William Wordsworth Essays

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Wordsworth turns away from the cities to the rural scene.These concepts are basic to understanding his poetry.“Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” (hereafter called simply “Tintern Abbey”) was composed on July 13, 1798, and published that same year.Romantic ideology of this sort underlies much of the contemporary environmentalist movement: the feeling that humans ought to be in harmony with their environment, that nature is beneficent, that people ought to live simply so that the essential part of their human nature may conform to the grand pattern of nature balanced in the whole universe.The use of the words “passion” and “restraint” in Wordsworth’s quotation above is significant.The lower classes rose up against the repression of politically powerful kings and destroyed laws and restraints so that their natural goodness could flourish.Unfortunately, the French Revolution did not produce a morally perfect new human being once the corrupt restraints had been destroyed.Social primitivism leads to the celebration of the “noble savage,” perhaps an American Indian or a Black African tribesman, who is supposed to be morally superior to the sophisticated European who has been corrupted by the false restraints of his own society.Social primitivism was, of course, one of the driving forces behind the French Revolution.Wordsworth’s preface is heavily influenced by Shaftesbury’s argument.He turns to simple characters for his poems because they exhibit the natural, primary, unspoiled states of feeling that are the ultimate basis of morality.


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