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William Wordsworth's portrayal and relationship with nature in his poetry


William Wordsworth's poetry often portrays nature as a source of inspiration, comfort, and moral guidance. He views nature as a living entity that profoundly impacts human emotion and thought. Wordsworth's relationship with nature is deeply personal and spiritual, reflecting his belief in the interconnectedness of humans and the natural world.

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How is nature portrayed as God's creation in Wordsworth's poetry?

I think that Wordsworth is fairly delicate about crediting Nature's beauty with a specific "God."  Part of the Romantic vision, of which Wordsworth was a major architect, is that the glory of all life should be revered.  The actions of an individual in the field reaping crops, the actions of a child who is imbued with a sense of innocence, or a traveller who wanders and sojourns on their own with a sense of confidence and independence are all examples of the glory to be a human being.  The natural setting and its beauty are reflective of a spirit in the universe that corresponds with the glory of these individual actions.  For example, in "Daffodils," the speaker aligns his own sense of freedom to the natural element of freedom within the flowers.  Another example is "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," in which the actions of nature are mirrored in the free actions of an individual.  Wordsworth does not claim that nature, and the actions that follow, are results of a specific divine force or design of a higher force.  This is because of his perception of religious worship.  He understands very well that traditional religious worship at the time was an act of social conformity, and something that he perceived dulled the senses of the individual, as opposed to liberating them.  In his praising of nature and glorification of the natural world, Wordsworth makes calls to "the heavens" and does acknowledge that such beauty in nature must be reflective of "the gods."  Yet, he never comes quite clean in articulating in these poems a specific denomination of a particular "God."  Rather, he cleverly links the natural beauty he experiences to something "heavenly" and something that is "of heaven."   Some have suggested that Wordsworth is a pantheist, one who believes that the natural universe and God is one.

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How does Wordsworth approach nature in his poetry?

For Wordsworth, nature was a major source of poetic inspiration. His view of nature can be described as pantheistic and immanentist. In other words, he thought that all things, but especially the natural world, participated in the divine and the God was not transcendent, existing beyond the world, but instead immanent within the world. For Wordsworth, natural represents the unfallen Creation, as opposed to corrupted humanity. Contact with unspoiled nature can purify the poetic imagination and return us to the innocent joy of childhood. He associated nature with freedom from the artificial and stultifying constraints of human life, and considered most admirable those people such as shepherds and peasant farmers who lived in close contact with nature.

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How does William Wordsworth engage with the aspect of nature in his poetry?

Wordsworth certainly enjoyed nature in all his wanderings around the Lake District and felt in tune with it; so much so that in many of his poems, nature speaks to Wordsworth and then he answers back on nature's behalf.  Of all the Romantic poets, Wordsworth probably wrote the most about nature.

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What is Wordsworth's view of nature?

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 is further emphasized in this stanza:
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
At the end of the poem, Wordsworth contrasts the direct spiritual wisdom to be gained from nature with the dull, "barren" facts contained in books. Wordsworth is always closer to Christianity than to Pantheism. He does not, like Spinoza, think God is in everything. He does, however, continually assert that you can move closer to God and to truth by paying attention to nature than by any other means.
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What is Wordsworth's view of nature?

It would be hard to find a poet more dedicated to nature than Wordsworth. He believed that humankind could be in touch with the divine through nature. He believed, too, that his childhood holidays spent in the English Lake District, where he roamed the countryside freely with his sister, had formed his character by putting him in touch with the simple serenity of God's presence in the natural world.

In his Prelude, his long autobiographical poem, Wordsworth portrayed himself as a second Milton, a poet sage explaining the ways of God to man. Chief among these explanations was his conveying to others his belief that since nature was created by God, God could be experienced through contact with it. Cities, in contrast, being built by men, were corruptions of the divine, taking humans further away from the eternal source of light and love.

In his poems, Wordsworth tried to communicate the healing power of nature and the joy it could bring. For example, in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," he expresses the happiness he felt when, on a walk, he came across thousands of daffodils swaying in a breeze. This experience, so simple and accessible to all people, lifted him with joy as it happened, and he could relive the joy in memory over and over.

A privileging of nature and an appreciation of its beauty and uncorrupted purity are hallmarks of the Romantic mindset. Wordsworth is one of nature's premier advocates, urging all humans to avail themselves of its healing and solace.

