This poem deliberately deals with the way that Wordsworth's understanding and appreciation of nature has developed as he has aged and reflected more on life and what nature represents. The poem moves through two distinct stages in the poet's life, and the poet reflects on how when he first visited Tintern Abbey his understanding of nature was much more focused on emotions and feelings of passion that he describes as "an appetite; a feeling and a love." Now, however, as he visits the same place again, he reflects on how his appreciation of nature has massively changed:
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.
Wordsworth's relationship with nature is thus here described as something that is much more sober, much more philosophical, and less about flora and fauna and more about the "still, sad music of humanity," revealing his understanding of how nature is not so separate from the human condition and exploring how it relates to the human soul. Wordsworth is known as the poet of nature therefore because his poetry presents nature as being able to offer solace and consolation to humans and heal them from prolonged exposure to the city.