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What moral lesson can you receive on "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"?

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vichitravirya | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM via web

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What moral lesson can you receive on "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 15, 2012 at 2:15 PM (Answer #1)

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The moral lesson that lies at the heart of this impressive poem is one that is intimately connected to Wordsworth's understanding of nature and the human condition. It talks of the link between our ability as humans to perceive nature and nature itself. The poem presents Wordsworth's idea that perception is the chief way in which we perceive and interact wth nature, and that our perception is something that will change with time as we grow and develop.

This theme is presented through the different way in which the poet perceives the beauty of Tintern Abbey as a youth and his more mature perspective now. Five years on, he has a less passionate veiw of nature that is more meditative and reflective, and he does not now think that nature is divorced from the human condition. Even though Wordsworth has lost that passionate intensity, he does not grieve this loss:

For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes

The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.

This poem therefore establishes that our perception of nature changes as we develop and mature, and that we are intimately connected with nature in a way that has the potential to open us up to the many lessons that we can learn from nature--if we have ears to listen to them.

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