Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth’s poem Tintern Abbey


This paper deals with an idea of Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth’s poem Tintern Abbey. It subsequently concerns with romantic perception and mystical view of human interaction with nature.

The speaker goes through three experiences of encounters with nature. His first encounter is a child-like animal pleasure. Second is full of physical passion who loved only outward beauty. But in the third encounter, the persona is more philosophical, more mystic and more mature and he is able to recognize sublimity of nature. In which the persona is also able to connect with the divine quality of nature. William Wordsworth finds the human society and politics as treachery, he goes to nature as the place of solace to find out redeem and freedom. He describes nature differently on his first and second visit after five years.

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The poem “Tintern Abbey” depicts the theme of nature and the speaker valorizes nature as the source of joy, pleasure, delight, happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. In his valorization of nature, he presents nature as a soothing balm to his aching wound of the heart. While valorizing the nature Wordsworth outlines the different stage that he went through for his development as the poet of nature. In this regard, he explores three stages animal stage, love stage and philosopher’s stage. In the animal stage, he went to nature like roe. His arrival to nature was accidental but not intentional. He was simply attracted by the physical beauty of nature. After he falls in love with nature, he argues that he becomes the love of nature and nature was beloved of him. The sight of the mountain, deep and gloomy wood their colors evoke love and feeling with him. In the philosopher stage, he develops his own standing and philosophy of nature. For him, nature is the language of his sense, the guardian of his heart anchor of his purest thought, nurse, guide and the soul of all his moral beings.

Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth's poem Tintern Abbey
Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth’s poem Tintern Abbey

Source: Poetry Foundation

As romantic perceives nature as a god, similarly “Tintern Abbey” is concerned with Pantheistic view, that is a god is all and all is a god. The speaker says:

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 sun,

And the round ocean and the living air”,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man. (Line, 94-99)

Here, the speaker shows his mystical view toward nature. He feels the presence of divinity in natural objects that elevated human thoughts and can produce sense sublime in all objects in nature including the human mind. It shows the omniscient quality of nature like a god, who always present in rays of the sun, in every drop of water in the ocean, in the vast vacant space of blue sky, in the air that we inhale, as well as in every thought of human mind. In this way, as his mind matured he feels the presence of god coloring all the objects of nature. This perception makes him a lover of nature including meadows, the woods, and mountains, everything that he beholds from this green earth. He loves all the physical and spiritual aspects of his lover. Thus “Tintern Abbey” is not just focusing on the physical landscape rather it is supernaturalization of natural landscape.

“Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth is an expression of a revisit of the same lake near to Wye River in 1798 after the gap of five years. Wordsworth as the poet of nature and country life is concerned with the valorization of nature which is evident in his selection of rural and the pastoral setting. Similarly, he considers nature as his religion and God and believes that God demonstrated through the object of nature because of his belief on the manifestation of God through nature. In his writing, he valorizes rural life over city life: as he believes that in a rural and pastoral setting.

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This paper concentrates on Wordsworth’s experience of visiting “Tintern Abbey” before five years and after five years. He has a completely different conception of nature, one of love happiness and affection. He is attracted towards nature because it makes him forget the pain and leads towards solace. He also thinks that nature is nothing; in his childhood.  He only walks for entertain and he doesn’t want to make any relation with a natural scenario and takes nature as a source of fun. While the persona walking through the forest with his father, he doesn’t know the greatness of nature. In the lover stage, the continuous visit to nature makes the poet fall in love with nature. Nature becomes the source of the passion of appetite. When the poet visits nature continuously, he feels like it is also part of human life. He valorizes the greatness of nature which gives freshness and makes to forget our pains and sorrow. And another stage is philosopher stage. We develop a comprehensive view of nature like mature human being finding the depth of insight knowledge of the universe. We find nature as the source of everything; happiness, pleasure, knowledge, peace, wisdom, and beauty.

                         Five years have passed; five summers, with the length

                          Of five long winters! And again I here

                          These waters, rolling from their mountains-spring

                          With soft inland murmur (1-4).

This stanza focuses on the posing of time. Five years have passed between his first and second visits of “Tintern Abbey”. He has visited for the first time in 1798. The persona is spellbound by the sound of waterfalls and by the sight of lofty cliffs. The persona shows only time has changed but nature has not changed. The opening few lines evoke a calm and meditative mood. Wordsworth now moves from the external landscape to describe his own inner state of consciousness. He describes what he has gained personally since his first visit to Wye valley.

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In “Tintern Abbey” he also expresses the love towards nature and animal. When he visits nature, he gets full enjoyment with the scenery of that place. But when he revisits the same place after five years he doesn’t get any pleasure from that place. It means that he wants the same happiness which he has in the past. According to Harold Bloom, “Wordsworth wants the poem to be about renovation, about carrying the past alive into the present and so being able to live on it in the future with a full sense of continuity” (325). It is a good idea because the time is going on and on, where we can see the change in the course of time. But according to my view, the poet doesn’t want the same pleasure from the same place. He wants the nature fresh which makes the environment beautiful. That is only possible when we save the forest, by saving forest there is automatically balance in the environment. The beauty of nature makes us forget all the problems of life for a moment while visiting nature. It has such power by which we forget all the predicament of our life. The beauty of nature gives heavenly pleasure which makes to forget our pain.

