A Poem a Day: Tintern Abbey

Not to quote Mr. Darcy, but “In vain have I struggled. It will not do.” I wanted to avoid the Romantic poets, because they get too much air time as it is. However, I would be amiss to exclude them out of such prejudice.

Today’s selection is by William Wordsworth, before he became the crusty reactionary of his later years. I actually enjoyed this poem quite a bit when I first read it (enough to write a full paper on it). I think what I most enjoyed about this phase of Wordsworth’s work is the notion that one can either fully immerse oneself in an experience (e.g. drinking in the beauty of nature), or reflect on said experience, but not do both at the same time. There is something beautiful and anguished in this realization.

The full poem is here, though this version has some variations from the version I post here.

“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 sweet inland murmur. Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

Which 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 hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, 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 through the woods,

How often has my spirit turned to thee!

Photograph copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Photograph copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Literature, National Poetry Month. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s