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Tintern Abbey - Essay Example

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Tintern Abbey is one of William Wordsworth's most acclaimed and memorable poems. Its full title is Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour July 13, 1798. This poem appeared in a collection of poems called the Lyrical Ballads…
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Download file to see previous pages These lines capture in essence the role played by memory in preserving emotion and in poetic expression. Tintern Abbey in particular is imbued with the spirit of these lines and best embodies the role of memory in Wordsworth's poetry.
At the onset of the poem Wordsworth declares that five years have elapsed since his visit to this idyllic location. With gentle contentment he allows the sheer beauty of the well remembered and much beloved landscape to sink into his being and permeate his very senses. His detailed description of nature bedecked in all finery transports the reader and one can almost see the "steep and lofty cliffs" and hear the "soft inland murmur" of the flowing water (Wordsworth 112). He becomes nostalgic and is filled with bittersweet remembrances connected to this gorgeous spectacle. Slowly he is lifted up on the wings of memory and he sees himself as the boy he once was and as the man he has become and recollects the eventful time between the two stages of his life.
In the said five years, Wordsworth's life had been tumultuous and he bore witness to much suffering, sorrow and pain brought on by the darker side of human nature. He had spent time in France at the time of the French revolution and had been an idealistic supporter of the revolutionaries' cause. However in light of the tide of violence that swept the country and subsequent hostilities between France and Britain he became disillusioned and heartsick and returned to his country. Therefore his return to Tintern Abbey and its idyllic setting is a homecoming of sorts. Spurred by his memory he recollects the pleasurable bond he forged with nature and how it sustained him in trying times and happily looks forward to forging a new bond for the future.
Wordsworth describes the profound effect his memory of this location has had on him despite his prolonged absence. Even as he nursed his loneliness in crowded cities and towns, his memories of this picturesque scene eased his fatigued state and rejuvenated his wearied spirit as it filled him with "sensations sweet,/ Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,/ And passing even into my purer mind,/ With tranquil restoration" (Wordsworth 113). Thus for Wordsworth his memories serve as an opiate for the senses, bruised and battered by a harsh life. He further credits memory for his random acts of kindness. His memories of nature's bounty is like a wellspring of goodness that never runs dry and spurs him on towards achieving a state of perfect morality. Thus pleasant sensations induced by memory are responsible for bringing out all that is pure and true in him. Wordsworth also attributes memory with providing him an insight "into the life of things" (114). Oftentimes he is baffled and bogged down by the thick fog of mystery surrounding the mechanism of the world and thus obscuring his vision of life itself. But he is relieved of this cumbersome burden by memory which allows him to reach deep within himself to find answers and ultimately enlightenment. He is able to shed the trappings of civilization and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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