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Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' is a 1798 poem by influential English poet William Wordsworth. It was published in the renowned collection of poetry he wrote with his friend and colleague Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (1798). The poem centres around Wordsworth's adoration for nature.

Below you will find a summary of the poem as well as an in-depth analysis of it.

Written in1798
Written byWilliam Wordsworth
FormOde
MetreBlank verse
Rhyme schemeUnrhymed
Poetic devicesEnjambment, metaphor
Frequently noted imageryNatural imagery
ToneAwe-filled, respectful, wise
Key themesNature, the past
MeaningThe beauty and power of nature. Nature's connection with humanity.

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey': poem

Let's first look at an excerpt from the poem:

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 soft inland murmur.—Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

That 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 hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, 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:

...

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth; of all the mighty world

Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,

And what perceive; well pleased to recognise

In nature and the language of the sense

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being.

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey': summary

Let's break down Wordsworth's poem by stanza.

Stanza one

Wordsworth begins by stating that it has been five years since he has experienced the natural landscape around Tintern Abbey. He describes the beautiful springs and cliffs he can see. Sitting under a tree, Wordsworth gazes at not-yet bloomed orchards and country farms. It is clear he adores and is awed by this natural scenery.

Stanza two

Despite not being in this place for many years, it has never left Wordsworth's mind. While in bustling and noisy cities, he has thought of these natural landscapes, and they have given him solace and calm. Wordsworth believes that his experiences with the natural world have impacted the way he behaves, making him a better and kinder person. The nature around Tintern Abbey has also had a philosophical influence on Wordsworth. It has allowed him to view life both more clearly and much more positively.

Stanza three

This shorter stanza expands on the previous one. Wordsworth details the various ways the world has upset and impacted him in the five years since he has been to Tintern Abbey. However, he has consistently used his memories of nature to maintain himself and keep his spirits up.

Stanza four

The narrative now returns to the present moment in which Wordsworth is observing the natural scenery. His memories of the place have grown faint, and he is pleased that they have now been renewed. He knows these recollections will help him during difficulties for years to come, just as they have before. Upon reflection, Wordsworth also acknowledges how excitable he once was as a young man amongst this natural landscape. He felt passionately and strongly about nature. Now, he is older and has a more wise outlook. Age has given him a deeper and more complex understanding of nature and its power and impact. Wordsworth emphasises how much nature continues to guide his life. He uses it as a moral guide.

Stanza five

The final stanza of 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' changes to have an addressee: Wordsworth's sister, who is accompanying him. Wordsworth believes even if he did not have this complex appreciation of nature, he would still be happy here as he is with his sister, who he also considers a dear friend. He sees glimpses of his own youthful self in his sister. He wishes a good life for his sister and that the negativities of life will not harm either of them. Wordsworth proceeds to encourage her to use her memories of this natural world to aid her whenever she may feel sad, just as he does. In addition, after he has passed, he hopes that his sister will fondly remember both him and the deep love he held for nature and all it encompassed.

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey': meaning

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' revolves around the beauty and power of the natural world. This is a recurring theme in William Wordsworth's work. The way he views nature has developed as he ages. As a young man, Wordsworth was excited by nature but did not think beyond this. His younger self did not search for a deeper meaning in what he saw. However, five years on, his perspective has changed. Wordsworth recognises the power of nature to influence people both personally and morally. He sees it as something that can make one a better person and also something that can aid one in difficulties. Nature is presented as operating in unity and connection with humanity in this poem.

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey': theme

Nature is clearly a key theme in Wordsworth's poem. Wordsworth muses over the natural scenes before him and provides extensive descriptions of what he can see. He is focused on the positive influence nature has had upon him. This can be seen in the below quote from the fourth stanza of 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey'.

In nature and the language of the sense

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being. (ll. 110-113)

Nature is shown as a force for moral good in this poem. Wordsworth uses the feelings it invokes in him to guide himself and make good decisions. He is also inspired by the fact that everything is connected in nature, humans included.

Another relevant theme in 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' is the past. Wordsworth opens the poem by looking back, as he references the fact that it has been five years since he has been in this place. He reflects on how his relationship with nature has changed. As a young man, Wordsworth experienced nature without thinking deeply about it. He looks back on this time fondly now. There is also a recognition of these same qualities in his younger sister. However, despite the wisdom he now has regarding nature's importance, Wordsworth still values the passion and enjoyment of his youth.

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey': literary devices

Now let's consider the literary devices used in Wordsworth's poem.

Enjambment

Wordsworth uses the device of enjambment in this poem.