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What is Wordsworth's view of nature?

Wordsworth sees Nature as, in some sense, a projection of the mind of man. This is typical of Romanticism, with its focus on the inner self, its perception of man as a kind of godlike being, and its concept of the literal outer world as in some way an illusion, a cover of the ultimate reality that lies beneath it. Wordsworth doesn't explicitly or directly express this Kantian philosophical idea that was "in the air" at the time, but it is implied by much of his poetry.

In what might be his most famous work, the "Intimations of Immortality" Ode, Wordsworth links his sense of self (and the immortality of his psyche) to the outside world. As a child, he communed directly with nature and felt something magical and eternal in it; as an adult, he has lost the immediacy of this feeling, but through the remembrance of childhood, he is able to console himself that these "intimations" were real and valid:

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.

Nature represents a primal innocence that is lost when "the world"—that is, the world of mundane human activity—becomes "too much with us." The poet laments that

The sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune.

These things from which modern man in his maturity (both the maturity of adulthood as well as that of the modern, mechanized age) has become disconnected are not only the things of the natural world, but the older, mythic concepts in which man no longer believes. Wordsworth's wish is that he might

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

In a former time, man's concepts, just like those of a child in the modern age, were linked to the outer, natural world. Mythology—as in the examples Wordsworth gives at the end of his sonnet—was an outgrowth of Nature, which is itself a part of man's mental cosmos. Much of Wordsworth's poetry is filled with regret, expressing the loss of this innocent union between mind and matter.

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What is Wordsworth's view of nature?

Wordsworth was a sincere naturalist and loved unspoiled nature for itself.  However, he also lived out a Romantic philopsphy. As a result, his poetry explores the interaction between the natural world and the human mind.  This interaction took the form of continuous cycle of contacting nature through observation and altering the "thing in itself" (Kant) through meditation.  Wordsworth was aware of the fact that human intelligence often interpreted phenomena in a manner that added to it what may not be visibly present.  One example, might be seen in his propensity to add human values to natural activities.  Such as elevating the work of ants routinely tending to an act of nobility  and wonder.  By creating a worldview based on such insights, one upon layer placed upon the next, Wordsworth came to view the world as wonder the design of which should evoke deep passion in those who correctly observe it.

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Discuss William Wordsworth's portrayal of nature in his poetry.

The previous posts were quite lucid in their explanation.  I would suggest that there is a thematic reason as to why Wordsworth is a poet of nature, as well.  Part of the driving force behind the Romantic thinkers, of which Wordsworth is an essential component, was to create a realm that was different than the preceding literary movement, the Neoclassicists.  The Romantics wanted to conceive of a setting which was not entirely urban, did not focus on socializing with others, and develop an individual, as opposed to collective, sense of self.  In attempting to tear away the mask of inauthenticity that dominated their perception of Neoclassicism, Romantic thinkers saw nature as the perfect setting for their ideas and beliefs.  Its purity and splendor, its experience on an individual level, and its presence helped to fuse the duality of mind and heart.  This appealed to Wordsworth, which is why so many of his poems have implications to the natural world or use it as their setting.

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Discuss William Wordsworth's portrayal of nature in his poetry.

To the poet William Wordsworth, the glory of Nature was everything, right from childhood. Even as a baby where he and grew up in a house on the banks of a beautiful but powerful river, Nature permeated his everyday life in an area of outstanding natural beauty near the Lake District of northern England. As well as its beauty however, Wordsworth was aware of its terrible power and you will see many portaits of dark brooding mountains and the isolation of lonely moors. This contrast made him reflect on the mysteries of life and death as a human. Truly, he felt 'my heart leaps up when I behold' the glories of Nature, yet it made him think and write also of the idea of duty and the stages of human life. He shared this appreciation of the world around him with his sister Dorothy.

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Discuss William Wordsworth's portrayal of nature in his poetry.

Wordsworth believed people could experience God through nature, for nature is God's creation and the outward expression of the divine soul. Wordsworth felt frustration at St. John's College, Cambridge, because he did not believe book learning fed his soul or gave him the kind of deep intuitive knowing he received wandering in the Lake District. He longed to become a poet prophet in the mold of Milton and to justify, as Milton put it, "the ways of God to man." He expressed some of his privileging of what nature could intuitively teach him in "Expostulation and Reply," where he is scolded for not attending to book learning but instead sitting "passively" in nature. He responds:

I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.

