He holds him with his glittering eye —
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.

These lines, from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) relates directly to Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey". Thematically, both works express the wisdom of the aged passed on to the naivete of the young. The ancient mariner has confronted a stranger, a young wedding-guest, "next of kin" to the bridegroom on his way to indulge in the merriment. The youth's being interrupted on his way to frivolity places him in a position of carelessness, without either responsibility or knowledge. Yet the mariner's "glittering eye," expressing a deep, magical sense of purpose holds the youth, focuses his attention as a child of "three years'" on a parent's lesson. The mariner then tells his tale of humanity, and leaves the youth to ponder the lesson:

He [the Wedding-Guest] went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

When the mariner has gone, the youth is unable to just forget or accept the tale and go onto the party. Becoming a wiser and more somber of the world, the wedding-guest is deeply moved by the story. So too does William Wordsworth express the theme of a young person's coming of age, losing their childish absentness for knowledge of a perhaps more melancholy life, in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey. The poetic structure revolves around an older brother's returning after five years to a place of natural beauty, and forewarning his sister of viewing the nature with unbridled passion.

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000