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William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey

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Essay title: William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey

William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey

As students, we are taught that William Wordsworth's basic tenets of

poetry are succinct: the use of common language as a medium, common man as

a subject, and organic form as an inherent style. Yet beyond these

rudimentary teachings, it should be considered that it was the intimacy

with nature that was imperative to the realization of Wordsworth's goals

set forth in the "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads. In his "Preface,"

Wordsworth states, "Poetry is the image of man and nature" (Norton 247). A

study of "Tintern Abbey," the intended finale and last impression of the

Lyrical Ballads, reveals Wordsworth's conviction that the role of nature

is the force and connection that binds mankind not only to the past and

the future, but to other human beings as well. Regardless of the language

employed, the subject used, or the method of delivery, it was the primal

connection with nature that fueled Wordsworth's poetic genius.

Wordsworth begins the journey into "Tintern Abbey" by taking the reader

from the height of a mountain stream down into the valley where the poet

sits under a sycamore tree surveying the beauty of the natural world. This

introduction through nature sets the scene for the poet's blending of his

mind with that of the natural world. Here Wordsworth does not dwell on the

imprint of mankind on the landscape but on the connection of an isolated

individual enveloped within the wild world of nature. Although he refers

to the presence of man - vagrant dwellers or hermits - his connection is

with the untouched splendor of the countryside.

From his perspective, looking out on the verdant landscape, the speaker

ties his connection with nature to the past. He remembers that during his

long absence from the Wye Valley, years which he spent living in the city,

he found consolation in calling back the memories of his time spent in

nature. It is important to note here that Wordsworth is not merely finding

comfort in fondly remembering a past holiday, but is unequivocally using

the natural setting as his source for transcendence. By specifically using

nature as his escape from "...the heavy and weary weight/Of all this

unintelligible world" (39-40), he asserts that the purity of nature holds

no ill memories of man's unkindness. This ability to gradually retreat

from the trials of daily life by calling to mind the solace found in

nature is key to the concept that only through withdrawal from the world

of society and immersion in the natural world can one rise above present


Wordsworth continues speaking of his connection with nature to the past by

relating how nature has held prominence during all stages of his past

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