What 'loss' does the poet refer to in Tintern Abbey?

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The speaker of the poem seems to mourn the loss not just of his youth and innocence but also of this time in his life when being in nature could completely enthrall and consume him. In the past, when he was younger, the waterfall "Haunted [him] like a passion" and...

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The speaker of the poem seems to mourn the loss not just of his youth and innocence but also of this time in his life when being in nature could completely enthrall and consume him. In the past, when he was younger, the waterfall "Haunted [him] like a passion" and the colors and forms of the trees were "An appetite; a feeling and a love, / That had no need of a remoter charm [...]." He could be in nature and not think about anything else. Now, however, "That time is past," and the speaker can no longer feel totally enraptured by the scenes of nature anymore; his mind invariably wanders to other things. He can no longer get completely lost in nature and suspend all thoughts of anything else. Now, he hears the "still sad music of humanity" and cannot lose himself in nature. He mourns the loss of the time when nature could consume him and when he could forget everything else; now, he cannot help but think of other things, even when surrounded by the great natural beauty he experienced in his youth.

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"Tintern Abbey" is a both a classic example of Romanticism and a classic example of Wordsworth's artistic aesthetic. It contains extensive reflections on not only the beauty of nature, but also its sustaining power, as Wordsworth meditates on the ways in which memories of his youthful adventures in nature have kept him company during his adult wanderings.

The "loss" that Wordsworth refers to is therefore the loss of his youthful innocence, especially as it is reflected in his boyhood adventures. However, while there is certainly a sense of bittersweetness present in this realization (Wordsworth is, after all, sitting all by himself in the middle of nowhere in a rather forlorn fashion), the poet actually views this loss as a relatively positive process. Indeed, Wordsworth says "for such loss... abundant recompense." It becomes clear that this "abundant recompense" is his adult intellect, his poetic power, and his more mature outlook on things. As such, though Wordsworth certainly looks back on his past with nostalgia, he still seems to look forward to his future with anticipation. 

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