Analysis of Tintern Abbey
Whereas most individuals tend to see nature as a playhouse that should alter and self-destruct to their every need, William Wordsworth had a very different view. Wordsworth perceived nature as a sanctuary where his views of life, love, and his creator were eventually altered forever. The intensity of Wordsworths passion for nature elevated him from a boy into the inspiring man and poet in which he is recognized to be today. One of the most compelling works Wordsworth ever devised was that of Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey. The poem enlightens the reader on the awesome power and depth of nature, which Wordsworth has discovered in his trials and tribulations upon the earth. Thus, to full understand the significance of nature in all lives told through Lines Composed A few Miles Above Tintern Abbey one must understand the setting and mood, as well as comprehend the rhyme scheme, and use of many diverse poetic devices that interact within the poem the poem.
One is able to gain insight into Lines Composed a Few Lines Above Tintern Abbey by first trying to understand the mood and setting of the poem. Although it is a miniature of the long poem Wordsworth never quite wrote (Robyn Young p.409) it lacked nothing as far as depth and intensity goes. Wordsworth was very skilled in such areas, although his writing may be come very complex it is said that it was a result of the spontaneous overflow of emotion (Gale Net). Wordsworth wrote this poem, as cited by Wordsworth without any part of it was written down till I reached Bristol (F.W. Bateson p.191). Wordsworth was a firm believer that man should find an immanent force that unites them with their physical and spiritual environments (Jan Shoemaker p.1). As Wordsworth revisits this beloved place of his (Tintern Abbey) he is reminded of how he once perceived this sanctuary. Wordsworth attempts to compare and contrast two worlds, Brian Barbour states Wordsworths basic strategy is to appeal to the spiritual while remaining entirely within the natural order(Barbour p.154). When he was a young child he came to this valley using it as his own personal playground. He never gave nature the respect and praise that it so deserved. He just saw nature through a young childs eyes; he saw a tree in which to climb, grass in which was simply to frolic in. The cliffs, springs, and the sky were merely there for his pleasure; never did Wordsworth begin to see nature for what it really was. Wordsworth grew and changed dramatically maturing spiritually, mentally and physically. In his maturing he began to see more of what nature really had to offer him. During his last visit before he would leave for five long years, Wordsworth realized natures true beauty and respected and praised it. He had finally realized that one could only find God in his purest form in his own most perfect creation Nature. Harold Bloom states The visible body of Nature is more then a outer testimony of the Spirit of God to him; it is our only way to God (Modern p.4). He had learned that nature was the true sanctuary for God, not some man made church, the lord didnt intend us to worship him in a man made structure, which defaced his creations where he dwelled. Wordsworth realized that his fellow man has strayed from God by getting caught up in all the material things in which our society provides us and this deeply saddened him. Brian Barbour informs us that the human mind was building a world in which the human spirit could not live (Brian Barbour p.154). Wordsworth now realized that this place has in so many ways kept him in touch with his creator and with his inner self. Once that Wordsworth returns from this journey he comes to his place of sanctuary to find that he once again sees it in a whole different perspective. When he is upon his valley he is over whelmed with gratitude. He is in a sense in awe and as Stephen Gill states he is utterly intoxicated with nature (Stephen Gill P. 10). He realizes that what was once thought his playground is actually the playground of God. He feels ashamed that he could at one time not realized what natures true purpose is. He now knows that nature is not something that should not be destroyed and replaced with houses, streets, and buildings, but rather something that should be greatly admired and respected for all its beauty. There was a time when he saw nature with just the naked eye but now he views nature with all his senses so he can grasp its true beauty. This place not only changed the way he lived and perceived his life, but it also changed his ways of writing. Once he could grasp the true beauty of nature he was able to relate his life, love, and his surrounding in general to it. Therefore, the mood was one of the main driving forces of the poem.
