“Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey” is a romantic poem written by William Wordsworth in Romantic period(Romanticism). Romanticism is an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement began somewhere near the end of the eighteenth century in Western Europe and lasted well into the first half of the nineteenth century. In part, the movement was a rebellion in response to the Enlighten of the century prior, which focused on the more scientific and rational thought.
Characteristics of Romantic literature emphasize passion, emotion, nature, subjectivity and experimentation. Romantic poetry was often written in common everyday language for all to relate, not just the upper class. Nature was a focus of many famous poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Romantic poetry contrasts with neoclassical poetry, which was the product of intellect and reason, while romantic poetry is more the product of emotion. Romantic poetry at the beginning of the nineteenth century was a reaction against the set standards, conventions of eighteenth century poetry. According to William J. Long,
“The Romantic Movement was marked, and is always marked, by a strong reaction and protest against the bondage of rule and custom which in science and theology as well as literature, generally tend to fetter the free human spirit”.
Belief in the importance of the imagination is a distinctive feature of romantic poets such as John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and P. B. Shelley, unlike the neoclassical poets. Keats said,
“I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination- What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.”
For Wordsworth and William Blake, as well as Victor Hugo and Alessandro Manzoni, the imagination is a spiritual force, is related to morality, and they believed that literature, especially poetry, could improve the world. The secret of great art, Blake claimed, is the capacity to imagine.
One of the most important characteristics of romantic poetry is sublimity. Love for nature is another important feature of romantic poetry, as a source of inspiration. This poetry involves a relationship with external nature and places, and a belief in pantheism. Melancholy occupies a prominent place in romantic poetry, and is an important source of inspiration for the Romantic poets. Romantic poetry was attracted to nostalgia, and medievalist is also important characteristic of romantic poetry. Most of the romantic poets used supernatural elements in their poetry. It is the poetry of sentiments, emotions and imagination. It opposed the objectivity of neoclassical poetry. Neoclassical poets avoided describing their personal emotions in their poetry, unlike the Romantics.
Wordsworth was known as the “father of English Romanticism”. Any of his works can support the focus of nature. Robert Burns uses his Scottish dialect to support the “everyday language” of the era. William Blake supports the emphasis of emotion in his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.
One of the romantic element in Tintern Abbey is “inspiration”. In the poem’s opening lines, what Wordsworth sees around him inspires him to embrace deep thoughts.
” ……………………………………… Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion”
Wordsworth finds his inspiration in nature despite the negative outlook of chaotic society.
“To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing often times.
The still, sad music of humanity”
The Romantic movement emphasized the idea of an “inspired creator” rather than a “technical master”. In this way, Romanticism encouraged everyone to create art if they felt inspired by something or someone. Much of the Romantic idea in this sense was to be spontaneous rather than planning out precisely what an artist would like to depict.
“Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
and their glad animal movements all gone by)”
Initially, when the poet is lonely and stuck in the city, his recollections of natural beauty inspire and offer a kind of psychological solace and comfort: they provide “tranquil restoration” in “hours of weariness.” But this is something more significant than a mere psychological palliative against urban alienation. The recollections have a moral element since they are involved with “acts / Of kindness and of love,” and they lead ultimately to the moment of spiritual vision recorded above.
“In which the birthed of the mystery
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lightened – ……………….”
“Individuality” is another romantic element found in “Tintern Abbey”. The poem displays Wordsworth’s importance placed on the human person’s soul and being rather than external things and material possessions.
“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”
On another place, Wordsworth says
“………………………., and in the mind of man:
A motion and spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And roll through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods”
The change that the individual undergoes after their time on earth ends is expressed in the poem.
“And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended we are laid asleep
In body, and becomes a living soul”
Though the body has stopped working, the mind does not die. Each individual becomes a living soul and experiences never ending joy and harmony, and they are forever at peace.
During the romantic period, people, specifically poets and artists, celebrated the individual. This lead to clear individualistic influences in literature, evident especially throughout Tintern Abbey.
“……………………that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on, –
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame”
Various parts of nature are viewed as having human like qualities. Personification is used to describe different areas of nature such as the sun, air and sky. A sense of something extremely deep and meaningful is thought to be given off by these parts of nature, similar to man.
“………………………… , a sense of sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, …………………………..”