Past, Present, and Future: Finding Life Through Nature William Wordsworth poem”Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” was included as the lastitem in his Lyrical Ballads. The general meaning of the poem relates to hishaving lost the inspiration nature provided him in childhood. Nature seems tohave made Wordsworth human.The significance of the abbey is Wordsworths loveof nature. Tintern Abbey representes a safe haven for Wordsworth that perhapssymbolizes a everlasting connection that man will share with itssurroundings.
Wordsworth would also remember it for bringing out the part of himthat makes him a “A worshipper of Nature” (Line 153). Five differentsituations are suggested in “Lines” each divided into separatesections. The first section details the landscape around the abbey, asWordsworth remembers it from five years ago.
The second section describes thefive-year lapse between visits to the abbey, during which he has thought oftenof his experience there. The third section specifies Wordsworths attempt touse nature to see inside his inner self. The fourth section shows Wordsworthexerting his efforts from the preceding stanza to the landscape, discovering andremembering the refined state of mind the abbey provided him with.
In the finalsection, Wordsworth searches for a means by which he can carry the experienceswith him and maintain himself and his love for nature. . Diamantis 2 In thefirst stanza, Wordsworth lets you know he is seeing the abbey for a second timeby using phrases such as “again I hear,” “again do Ibehold,” and “again I see. He describes the natural landscape asunchanged and he describes it in descending order of importance beginning withwith the “lofty cliffs” (Line 5) dominantly overlooking the abbey. After thecliffs comes the river, , then the forests, and hedgerows of the cottages thatonce surrounded the abbey but have since been abandoned.
After the cottages, isthe vagrant hermit who sits alone in his cave, perhaps symbolizing the effectsbeing away from the abbey has had on Wordsworth. Wordsworth professes to”sensations sweet / Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart”(lines 28-29) which the memories of nature can inspire when he is lonely, justas the hermit is lonely. Wordsworth desires nature only because of hisseparateness, and the more isolated he feels the more he desires it. This isdescribed in “Lines” : As that blessed mood, In which the burthen of themystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligibleworld Is lightened:- that serene and blessed mood, In which the affectionsgently lead us on, Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motionof our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become aliving soul. (Lines38-47) In the second stanza, Wordsworth parallels hisexperience upon returning to Tintern Abbey five years later to his previousvisit.
He has changed from thinking of the present to the past. He describesusing the abbey as a consolation whenever he felt overrun by the dismal,uniform, urban landscapes he had become accustomed to. However, after his firstvisit he began to forget the details of the abbey and what it meant to him:”as gleams of half-extinguished thought, with many recollections dim andfaint, and somewhat of a sad perplexity” (Line 57-60) Diamantis 3 In thethird stanza, Wordsworth begins a transition back to the present moment. Heenjoys the pleasure of this time and also anticipates that he will enjoy itagain in future memories. In the fourth stanza, however, he starts torecapitulate his life as a series of stages in the development of a relationshipwith nature. At first he roamed as freely as an animal, but as he grew he feltjoy and rapture and passionate involvement with his own youth.
Now he isinvolved with human concerns. He has become more thoughtful and sees nature inthe light of those thoughts. He still loves nature, but in a more mature andmore emotionally subdued way.
Can he salvage the meaning of the abbey and takeit with him as an inspiration? In the second stanza he relates how in the fiveintermediate years he would often attempt to remember Tintern Abbey, torecapture that harmony of mind and environment. He has spent some time away fromthe region and has forgotten the experience, he becomes doubtful and feelsisolated from nature. He recapture the feeling, however, when he refers to theselines in the fourth stanza: The picture of the mind revives again: While here Istand, not only with the sense Of pleasant pleasure, but with pleasing thoughtsThat in this moment there is life and food For future years. (Line 62-66) Inthese lines he has stopped circling around the past and present, and has begunto hope for a solution for the future. There follows a comparison of his presentand past selves, how they have changed and remained the same.
At first hepossessed a childlike wonder, but as he grew he became more involved with humanconcerns. He has become more thoughtful and sees nature in the light of thosethoughts. He has traded the boundless energy for maturity and the “still,sad music of humanity” (line 92). Wordsworth ends the poem with the fifthstanza, a farewell to the abbey and the inspiration it has given him. Herealizes that there may come a time when he may no longer be able to inspirehimself with life-changing situations, and that he will not be able to run backto Tintern Abbey to find himself again. He does what he can, though. He willalso be able to rely on his sister, who shared these experiences with him and inwhose voice “I catch the language of my former heart, and read my formerpleasures in the shooting lights of thy wild eyes” (lines 117-120).
Eventually even these may fail him, and in the closing lines of the poem heconsoles himself that he and his sister will be able to look back fondly and atleast remember their shared time together.