Critical appreciation of Tintern Abbey, focussing on the ways in which it is a typical romantic poem.
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Critical appreciation of 'Tintern Abbey', focussing on the ways in which it is a typical romantic poem. Set in the tranquil welsh countryside, the opening of the poem is dense in naturalistic imagery impelling the reader to be transported into the magnificent "wild, secluded scenes" and thus forcing the reader to appreciate the power and beauty of nature just as Wordsworth himself does, an approach typical of Romanticism. Samuel Taylor Coleridge saw poetry as "the mediatress between, and reconciler of nature and man". This quote lends significance to the fact that the opening stanza immediately connects nature with man, focusing on the emotions that nature enforces and man feels, forming the connection between the two and thus defining the poem as undoubtedly Romantic. Wordsworth finds solace in the memory of the landscape; it provides him with "tranquil restoration". This was particularly important for Wordsworth seeing as he suffered from what we now call bipolar disorder and thus, emotionally, he would have been very unstable. Nature acts as "the anchor of my purest thoughts". It is Wordsworth's constant; unlike the world around him that is radically changing in an industrial revolution. Nature is fixed and impervious to changes in the physical world, much like how Wordsworth would like to be himself. The beauty of Tintern provides Wordsworth with access to a more spiritual state because the place itself is "of aspect more sublime".
This shows not only the power that nature holds over Wordsworth, but also the depth of emotion that he felt. It seems that the memory of the landscape is not composed solely of the sight but more of the emotions that were aroused in him as he viewed. This suggests that Wordsworth does not perceive the landscape solely through the "eye" but more importantly in his mind too. The sight and picture of the landscape may gradually fade and he would have to go back to the place itself to fully recall the picture but the emotions Wordsworth associates with the setting are rooted in the depths of the sub consciousness and will remain stored there, available for him to summon at any time. However his method of perception has changed over time. He is no longer a boy and thus sees nature differently. Wordsworth realises that he has changed so much that "I cannot paint / What then I was". It is this maturity that has caused him to look at nature in a very different manner. Whilst previously in his "thoughtless youth" nature to him was "an appetite: a feeling and a love". But now he has grown and "that time is past, and all its aching joys are now no more and all its dizzy raptures".
This would indicate that nature brings them together, providing a shared experience that links them both together. So, if he dies she will still have access to him through this shared mind or shared experience, highlighting the immortality of both the soul and nature. However it may not only be the immortality of nature the poet wants to bring to light. The mood of this final stanza constantly oscillates between faith and anxiousness. Wordsworth first advises Dorothy to not forget 'nature', but this advice then changes into a plea that Dorothy (and perhaps the reader) remember the poet himself. Perhaps the passing of his straightforward youth into the complex "still, sad music of humanity," has lead Wordsworth to recognise his own mortality. Thus the impetus behind Wordsworth's final message to Dorothy and to the reader could be his desire for his own kind of immortality. Just as he would carry the "beauteous forms" of Tintern Abbey with him and draw on them for "restoration", he wants Dorothy and the reader to carry his lines in our minds and use them, just as he used nature, to venture into a realm of consciousness beyond mortality. Thus in writing the poem Wordsworth or possibly the poem itself has achieved a state similar to nature in that he or it has become the mediator between man and his nature, which was, as I stated in the opening paragraph, what Coleridge stated the ultimate goal of romantic poetry to be. 1 Oxford English Dictionary (1989) ?? ?? ?? ?? Francesca Tye 13SBe
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