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Wordsworth: The Nature Poet of All Times!

After Shakespeare and Milton, the poet who has settled well deep in the heart is William Wordsworth. He has established for Nature a unique place and a Universal appeal in his poems in literature which no one has superseded and surpassed so far in the world. Generally poets depict the beauty of Nature or show the similarities between the different moods of men and the sound, the fury, the gentility, etc. of Nature. But in the case of Wordsworth, Nature itself seems to have expressed everything for him through his pen like a benign teacher does to a good student. Indeed the knowledge Wordsworth gained from Nature by his eyes, ears, through his sense-perception and his thought conception helped him to develop his inner-self in Nature can be seen in his poems such as Tintern Abbey, Ode: Intimations of Immortality Recollected From Childhood, The Prelude and so on. 

His feeling and thought, the growth of his mind rather the development of his inner life from the childhood up to 28 years is expressed in The Prelude which is in fact a spiritual autobiography of Wordsworth in the Epic form. Actually he planned to write about Man, Nature and Society in The Recluse for which The Prelude was written as an introduction. But the Recluse was not written and so, The Prelude was revised and corrected into complete piece by itself. Perhaps what was left by Wordsworth might be continued to the end by some poet in the future to give a system of philosophy he was trying to achieve! However with the two smaller poems, Tintern Abbey and Immortality Ode, the genius of Wordsworth can be appreciably judged. That to the spontaneous expression of Tintern Abbey itself composed without any alteration within 4 or 5 days on his journey from Tintern Abbey via Wye to Bristol clearly distinguishes Wordsworth's different phases of love for Nature. 

Blessed Mood or Intuitional Mood in Nature
Far Superior than Books and Philosophies

Nature was everything for Wordsworth. Indeed the knowledge he has gained that has embedded deep in his memory and the joy and pleasure he has enjoyed by his own sense experience in nature and due to that blessed mood or the state of visionary trance or the intuitional mood he had of his inner self and the life of things around him are far more superior and rarest than he could have gained from school, college, books and the philosophic ideas through his friend, S.T. Coleridge has compensated many a time for all the losses he had suffered in life whenever he recollected it in tranquility and made him the most happiest person more than anybody else in the world! Tintern Abbey, a typical poem is the junction of his mood, interest and pursuit of life of the past and the future with regard to his attitude and the influence of Nature, in which his instinct, emotion, intellect, intuition and mysticism have combined together in such an inseparable measure that it is very difficult to deal with it fully by all.

Animal Pleasure

Introspective and lonely by nature, at first the early loss of his parents when he was at school, he sought not the company of his fellow beings but only the company of Nature where many a time he was in a state of trance for a considerable time. During the holidays and vacation times he joyfully indulged in coarser or boyish or animal pleasure in Nature by climbing mountains, skating, boating, swimming, horse riding, walking etc.

'I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bound o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
To me was all in all.'

Aesthetic Pleasure in Nature

Later on until the age of 23 or so he was passionately in love with the beautiful objects or shapes of nature and enjoyed aching joy and dizzy rapture to the extent that he was in the state of a blessed mood by which he could be alive in sleep and also dead while awake in order to explore his inner self and the life of the things around him in nature.

... 'The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye, ' That time is past.
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures.'

... "that blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
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.'

He loved nature for its own sake and enjoyed aesthetic pleasure in nature. Such a pleasure he could not enjoy after 5 years in the same place he had already seen and still remember in his mind as that time or season of his youth is gone and over then.

Still Sad Music of Society in Nature

More than that already the French Revolution which was fighting for democratic principles such as liberty, equality and fraternity turned into a war of conquest which disturbed his intellect very much and put him under spiritual crisis in such a way that he lost faith in Nature, society and in God. So, he heard the still sad music of the society in nature everywhere.

'... For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing often times
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chosen and subdue.'

Intellectual Pleasure

In the interval of 5 years his spirit was tempered, he was tamed and his mind matured so much that he could philosophize over human tragedy. He felt nature is the best healing balm that could solve the malaise of mankind as nature never betrays anyone.
'and the prayer I make,

Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgements, nor the sneers of selfishness,
Not greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings.'

The quietness and beauty of nature gave him joy and pleasure and made him show mercy and kindness to others. This sort of intellectual love for nature made Wordsworth muse over the mystery of nature in a mystical way.

Spiritual Pleasure or Nature Mysticism

His nature mysticism is more distinct than his philosophical ideas which are, though borrowed, adapted to the needs of his search of truth in nature and everything was subdued and mingled within the purview of nature and not beyond it.

'... and I have left
A presence that disturbs me with joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of sometimes far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting Suns,
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.

