“Tintern Abbey” is probably the most famous poem by one of the most famous British Romantic poets, “William Wordsworth.” The full title of the poem is “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” and first published in 1798. “Tintern Abbey” is one of the triumphs of Wordsworth’s genius.
It belongs, along with other 19 Poems by this author and four by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to “Lyrical Ballads”, Which is considered to be the inaugural book of English Romantic poetry. The poem deal with the influence of Nature on the boy, the growing youth, and the man. The poet has expressed his tender feeling toward nature through this poem.
William Wordsworth was one of the founders of English Romanticism. He was born in Cockermouth, Cumbria, on April 7, 1770. P. B. Shelly another great poet of romanticism called him the poet of nature. Wordsworth along with Coleridge published “Lyrical Ballads” in 1798, in which he defined poetry as,
“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling.”
Imagination, Subjectivity, Nature, Pantheism and Mysticism, and Humanism are the basic theme of Wordsworth’s Poetry. His most famous poem is “I wander lonely As a Cloud”, She was a Phantom of Delight, The Solitary Reaper, The lucy poems, lyrical Ballads, and “We are seven.”
Form and Structure of the Poem
Lines composed a few miles above the Tintern abbey are not written with a transparent rhyme scheme. The poem is written in iambic pentameter. This type of verse is made up of five sets of beats per line. The first set of beats per line. The first beat is unstressed, Followed by one stressed.
Theme Of The Tintern Abbey
Nature, Memory and Time, Imagination and Creativity, Spirituality and Religion, and Human Connection are all themes found in the poem.
The poem is primarily concerned with the speaker’s deep connection to nature, which he describes as a source of spiritual and emotional renewal. Wordsworth celebrates the beauty and power of the natural world, which he believes can inspire and sustain us even in difficult times.
Memory and Time
Another important theme in “Tintern Abbey” is the relationship between memory and time. The speaker reflects on his past experiences of visiting the abbey, and how those memories have influenced him over the years. He also considers the passage of time and how it has affected his perceptions of the world around him.
Imagination and Creativity
Wordsworth was a key figure in the Romantic literary movement, which emphasized the power of imagination and creativity. “Tintern Abbey” reflects this emphasis, as the speaker uses his imagination to re-create his memories of the abbey and explore the deeper meanings of his experiences.
Spirituality and Religion
While not overtly religious, “Tintern Abbey” does explore spiritual themes related to the natural world. The speaker describes nature as a kind of spiritual presence that can inspire awe and wonder in humans. He also suggests that this connection to nature can be a form of worship or a way to commune with a higher power.
Finally, “Tintern Abbey” is a poem about human connection, both to nature and to each other. The speaker reflects on the ways in which his experiences of the abbey have shaped his relationships with others, and how his sense of connection to nature has helped him to feel more connected to humanity as a whole.
The poem has related to Wordsworth’s personal history. He has previously visited the area with a troubled twenty-three-year-old in August 1993. In 1798 he returned with his beloved sister Dorothy Wordsworth to the same place. Dorothy is referred to as “friend” throughout the Poem. So, this poem details the revising of the Banks of the Wye during a tour, 1793 and it is a famous natural poem of Wordsworth.
Explanation of the poem
The poem begins with the speaker, Wordsworth himself, having returned to a spot on the banks of the river wye that he has not seen for five long years. This place is very dear to him and is just as beautiful and mystical as it was when he left. He sees the same streams cascading down the cliffs of rocks making a mild incessant sound so pleasing to the ears. The steep slopes of the rocks look as majestic as before. The sky is as calm as before. Together solitude and serenity of the surroundings embalm his mind.
The speaker pauses under the Sycamore trees and scans the cottage and the orchards that dot the place. There are fruit-laden trees that stand hidden in the midst of rich vegetation around them. The speaker finds the landscape has hardly changed in the five years gone by.
There are chimneys giving out plumes of smoke apparently from the cottage. It seems as if the smoke is coming out from the midst of tall trees as the cottages stand hidden among them. The vast grazing grounds are there just as before.
There are nomadic herdsmen who graze their animals in the forests. They move from place to place with their animals, so they have no houses. Then, there are the hermits who lead reclusive lives in their desolate caves. Only candles light up to dispel the darkness of night. The speaker is pleasantly surprised to discover that the features that made the place so strikingly beautiful five years ago are all there in fact.
The lapse of five years has transformed our speaker’s mind. He is now more capable to look inwards and reflect. In his younger days, viewing was narrow and unidimensional. But new the different facets of Nature have begun to influence him in a benign and banish the anguish from his soul and nature has brought solace, succor, and peace to his troubled mind.
The speakers refer to the rough and tumble of daily life where humans struggle to earn their livelihood and try to acquire possessions that supposedly bring them happiness and joy. But the travails experience. In such moments, the speaker seeks refuge in the lap of Nature.
Now after so many years, the speaker is well-established in life. He recollects his earlier years as a youngster when he wandered around the hills, wood and the river enjoying the beauty. But he had failed to appreciate the hidden benefits of Nature-gazing then. Happily, for the speaker, those immature days are over. The speaker has comprehended the power of Nature. He feels the enormous power of Nature and its gigantic manifestation.
The speaker talks about the pervasiveness of the beauty of Nature. The many faces of Nature like the setting sun, the wind, the meadows, and the wood inspire the observer to be thoughtful about the underlying attraction of Nature. The speaker states that his life would have decayed and wasted away if he had come under, and benefited from the invigorating influence of Nature.
Here the author brings Nature. Here the author brings in his sister Dorothy. He should have done it at the beginning of the poem but waited till now to mention her. He addresses her as his ‘dearest friend’. He implores Nature to save him from myriad pernicious experiences in life such as touches of sarcasm of selfish people, vile men, unsavory words, and bad judgments.
To save Dorothy from such humdrum existence, he beseeches Nature to shower its bounty on his sister. He wants the moon to light her solitary path, the misty winds from the mountain to blow against her face, etc. The speaker’s mind overflow with love for his sister Dorothy. He wants nature to bequeath all its beauty and bounty to Dorothy so that her mind becomes a repository of all its sublime sights and sounds. She could then use these memories to tide over all the difficulties of life like solitude, fear, pain, and suffering.
The speaker becomes emotional about the possibility of his separation from her due to his death. With a sense of deep appreciation of his love for Nature and his sister, he wants to dedicate his memories of woods, streams, grazing fields, rocks, etc. to Dorothy so that she could remember him when she gazed at Nature.
Now we can say that through the poem “Tintern Abbey” the poet has expressed his honest and natural feelings about Nature’s superiority. Wordsworth has shown a way to establish a better life and has taught how a close relationship with Nature could be created in order to give birth to a peaceful and harmonious life in the world. He advises everyone to learn from the past. Geoffrey Hartman says about Wordsworth’s poetry:-
“Wordsworth’s poetry to looks back
in order to look forward the letter”
Thus, William Wordsworth’s poem “Tintern Abbey” is typical ecocritical work that strives to promote a relationship between Nature and Human beings.