Throughout his works, Wordsworth seems to emphasize a oneness with nature, the relationship of nature, poetry, and religion, and how all are intertwined in discovering the self. In My Heart Leaps Up, he writes
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old;
Or let me die!
The Child is the father of the Man.
In reading this passage, what is Wordsworth saying about the effect nature has on his soul? Wordsworth seems to make quite a few references, in some of his works, about returning to childhood. Why is this? In relating this passage to some of his other works, what does this type of reflection mean to him and/or his poetry? Is there something to be said for the timelessness of nature and/or poetry? In what way does this passage relate to Wordworth's journey into reclusion? Does a communion with nature and the recollection of past joyous experiences that allows for heightened perception or self-definition? What is meant by the last line? (John Rosenblatt)
In Wordsworth's Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, he uses the word nature to mean more than material objects such as wildlife, trees, and mountains. He describes nature as a power that man can place himself within and become part of! once he has left the city. This much is obvious in lines 22-30 in which the author states,
These beauteous forms
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations ! sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration
However, does Wordsworth describe a feeling unique to himself, or can any man or woman who is willing to leave the city find such tranquility in nature? Is there some predisposition necessary for such an experience?(Dan Shindell)
The speaker of William Wordsworth's poem "Resolution and Independence" (1807)laments:
My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
-Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,
My question eagerly did I renew,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?" (ll. 113-119)
The sentiment reverberates in Henry Crick, the narrator of Graham Swift's novel Waterland (1983), who declares: "I don't care what you call it - explaining, evading the facts... history, fairy-tales - it helps to eliminate fear." (241)
How does Crick's or Price's fear and attitude towards fear parallel that of the speaker's in "Resolution and Independence"? (Lily Huang)
In Wordsworth's poem "Tintern Abbey", he talks about returning to a place he had been five years before. I am interested in the concept of change in this poem, and how it relates to nature. The speaker has changed: "Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills;" and he has trouble recalling who he was before: "I cannot paint What then I was". How do you think the speaker has changed in the past five years? Has he become more cynical or more hopeful? Does he appreciate nature more or less? What connections does he make betweeen nature and inner growth? (Erin Emlock)
In William Wordsworth's poems, he speaks of nature as a religion. Instead of using religion to find answers, he uses the beauty of nature to find peace within himself:
In darkness and amid many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart-
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to the,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
(ll. 49-57, "Tintern Abbey").
Why does he turn to nature instead of religion for peace? What does this say about his character and the role of nature in his life - both physically and spiritually? Is it necessary for everyone to have such a spiritual outlet such as this? (Kate Edwards)
What is the significance of being at a wedding for the relation of this tale in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner? (Consider the accidental pun on 'relation' as well as ideas of family and captain/crew relationships.) What are some examples of ties-that-bind in the text? How do they relate to themes of ownership/posession?
What is to be said of 'posession'? For example, posession of life when "the dead mean gave a groan," (330) of attention when the Mariner "holds him with his glittering eye," (13) or of ships that move without the help of breeze- "Till noon we quietly sailed on,/Yet never a breeze did breathe:" (373)
Information holds great power in this text. To have it is to be posessed by it, affecting you in some way beyond your own control. Discuss how ownership changes hands and the circumstances under which posession becomes a thing by which ships sail on windless days and dead men rise. (Paul Grellong)
Wordsworth and Coleridge worked together closely during their lifetimes, consulting each other, traveling together, and challenging their own assumptions and ideas. In its introduction to the works of Wordsworth, the Norton states that "The two men met almost daily, talked for hours about poetry, and composed prolifically. So close was their association that we find the same phrases occurring in poems by Wordsworth and Coleridge... the two poets collaborated in some writings and freely traded thoughts and passages for others; and Coleridge even undertook to complete a few poems that Wordsworth had left unfinished" (137). I'm really interested in circumstances that cause two artists to come together and share everything they have for the sake of furthering their art; it requires so much trust and respect for each other's mind and work. In this art history class I'm taking, we've been looking at collaborations between Braque and Picasso in developing what would become cubism - and it just amazes me that two brilliant people would have the courage to share all their secrets and works - this recognition that the fruits of collaboration might be greater than the products of a lifetime of solitary work. What is gained/lost in collaborations such as these between artists? Do the individuals lose something by having their names forever tied to the partner whose work was so much like their own? Is it stronger to work alone or with another person whose work you value? Or is it even possible to work "alone" (in terms of societal influences, etc. - perhaps those who choose to collaborate are only recognizing the fact that all of us are really collaborating with the society in which we live, whether we choose to recognize that fact or not)? (Maura McKee)
While Wordsworth relies heavily on descriptions of nature to complement themes of mortality and immortality, bliss and sorrow in his poetry, Austen negates the use of intimate descriptions of nature as she explores themes of pride and prejudice, sense and passion through her novel. Examine the lines of Wordsworth in his poem, "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798,"
These beauteous forms . . .
I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into purer mind,
With tranquil restoration (137).
Through his poetry Wordsworth is overtly exploring an intimate correlation between mankind and nature. How does "nature" as a narrative strategy affect the timelessness of Wordsworth's poetry? How does Austen achieve a timeless quality to her writing as she focuses on social discourse rather than the universality of nature? (Kristen Dodge)
In Coleridge's writings around the turn of the century, and in "The Eolian Harp" particularly, the text "comes to close to the heresy of pantheism" (Norton 326). In "The Eolian Harp," the narrator wonders,
"And what if all of animated nature
Be but organic Harps diversely framed,
That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
At once the soul of each, and God of all?" (44-48)
Yet this confusion of nature and divinity is not the only one to be found in Coleridge's poems. An posits, "O Lady! we receive but what we give,/And in our life alone does nature live" ("Dejection" 47-48). What is the meaning of this confusion of Nature, God, and the individual? How do these ideas position the author with respect to his/her work: are these works "natural"? (Kate Williamson)
William Wordsworth revisits the banks of Wye in his poem "Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" and sees contrast between the landscape he now witnesses and that of his memory.
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
of pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
that in this moment there is life and food
for future years. And so I dare to hope,
though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among the hills... ln.60
How then does his re-evaluation of the present Wye affect that of the past? How does he anticipate for the future? How does the following quotation reflect the synthesis of past and the present?
For I have learned
to look on nature, not as in the hour
of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
the still, sad music of humanity. l. 87 (Hyun Kim)
Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000