Enjambment is a poetic technique in which a line runs into the next line or stanza without the use of any punctuation to separate them. This device can also be referred to as 'run-on lines'.

There are many instances of enjambment in 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey'. Below is one such example.

Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth; of all the mighty world

Of eye, and ear (ll. 104-108)

Enjambment can serve multiple functions in poetry, for example, creating a sense of drama or intensity. Wordsworth uses it differently. The lack of distinction between many lines in the poem is linked to the connection Wordsworth sees between all the natural world. The lines of the poem are interconnected, just as nature is in Wordsworth's vision of it. This suggests a kind of unity.

Metaphor

Metaphor is also used in 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey'.

Metaphor is when something is used to represent something else, although neither thing has any link between them. Metaphors can often be used to represent abstract concepts.

One metaphor in Wordsworth's poem comes at the beginning of the second stanza, as quoted below.

These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: (ll. 23-25)

Wordsworth uses the metaphor 'a landscape to a blind man's eye' to represent the fact that even when he was separate from nature, it was still at the forefront of his mind. The phrase represents the action of being unable to see something. Wordsworth writes that, for him, nature was not like landscape to a blind man's eye. He is using the metaphor in reverse. This emphasises how central nature is to his life. Even when he was far away from it, he could still see it.

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey': analysis

Now let's analyse some further aspects of Wordsworth's poem.

Form, metre, and rhyme scheme

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' can be considered an ode.

An ode is an emotional form of poetry focused on praising a person or place.

Wordsworth is offering praise and celebrating the natural world in his poem. The poem consists of five stanzas of varying lengths. However, the metre of 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' is much more consistent. It is in blank verse.

Blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter consists of lines with five metrical feet. It is often used because it is similar to natural human rhythms of speech.

Wordsworth uses blank verse in this poem for its natural cadence. This aids the conversational tone of the poem and emphasises that he sees it as natural for nature to be intimately connected to humans.

Frequently noted imagery

We will now move on to imagery in the poem.

Natural imagery

'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' is a poem brimming with imagery. Much of it follows the same common theme: nature. Wordsworth takes great care to describe the natural world before him in extensive detail. He depicts 'plots of cottage ground that 'are clad in one green hue' and 'little lines of sportive wood'. These are peaceful and pleasant natural images. They are also told by Wordsworth with great reverence. The intricacy his imagery contains in this poem showcases the deep respect he has for the natural world and how much he believes in its beauty and power.

Tone

The tone of 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' is one of awe and respect. Wordsworth clearly holds the natural world in extremely high regard. He uses positive language to describe the areas surrounding Tintern Abbey. Wordsworth feels a deep connection to nature and also has an acute awareness of its power.

The tone of this poem is also wise. There is an acknowledgement of the more reckless and less aware days of Wordsworth's youth. He emphasises that he now has a much more profound understanding of nature's complexity. He fondly looks back on the days when he merely adored nature without this deeper awareness.

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey - Key takeaways

Frequently Asked Questions about Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

The themes of the poem are nature and the past.

It is a Romantic poem because it focuses on love, inspiration, and nature which are key concepts of Romanticism.

Enjambment and metaphor are used.

'Tintern Abbey' has 162 lines.

It is about the beauty and power of nature and how it is positively connected to humanity.

Final Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey Quiz

Question

When was 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' written?

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Answer

1798.

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Question

What collection of poetry is Wordsworth's poem from?

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Answer

Lyrical Ballads.

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Question

What form is 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' in?

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Answer

Ode.

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Question

What metre is 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' in?

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Answer

Blank verse.

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Question

What rhyme scheme does blank verse use?

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Answer

Unrhymed.

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Question

What are two key themes in this poem?

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Answer

Nature and the past.

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Question

What two literary devices does Wordsworth use in this poem?

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Answer

Enjambment and metaphor.

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Question

What kind of imagery is frequently found in 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey'?

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Answer

Natural imagery.

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Question

What is enjambment used for in this poem?

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Answer

To parallel the interconnectedness and unity of nature.

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Question

What is the definition of a metaphor?

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Answer

When something is used to represent something else, although neither thing has any link between them. 

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Question

What is an ode?

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Answer

A poem that offers praise.

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Question

How many iambic feet are in a line of iambic pentameter?

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Answer

Five.

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Question

Why does Wordsworth use blank verse in this poem?

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Answer

Because it mimics natural speech and this emphasises the natural connection between nature and humans.

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Question

What is the tone of 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey'?

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Answer

Awe-filled, respectful, wise.

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Question

How does Wordsworth regard his youth in which he had a much simpler view of nature?

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Answer

Fondly.

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