Tintern Abbey - Wordsworth

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  • Created by: Shelley
  • Created on: 22-05-13 14:15

The poem's full title is 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13th, 1798'. Whilst these very long titles are often considered a criticism of 'Lyrical Ballads', they are there in order to help convey the true essence of the specific moment the poet is wishing to capture; the poets often preferred not to edit excessively as well in order to avoid spoiling the moment they are describing. This is also demonstrated in the rather simple language used, suggesting that Wordsworth relied on the imagery to create beauty rather than linguistically. He is more concerned with speaking from the heart (and the iambic pentameter use mimics a human heartbeat!). 

The poem has an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and wistfulness and he addresses the impact of passing time in a large section of the poem, right from the start he states "Five years have passed; five summers, with the length/ Of five long winters!" This repetition also conveys how he almost cannot believe so many years have passed! Additionally, whilst this poem is titled about a visit he took in 1798, it is mainly focused on his recollection of a previous visit of 1793. The speaker admits to having reminisced about the place many times in the past five years."I have owed to them,/ In hours of weariness" this demonstrates how the speaker can still feel the beauty he once saw without being there "Though absent long,/ These forms of beauty have not been to me." It also suggests the healing power of nature as he thinks of the scene in his hours of weariness and then "sensations sweet,/ Felt in the blood"

The subject of this poem is memory- specifically those of childhood and communion with nature and how these memories continue to work upon the mind even into adulthood (when access to this pure communion has been lost). There is also many a mention of eyes and vision as this poem is about how the speaker is able to compare what he is now seeing with his own eyes to the memory of the scene in his mind's eye. The actual eyeball is the barrier between the poet's mind and the scene in front of him. He uses the simile of "blind man's eye" to describe the way he is able to see the river in his mind during his absence. It is a negative simile in that it states that it is not like a blind man's eye as he can see it almost as clearly as if he were there with his own eyes. In one part, he states that his eye is "made quiet" which could be seen as a synecdoche as it is not just his eye that is quiet, but his whole being and so the eye is used to represent the whole person. He goes on to say that the "eye and ear" are able to "half create"

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