What is the role of affective memory in Tintern Abbey? Does this kind of memory help Wordsworth's lyric speaker first to recognize his problem and then to resolve it?
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Affective memory is the emotional response from a previous event being brought to consciousness again by a stimulus. Wordsworth, ever since his and Coleridge’s Prelude to Lyrical Ballads, advocated affective memory as the most valid justification for poetry. In his entire canon (cf. Daffodils) Wordsworth cites natural phenomena that bring up memories from the narrator’s past (Tintern Abbey, although man-made, has become, through decay, a part of nature). This poem places the narrator/viewer at a distance from the site, and even at this distance he recalls the sounds of the River Wye. The narrator remembers the “deep seclusion,” the repose he felt some five summers ago at that same spot, “and tells the reader that even in urban settings he could recall this scene in his memory to regain those sensations, “Felt in the blood and felt along the heart…with tranquil restoration.” The poem becomes an essay in blank verse, a sort of manifesto of Romantic poetry, and as such has become the “anthem” for all such poems. Even though his sister Dorothy, is gone now, he can affectively reconstruct her by remembering the happy time they once spent together there at Tintern Abbey, “For thou art with me here upon the banks” of the Wye.
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