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Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’ Turns 222 Years Old!

William Wordsworth’s seminal Romantic poem ‘Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey’ (often shortened to just ‘Tintern Abbey’) has just turned 222 years old!

Fun Fact: Wordsworth wrote all of 'Tintern Abbey' in his head!
Fun Fact: Wordsworth wrote all of ‘Tintern Abbey’ in his head! Via Biography.com

William Wordsworth was an English poet who grew to be one of the founding members of the English Romantic Movement in the 19th century. Romanticism highly valued the individual and nature, believing that emotion, rather than rationalization, was the most effective way to perceive nature. Wordsworth himself was among the first poets to bring Romantic ideals to English art and culture, such as through his collaboration with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads.

 

‘Tintern Abbey’ was composed on July 13, 1798, as Wordsworth was walking a few miles near Tintern Abbey in Wales (as the title points out) and is a testament to Wordsworth’s love of nature. It features beautiful segments of pastoral scenes describing the English countryside, such as:

Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Via Alamy
Those “thoughts of more deep seclusion” that Wordsworth finds himself trapped in are what makes this poem so timeless. Wordsworth is exploring the effect that nature can have on an individual. These “steep and lofty cliffs” where the landscape “connect[s]” with the “quiet of the sky” brings Wordsworth tranquility and comfort.
Seeing such beauty in the landscape allowed Wordsworth to turn that beauty and contemplation inwards, remarking that:
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
Nature has helped Wordsworth “see into the life of things” and experience the “deep power of joy” that lives in all of nature.
Next time you find yourself going on an extended walk, maybe think up some lines about what you see- you just might inspire many other people.
Featured image via tate.org.uk