How does Wordsworth see nature differently as a child than as an adult?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After five years Wordsworth returns to the valley of the River Wye and the ruins of Tintern Abbey. As he strolls, he recalls when he ran among these hills, more like a wild animal than a man

...when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dread, than one
Who sought the thing he loved.

Further, Wordsworth describes nature as an "appetite: a feeling and a love" for him a few years ago, and no more was needed for him then. Presently, however, he does not look upon nature as the "thoughtless youth" he was then. Now, in nature the poet hears the "sad music of humanity" as he listens with his heart and feels not just the excitement of being in nature, but the sensation of the "sublime," a realm of experience that is beyond rational thought; it arises from the inspiration of nature and the burdens of life are lifted from him.

In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts,...
Of all my moral being. 

The appreciation of nature that Wordsworth now feels is more spiritual and transcendental whereas a few years ago as a younger man, he felt an instinctive and "glad animal movement" when he experienced the beauty of nature. 

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