How is Wordsworth’s idea/view of nature revealed in “Tintern Abbey” and “The Ruined Cottage?”

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Both of these poems have a strong focus upon the natural world and, more particularly, upon how this world can inspire and lend emotional sustenance to the person experiencing them—even when that experience is now a memory. In this way, these poems express Wordsworth’s view of nature but also his view of poetry, as espoused in his "Preface to Lyrical Ballads," in which he states that it is "emotion recollected in tranquillity" which drives the muse. Wordsworth looks to nature for this sublime tranquillity, as we can see here.

In "Tintern Abbey," the speaker explains that he has returned to this familiar spot finally to "repose," looking down upon "pastoral forms" and listening to the "murmur" of the natural landscape. The poet’s description of the landscape is that of a person familiar with it; Wordsworth imagines that a "Hermit" might live in such a landscape in a sort of country idyll. Perhaps more importantly, however, Wordsworth does not see this view as something that can hearten him only while he is looking at it. Instead, he describes how when “in towns and cities,” he has drawn upon recollections of nature to conjure up "sensations sweet" and even muses that memories of this sort can influence man’s “acts of kindness and love.” In no small measure, then, Nature influences us for the better, stimulating our higher emotions and our creativity, even in the “lonely rooms” and “din” the speaker juxtaposes in contrast to the beauty of nature.

Wordsworth seems to depict nature almost as a living thing, personifying the “sylvan Wye” as he calls out to it “thou wanderer thro’ the woods / How often has my spirit turned to thee!” The use of archaic language emphasizes the continuity of nature: if the river is a spirit, it is an old one. He remembers his former self, too, as a boy in nature almost like a spirit, having “glad animal movements” like a “roe.” While he has moved beyond this, the poet suggests that his previous experiences of nature will provide “life and food for future years.” As a child, nature was “all,” and Wordsworth depicts his boyish understanding of nature as sublime, “dizzying,” and full of “aching joys.” This association of childish purity with nature’s depth is common in Romantic literature. Wordsworth feels he no longer has such an untutored submersion in nature, but still feels a “sense sublime” when he experiences it, addressing the river as “my dear, dear Friend” and “my Sister” as if it were a childhood friend—and, indeed, an echo of his former self. Through his association with nature, the pure joys of childhood, when man is closest to nature, can be sustained even into the grimness of adult city life.

We see similar ideas expressed in “The Ruined Cottage.” While it seems to be a more fanciful poem, depicting a cottage in the woods and an old man who lives a “wandering” life in the rustic idyll of Romanticism, we can see echoes of Tintern Abbey in its philosophies. In addition to the lush descriptions of the natural world, the poem expresses the view that nature speaks in

these their invocations with a voice

Obedient to the strong creative power

Of human passion. Sympathies there are

More tranquil, yet perhaps of kindred birth,

That steal upon the meditative mind

And grow with thought.

Due to eNotes policy, we are only able to answer questions of this sort about one work at a time—we don’t want to do your homework for you. However, if you take this as a starting point, you should be able to readily see how Wordsworth's ideas about nature as lending succor to mankind are echoed in “The Ruined Cottage” as I have described above.

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