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Envision five years from now. Driving through the streets, where you drove your old friends to places you remember listening to the radio, looking at the stores that once were your favorite hangouts, cruising through your common shortcuts. Clearly you will have remembered great memories and sad ones, and when you come back, both memories will come again at the places where they had happened. Delve into your past; you probably would not be shocked about some things that haven't changed to your hometown, such as the high school is still on the same street or your favorite restaurant still carries the same menu. While you take time to think about yourself five years ago, driving through that street, reminiscing, you most likely will have been surprised to how much hasn't changed since then. Gradually, you have a flashback to how you were as a teenager, the way you saw the environment around you and what was significant.
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William Wordsworth after he lived there. Visited the Wye valley with his sister Dorothy five years ago, William Wordsworth revisited the Wye valley in July 1798. As Wordsworth viewed the valley, he tries to see what had changed visually and emotionally with his "Lines". Wordsworth tried to analyze the changes he had gone through. While he did this, he gave some perception into the inner workings of memory. Also, he described the actual time and place of his return visit in the title of the poem and where he is in the area that he elaborately describes.
The title states that he was sitting on a spot, a few miles above an abandoned abbey in the valley of the river Wye; therefore he can see a wide scene that he is going to describe. As he composes the poem, he was "sitting under this dark sycamore" (Wordsworth 10). In the beginning of the poem Wordsworth states three times that "five years have past" since he last visited (Wordsworth 1). It seems as if he continued to want to revisit Tintern Abbey for a long time. Like other poems about scenery and landscape that were made before "Tintern Abbey" in the 18th century, Wordsworth's poem describes the scenery to us in elaborate detail. He appeals to our eyes and ears using many adjectives and verbs such as, the sound of "rolling" waters, and the "steep and lofty cliffs" (Wordsworth 1-3).
In the poem Wordsworth repeats the first person pronoun, "I" in many parts of his poem in order to indicate his personal involvement with the area around him and how the perspective influences him (Sng 1). There should be more concern toward his point of view on the scene. Critics have often note that Wordsworth does not show the Abbey and the valley as it really appeared in 1798 (Jugel 1). The abbey was actually ruined, and Wordsworth states at the end of the Lyrical Ballads that he wrote the poem while leaving the banks of the River Wye, which makes him below and not above the, Tintern Abbey. Reasonably, Wordsworth used his creative imagination to see what he wanted to see an idyllic landscape. As he gazed down on the vast valley with his eyes, his thoughts visualized a mixture of both the past and the present much as you might look back on your old town five years from now.
The Wye valley landscape in 1798 is not really depicted as much as Wordsworth's version of the landscape in his memory in stanza two. According to him the valley was very peaceful:
"Though absent long, These forms of beauty have not been to me,"
which suggests during his long five years' absence from the valley, the undisturbed surroundings of Tintern Abbey have always been with him (Wordsworth 24-25). "Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart, /And passing even into my purer mind," says that the beautiful forms of the environment were with him the whole time (Wordsworth 29-30).
Wordsworth also showed differences between nature and civilization, the "fever of the world" and the beautiful "sylvan Wye!" (Wordsworth 55-58). Wordsworth was troubled with the civilized world when he stated, "in which the heavy and the weary weight, of all this entire unintelligible world,"(Wordsworth 41) but he asserts nature has been a help to him, keeping him at peace, and also has given him wisdom as "we see into the life of things" (Wordsworth 50). Wordsworth uses his memory to mirror natural scenes and discovers a spirit that "connects all living things" (Jugel 1).
Tintern Abbey was a known place where lower classes such as revolution refugees dwelled Wordsworth addressed as "vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods" (Wordsworth 21) . The brief acknowledgement of the people has its significance because in most of his poem he describes the area around him rather than the abbey itself, which included the people that lived there and the ideals of the revolution (Jugel 1).
