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This study will be a comparison between Wordsworth’s poem and a song written by Sting. Wordsworth’s masterpiece was written a long time ago but Sting’s composition was fairly recent. Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey and Sting’s Fields of Gold share so many things and at the same time differ in so many respects.
Both share the same passion and love for nature. However, the speakers had different explanations why they love nature. Wordsworth consider nature, the sight, sound and smell of it as a natural healing ointment for the soul, while Sting see nature as a mere reflection of what he felt inside during the period in his life when he fell in love.
Love for Nature
In the case of Wordsworth the whole poem was written to express love for nature and why the author felt that this particular place, the Tintern Abbey deserves to be visited as often as possible. Wordsworth spent a great deal of effort in pointing out that the sound of nature is music to his ears. There is nothing like it in the whole world, the sound of water cascading from mountain springs, the tall rock and even the smoke that comes from dwellings hidden within the forest walls.
In this regard Sting and Wordsworth are in agreement. Although the setting for the song was in a field of barley the reader can easily sense that the composer wanted everyone to know that he is a lover of nature. He appreciates the beauty that he sees in nature. This is evidenced by the fact that he simply did not describe his environment as a field full of barley; instead he said that he was standing in the field of gold.
There is another common ground. Both writers express regret over the passing of time and their inability to revisit the place that reminds them of the best time of their lives. In Wordsworth this was clearly evident when he said: “Five years have past; five summers, with the length of five long winters!” (Wordsworth, line 1). In the song the writer said that, “Many years have passed since those summer days” (Sting, line 23). There was an ache in their heart because they allowed the passage of time and by doing so neglected the one they love.
Love for a Woman
The major difference in both works is the object of their affection. Wordsworth love nature because of the benefits that it has given to his mind, soul, and body. Sting loved the sky, the wind and the fields of barley because these things remind her of days gone by and the love of his life. He also appreciates nature in the way that it can be used to awaken what was long dormant, not only the love that was in his heart but also the affection in a woman’s heart that needed a wake-up call to arouse her from deep slumber.
Wordsworth love the way nature calms his nerves. He found the memory of his last visit as an effective antidote to the depression and weariness that he felt whenever he was in the city, especially when his senses were oppressed and bombarded by the noise and the stress of urban living.
He beautifully described the way he held on to these memories when he wrote: “As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye” (Wordsworth, line 26) This means that like a blind man who was not born blind he treasures the images stored in his memory before he totally lost his ability to see and he held on to it with a tenacity of a man who suddenly went blind.
However, this is where the similarity ends because Wordsworth focused everything on his love for nature, specifically the visual images and other stimuli he felt whenever he visited that particular place.
He perfectly captured his obsession of Tintern Abbey and the surrounding environs with one phrase: “Thy memory be as a dwelling-place” (Wordsworth, line 142) For the author there is nothing more that can give him so much joy and he is content to freeze that image in his mind and he can survive the rest of his life thinking about this happy thought.
But Sting’s Fields of God was a mere backdrop. Surely he appreciated the beauty of the pastoral landscape; however, there is a person within that image that is more important to him than all the fields of barley.
The composer of the song is not thankful to the “west wind” because it calms his nerves, he appreciates it because it can be used as a memory tool, specifically to remind his woman that he moves with the grace and power like the strong and hypnotic gust of a “west wind” and so she can perhaps be reminded of the promise of true love.
Sting’s song was a useful tool to provide contrast to Wordsworth’s non-stop worship of nature. Without the lyrics to the Fields of Gold it is difficult to make sense of Wordsworth’s 160 lines of poetry because he goes on and on not giving clues as to where he was going. But when one compares it to the song it became obvious that the poem is different from others because there is no woman involved.
In poems written about the natural environment, the elements of nature is there as a backdrop or tools that the writer uses to express what he felt inside but this time around Wordsworth was not singing praises to a maiden, he was actually in love with the trees, hills, water, wind etc.
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There were similarities and differences in both compositions. What was prevalent was the use of nature as the backdrop or central focus of the author’s work. Sting used the fields of barley as memory guide to remind him of the good old days and to inspire him that a dormant love can be revived.
Wordsworth on the other hand was simply in love with nature, particularly that corner of the planet he calls Tintern Abbey. The comparison highlights Wordsworth’s obsession with nature and made clear that the poem was not for a woman but for himself.
Roberts, Edgar. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 9th ed.
Sting. “Fields of Gold.” Accessed from https://www.sting.com/