Wordsworth’s attitude to Nature and Man as revealed in "Tintern Abbey"


Wordsworth’s attitude to Nature and Man as revealed in Tintern Abbey, the cult and creed of Wordsworth’s poetry, was the outcome of his direct communion with nature. This education of Wordsworth’s feelings, passions, receptive powers were derived namely from natural phenomena. Nature was a necessity of his being and through it he lives and breathes.

In Tintern Abbey Wordsworth has carefully analyzed the stages of his spiritual development with nature. During the first of these stages he had no conscious acquaintance to Nature. It was to him a mere playground giving him all these feeling of physical sensation. Stop ford Brooke has rightly observed that in the first stage of his acquaintance with Nature it was not he that was in search of Nature but it was Nature who allured the boy but eluded him with its beautiful and myriad manifestation. The mountains and the hills, the deep rivers and the lonely stream charmed his eyes and he wondered about whenever Nature led. At this stage Nature was but,
“Secondary to my own pursuits
And animal activities and all
Their trivial pleasure” (The prelude)


In the second stage , his own love for nature baffled his own power of description. He says, “I can’t paint what then I was”. The coarser pleasure of his boyhood days and his glad animal movements were all gone by. Nature was to him all in all. It was the stage when all that he behaves was dear and hence to finer influences his mind lay open for a more exact and close communion. The world of eye and ear came near to him and the sensuous beauty of nature was loved with an unreflecting passion altogether untouched by intellectual interest. The sounding cataract, the toll rocks, the dense forest with their beautiful colours and forms were to him like a passion of an appetite. This ardent and fierce influence that nature made on him was purely sensuous. Wordsworth at this stage was a veritable realist and the idealistic view of life held no charm for him.






But the mental repose of this stage was terribly shattered by the heat and furvour of the French Revolution. He, for a moment, lost faith in nature as a beneficial to him. All the aching joys and dizzy raptures of youth were gone and his mind was diverted to the tragedy of humanity. He gained faith in the dictum which Keats was to declare after lapse of many years – “Nature may be fine but human nature in finer still”. For in the interim he had heard the still sad music of humanity”. Nature now opens to him the gate of spiritual meditation and suggested to him the deeper truth of human life. This mystic insight into the mystery of life has already been limited in his other poem Tables Turned:
“One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man
Of moral evil and of good
Then all the sage can”. 
The final stage was thus a complete departure from the super sensuous world suggested by nature. The outer world was cast into oblivion on. He felt in his heart an echo of great soul, the presence of devine motion and spirits which pervades through the infinite variety of beautiful objects. The recognition of one in the many laid him to the glorious part of pantheistic philosophy. He felt the vibration of the same mighty soul every where, in the light of the setting sun, in the waves of the sea, in the living air, in the blue sky and in the mind of man. If God is never absent from the earth, it every natural beauty is a living image of a simple divine presence then we can glory everywhere. Pantheism, thus poetically realized can create a new heaven and a new earth out of the common stuff of daily experience.

Tintern Abbey, thus record the acute spiritual crisis suffered by Wordsworth as well as his ultimate success in rediscovering his lost faith.


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