The Importance of Nature in Prelude, the World is Too Much with Us, London, 1802 and Tinturn Abbey
Throughout history the technological advancements made by mankind gradually forms a gap with nature, separating us from our ancestors. These products of society pull us away from nature, making it harder to appreciate what is truly is. William Wordsworth was a romantic poet who witnessed this lack of appreciation during his lifetime. Wordsworth’s poetry aims to inform those people who are too engulfed in the material world to pause and witness the miracles that come with the beauty of nature. The poems and sonnets I analyze in which Wordsworth’s views are expressed are The Prelude, The World Is Too Much With Us, and London, 1802 and Tinturn Abbey. In each one of these, Wordsworth shows us the ignorance that the people in the world have towards nature, especially examples from his own life. Wordsworth views nature as an amazing gift and blessing, he wants the people around him and in the world to realize that they’re focus on material items blocks them from witnessing the miracles that are unfolding before them everyday. Wordsworth wants to show people that what they’re missing is truly beautiful, that nature is a miracle.
The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. In wordsworth’s poem named, Tinturn Abbey, Wordsworth recalls one of his memories of nature to try and show his appreciation of nature. Wordsworth writes about when he was a child, in which the peaceful, quiet, and beautiful setting of the place surrounding brought him happiness. Tinturn Abbey helps Wordsworth express the tranquility and calming vibe of nature by describing the setting where he is separated from the rest of world, however Wordsworth doesn’t describe the Abbey or any details of the building. Wordsworth doesn’t want the past to repeat, he doesn’t want this memory to be the same for everyone. He wants to let everyone in on the idea that the beautiful world around them has a lasting effect. “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 recompense. For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth; but yearning oftentimes the still sad music of humanity nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power to chasten and subdue.” (Lines 83-93) He has seen the essence of nature that makes it beautiful. He knows what the world is and knows that we all have the ability to witness nature and gain the appreciation of it. This quote is an example of the outreach that Wordsworth attempts in order to tell humanity to wake up and look around. He is telling everyone to witness the world, and the beauty that it holds. Someone can be easily be blind towards something, in this case essence and beauty of nature, but that something is usually right in front of them, and unless they really slow down and focus their mind on seeing it they won’t be able to gain the appreciation before them.
The critique of humanity and it’s declining attitude towards nature is seen again by Wordsworth in Prelude, a poem that is about the French nation and it’s fall. At the start of the French revolution William Wordsworth felt that the French revolution was a wonderful thing for poeple. Everyone was doing things that helped them set themselves free and make them feel equal to everyone else around them. As time went on the revolution took a turn for the worst, the French rebels became more and more violent, causing Wordsworth to lose hope in the movement. Wordsworth positioned himself on the side which was fighting for a freedom he felt everyone deserved. What started as a fight for freedom, and for equality among men slowly turned into a hatred of the opposition, fueled by killing every last enemy. Some feelings or mindsets of the revolution can be represented in the quote, “‘As they set out to eliminate their enemies, they seemed to follow the cynical imperative coined at the time: ‘Be my friend, or I will kill you.’” (Betts) The savage nature that overtook the Revolution became too much for the rebels, and it ended up being the cause for William Wordsworth losing faith in the revolution. Wordsworth writes, “But now become oppressors in their turn, Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defense for one of conquest, losing sight of all which they had struggled for: now mounted up openly to the eye of earth and heaven, the scale of liberty. I read her doom.” (Prelude lines 41-45) Wordsworth compares the French, and their failure to the decline of one’s creativity and ability to produce something greater than oneself. He worries that the people of the world will end up becoming unmotivated, and have no will to continue on in their lives, because they have lost the opportunity to hold something in the world close to their hearts. The French lost their sense of justice, but for the world the overall concern is the power of imagination within oneself and how they use it to place value on the beauty of nature.
The World Is Too Much With Us, a sonnet written by William Wordsworth, describes humanity’s failure in the appreciation of nature. Wordsworth feels and thinks that people are too obsessed and invested with the creations of man, rather than the creations and gifts of the world that were created by God. “The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste to our powers: little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (The World Is Too Much With Us, lines 1-4) Later on in the sonnet, Wordsworth expresses how he wants to be greek. If he was greek, according to greek philosophy, he would be inclined to observe the world around him the work of the gods and godesses; he wouldn’t be surrounded by people who don’t understand the value of nature. The eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope gives a better explanation of Wordsworth’s message when he says, “Unerring Nature, still divinely bright, One clear unchang ‘d and universal light, Life, force, and beauty must to all impart. At once the source, and end, and test of Art.” (Pope) This neoclassical message given by Pope is similar to Wordsworth’s idea, but it conveys a purpose for admiring nature. He explains to the reader that nature is the beginning of our history and that we as humans need to look at nature and understand how important it’s been to humanity throughout our existence. These men both emphasize the knowledge of knowing and appreciating the gift from a higher power, and express how we shouldn’t take such a magnificent miracle for granted.
London, 1802 references John Milton, who was a large influence to Wordsworth, and condemns current state of the nation, comparing it’s disgusting nature to a swamp. Mourning the death of Milton the speaker says the people have forgotten the how religion, power, and literature made the nation so illustrious. The speaker wants the English people to understand that God blessed humanity with things that we need to appreciate. Having heard the feelings and values of the people, the speaker says, “We are selfish men; Oh! Raise us up, return to us again; and give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.” (London lines 6-8) This was written after American Revolution which makes the English feel as if they lost to people whom they saw to be less sophisticated and organized. Their highly respected and powerful military force was defeated.
This simple sonnet becomes more complex as the meaning of Milton being mentioned is considered. John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, which reimagined the creation story in the bible into a book with dialogue. Milton created a storyline where he gives more details in order to make it easier to interpret the meanings behind the text of the original story meant. He portrays Satan to have a desire for the beauty of the earth, but because of his actions Satan will never be able to enjoy the gift of the world. Satan sets out to infect his evil into the world in order to corrupt as much good as he can. If you consider the themes of each story you see how closely related the themes are. Wordsworth and Milton both express that people all have a chance to become involved with God and need to take advantage of and understand that opportunity so we don’t fall into the category of Satan, and lose the gift that God has given us.
It is important that each individual understands the value of the world surrounding them. Each individual was born on this planet in which an infinite number of miracles can take place every single day, whether it be the human body or the smallest organism, nature is all around us and most people have forgotten to treasure the value it holds. The world is changing and evolving every day, nevertheless the significance of the world will always be that it is the beginning and end of all life. William Wordsworth understood the importance of nature and attempted to show its value to the world within the literary works he created.
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