Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Re-reading "Tintern Abbey" by Wordsworth

Recently, I re-read William Wordsworth's "Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, On revisiting the Banks of Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798" officially known as "Tintern Abbey" to all literature students. While, I was reading the poem (later teaching it as well), it suddenly occurred to me that the consciousness that Wordsworth talks about in the poem is something that modern people are trying hard to achieve: harmony with nature.

For the poet, nature was a form of escape in his early years. Later she became "all in all" to him- "the anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,/The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul/ Of all my moral being". When weighed by the troubles of the world, he could easily think about the beautiful scenes of nature and forget his sorrows.

This habit of storing the sights and sounds of nature in his mind's eye helped him to recollect such sights when he wanted them. Such memories flooded his mind, filled it with tranquility and gave rise to a pleasant frame of mind devoid of all angst. Such a tranquil mood increased in its intensity until the poet was no longer aware of the functions of his body and instead became a living soul that partakes in the mystery of the universe.

Wordsworth describes his hour of ecstasy as:

...that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,--
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.

For the poet, this poem tracks his growth as a mature person from the immature boy he was. It shows the poet as meditating on nature, which is commonly used to calm the monkey mind in meditation.

Note- Read an interesting article about the need for being close to nature from Charity Focus.

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