He felt a divine spirit is pervading in everything everywhere. The meeting point of the inner world of man and the outer world is nature and the boundary between them is ever shifting and not fixed. Nature is almost the body of God. As the pre-existence of man in nature is remembered by the mind and nature is the link between the mind and the outer world, the communion of the mind and nature reveals man all the secrets and also the ultimate reality. This message rather the truth ever distinguishes and keeps Wordsworth alive in the minds of men. This spiritual love of nature and the message of Wordsworth really elevate the mind and energizes worn out souls whatever be the chaos or the calamities of the society are!

Aching Joy and Dizzy Rapture Unforgettable

Then to complete the poem, Tintern Abbey he again comes to the starting stage to make it a full circle. He recovered from his mental depression mainly due to his sister's (Dorothy) love, affection and care and as a result they have come to Tintern Abbey once again. As a sort of advice to his sister, friends and readers he says that when one is in a state of fear, pain or loneliness one has to remember that place and the natural scenes seen so that the lost mood can be regained because the joy and pleasure got from the beauty of nature gives one the blessed mood, aching joy and dizzy rapture or the aesthetic pleasure which are the most important and vital thing for human spirit.

'The memory be as dwelling place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, for fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts,
Of tender joy will thou remember me,
And these my exhortations!'

He finishes by saying that he could see from the wild looks of his sister's eyes the former phase of his love i.e. the aesthetic passion for nature ,which led him to enjoy that blessed mood he could never forget in his life, because that is the most important and joyfully useful part of human life in the world.

'My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes.'

Perfection, Permanence ' Rare; Nature the only Compensation

By trial and error methods man learns and to satisfy his needs and curiosity he tries in all possible ways to explore mysteries of life to get experience and knowledge of truth which he shares with everyone. To fulfil natural destiny, to achieve completion or perfection he seeks the hand of woman as his better half. Though he gets home, wife and hundred relations the peace he longs for, the freedom he seeks and the immortality or permanence he dreams he hardy achieves. So, he tries his hand in arts such as music, paintings, sculpture, poetry, etc. to achieve perfection and permanence in the higher level. 

Here also it is possible only by the gifted and the chosen few and for others the appreciation or criticism of the achievements of the gifted people only is possible. This is also not instantly possible without great efforts. So, only boredom or fatigue remains finally. Therefore the physically and the visibly remaining thing left for men to explore is Nature only. 

The beauty of nature absorbs one and all at any time and gives the blessed mood which cannot be forgotten so easily. Through the senses in nature it is possible to feel the presence of a living spirit in all fauna and flora including man. Indeed nature is the living scientific art that enlightens, elevates, energizes, inspires and gives ideas both creative and mystical. Hence there cannot be a better friend, philosopher and guide other than nature for man.
Image (c) 


More by :  T. A. Ramesh

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Views: 3806      Comments: 6

Comment its a nice article but i d hv appreciated if works cited were mwntioned

06-Mar-2013 01:41 AM


02-Jan-2013 09:24 AM

Comment Given that comments are censored,we shall continue saying that Wordsworth was a great mystic poet who realized God through nature which is the habit of God,Like Rousseau he must have not been liked by the established political power because like Blake he knew the rootlessness and the destructive phases of that power.Wordsworth's interest in nature was also due to his aesthetic genius which he had cultivated as a great artist.If anything can save mankind today from the evils of commercial civilization ...which in fact is barbarism in a different shape... that is the ideal that Wordsworth pursued.No deterministic standards can measure the genius of a man who worshiped nature.

Syed Habib,Kashmir
09-Apr-2012 09:24 AM

Comment It is an established fact that the imperial designs of the controllers of internet do not allow freedom of expression.

09-Apr-2012 08:59 AM

Comment Wordsworth's genius is an established fact all over the world.He is a lover of God ,a mystic and a great artist.

09-Apr-2012 08:52 AM

Comment Unlike Wordsworth, my boyhood experience of nature was that of India's hot and thorny countryside, plagued with flies and mosquitos. Even the richness of flora and fauna, exceeding by far anything found in northern latitudes, was not so much poetical, recalled at leisure in the mind's eye, as breathtakingly real, the vivid counterpart to the harshness of nature. One beheld beauty in panoramic scenes and sunsets India is famed for - but one did not write a poem, because the opposite effect of harshness of climate, in heat and dust, was also experienced, and to make a generalisation of 'all beauty' was false. Wordsworth, typical of an English poet, easily makes nature a thing of all beauty, no contradictions, because the temperate climate admits the illusion: no biting flies, no wild beasts, even bears or wolves, in the Lake District, only the phantom shapes of mountains! Even autumn and winter can be sufficiently biased as phases of beauty in recollection. I'm afraid, those of us who come to live in Britain are drawn by degrees into this perception of nature. However, especially after Darwin, It is quite wrong to call nature a friend when it is to all its species a place of constant threat, and life is all about survival. Wordsworth doesn't see the reality but is lifted by the experience of beauty of appearances into deliberately, or maybe in blissful ignorance, for he would not be untruthful, idealising nature as something it is not.

08-Jan-2012 21:23 PM

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