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With close reference to the poem "Tintern Abbey," comment on the moral and spiritual...

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reenakinshuk | Student, Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted August 14, 2011 at 3:11 AM via web

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With close reference to the poem "Tintern Abbey," comment on the moral and spiritual strength that Wordsworth gained from nature.

from "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 14, 2011 at 10:32 AM (Answer #1)

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In William Wordsworth’s famous poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey . . ., the speaker derives moral and spiritual strength from nature in a number of ways.

In lines 5-7, for example, the speaker mentions that he beholds

. . . steep and lofty cliffs,

That on a wild secluded scene impress

Thoughts of more deep seclusion . . . (italics added)

The italicized phrase suggests spiritual strength.  Later, the speaker remarks that even when he has been distant from this beautiful landscape itself, memories of the landscape have nonetheless nourished him spiritually (25-30).  Such memories and thoughts, he further remarks, also

. . . have no slight or trivial influence

On that best portion of a good mans life,

His little, nameless, unremembered, acts

Of kindness and of love.  . . . (33-35; italics added)

The italicized phrases here suggest the positive impact of nature’s moral or ethical influence.  Meanwhile, the beneficent spiritual impact of nature is implied once more in lines 35-49.

In lines 49-57, the positive spiritual influence of nature is discussed again, and the same impact is also implied in lines 58-67.  In lines 67-85, the speaker remembers his early youth, when nature itself was a sufficient source of pleasure, although there is, even here, a hint of spiritual nourishment when he notes that at that time he derived from nature “a feeling and a love” (80).

Beginning with line 85, the speaker once more begins to discuss the spiritual and moral strengths nature can provide, as when he mentions the “still, sad music of humanity” (91; italics added), in which the italicized word may suggest both spiritual and moral strength. Meanwhile, spiritual strengths are suggested in lines 93-102 and 107-11.  Yet these latter lines also seem to combine spirituality and ethics, as the reference to “all my moral being” (111), with its clear ethical emphasis, implies.

Spiritual strength derived from nature is implied again in such lines as 111-15, 121-34, and 137-46.

Finally, in lines 151-55, the double references to “love” suggest both spiritual and moral strength, so that the two themes are joined as the poem nears its conclusion.

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