Analysis of Tintern Abbey – A Poem Written by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, one of the greatest romantic poets that the world has ever seen, pioneered the movement of deliberately breaking away from the established customs. The magic of words that poems weave was previously employed to venerate great heroes or a grand love. The poets preceding Wordsworth often exposed the evils of the higher classes of people. It was Wordsworth who distanced himself from this tradition and began to study ordinary people such as farmers and shepherds. More importantly he was generous in studying and interpreting Nature and daffodils or linnets instead of dealing on the society. The poet’s personal views and feelings also began to impact his poems more strongly than they had done to the earlier versifiers and his lyric genius commenced to come to the fore.

The poem Tintern Abbey clearly testifies to Wordsworth’s love for Nature. From the time of his boyhood, Wordsworth had established a strong bond with Nature and with the passing time the relationship witnessed transformations, maturing his poetic abilities. As a lad he was enamoured by ‘glad animal movements’ while frolicking in the lap of Nature but with the coming of youth, he fell in love with the lovely colour and sounds of the natural scenery of the heavenly Lake district in England. The liaison seemed to pause there for some time. However, more was to come and with his growing older when he equated Nature with God Himself. In other words, both his heart and soul begin to draw sustenance from this tool of God from this point. By particularising Nature with the definite article ‘the’, Wordsworth implies the exclusivity of his guardian angel in the sense that it is her who protects him from the harsh cruelties of other people and strengthens the moral fabric of his character as well. The poet solemnly utters that unlike human beings, Nature never betrays the heart who loves her. Again it is the sublime face of Nature which has taught him how to go closer to human beings. The sad melody of humanity is heard clearly by the poet at this juncture. Being physically present by the side of a beautiful river from where he can see the distant snow-capped mountain tops, his spirit spreads wings and soars into impossible heights, having never been experienced by him before. Going into a trance, the poet feels transported to another world where everything in the universe seems to get connected.

The language of the poem is not very simple because of the deep and enigmatic musing that Wordsworth is engaging in this poem. The poet’s love for Nature as well as his fondness for his sister has both been clearly conveyed in the poem. We are simply won over by the indisputable sentiments articulated in the poem. The negative phrases such as “has not been to me as is a landscape to a blind man’s eye”, “not unborrowed from the eyes” etc. have added vigour and a sense of conviction to the poet’s uttering. The vivid imageries like those of water falling with an “inland murmur” and smoke rising from a vagrant dweller’s hut capture the soft sound made by the river and the smoke that was unexpected in the woods.

The use of diverse figures of speech like alliteration (Still sad music of humanity), metaphor (Half-extinguished thoughts), simile (The sounding cataract haunted me like a passion), and imagery (Green to the very door) have made what the poem is, an unforgettable lyrical verse capable of setting the indeterminate perturbations of the human heart to rest.