The poem was written with a very descriptive and effective outline of the setting, which added to the intensity of the poem. Harold Bloom states although it is written as the present Tintern Abbey, as a poem, ends with so emphatic an emphasis upon memory (Modern p.132). The setting is mainly talked about in the first paragraph, Brain Barbour states paragraph one presents the world of nature (Brian Barbour p.152). Barbour also sell the reader that Wordsworth believes the basis of region in ultimately in himself (Barbour p.161). In the first paragraph Geoffery H. Hartman states that Wordsworth feels the drawn-out words express a mind that remains in somewhat of a sad perplexity, a mind that tries to locate in time what is lost (Geoffrey H. Hartman p.29). The setting of the poem is in the Wye Valley with a view of the church of Tintern Abbey in the distance. He had a place positioned under a tree where he would come to repeatedly to sit and reflect on his life. These surroundings easily engulfed Wordsworth and made him in a sense drunk on nature. The Wye Valley is said to be a place of great beauty in which one could easily begin to question themselves about what they know and understand about the awesome tranquility and peacefulness of nature. Although one may feel the need to readily describe the surroundings of the Wye Valley, Wordsworth keeps the setting very much generalized. Wordsworth just simply gave the obvious characteristics of the valley not enough to capture the true physical beauty of it. One can derive from the poem that it was written or speaks about a time during the spring months. Unripe fruits and hardly hedgerows (Tintern Abbey lines 15) indicate that this takes place during a time where fruits are just beginning their growth. Wordsworth also speaks of plots of cottage-ground (Tintern Abbey line 11), in, which he refers to fields in which ones plants. Orchards in which life has just begun to spring from were present in the valley, which also indicates new growth. All of this to Wordsworth is a reminder of the renewal and change that surrounds him every day, and inspires him to rejoice in the fact that he too has renewed his life, love, and beliefs along with the rebirthing cycles of nature. The scenery all around him is new and green; everything is starting over, full of life and the anticipation to grow. Wordsworth recognized this and the fact that he too has change from his last visit, and this fills him with inspiration to learn and love more. In summary Wordsworth use the setting in such a way to paint a vivid picture in the readers mind.
Wordsworth used a type on rhyme scheme that is not present in many poems of his time but the lack a popularity of the format does not affect the magnificence of the poem. Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey was written in blank verse, which consists of unrhymed iambic pentameter. Blank verse imitates the rhythms of natural speech(Gale Net). Each line is composed of five iambs, which are units consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Iambic pentameter is usually rhymed but Wordsworth made up for his lack in rhyming with his great use of various poetic devices. Wordsworth used the phrase, and the (Gale Net), several times through out the poem, the recitation of the phrase is intended to produce a hypnotic effect. (Gale Net p.2). Whether Wordsworth wanted his reader to in a sense feel the powerful hypnotic abilities of nature or whether he wanted his reader to feel as though he did, utterly intoxicated by nature (Stephen Gill p.10). Wordworths usage of incantation is not very noticeable unless one really understands the points that he is trying to make. There are also several instances in which Wordsworth uses alliteration in the poem. Alliteration is the repetition of the same constant sounds or different vowel sounds at the beginning of words or in the stressed syllables. Brian Barbour states that verse paragraphs one and two are each independent, yet they play off one another as statement and response (Brain Barbour p.152). Barbour also informs the reader that the fourth verse paragraph will be to defend what has been defined and challenged, and paragraph five will proclaim that there is a social dimension to all he has presented (Brain Barbour p. 153). In the first paragraph which consists of lines 1 through 22, the predominate sound that one tends to hear while reading is the s sound. This in a way gives the reader the sense of being upon the hill with the whirling winds and the distant roar of the ocean along with the Wye River. Sent up, in silence, from among the trees With some uncertain notice, as might seem of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some Hermits cave, where by his fire the Hermit sits alone. (Tintern Abbey lines l9-22). In the second paragraph along with the predominant s sound Wordsworth uses the w in a small portion to somewhat enhance the effect of the wind. The third paragraph, which consists of lines 50 through 57 the predominant sound is that of f which can be interpreted as another wind effect but could also be the sound of leaves. This use alliteration indicates his position under a tree where he sits to admire the Wye Valley when the fretful stir unprofitable, and the fever of the world. (Tintern Abbey lines 52-53). It is believed that in the later part of his poem the alliteration slows down and eventually stops, because he becomes engulfed in the deeper aspects of the poem rather than the physical and mental descriptions of the place he is. Wordsworth cannot help but to be marveled by the magnifiance of the external nature, along with the deeper lining of his environment. The combination of the two impresses a vivid picture of love, life, and spirituality in his head. In summary his use on blank verse and alliteration as well as incantation greatly allows the reader to experience the poem on several levels.
