Talk about William Wordsworth as a poet of nature, and give examples from his poems.

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michaelsellars784's profile pic

michaelsellars784 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Indeed, Wordsworth believes that nature has the "...power to soothe a troubled mind, and to provide answers to the mysteries that cause people to fear death." He is counted among those who wrote during the time when "naturalism" was a popular philosophy, and this colored their view of mankind.

A naturalist would not believe that there were influences upon a person beyond those of nature...(biological, environmental).  In other words, a naturalist will have little to say about God, fate, or faith.  In short, humans are products of their human nature,  driven by self, sex, and other animalistic instincts. Moreover, some naturalists came to believe that people (like animals)  were a "part of nature," rather than "apart from nature."  In other words,  a naturalist was a Victim of human nature--including environment, social conditions, and genetics. 

Therefore, the major conflicts men have are those against nature.  It's not a pretty sight if you dare to fight with Mother Nature. 

Of course, this idea is only slightly different for humans and birds, bees, or bear...for they too must contend with their nature, heredity, and environment.  A poetic naturalist like Wordsworth would have to be pessimistic.  

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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William Wordsworth is perhaps one of the best known English nature poets. One interesting characteristic of his work is his tendency to be inspired by specific locations and landscapes, and the power such locations could exert over his thoughts and memories. One of his more well-known poems, "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey" (normally known as "Tintern Abbey" and also originally described as "Lines: Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, July 13, 1798"), has a fairly straightforward title which does not convey a sense of the poetic: it might be field notes of a hiker or surveyor. But the images in the poem itself convey a deep engagement with the landscape with spiritual overtones: 

“Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

That on a wild secluded scene impress

Thoughts of more deep seclusion.”

And:

To them I may have owed another gift,

     Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,

     In which the burthen of the mystery,

     In which the heavy and the weary weight

     Of all this unintelligible world,                               

     Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,

     In which the affections gently lead us on,--

     Until, the breath of this corporeal frame

     And even the motion of our human blood

     Almost suspended, we are laid asleep

     In body, and become a living soul:

     While with an eye made quiet by the power

     Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

      We see into the life of things."

Here Wordsworth describes the power that nature has to soothe a troubled mind, and to provide answers to the mysteries that cause people to fear death and the unknown. He relates these comforting thoughts as one who has made peace with his own mortality, through contemplating nature and the unity that humans have with all other living things, which all die and return to the earth at some point. He describes his love of nature as a child and then makes it clear that his more carefree thoughts about nature in his boyhood have matured into more relevant and subtle ideas about the interconnectedness of all living beings:  

For I have learned

     To look on nature, not as in the hour

     Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes                   

     The still, sad music of humanity,

     Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power

     To chasten and subdue. And I have felt

     A presence that disturbs me with the joy

     Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

     Of something far more deeply interfused,

     Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

     And the round ocean and the living air,

      And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;

     A motion and a spirit, that impels                             

     All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

      And rolls through all things."

 

 

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