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Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

by William Wordsworth

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How many stanzas are in the poem?

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The answer to this question is deceptively simple: "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" contains five stanzas, of varying lengths. The shortest stanza contains nine lines, while the longest is fifty-four lines. This poem by Wordsworth, who helped define the Romantic movement in poetry, reflects Wordsworth's tendency to write long poems, including "Tintern Abbey" and "Intimations on Immortality." In addition to the physical structure resembling Wordsworth's other works, "Tintern Abbey" also contains similar themes and relies on the same literary devices to convey his ideas. In "Tintern Abbey," readers will note Wordsworth's emphasis on subjective feeling, man's relationship to nature, and the longing for one's former innocence. Apostrophe and imagery dominate his poetry, both of which can be found in the shortest stanza, stanza 3, in "Tintern Abbey."

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Technically, this poem by William Wordsworth only has five stanzas. However, this makes it sound as if it is a much shorter poem than is actually the case. This poem is not written in a regular form with evenly structured stanzas. On the contrary, some of the stanzas that comprise the poem are far longer than others. In this poem, Wordsworth seems to utilize stanzas in much the same way that writers of prose might use paragraph breaks, with each new stanza introducing a new idea. Likewise, he does not use a regular rhyme scheme, but writes in blank verse, which contributes to the sense that the poem and its form and construction are a simple reflection of the poet's internal appreciation of what he is seeing. When he divides the poem to begin a new stanza, he is embarking upon a new idea of what Tintern Abbey means to him.

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