Wordsworth's Treatment of Nature in Relation to Man in Tintern Abbey

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In his Preface to The Excursion, Wordsworth asserts that it is the ‘Mind of Man’ which is ‘My haunt, and the main region of my song’. Wordsworth is interested not in the natural world for its own sake but in the relationship between the natural world and the human consciousness. His poetry, therefore, offers us a detailed account of the complex interaction between man and nature—of the influences, insights, emotions and sensations which arise from this interaction—rather than a precise observation of natural phenomena. When a natural object is depicted, it is usually apparent to us that the main focus of interest is the response of a human being (almost always Wordsworth himself) to that object. Indeed, one of the most consistent concepts in Wordsworth is the idea of the interpenetration of man and nature. Man, in Wordsworth’s poetry, does not exist outside nature; he is inseparably linked with nature by a common spiritual bond of unity and he is an active participant in it. Consequently, ‘nature’ to Wordsworth means something that encompasses both inanimate and human nature—each is a part of the same whole. The moments of vision that are the source of some of Wordsworth’s best poetry occur when he has a heightened sense of this unity. At such moments, he responds not to forms, shapes and colours of natural objects but to an inner force which permeates the natural world and which is felt within himself also.

Tintern Abbey begins as a landscape poem but as the poem progresses, we become aware that the language of description gives way to the language of meditation, a state produced by the intense contemplation of nature. We are also aware that the real subject of the poem is not nature as seen at Tintern Abbey, but rather experiences that are open to the mind which can create and recall at will and mental landscape based on a remembered scene. Tintern Abbey, the last poem of the Lyrical...
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