William Wordsworth Questions and Answers

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What is Wordsworth's view of nature?

Wordsworth viewed nature as an expression of the divine. Like most Romantic poets, he privileged it over civilization as a purer expression of God's presence on earth. Many of his poems celebrate the divinity, solace, and simple joy he found in the natural world.

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Oscar Wilde remarked that Wordsworth wrote about the landscape of the English Lake District but was never really a lake poet: "He found in stones the sermons he had already hidden there." Although there is some truth in this, particularly with regard to Wordsworth's later poetry, it is an unsympathetic reading. Wordsworth's view of nature was in fact remarkably close to Wilde's view of art: something to be appreciated for its own beauty, but also a transformative intellectual, spiritual, and moral force.

This idea of the impact of nature permeates Wordsworth's poetry, but it is more often demonstrated than expressed outright. One of the poems in which Wordsworth is explicit about the effects of nature is "The Tables Turned," in which the speaker urges his friend to stop reading and learn from the beauty of nature instead. The poem contains the famous lines,

Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
The idea that Nature (capitalized and personified) can be a teacher...

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