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What are figures of speech in "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" by...

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reenakinshuk | Student, Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted July 27, 2011 at 4:32 AM via web

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What are figures of speech in "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" by William Wordsworth?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM (Answer #1)

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In Wordsworth's poem, "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," in his Lyrical Ballads collection, figurative language abounds as he uses a variety of literary devices to create a personal experience within the reader who may not be with him during his experiences and observations.

In these lines, Wordsworth uses personification:

These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs

With a soft inland murmur.

Water does not murmur: only people do this. Another example of personification is shown in the following lines as Wordsworth speaks of nature "clad" in green, meaning "dressed."

Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,

Are clad in one green hue...

Wordsworth uses the poetic device of alliteration, found in the repeated sounds of "h's." Note the bolding I have added with these sounds, which provide a musical quality to the poem, most noticeable when read aloud:

These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows...

Imagery is something that Wordsworth makes stunning use of in the descriptions of this place—note the "green" and the "wreaths of smoke:"

...these pastoral farms,

Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke

Sent up, in silence, from among the trees...

The author uses repetition, which is generally included to draw the reader's attention, sometimes like a list. This repetition is also a sound that draws the reader's ear:

In which the burthen of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight...

Wordsworth uses a metaphor (which is also paradoxical) when he describes something like death, which is actually a coming to life:

…that serene and blessed mood,

In which the affections gently lead us on,—

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame

And even the motion of our human blood

Almost suspended, we are laid asleep

In body, and become a living soul...

In essence, a peace overcomes the observer of nature, and stills him as if he were dead. Note the reference to "this corporeal frame," "the motion of...blood / Almost suspended," a reference to "sleep" that is often associated with death, but also the "becoming a living soul" which very much seems like a description of death, except that the "blood" is "almost suspended"—"though the mind is awake." In this moment, the body rests so that the soul may take over, live, and—in this quiet—experience:

...harmony, and the deep power of joy...

This Romantic poet, so taken with nature, also uses a simile in comparing himself in his travels through nature and the waterways to the eggs of fish:

...when like a roe

I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides

Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,

Wherever nature led...

Wordsworth, like his partner Samuel Coleridge (with whom he wrote Lyrical Ballads) had a deep appreciation for nature, as can be seen throughout the poem—descriptions and references to a world alive around him as seen at Tintern Abbey.

 

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