William Wordsworth

(1770-1850 / Cumberland / England)

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Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey


Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.
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:--feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; 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.
If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft--
In darkness and amid the 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 thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present 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 these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. 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,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels 0
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,--both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
Nor perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance--
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence--wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love--oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Monday, October 17, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth )

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  • Manohar Bhatia (10/17/2013 7:35:00 AM)

    The style, language, poetic thoughts are all missing in today's poets. Why is it so? Is it because King Time has changed the hands of a clock to go anti clock-wise? Or is it Nature has filled its belly full of pollutin? Or poet man has lost his sensitivity of love, emotion and niceness to this beastly technology?
    If you read the poem of William Wordsworth above, you will know, why there are dearth of modern poets comparable to this past great poet of Nature.
    Manohar Bhatia. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/17/2012 1:10:00 PM)

    Wordsworth in rhapsodic vein. It is counter-productive to analyse mood music like this. To attempt to produce an abstract philosophy from this poem is to do it an injustice - the message is less for the brain than for the ears and the heart. Wordsworth in this poem, I feel, proves himself the greatest of the Romantic poets - the Aeolian harp from which the breeze evoked the most enchanting music. (Report) Reply

  • Babatunde Aremu (10/17/2012 6:33:00 AM)

    As we mature in life we are able to have deeper revelations. Wordsworth romantical applies nature to drive this point home in this evergreen poem (Report) Reply

  • Michael Hogan (4/27/2012 4:43:00 PM)

    I have always found this to be a spritual touchstone as well as a wonderfully-crafted poem. I have shared it with a number of friends and students over the years. The fact that...greetings where no kindness is/Nor all the dreary incourse of daily life/Shall e're prevail against us is a powerful promise that the poet makes for those that stay close to the source, whether of nature itself, or the power which flows through all things. Like Ian Fraser I also feel that one of the gifts of this poem is that it does not stick to a single subject but moves through a series of images and phlosphical suggestions. The poem has both moment and movement which bring the reader in to a point of deep serousness and contemplation and then move on to another series of images and thoughts. (Report) Reply

  • Ian Fraser (10/17/2011 4:37:00 PM)

    This is an example of a form of poetry now sadly long dead, the verse epistle. Wordsworth does not introduce it as such, but the dedication at the close to his sister Dorothy, I think clearly shows it is intended to be read as such. The form lost popularity during the 19th century as it places considerable demands on the reader both in terms of the time it takes to read and intellectually, as it does not stick to a single subject as we today think a poem should but in fact covers a whole range of interconnected subjects, the power of nature to inspire us, youth and adulthood, love and friendship etc etc.

    When I think of the average email sent today and then of this I realize what a huge amount we have lost in civilization over the past 200 years. It is hard to imagine anyone today at whatever level of education even beginning to approach the simple nobility of Wordsworth's style. The poem is full of memorable phrases, 'the heavy and the weary weight of this unintelligible world', ' gleams of half-extinguished thought', ' a spirit that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought and rolls through all things'. One could go on, but it is much more than simply soundbytes. It is glimpse back into a world in it was possible to see all that is as part of a greater whole and human experience still as an integral part of of what we now call Nature. (Report) Reply

  • Balachandran Nair (12/4/2009 10:41:00 AM)

    It is a pleasure to see my views presented by someothers. I shall add a little more to what Mr. Ramesh wrote. From spiritual pleasure Wordsworth goes to the sublime sensing of the existential ecstasy, being in ' yoganidra' (a stage when one has no sensation of himself - physical, intellectual, emotional, and even spiritual, and one's consciousness becomes perfectly awake, untouched by any type of feeling of existence) . This high growth of soul is attainable only if led by a genuine master. Who can be a better spiritual master than the absolute manifestation of the Infinite, Nature? (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (10/17/2009 10:22:00 PM)

    This is the perfect understanding of various pleasures, in the form of a meditation.
    Excellent poem, and I agree totally with Mr. Armstrong and Ramesh T A.
    Mr. Woodhouse, you clearly do not understand that it does not matter so much that the poet is back - he discusses more importantly about his life and future. (Report) Reply

  • Rick Armstrong (10/17/2009 1:33:00 PM)

    To Mr. Woodhouse: Sir, if you honestly think that 'What a pleasant view - it's good to be back, ' captures the essence of this poem, I am wondering what in tarnation you are doing on a poetry website in the first place. Apparently you have been infected so hopelessly by twitter-itis and the use of soundbytes to communicate that you are incapable of entering into a meditative and communal state that a good poem requires. This poem is 'rambling, ' as you say, only if your main interest in reading it is to get from the beginning to the end in as short a time as possible. I think that Ramesh T A summarizes this poem wonderfully. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (10/17/2009 1:56:00 AM)

    In this spiritual autobiography Wordsworth has wonderfully said about the complete course of life starting from the animal pleasure to aesthetic pleasure, intellectual pleasure and mystical pleasure! In this one poem he has established his noble and great spirit wonderfully well! He is a great poet of all ages! (Report) Reply

  • Tim Woodhouse (10/17/2008 5:05:00 AM)

    What a pleasant view - it's good to be back!

    Why can't he just say that instead of rambling on for ages like the tedious drone he is!
    Mind you, there was no internet or television in those days, and the Victorians wanted a good read to entertain them.
    You have to interpret these things within their historical context, I suppose. (Report) Reply

  • Max Crawford (8/15/2007 6:41:00 PM)

    First time i've ever read this.
    First impressions are that it raises many interesting ideas and has some great lines if a little rambling, but perhaps that suits the subject matter. (Report) Reply

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