“Tintern Abbey” Summary

About the poem

“Tintern Abbey” is also known as “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, the poem describes about William Wordsworth’s second visit in Tintern Abbey in July 13, 1798, after five years of his first visit i.e. in 1793.

It opens with the description of speaker’s declaration that five years have passed since he last visited this location, where he encountered its tranquil rustic scenery and heard the murmuring sound of the river. His first visit to the bank of the river Wye in 1793 was still fresh in his mind while writing this poem.

Theme of the poem

Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” is a collection of past and present memory of the time spent with nature, that means the poet has simply shows the nature as the ‘preserver’ of one’s memory. Therefore, the theme of the poem is based on the power of nature to guide one’s life and morality, i.e. how a beauty of nature rejuvenates one’s unstable mind.

Form of the poem

“Tintern Abbey” is composed in blank verse, which is a name used to describe unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter. Its style is therefore very fluid and natural; it reads as easily as if it were a prose piece. But of course, the poetic structure is tightly constructed. Wordsworth’ s slight variations on the stresses of iambic rhythm is remarkable. Lines such as “here, under this dark sycamore and view” do not quite conform to stress patterns of the metre, but fit into it loosely and helping its natural sounds of speech. 

Summary and Analysis

In the poem “Tintern Abbey”, the main cause of the poet’s mental and moral crisis was is his disillusionment with the French Revolution in 1789 and the war between England and France in 1793.

Ho lost his faith in man and even in God. He cherished to find some solace and this consolation came to him in the lap of nature. Therefore, when he revisited in Tintern in 1798, he feels so chastened person fully aware of the sufferings of humanity. He now no longer cried and longed for dizzy raptures and glad animal movements, but looked for a deeper meaning in nature.

On this tour of 1798 with Dorothy, he discovered that man had much to learn from nature which was man’s prime teacher.

In the poem “Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth begins with a particular scene and a personal memory as experienced five years ago. In these five years he had passed through a period of great despondency. He was distressed by his love affair with Annette Vallon who also bore him a daughter in 1792, and by political events, The Reign of Terror in France after the Revolution and the War between his motherland, England and France, the country he wanted to settle in.

The poet gives a vivid account of his second visit to the Wye where he has come again after five years. He again hears the murmuring sound of water rolling from their mountain springs with a soft inland murmur.

Once again, he feels elated in the presence of the wood hills overhearing the Wye. The precipitous and high mountains, thick sycamore trees, the cottage ground, the orchards with ripe fruits, the hedge row, etc. are all observed and remembered by him. He also recalls an experience, the remembrance of these sights and scenes has been a source of sweet, soothing and healing sensations from 1793 to 1798, when he had been living in London and when the crushed ideals of the Revolution and other sundry things had shaken his inner spirit. Yet his lastingness of his impression derived from the passionate fusion with the myriad forms of nature sustained him in these critical years of his life.

The revisit to the “Tintern Abbey” on the Wye with all its surroundings gave him mental relief, restored his peace of mind and thrilled the innermost recesses of his heart. The impressions gathered or received from the nature left a moralizing influence on his character and inspired him to perform the ordinary deeds of love and kindness happen in daily life, which are often forgotten and ignored due to the stress.

Wordsworth always looked towards the nature for peace and comfort for his sorrow-stricken heart and in hours of weariness amid din and bustle of city life. In short, whenever he was in communion with nature, he discovered spiritual and intellectual meaning in his as if he were in the presence of some unseen power.

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