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“Tintern Abbey” presents nature as “nurse”(109) the source of inspiring material that nourishes the active creative mind and nourishes his primal thought of humanity, “the guardian and guide” (110) who protect and shape his “moral being” (112)who leads him in a right way, protects him from evils also plays the role of friend as well. He is grateful to his parent nature for guiding him in every stage of his life and encountering him wherever he stood. In this way, the speaker feels blessed by nature.

Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth's poem Tintern Abbey
Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth’s poem Tintern Abbey

Source: Art Uk

He shows only the change of time but the feelings of human beings are changing according to the period of time. When he first visits through the “Tintern Abbey” with his father the place was the same after five years when he revisits the same place and gets the same pleasure as five years before. The beauty of nature excites our senses, but it is also a perfect place to experience personal growth and meditation. It always gives positive emotions and releases us from our intense, stressful daily lives. Nature is something eternal that is independent of time. And it is just the valorization of nature. It provides the home to the vagrant dwellers. In this sense, nature provides shelter even to homeless people.

The persona admits in “Tintern Abbey” that is worshipping in nature. He believes that nature will not allow any evil to come to his cheerful faith. Nature is the heater to his daily mishaps. In this sense, Wordsworth never returns from nature. When he goes there in the contrast another Romantic poet John Keats also goes in nature for a temporary purpose and returns from nature after some time. In this poem “Bright Star”, he says that he wants to be like a bright star as fast as it is because he does not like to be alone as a bright star and wants the company. The lines “Bright Star would I steadfast as thou art/ Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night . . .”(1-2). Prove his desire to be in the natural place and natural thing like a star. The line “And so live ever and also swoon to death” (14).

The poet discloses that the natural world has always been an important subject for poets and prose writers. For instance, writers during the romantic age escalate the meaning and importance of nature in human life. As Wordsworth, William Blake also valorizes nature.  Both poets degrade city life as a factor that makes people selfish and immoral. At the same time, they view on nature diverge sharply: Wordsworth perceives nature as a source of restoration that has a positive influence on the human mind, whereas Blake observes nature as more ambiguous, collapsing binaries of good and evil. Both poets believe that the city brings the destruction of the human mind by corrupting thoughts and destroying good qualities that human perceives from nature. In this poem, he conveys his feeling of isolation and gloominess living in the city. Memories of innocent childhood and memories about nature give him “sensation sweet” feeling when in reality he is in “Lonely rooms and mid the din/ of town and cities . . .”. It means that greed and the harshness of the contemporary world, destroys human society and we sink in sadness.

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                        Though, the persona finds mystic of nature. Mysticism, it means an eastern philosophy. In mysticism soul of nature, an individual comes out of the body and the soul becomes one with God. But when the memory of nature comes, the soul goes out into the body and becomes one with the soul of nature. In such cosmic union blood and breath are almost suspended. However, his depiction of nature is the guide, guardian, brother, heart, and soul of his moral being. For instance, Wordsworth’s use of nature is found in his poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud”. The speaker of the poem relates himself to a cloud. He says he is wondering like a cloud floating above hills and valleys when he sees a host of daffodils beside a lake. The dancing flowers flusters along the lake’s shore, while the waves of the lake dance beside them.

Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth's poem Tintern Abbey
Valorization of Nature in William Wordsworth’s poem Tintern Abbey

Source: Simple Wikipedia

An attempt has been made here to discuss “Tintern Abbey” as a poem with ecological consciousness which focuses on the communion between human and nature. As a critic Mathew Arnold says in his essay on Wordsworth as: “It is Wordsworth’s relationship with nature that regards him as one of the most important poet of the Romantic Period, allowing him to create great poetry because of the extraordinary power in which he feels joys offered in nature . . . and because of the power in which he shows us this joy and renders it” (Encarta Encyclopedia online Criticism). A green heading of “Tintern Abbey” argues that the mind is rooted in and shaped by the same underlying process that can be identified in nature. Thus in this poem Wordsworth seeks a relation to nature that will re-establish or preserve community. The nature and human mind contain analogous processes. For instance we can get in the “Tintern Abbey”. It opens with the speakers declaring that five years passed since he last visited the location and encountered its peaceful scenery.

To sum up, “Tintern Abbey” is a poem which exhibits the speaker’s mystical experience with nature as he grows more mature. The relation between nature and the speaker is no longer remains full of passions and appetite as it was in the past rather it is now more mature and reciprocal. Nature becomes the source of mystical experience, sublime, morality and so on. The persona is in blessed mood filled with joy and elevated thoughts. Thus, with the help of these points, the persona valorizes nature and shows the greatness of nature.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. “Best poem of the English Language”: From Chaucer to Frost. New York. Collins Publisher Inc. 325

Ferguson, Margaret. Et al. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. New York and London: Norton, 2005.

McGann, Jerome. Rethinking Romanticism. EHL59. The John Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Wordsworth, William. “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey; On Revisiting the

Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798,” The Broadview Anthology of British Literature.Eds. Joshep Black Broadview press, 2006.53-55.

Wordsworth, William. “The poetical works of William Wordsworth.” Vol. 2-3. Eds. E. de

Selincourt and H. Dabishere. Oxford: 1940, 389-396.

Encarta Encyclopedia: Microsoft 2000 Romanticism.


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