Sisson- Response to “Tintern Abbey”

Throughout William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” a prevalent theme of growth and development exists. At one point, the narrator describes his adventurous and passionate youth when he first “came among these hills” (67).  However, he notes that upon this arrival he no longer has these qualities. It is his visit to the abbey that displays his increased maturity and new appreciation for life, which is apparent through his reaction to nature.

The narrator describes his youth at the abbey during his “boyish days” (73): “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,/ Their colors and their forms, were then to me/ An appetite; a feeling and a love,/ That had no need of a remoter charm,/ By though supplied nor any interest/ Unborrowed from the eye” (74-83). He describes himself as a youth full of bubbling emotions, with no apparent purpose. The nature around him stirred up these feelings inside of him. When he was visiting the abbey the first time, he was going through a period where he was unsure of his identity. But when he returns, it seems he has truly discovered himself and is fully comfortable with the nature and feelings that surround him.

If anything, his visit back allows him to have a sense of security. He learned to look at nature a completely different way: “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” (88-91).  His view of nature has transformed form an appetite to something he listens to. He has become a lover of nature. He writes, “Therefore am I still/ A lover of the meadows and the woods,/ And mountains and of all that we behold/ From this green earth” (102-104). It provides him with a “tranquil restoration” and allows him to reflect on his transition from boyhood to manhood. His entire persona seems so sure and confident. He has found his stability. It is especially apparent when he writes, “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” (62-65) The idea of the restoration that nature provides allows him to rid himself of any worries he may have about the future.

His transformation from a boy to a man has been solidified. He finds his sanctity at the abbey and his stability through nature. His boyish self seems so unsure and undirected. However, coming back to the abbey has assured him in his future, seen in his reaction to nature. And he clearly has developed a pure love for this place: “After many wanderings, many years/ Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,/ And this green pastoral landscape, were to me/ More dear” (156-159).


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