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Wordsworth and Coleridge created some of the best poems in English literature, and the examination of their work provides a reader with a unique experience. “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” is considered to be one of the best poems written by Wordsworth. In it, the author revisits the place of his childhood and realizes that it has changed significantly. This paper aims to analyze “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” in the context of the development of Wordsworth’s mind.
Development of Mind
In this poem, Wordsworth revisits the site where he used to spend a lot of time as a child, which provides an implication for understanding the changes that occurred in the author throughout his life. More specifically, he recalls the innocent nature that he witnessed, which is evident in the line “the day is come when I again repose” and “sent up, in silence, from among the trees!” (Lyrical Ballads 156).
The tranquility that the author describes is a representation of his memories, which helped him through the difficult moments of life. However, upon returning to this site, the poet realizes that it is not the way he remembers it, which is part of his development as a person. It is because in the past when Wordsworth was a boy, he was able to see the nature around him through the prism of innocence, but upon revisiting the Abbey, he grew older and became more aware of things.
From the poem, one can conclude that not only time has passed since Wordsworth’s visit to this site but also many things have changed. When the poet writes about nature, he connects the themes of the beauty of the landscape that he found comfort in and memories. In addition, Wordsworth understands that nature will continue to exist and serve a similar purpose to others, even after his death. This provides an understanding of the fact that the author has matured, and when compared to his perception as a young boy, he is now able to be more thoughtful when looking at this landscape. The spiritual growth that the author experienced is evident in the lines:
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes. (Lyrical Ballads 158).
Therefore, Wordsworth acknowledges that he has developed and began to see more in the landscape and understand the implications of it better. Wordsworth recognizes that despite the changes that happened to him, he still enjoys the countryside, although now in a different way. The more thoughtful and philosophical approach that the poet describes is a representation of the development of his mind. When he was a boy, he perceived things with innocence, which serves as a contrast to his current ability to analyze and understand the context of events.
State of Mind
Wordsworth illustrates the development of his mind, which raises a question about which state of the author’s mind is better to exist in, either early or late. It can be argued that the later state depicted by the author is better because it implies the ability to see and understand more about the world and people. Wordsworth himself provides the following explanation to this growth as an ability “to see into the life of things” (Lyrical Ballads 157).
However, it should be noted that Wordsworth does not depict his past innocence as a flaw because it allowed him to be close to nature. Therefore, although his current state of mind is beneficial, the prior one is as good. Moreover, the presence that the author feels “impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought, and rolls through all things” (Lyrical Ballads 156). This is a depiction of the connection between the two states that allow the author to be both a sophisticated thinker and to look at things with innocence.
In the final lines of the poem, Wordsworth concludes that he will be able to enjoy the nature around him because of his sister’s innocent perception of it, which is similar to his early state of mind. However, a sense of grief exists due to the loss of this ability. Therefore, Wordsworth appreciates both states of his mind and wishes to be able to use both of them simultaneously.
Overall, the poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” depicts an essential theme of the development that the human mind undergoes using the example of the author. In it, Wordsworth describes the landscape he used to like as a child and the innocent perception that he had of it. Upon his return, the author concludes that he has changed and now is able to be more thoughtful, which is evident from the contrast of his past and current perception. It can be argued that the author appreciates both his early and late state of mind, although the latter allows him to be more sophisticated.
Wordsworth, William, and Samuel Coleridge. Lyrical Ballads. Routledge, 2013.