordsworth’s poems initiated the Romantic era by emphasizing feeling, instinct, and subjectivity above formality and mannerism. The themes that run through Wordsworth’s poetry, and the language and imagery he uses to embody those themes, remain remarkably consistent throughout, adhering largely to the tenets Wordsworth set out for himself. Wordsworth argues that poetry should be written in the natural language of common speech, rather than in the lofty and elaborate dictions He argues that poetry should offer access to the “emotions recollected in tranquillity”. Nature plays a vital role in the creation of Wordsworth’s poetry. Nature acts as Wordsworth’s muse.
Wordsworth was a pantheist, he believed that everything is a manifestation of Nature and that God existed in Nature. For Wordsworth, Nature acted as a philosopher, guide, friend and mentor. This has clearly been seen in “The Nutting” and “From the Prelude”. In the Nutting , he is drawing upon an incident which took place during his childhood where he is awe of the external appearance of nature and wants to destroy it. As soon as he performs this gruesome act, he is overcome by a new realisation at the sense of pain of his destruction of Nature. There is a feeling of repentance and regret after he destroys the once untouched scene. His consciousness is aroused by Nature and he is awakened by the spirituality in the woods.
In his poem From the Prelude, he recalls another childhood experience where he steals a boat. As he quietly sails through the water, there is a sense of pride and excitement. But, when he approaches a crag that appeared to stride after him like a living thing, feeling of fear and guilt are aroused within him. The crag, which is described as “huge” and “black”, intimidates him, it is a part of Nature and it was a manifestation of his guilt. It seems as if Nature had a moral and spiritual presence, which was working on his mind, teaching him and guiding him, as a teacher would have done.
Nature is treated as an entity in her own right; she has a soul, life and a being of her own in Wordsworth’s poems. Nature is not merely used as a scenic and picturesque background but it has a separate existence of her own. William Wordsworth’s poetry passionately illustrates the natural world as something both very simple and beautiful. To Wordsworth, nature is pristinely beautiful, and it is the only escape from a world that is controlled by a physical reality that has lost touch with the beauty of nature.
In his poem “Daffodils”, Wordsworth encounters a field of daffodils beside a lake. The memory of this incredible scene even years later pleases him and comforts him when he is lonely, bored, or restless. This is shows the power of Nature to give one spiritual sustenance, nourishment and succor even years after you see it, even when one is not in the midst of Nature.
Wordsworth’s poems,” Three years she grew in sun and shower” and “Resolution and Independence” show that the characters he most admired lived their lives in the midst of nature. The poem “Three years she grew….” Is about a young girl, Lucy, who is taken away by Nature. In the poem, Nature says that she will make Lucy a lady exactly like herself. She says that Lucy will be a part of Nature and will be manifested in all its aspects. In the poem, “Resolution and Independence”, Wordsworth has an encounter with a leech-picker who lives his life amidst Nature.
In spite of living in sheer poverty and helplessness, the leech-picker had a cheerful and uncomplaining attitude and seemed to live a very happy life. This is why Wordsworth admired them. In his poem, “A slumber did my spirit steal”, he explains how Lucy has become a part of Nature and has no identity of her own. He talks about how she will live her life among rocks, stones and trees.
Nature is seen as a cosmic force. This is because she gives lives and takes them away as seen in “Three years she grew in sun and shower”. She is both creator and destroyer.
There is a new awakening within Wordsworth in his later poems. He sees Nature from a new angle. In his earlier poems, like “Nutting ” , his attraction to nature is merely physical and he has sensuous desires to make Nature his own. In his later poems he derives spiritual sustenance and succor from Nature like in his poem “Daffodils”.
It is evident that Nature plays an integral role in Wordsworth’s poems. Through his poetry, he aims to teach us to appreciate Nature in her pristine form.