Preface to Lyrical Ballads

by William Wordsworth

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In the poem “The Tables Turned,” Wordsworth says, “One impulse from a vernal wood; / May teach you more of man; / Of moral evil and good, / Than all the sages can” (21–24). This is an interesting idea; that individuals should look to nature in other to understand themselves rather than depending on others to do so. Wordsworth perhaps believes that man needs to be more appreciative of the simple and the natural to live a content, free, and happy life. Would you agree or disagree, and why?

When considering the validity of Wordsworth's argument in "The Tables Turned" that individuals should look to nature in order to understand themselves, feel more contented, free, and happy, one might consider the fact that people have long experienced benefits from spending time outside in the fresh air. There is also now scientific, clinical evidence to prove nature's health benefits and ability to relieve stress.

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I would absolutely agree with the idea that we feel happier and more contented when we spend more time in nature—or the "vernal wood" as Wordsworth says—and this argument is certainly not unique to him. There have even been a number of studies recently that demonstrate a connection between feeling peaceful and calm and spending more time outside. Some doctors are even prescribing something called forest therapy, because there is such a correlation between being in nature and experiencing lower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and other clinical health benefits.

Being in nature has been scientifically proven to have a de-stressing effect on the human body and mind. When we step outside, we get away from electronics—our phones, computers, and televisions—things that pass the time, compel us to compare our lives to others (via social media), and so on. We breathe fresh air. We get sunshine, which our bodies need to produce vitamin D. I think we slow down, take deeper breaths, and appreciate the beauty of the natural world around us. Further, when we feel at peace and contented, I think we are more likely to make good choices, less likely to lash out at others or be unkind, and in this way, we are morally improved as well as benefiting both physically and psychologically.

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