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Wordsworth wrote of his visit to Tintern Abbey,
No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for one to remember than this.
Certainly, the Romantic poet William Wordsworth illustrates in his poetry the definition of true Romantic feeling given by American writer Thomas Wolfe, "not the desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you."
- "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"
His poem about this visit is one of the most important short lyric works in England. For Wordsworth, Nature possesses a spiritual, even mystical quality. Wordsworth and his sister went to Tintern Abbey as a respite from the noisy city, and found solace and a more profound understanding of Nature. In Stanza 2, Wordsworth expresses the healing powers of Nature as it restores his spirit:
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure;.... (ll. 27-31)
While there, Wordsworth has the experience of the Sublime, a realm beyond measurable experience and rational thought that arises from the awe-inspiring natural phenomena that lifts the burden of living from a person. In lines 93-96, Wordsworth expresses this connection of spirit with this higher realm as he feels
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense of sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Further, Wordsworth claims that he perceives in anture "the language of the sense," and finds Nature a "guide," or teacher that keeps him whole. In lines 113-114, he writes,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay;
Nature, Wordsworth writes "inform[s]/The mind that is within us," and elevates man's thoughts that protect him from the evil of the world and provide him with "deeper zeal" for life.
- "The Prelude"
In his autobiographical "The Prelude," Wordsworth writes of his childhood experiences of nature as having provided him "a cheerful confidence in things to come" (ll 57-58), From these experiences, the poet learned and later, he reflects,
Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace
How Nature by extrinsic passion first
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair (ll 542-545)
Nature, too, has healing power for the poet:
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain (ll 561-564)
After describing many other experiences of his life, such as going off to Cambridge, Wordsworth returns to childhood memories where he regains his creative powers and spiritual energy. And, the final books of this Miltonic poem are celebrations of his revived imagination as well as expressions of gratitude to his sister and to Coleridge for their love and friendship which bolstered him.
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