"The Still, Sad Music Of Humanity"

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Last Updated on May 14, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 184

Context: William Wordsworth, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, initiated the Romantic movement in literature in 1798 with the publication of Lyrical Ballads, of which "Tintern Abbey" was the last entry. The poem, which records his emotional response to viewing the ruins of Tintern Abbey on the river Wye, is the earliest...

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Context: William Wordsworth, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, initiated the Romantic movement in literature in 1798 with the publication of Lyrical Ballads, of which "Tintern Abbey" was the last entry. The poem, which records his emotional response to viewing the ruins of Tintern Abbey on the river Wye, is the earliest comprehensive statement of his poetic credo. As he views the "pastoral farms" and the peaceful landscape, the poet's mind is thrown back into the past, and he recollects previous visits to this beautiful valley. Realizing what he was then as contrasted with what he is now, he contemplates the strange ways by which the forces of this "unintelligible world" have formed his mind. Finally, he raises a hymn of thanks and praise for the maturity of thought which affords a deeper, more profound, and more humanitarian outlook on life. He has 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.

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