Wordsworth believed people's souls could be elevated by contact with nature. He is sometimes called a panentheist, a person who believed nature, as said above, was infused with the divine light.

Wordsworth's Romanticism is expressed through his relationship with nature. Unlike an Enlightenment rationalist, he doesn't want to study nature by dissecting and classifying it or otherwise controlling it. He instead develops an intuitive relationship with the natural world, based on the feelings it arouses in him. He tries to communicate in his poetry the deep way nature touches his soul, for instance, in the waving dance of thousands of daffodils on an early spring day.

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Discuss William Wordsworth's portrayal of nature in his poetry.

Wordsworth holds a very reverential view of nature.  In nearly all of his poem, Wordsworth makes the argument that the natural setting is the seat of subjective revelation and a realm where the lauding of personal feelings can be best experienced.  Part of this lies in his belief that the natural setting is so distinct from the urban and cosmopolitan setting of conformist society.  This idea of nature as being a sanctuary for the personal experience is something in which Wordsworth holds a great deal of belief and faith.  If there is a revelation based experience or some type of exploration into the nature of self in Wordsworthian poetry, it happens in nature, in a point of view that can be seen as pantheistic and reverential of the natural setting.

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Discuss William Wordsworth's portrayal of nature in his poetry.

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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Discuss William Wordsworth's portrayal of nature in his poetry.

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.”


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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Why does most of Wordsworth's poetry focus on nature?

He almost couldn't help but write about Nature - it was in his very being right from the start.Nature was almost part of William Wordsworth's very being, even as a baby. His early childhood home was in an area of outstanding natural beauty in England - a mountainous area called the Lake District. In fact the bubbling of the beautiful river ,the Derwent, almost sang to him as it ran past the home. Later in life he recorded how its 'steady cadence' has instilled a deep love of peace, beauty, calm and nature in him and it's little wonder this expressed itself in poetry. Later in life whilst at university in Cambridge, he spent a beautiful vacation touring France, Europe and Switzerland on foot. His deep love for nature was something he shared with his sister Dorothy and the two were often to be seen walking, or admiring hosts of daffodils. Later in life he would also record the less positive side of nature, such as it's menace and brooding oppressive threats such as treacherous mountains and fogs. (The Prelude.) It was almost as if his awareness of the powers of nature helped him to form some form of communion with spirituality... as if Nature is in some way, is more powerful than man himself.

WHEN Contemplation, like the night-calm felt
Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep
Into the soul its tranquillising power,
Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man,

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Why does most of Wordsworth's poetry focus on nature?

This is probably because William Wordsworth was a Romantic poet (in fact, most say he was THE Romantic poet...the one who really got the movement going).  Romanticism,  in its simplest definition, was the movement where writers and artists tried to unite the natural world with the mind/emotions/soul of man.  For instance, in what is arguably his most famous poem, "Daffodils", Wordsworth probably wanted to actually put his reader in that field of daffodils, and he was successful because all of the descriptive detail and sensory images he used: "Ten thousand saw I at a glance,/Tossing their heads in sprightly dance."

You may want to read more about the history of the Romantic period.  I'm certain you can find several great websites on this on the Internet, but for the quickie version, try Wikipedia.  I've attached the link for you.

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How did Wordsworth develop his relationship with nature?

Wordsworth had developed his relationship with nature through his poetry.  In stark contrast to Neoclassicist thought, Wordsworth believed that a spiritual quality existed in the depiction of the natural world.  Nature occupies such an important role in Wordsworth's work because he believes this is the location of true spiritual communion and where the evolution of the soul takes place.  There is a harmony where the dualism of human and divine is reached within the realm of nature.  The reverence of the natural setting in Wordsworth poetry is work, something that has to be developed and enhanced with each poem.  I think that this is how Wordsworth came to view nature and represented how he developed his relationship with it.  The nature element was not a setting or element of style.  It became a character in the poetry, a force that helped to bring about peace and honor in a time period that Wordsworth felt lacked it.  This relationship is developed through constant interaction with nature, in which new elements of the individual soul and subjective is revealed.  Through this, Wordsworth was able to construct and develop a relationship with the natural world that provided the best setting for spiritual elevation and transcendence.

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