William Wordsworth: Nature’s Prophet and Priest

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is regarded as the greatest and one of the most accomplished and influential of England's romantic nature poets in English literature. In fact, he is nature’s prophet and priest. No other English poet has given his heart and soul so deeply to the study and enjoyment of the beauties of nature. He not only sees and describes the beauty of the meadows, the woodlands, the hills, the streams, the sky and the seas, the cataracts etc. accurately but penetrates in-depth of all these things and finds a deep meaning in them. Concerning Wordsworth’s attitude to nature, the following seven points may be noted.

He conceived nature that there is a divine spirit that pervades all the objects of nature. This belief in divine spirit in nature is admirably expressed in Tintern Abbey and The Prelude.

  1. The source of poetic truth is the direct experience of the senses originates in nature. Poetry, according to him, originates from “emotion recollected in tranquility” rejecting the contemporary emphasis on form and an intellectual approach that drained poetic writing.
  1. Wordsworth believed that the company of nature gives joy to the human heart. Nature can exercise a healing influence on sorrow stricken hearts, because the same divine spirit that pervades nature, also dwells in man.
  1. The scenes and events of everyday life and the speech of ordinary people which is     nature in earthly sphere were the raw material of which poetry could and should be made. The passion for simplification and for a return to nature as a refuge from the artificial complexities of society inspired the Lyrical Ballads.
  1. Wordsworth's easy flow of conversational blank verse has true lyrical power and grace, and his finest work is permeated by a sense of the human relationship to external nature that is religious in its scope and intensity.
  1. To Wordsworth, God was everywhere manifest in the harmony of nature, and he felt deeply the kinship between nature and the soul of humankind.
  1. He believed in the moral influence of nature. He regarded it as the great moral teacher of man. According to him, those who grow up in the lap of nature are perfect in every aspect. This belief is well expressed in his Lucy poems.
  1. Wordsworth, being the greatest poets of the romantic revival, strives to capture and convey the influence of nature on the mind and of the mind on nature interpenetrating one another.

Reference: 1. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
                   2. Wikipedia