"Tintern Abbey" intends to report an instance of foreshadowing, until Wordsworth finally realized that nature and the use of memory had given him wisdom "into the life of things" (Wordsworth 50). Good memories are not the only factors involved in order for Wordsworth to finally find out his discovery. Think back about returning to your old town, five years from now. Your town spirit will probably not be as great as it once was. You will probably be a different person than before with more responsibilities. Wordsworth had a similar sad feeling as he remembered how passionate and committed he once was with nature on his last visit to the Wye. He makes a contrast between the pure emotion of being young and the challenges of adulthood in this line, "to me was all in all.I cannot paint," (Wordsworth 76). In the following, he expresses his heart break from the loss of that passionate connection to nature. As a "thoughtless youth," (Wordsworth 91) he could not have seen into the "life of things," (Wordsworth 50) and he needed thoughtfulness in order to make his discovery or reflection.
The lines, "For I have learned/To look on nature, not as in the hour/Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes/The still, sad music of humanity, /Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power/To chasten and subdue", are very important lines which indicate that Wordsworth has found a discovery.
Wordsworth lost his youth. Also, he felt "the fever of the world" (Wordsworth 55) and the heartaches of others. As he became familiar with pain and suffering, this gave him the power to be more understanding with others and with nature.
The lines ninety through ninety-four are important by the fact commas are used for a very dramatic pause between each line and the way the words are said has a deep affect to what he is saying. Wordsworth discovered, "a motion and a spirit, that impels/ All living things" (Wordsworth 101-102). Wordsworth moved from longing for a lost perspective on nature to happiness with a new perspective. Since "Tintern Abbey" was told in the present tense, at a specific time and place, "Tintern Abbey" gradually gets to the point of Wordsworth's discovery as it happened. Robert Langbaum states,"the necessary conclusions are summed up in the idea of interchange between man and nature, but it remains for Wordsworth to draw the necessary conclusions in his poetry." (Langbaum 1)" While reading the poem, we also experience this discovery. "For thou art with me, here, upon the banks/ Of this fair river; thou, my dearest Friend," states that in "Tintern Abbey," there is a character that could represents us and it may be Wordsworth's younger sister, Dorothy, who is the "dearest Friend" addressed in the final stanza of the poem (Wordsworth 115-116). Their affection for each other was powerful and she had significance in Wordsworth's life. In the final stanza Wordsworth claim that he is with his sister Dorothy, not physically, but mentally in spirit. "My dear, dear Friend, and in thy voice I catch/ The language of my former heart, and read/ My former pleasures in the shooting lights " this states that he saw his former self in Dorothy. In those lines is a spiritual prayer that instructs her to have faith that nature will always provide her with a sanctuary through the hard times and new wisdom into the meaning of life. The lines "Of tender joy wilt thou remember me," (Wordsworth 146) and "Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,"(Wordsworth 156) shows that Wordsworth's feelings turn from confidence to worry. Interestingly the lines are also Wordsworth's advice that Dorothy should not forget nature because he uses the words "remember" and "forget" in the final lines of Wordsworth's address. Again, memory is important in "Tintern Abbey." How we remember the past was presented in the earlier stanzas and why we remember it is a question raised by Wordsworth's request "Nor wilt thou then forget. (Wordsworth 156)" Perhaps the force behind Wordsworth's final address to Dorothy and to us is his desire for a kind of immortality. Just as he would carry "these beauteous forms" (Wordsworth 24) of the Wye valley with him always and he utilized them in a way it comforts him, so he would want Dorothy and us to retain his poem within us.
Therefore, how we remember Wordsworth Is different from how Dorothy and her contemporaries saw him in 1798, and how we will think of him five years from now will be different from how we hold him at present. "Tintern Abbey" has certainly given Wordsworth a kind of immortality, because we have not even forgotten about him or his works (Sng 1). How we reflect upon certain things can bring memories back, but the things that we see may not look to be exact. There is an immortality within us all that Wordsworth wished to achieve and Tintern Abbey was the connecting bridge between time and space that lead him back to his past to connect to what was there before in mind and spirit.
Irvine, Robert. "Scottish Literature 2." English Literature. 5 May 2007. Malts 5 May 2007
Jugel, Mathias L. "Romantic Audience Project." Romantic Audience Project.
5 May 2007. Snipsnaap.org 5 May 2007
Wordsworth, William. "RCHS HYPERTEXT READER." RCHS HYPERTEXT READER. 6 May 2007
Sng, Vincent. "Romanticism" William Wordsworth. 8 May 2007 sng.org