Wordsworth also uses symbolism to his advantage to increase the readers enjoyment. Wordsworth uses symbolism very often in this poem, it is sometimes not seen at first glance because mainly lies in the underlining of the poem. Brian Barbour states Nature plus thought leads to purified feeling (Brian Barbour p. 153).During his boyish days Wordsworth saw nature as simply something for his own entertainment, not something that should be discovered in entirely different level. Brain Barbour describes at this time words worth unwittingly, foregone the hierarchy of faculties and lived by appetite, not by reason (Brian Barbour p.163). Five years ago when he first began to notice his surrounding for what they really were, he saw nature as a place which mankind had strayed from. Wordsworth saw what the earth was meant to be, without all of mans corruptions and faults. Now that he is back in the present day, Wordsworth sees nature as a sanctuary, a place of God. It is here that he truly found his creator and all his glory, and now nature will forever be his safe haven to escape from all the worldly corruptions Therefore the use of symbolism greatly enhanced the diversity of the poem.
Wordsworth was a man of many talents; he was able to use many poetic devices to the full potential one of the greatest attributes to the poem was the use of imagery and that of allusion. Wordsworth used imagery with great precision and perfection. Wordsworth is able to portray the nature in various ways; Harold Bloom says that Wordsworth believes that nature is not an object to be seen, but a ubiquitous presence to be felt(Blooms p.37). In the beginning of the poem he says, These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs with a soft inland murmur-Once again do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs. This has the ability to paint a very vivid picture in ones mind. Wordsworths Tintern Abbey has always and forever will be a poetic piece of great creativity. Wordsworths creative usage of allusion plays a very important role in the poem. Brian Barbour states What Wordsworth has done, with audacious wit, is to make nature replace grace: nature not grace, not grace, is the source (and so on) of the moral life Brian Barbour p.165). He is able to use this device in many forms, which enables us to look past the written words to discover the deeper meaning behind them. In the first paragraph Wordsworth is describing the setting and partially the mood, but beyond that he is describing the fact that he has become engulfed and grounded in nature. He tells us how nature has forever been a part of his makeup and always will be due to what he has now discovered. Wordsworth implies also in the first paragraph that mankind and nature as well as the past and present should be harmonized. Wordsworth goes on in the poem to imply that he now has taken all faith out of the worldly things that he once cherished and placed them into nature itself. Wordsworth also tries to tell us that unlike the material things of mankind, nature is our only restorative source. In the last paragraph Wordsworth refers to his My dear, dear Friend, (line ll6) the individual he is referring to is his sister. He was very close to his sister throughout his life, in this paragraph, Wordsworth is implying to his sister, What I have already experienced you will experience; what nature has ministered to me, she will, in future, minister to you. The same moral benevolence will form in you. (Brian Barbour p. l66) In summary Wordsworth greatly added to the depth of Tintern Abbey with the use of allusions.
In order to understand Wordsworths Lines Composed a Few Miles Above TinternAbbey one must be able to identify with the favorable setting, inspiring mood, grasp the significance of the many poetic devices and discern between what is pure in entirety and what is tainted among us, which has the sole intention to corrupt. The reader viewpoint of nature in a sense is altered, as Wordsworth is erudite about the wonders of our mother nature. One must learn to live in harmony with nature to fully understand our true character and to enjoy the gracious gifts of natural world that have so graciously bestowed upon us all.
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