5/05/2019

Main Characteristics of Wordsworth's Poetry


Wordsworth's Treatment of Nature
As a poet of Nature, Wordsworth stands supreme. He is "a worshipper of Nature": Nature's devoted or high-priest. Nature occupies in his
poems a separate or independent status and is not treated in a casual or passing manner. Tintern Abbey is a poem with Nature as its theme.

Wordsworth pursues Nature in a way different from that of Pope. Unlike Pope, Wordsworth sincerely believed that in town life and its men had forgotten nature and that in town life
its distractions men had forgotten nature and that they had been punished for it. Constant social intercourse had dissipated their simple and pure impression. One of his sonnets is eloquent of this idea:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;”

Wordsworth brings a new and intenser interest in Nature. Pope
looks at Nature as objectively as possible, naturally his view is hardly coloured by his 'hyper-individualism. It has been stated that the antithesis to Pope's idea of Nature is hyper-individualism. Interestingly enough, Wordsworth's explorations of what Nature had to say to him spring from his hyper-'individualism'. Thus, with.Wordsworth the poetry of Nature took on a new range, passing
beyond sensuous presentation and description to vision and interpretation. Under the influence of Nature, he experiences a mystic mood, a transcendental feeling.

Four Stages of Wordsworth's love of Nature

First stage
He loved the outward appearances of Nature, her grandeur in colour and beauty, her form and external features like many other poets of his own and subsequent ages; and with the precision and faithfulness of a lover, he described her form and experienced a child-like joy in simply describing the details of the features of Nature with wonderful accuracy; the periwinkle trails its wreaths through primrose tufts; the celandine is muffled up in close self shelter; the green linnet 'is a brother of the dancing leaves'; the tuft of hazel trees 'twinkles to the gusty breeze'; he heard the two fold song of the cuckoo, he saw the beauty of the moon that bares her bosom to the sea'.

Second stage
But the external features of the land, the sea, the sky, the sun and the moon, were not all the sources of joy to him. "Wordsworth is one of the world's most loving, penetrative, and thoughtful poets of Nature. He found much of his greater joy in the presence of her calm, her beauty, her external revelations of a Divine hand. For Nature possesses a soul, a conscious existence, an ability to feel joy and love." in the “Lines Written in Early Spring”, he says:
"And 'tis my faith that every delight
Enjoys the air it breathes"

In the “Immortality Ode”, he incorporates this belief in the lines:

"The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare".

Third stage
But what was more, he not only conceived that Nature was alive "it had', he imagined, one living soul, which entering into flower, stream or mountain, gave them each a soul of their own. Between this spirit in nature and the mind of man there was prearranged harmony which enabled nature to communicate its own thoughts to man, and man to reflect upon them, until an absolute union between them was established."

And it was his belief that man makes himself miserable by tearing himself away from the heart of Nature, - by waging a foolish strife with Nature:
“But we are pressed by heavy laws” - “The Fountain”.

Fourth stage
This brooding communion with Nature brought him much wealth of moral illustration; and this he communicated in poetic language for the benefit of the spiritual side in the human nature. The poet-philosopher considered it a mission of his life to be teacher of mankind. Many of the smaller poems were written with the object of teaching mankind the truth that his subjective contemplation
revealed to his own mind; such are the “Lesser Celandine”, “The
Fountain”, “Two April Mornings”.

Main aspects of Wordsworth's treatment of Nature
Wordsworth had a complete philosophy of Nature. Four points in
his creed of Nature may be noted:

(a) He conceived of Nature as a living personality. He believed that there is a divine spirit persuading all the objects of Nature. This belief finds a complete expression in “Tintern Abbey” when he tells us that he has felt the presence of a sublime spirit in the setting sun, the round ocean, the living air, the blue sky, the mind of man, etc. This spirit, he says, rolls through all things:
“A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being”.

This is belief in a divine spirit pervading all the objects of Nature is
called Pantheism.

(b) Next, Wordsworth believed that the company of Nature gives joy to the human heart. In “Tintern Abbey” he expresses the joy he feels on revisiting a scene of Nature. Not only is the actual sight of this scene pleasing. The very memory of this scene has, in the past, soothed and
comforted his mind; he gained "Sweet sensations" from these objects of Nature in hours of weariness. Nature is a healing influence on troubled minds as he tells his sister. Wordsworth looked upon Nature as exercising a healing influence on sorrow-stricken hearts.

(c) Above all, Wordsworth emphasized the moral influence of
Nature. He spiritualized Nature and regarded her as a great moral teacher, as the best mother, guardian and nurse of man, as an elevating influence. He believed that between Man and Nature there is spiritual intercourse. According to him, Nature deeply influences human character. In “Tintern Abbey” he tells his sister Dorothy that “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her"; that Nature can impress the human mind with quietness and beauty; that Nature
gives human beings lofty thoughts. He advises Dorothy to let the moon shine on her and the winds blow on her, i.e., to put herself under Nature's influence.

In his eyes, "Nature is a teacher whose wisdom we can learn if we will, and without which any human life is vain and incomplete." He believed in the education of Man by Nature. In this he was somewhat influenced by Rousseau. This interrelation of nature and Man is very important in considering Wordsworth's view of both. In
“Tintern Abbey” he also distinguishes his love for Nature as a boy from his love for her as a man. As a boy, his love for Nature was a physical passion; as a grown-up man his love for Nature is intellectual or spiritual. As a boy, Nature was an "appetite, with it s aching joys and dizzy rapture;" as a man his love is thoughtful because of the still, sad music of humanity which he has heard.

In the “Immortality Ode” also he tells us that as a boy his love for Nature was a thoughtless passion but now the objects of Nature take sober colouring" from his eyes and give rise to profound thoughts in his mind because he had witnessed the sufferings of humanity:
“To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that lie too deep for tears”

(d) Wordsworth's attitude to Nature can be clearly differentiated not prefer the from that of the other great poets of Nature. He did not prefer the
wild and stormy aspects of Nature like Byron, or the shifting and changeful aspects of Nature and the scenery of the sea and sky like Shelley, or the purely sensuous in Nature like Keats. It was his special characteristic to concern himself, not with the strange and remote aspect of the earth and sky, but Nature in her ordinary, familiar, everyday moods. Nor did he recognize the ugly side of Nature; Nature 'red in tooth and claw' as Tennyson did. Wordsworth is to be distinguished from the other poets by the stress he places upon the moral influence of Nature and the need of man's spiritual intercourse with her.

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