english lecture november 18, 2010
William Wordsworth “Tintern Abbey”
On the Board:
Greater Romantic Lyric
Ode: Turn, Counter Turn, Stand
Wax Tablet (Aristotle)
Tabula Rasa (John Locke)
Blank Verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter)
“Take and eat in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on Him in thy heart with
thanksgiving” - Anglican Communion Service
“And I (Jesus) say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock shall I build my church, and
the gates of hell shall not prevail against us” - Matthew 16:18
- The chorus would deliver part of the speech, then go over to the other side of the stage, deliver
another part, go to the middle of the speech and deliver the final part (stand)
- Wordsworth presents an idea and argument, then counter turns and produces an idea to
counter it, then makes a stand based on the last two parts.
- Wordsworth’s adaptation of the ode is consistent with the ethos of romanticism which
- This poem is also topographical poem. A poem that describes a particular place, time and from
a particular perspective
- Traditionally topographical poems were written in rhymed couplets. Wordsworth uses blank
verse: lines of iambic pentameter without rhymes
- So he took a form that was prevalent in his day and adapted it for his own uses
- A poem to Wordsworths response to the landscape of the wide river valley and sees how he’s
changed since the last time he saw it.
- “Here I Am Again poem. I was here, then I left for five years and now I’m back again”
- This poem was written in 1798. Wordsworth was 23. Extraordinary how someone so young
could write this.
- Wordsworth was trying to define what came to be called “Romanticism” trying to come up with
what romanticism is against what the age of reason was.
- He’s trying to establish the value of moods, emotions, feelings, imagination.
- Trying to show that subjectivity is more important than objectivity. He’s trying to show that the
imagination is more powerful than rationality.
- Also trying to do nothing less than articulate a new relationship between humans and their
mental/physical/spiritual lives, and the world around them. The natural world but also the culture
surrounding them. He’s trying to come up with a whole new way of thinking and understanding
- He enacts/stages the rejection of rationalism and the emergence of the attitutes we associate
with Romanticism english lecture november 18, 2010
- He does this in a step by step manner
- Suggesting the mind is not just a mirror/passive receiver of stimuli from the external world that
then is rationalized. He’s saying that the mind does more than that. It is creative, the inner world
remakes and shapes our perception of the outer world.
- Imagination/Creativity is as important as Reason/Premeditated thinking.
- The mind is a lamp which illuminates the external world. Highlights things that might be
- This poem suggests briefly the mirror position. The idea that the mind is just a reflection of the
- Then it articulates the Romantic view: the mind is the lamp that illuminates world
- At the end he comes up with a stand: position he can occupy that takes account of both of
these things. This is nothing less than a statement of faith/religious belief for him.
Poem (p.1492 purple Norton Anthology)
- First 22 Lines: looking at a beholder, someone who is observing with eyes and ears and
- Long vowel sounds/repetition of five give you a sense of the long period of time since
Wordsworthe as last looking at the landscape.
- The mind is a passive receiver of sounds and sights which impress themselves on it. They are
impressions. What lies behind this is a long tradition going back to Aristotle “The mind is a wax
tablet on which an impression is made” Also behind here is the ideas of John Locke, the great
17th century thinker.
- John Locke came up with the idea that the mind is a blank sheet/tabular rasa onto it are
written the impressions of the external world. As you age, you can put these
impressions together to construct new ideas. From pleasure - happiness - heaven. This
is called Associationism, quite at odds with the sense of the imagination
- l.10: I view = not an active thing
- Wordsworth wants to make clear that this is a passive activity. that he is just an observer of this
- So far, this poem is passive.
- Second verse paragraph, some different things begin to happen.
- This is the oppositional antithesis to what has been said so far.
- Recollective landscape, recreating the landscape in our imagination through a process of
feeling and emotion.
- this is a bottom up relationship. feelings come from the heart and then go to the mind. Also a
sense of restoration, of recovery/recreation in that sense is the beginning of a therapeutic
- By even thinking about nature you can make yourself better and escape the city. Much more