Use of Landscape as form of Expression in Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth

Use of Landscape as form of Expression in Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth

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Wordsworth is a split and exiled, yet transcendent and visionary poet who creates community by inserting the idealized Romantic poet into the ideological center interpellating those around him into similar subject positions. But, how can Wordsworth, a separated individual, reveal his heightened awareness to the rest of humanity? He answers in his "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" when he asserts that poets like himself can communicate their alternate awareness "[u]ndoubtably with our moral sentiments and animal sensations, and with the causes which excite these; with the operations of the elements and the appearances of the visible universe [. . .]" (Norton 173). Poets can express their alternate perception through a shared experience of the landscape.

Landscapes are a reflection of the ideology at the centre. Simon Schama argues in Landscapes and Memory, "Landscapes are culture before they are nature; constructs of the imagination projected onto wood, and water and rock" (61). The real world exists but because we can never unproblematically engage with reality, we make it over, re-present it as landscape. In this way, landscape is ideological, is a cultural construct draped over reality. As Wordsworth writes in Tintern, the perceptions of the eye and ear are "both what they half-create and what perceive" (107-108). According to Wordsworth, nature has become the "anchor" (110) of his thoughts, the tether that restrains his creative imagination. But because landscape is based on the real, it can also be used to express an alternate ideology.

Wordsworth's approach to landscape is chiliastic, to use Karl Mannheim's term. In Ideology and Utopia, Mannheim argues that although Chiliasm "has always accompanied revolutionary ...


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..., a book of poetry by Black, lesbian, Trinidadian-Canadian poet Dionne Brand. Read in conjunction with Wordsworth's 14th book of the Prelude, we can see the obvious parallels between landscape and subject construction. However, rather than taking flight from a precipice, Brand's poetic self takes flight from a beach, from ground level, symbolizing her non-universal yet communal creation of landscape. She writes:

I have become myself. A woman who looks at a woman and says, here, I have found you, in this, I am blackening in my way. You ripped the world raw. It was as if another life exploded in my face, brightening, so easily the brow of a wing touching the surf, so easily I saw my own body, that is, my eyes followed me to myself, touched myself as a place, another life, terra. They say this place does not exist, then, my tongue is mythic. I was here before.

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