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In the dawn of the Romantic period of writing, William Wordsworth defined what it is to be a romantic poet in an Enlightened era. Wordsworth rejects reason and instead chases after feeling. With nature being the best teacher Wordsworth is excited to learn and experience it himself. Amid a walk down memory lane, Wordsworth reflects on the comfort that just the thought of Wye has provided him with throughout his adult life. Furthermore, by using objective descriptions and subjective responses in “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth conveys the same emotions and memories to his readers while expressing the importance of looking to nature in times of need.
The poem begins with a description of Wye. Wordsworth describes his surroundings in a way that the reader can feel as if they were standing next to him. He describes the cliffs as steep and the sky as quiet. He feels secluded under “dark sycamore” (10). Wordsworth conveys the sounds of the spring water he can hear trickling down.
He looks out at the farms and cottages and describes them as “beauteous forms”, Wordsworth thought that beauty could be found in common life. These descriptions of this peaceful place can bring comfort to the reader the same way it did for Wordsworth. Through this portrayal, the reader can live the memory the same way that Wordsworth has been living it for the past five years, mentally.
Wordsworth then began to go into detail about the way Wye made him feel. He describes that whenever he was going through a hard or sad time he would think back to this place and feel comforted.
He tells that when he was in a crowded city and wanted to escape from everyone he would think back to the seclusion. As Wordsworth is presently standing in the midst of his favorite place he conveys, “While here I stand/… with pleasing thoughts/ that in this moment there is life and food for future years” (63-66). Wordsworth looks at nature as fuel that not only will he feel happy while he is there, but it will provide him with sustainable happiness. He has been through and experienced the turmoil of life, but he understands that with an appreciation of nature he will always be able to carry its piece with him throughout his life like he has been doing the past “five long winters” (2). Wordsworth did not only find knowledge in nature, but he found comfort when he was away. He recounts the best days of his life when he was at Wye, the long five years ago, and how even just the memory can bring him the same joy. He illustrates that just being out in nature can bring people to live, he goes on to say, “In body, and become a living soul… / Of harmony, and the deep power of joy / We see into the life of things” (47-50). Wordsworth refers to this place a person referring to it as “thee” (56), he even asks the rhetorical question “How often has my spirit turned to thee” (58). His behavior towards Wye shows how much he respects nature and how nature should be treated as a person. Wordsworth uses these emotions as a tool to make the reader realize that looking to nature is a part of life that has been lost in the age of the Enlightenment. He is making a plea to bring it back.
Wordsworth then begins reflecting on when he was a boy and what he was like when he visited Wye for the first time. He expresses the innocents he once had and how excited and mesmerized by this place he once was. He goes on to say explain that he can never go back to that because like all humans he has lost his innocence and matured but he explains that he is not sad that he can never experience nature like he once did but have that he learned to look to nature in times of need. Wordsworth then portrays how he feels about the current social climate, in the era of the Enlightenment, Wordsworth feels sorry for humanity because they have stopped looking to nature for guidance but instead started looking towards reasoning. He feels as though man has started looking to man for knowledge and that is why they cannot find true peace and contentment. He explains that nature is the “anchor of my purest thoughts” (110) and that nature is the guide “of all my moral being” (112). Because of the peace and guidance, Wordsworth has received from the gift of nature he wants to share that. He wants all people to have the same joy, especially his sister, who is revealed at the end of the poem to be walking beside him.
The end of the poem is directed at his sister. He prays that even though she is still innocent and young as he once was when she grows and matures that she’ll continue to find beauty in nature. That through “the dreary intercourse of daily life” (132) she’ll be able to follow in his footsteps and find lasting happiness in nature. Though the end of the poem is directed at his sister, it is meant for all people to follow by. It is a message that people should avoid getting swept up in the “sneers of selfish men” (130), by instead looking at obtainable and sustainable happiness in nature. Wordsworth advises that all people can be guided to what is morally best for them. He conveys that only through nature we can overcome the evils of man and be able to hold on to our faith.
In conclusion, Wordsworth uses his poem “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” to paint a picture of nature so that the reader can picture exactly what he has been picturing for the long five years he was away from Wye. He uses descriptive language so that the reader can feel exactly what he has been feeling all those years. He then advises the reader through a prayer for his sister, that people must look towards nature for bliss. He informs that if people continue down the enlightened path that there is no happiness on it and it will only lead to sorrow. He instructs that the only way for life long happiness, even after our childlike wonder is gone, it to continue to look to nature, to continue to follow emotion, and to continue to look back on when nature brought us peace and excitement. Through this people will be guided and comforted in times of need. This poem is an appeal to have people bring back nature and emotions in their lives. As well as, a promise that if people do this they will find happiness and peace even when they are surrounded by the evil and distractions of men.
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