Here are the learned and perspicacious critical opinions of some important critics on Wordsworth's “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey (July 1798).”
1. Charles Burney (1757-1817) once complained that the poem was "tinctured with gloomy, narrow, and unsociable ideas of seclusion from the commerce of the world: as if men were born to live in the woods and wilds, unconnected with each other!"
2. H. Pater (1839-1894): “his [Wordsworth's] sense of man’s dim, potential powers became a pledge to him, indeed, of a future life; but carried him back also to that mysterious notion of an earlier state of existence.”
3. Harold Bloom (b.1930): Bloom in his The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry, 1971, emphasizes the "nakedness" of Wordsworth's poetry in this poem, that is, unlike most of Wordsworth's earlier poetry there is no intermediary like myths or legends between the poet and his world: “the poet loves Nature for its own sake alone, and the presence of Nature gives beauty to the poet’s mind, again only for the mind’s sake.”
4. Geoffrey H. Hartman (b.1929) in his book Wordsworth’s Poetry: 1787-1814 feels that Wordsworth had his own doubts about the consoling and restorative powers of Nature: “the voice we hear is full of haltings, of inner falls. It is the voice of a man who has been separated from the hope he affirms and who balances it in the movement against the possibility of further separation.”
5. Frank N. Magill considers Wordsworth's poem as "a romantic return to nature, the search for the beautiful and permanent forms which incorporate primitive human goodness" (Magill 1992).6. Judith Page (currently Professor at the University of Florida, and an eminent feminist critic on the Romantics) says,that Wordsworth sees a re-birth of himself in Dorothy's eyes: "Wordsworth endorsed the developing ideology of womanhood based on notions of female purity and spirituality played out in the domestic sphere" (1990).
The following is Subrata Ray's critical commentary on Wordsworth's attitude to Nature in ,Tin tern Abbey :
‘Tintern Abbey’ is the epitome of the Essentials of Wordsworth’s attitude to nature. This poem was composed in 1798 during the poet’s second visit to Wye Vally which the poet visited in the summer of 1793.In this poem the poet claims himself as a worshipper of nature. It is an autobiographical document where the poet depicts the different successive changes of his love for nature.
The poet states that his outlook and his love for nature underwent three successive changes.
The first stage, in the progress of attitude to nature is marked by a simple delight in freedom and open air. In this state the poet says, nature was to him a coarser pleasure. It was all but a glad animal movement. He found pleasure by roaming about nature. Like a roe he bounded over the mountains by the side of deep river and along the lonely streams. He went wherever nature led him. He enjoyed nature with his external senses like the eye, the ear, the touch, etc. He states how he was moved by the object of nature. In sounding cataract, the mountain, the tall rock, the deep and gloomy-all, and their colours and forms haunted the poet like a passion. It was to the poet a sort of appetite to his gross senses. He states,
“That had no need of remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.”
During the second stage of his nature worship, the poet could hear the still, sad music of humanity. The poet learnt from nature how to withstand the pangs and sufferings of life. So, the poet was prompted to do many little, nameless, unremembered acts of love and kindness. In fact the poet wanted to attain a meditative calmness and he really achieved that. This is the poet’s intellectual worship to nature.
This stage also underwent a great change. Because in the passage of manifestation of a mighty poetic mind there is no occasional change.Therefopre, Wordsworth is no exception .During the third stage of nature worship, the poet could attain a blessed calmness. In this stage the poet could penetrate into the meaning and mystery of life,-
“... that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
In such state the poet could feel the presence of all pervading spirit in all objects of nature. The poet could see life into the things. He could see a spirit which passes through the light of setting sun, the sound of ocean, the living air, the blue sky and the mind of man. That is, the poet could attain the pantheistic creed, a faith through which the poet could see the presence of a conscious being everywhere. This is not the poet’s mere faith but the direct experience from life. The poet states,-
“A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thoughts,
And rolls through all things.”
In the conclusion the poet exhorts his sister Dorothi Wordsworth, to remain with the concept of nature in her grief or fear or joy. And the poet leaves a message for us through his sister that ‘nature never did betray the heart that loved her’ and she leads man from joy to joy.
Subrata Ray .Mousumipara .Uluberia .West Bengal .India .