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English Lit II

Christina Vester
Midterm Take-Home Essay
20 October 2006

Accepting Nature for What it is

In 1798, William Wordsworth wrote and published a poem titled: Lines Composed a Few

Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye. In this poem, Wordsworth

explores the feelings of nostalgia that the scene creates, explaining to the reader that he has not

visited the spot in many years. This essay will focus on a particular section of this work,

specifically lines 102-111, in which Wordsworth realizes that even though the scene no longer

stirs the feeling of youthful joy, there is still beauty to be found in the new emotions evoked by

the isolated location.

For Wordsworth, the memory of the ruined abbey has been a source of happiness, a

paradise into which he could escape while living in the cold desolation of London. Even when

he actually returns, his mind first finds itself surrounded with the memories of the place as it was

upon his first visit. After this first moment of reminiscence, he discovers that even though the

scene has changed, the new landscape can provide him with even more memories of nature’s

beauty. He comes to the realization that even though nature is in a constant, inescapable state of

change that he is “…still/A lover of the meadows and the woods,/ And mountains; and of all that

we behold/From this green earth; of all the mighty world (lines 102-105).”

By relating this event for the reader, William Wordsworth communicates two themes.

First, he shows us the importance of accepting nature in all its forms. There is beauty to be

found on many different levels, even in the breakdown of the things we know into something

new, and maybe even more enjoyable, but in a different way. The second theme is the

importance of giving in to nature, allowing its purity to teach, and to guide. “…..recognise/In
nature and the language of the sense/the anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,/The guide, the

guardian of my heart, and soul/Of all my moral being. (107-111).”

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the writers during the Romantic period

is an extreme adoration of nature. They appreciate it for its beauty, and also for its

unpredictability. The Romantics understood the important role that nature plays in life, as

something to be admired, feared, studied, and respected. Many people seek to use and abuse it,

but in the selected passage, Wordsworth identifies himself as a lover of the grass, trees and

landscapes that nature provides. Romantics also stressed the importance of imagination and

creativity. “… -- both what they half create/And what perceive. (106-107).” These lines express

Wordsworth’s view that reality is only half of the world as we see it. The other half varies from

person to person, our views and beliefs affecting every aspect of our lives, our imagination

influencing our perception of life.

Lines 102-111 of Tintern Abbey are very important to the work as a whole. These lines

provoke the acceptance of change and a love of nature, both of which were important values of

the Romantic period. They are the lines in which we see Wordsworth’s true view of nature:

beautiful and pure, to be looked upon as a guide and a protector. It is the point in which we

realize that even though nature is the culprit in the disappearance of the joyous landscape of his

youth, he has resolved himself to still find pleasure in what she has to offer.
Works Cited

Wordsworth, William. "Tintern Abbey." The Norton Anthology of English Literature.

Ed. M.H. Abrams. 7th ed. vol. 2 New York: Norton, 2000.