William Wordsworth’s change in attitude towards nature in his autobiographical lyrical ballad “Lines Composed a Few Miles above a Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798,” depicts how nature transformed him spiritually, mentally and physically. The setting of the poem, the Tintern Abbey, symbolizes the speaker’s love towards nature, the sentimental value he has for it and the inspiration it gives him. Wordsworth recapitulates his life as a development of his relationship with nature by contrasting his initial unreflective appreciation of it to a matured reflective appraisal.
Wordsworth, having lost the inspiration nature provided him in his childhood, reflects upon his previously refined state of mind by revisiting the Tintern abbey. Formerly, he had a passionate unreflecting integration with nature, “like a roe,” lacking self-consciousness. Through the use of a simile, Wordsworth attributes his younger self the solely physical discernment of the surroundings as that of unborn fish ovaries to highlight his premature lack of understanding. The speaker’s tone is reminiscent as he recalls that nature was “an appetite; a feeling and a love” for him. Through metaphorically identifying nature with human sensations, he suggests that nature used to take place of all his physical and emotional needs. His interaction with it being not supplemented by feelings, epitomizes his rapture in his carefree youth. The speaker’s tone of soulful reminiscence and the lyrical structure of the poem, written in iambic pentameter, evoke the mood of serenity in the audience. Furthermore, to underpin humans’ everlasting connection with the natural world, the author metaphorically states that he used to follow nature “wherever… [it] led”. He personifies nature by attributing it a human action of guiding, in order to underpin its transcendent power and its colossal impact on the course of his actions. However, over years, nature caused Wordsworth to mature beyond a thoughtless appreciation of it, causing him to have a better understanding of the universal connection between nature and humanity.
As Wordsworth revisits the Tintern Abbey, he reflects upon how his love for the natural beauty evolved and inspired him, allowing him to recognize the divine power of nature. The author became involved with human concerns, hence “cannot paint/ What then [he] was.” “Paint” connotes recreate, meaning that the speaker cannot revive himself in the memories of his experience, which are mediated by his present matured and reflective mind. Hence, in a meditative tone, emphasized by the caesura preceding the statement, the author underpins a harsh contrast between his past and current self. The speaker now perceives nature as metaphorically possessing an “ample power.” “Ample” denotes plentiful, hyperbolizing the power of nature by suggesting that it is divine. Nature’s force, allows the speaker to acquire a better understanding of the humanity as he escapes the troubles of the society in his safe haven – Tintern abbey. Nature “subdue[s]” him, giving him inspiration in life by allowing him to hear the “sad music of humanity”. “Subdue” denotes bring under control, connoting that the nature calms down the speaker, allowing him to reflect. The speaker employs a metaphor by identifying the human sufferings and preoccupation with “music”. Simultaneously, “sad music” can be perceived as verbal irony, since the speaker escapes the worrying human life, while “sad music” evokes a melancholy relaxed mood. To highlight the impact of nature even further, Wordsworth utilizes synesthesia, as by looking in nature through sight he is able to experience auditory sensations. Thus, in contrast to his younger self, the author has become more involved with human concerns and sees his connection with nature essential to his existence, as it offers him peace and inspiration.
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