How does the speaker react against the dominance of science in the poem "The Tables Turned"?

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The speaker reacts against the dominance of science in the poem "The Tables Turned" by William Wordsworth by saying that people must get out from behind textbooks and experience the environment around them firsthand.

Wordsworth writes in stanza number one of this eight stanza poem:

“Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;”

The poet is saying that one must get outside and enjoy nature, rather than being sedentary inside a home, or school, or office, not exercising and enjoying various landscapes. Wordsworth is conveying a message that we should enjoy the sun, mountains, green fields, the color of an encroaching evening, birds singing, as well as woodlands.

The poet is emphatic in his discourse concerning science. He forcefully says:

“Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:”

In other words, he is saying that one can learn more by being outside and exploring and studying his surroundings – nature – than reading about it in a textbook (often colored by the writer’s own opinions). William Wordsworth is encouraging his readers to investigate nature and to form their own opinions regarding it. Only when we truly experience something ourselves can we really appreciate what we are experiencing.

Wordsworth is saying that nature can be our teacher – we don’t have to learn about nature from a book. He states in stanza number four:

“Come forth into the light of things,

Let Nature be your teacher.”

Wordsworth states that we can learn about “moral evil and of good” from walking in the woods and discovering. He emphatically states that human beings involve themselves too much in art and science – gaining knowledge from books rather than seeing the real art of the creation and how things actually function through direct study of the actual world around us via outdoor exploring.

The poet beckons his readers to step outside with an open heart and mind and take in what nature has to offer to those willing to perceive and understand its beauty and complexity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

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