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Tintern Abbey And Frost At Mid Essay, Research Paper

English Essay

In the 18th century, two important poets started the Romantic Movement, the two

being William Wordsworth, and Samuel Coleridge. These two poets essentially gave

birth to the Romantic Movement, starting with the co-produced works of the Lyrical

Ballads. In the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth describes poetry as the

spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, and details his philosophy and the meaning

nature has to him. The poem collection includes the poems which I am going to discuss,

Tintern Abbey, by Wordsworth and Frost at Midnight, by Samuel Coleridge. These

poems are both great poems, however Frost at Midnight is a conversational poem

compared to the romantic poem, Tintern Abbey. Although written by two different poets, both poems, Tintern Abbey and Frost at Midnight deal with the beauty and serenity of nature, and contrasting human distress, while reminiscing about the past, present and future.

In the poems Tintern Abbey, and Frost at Midnight, happiness is derived from

the beauty of nature and its deeper meaning and influences for the poets. Reading

Tintern Abbey I got a sense of feeling of Wordsworth s love for nature and the

understanding he has for nature. This is quite obvious with the lines (62-65):

While here I stand, not only with the sense

Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts

That in this moment there is life and food

For future years.

In Frost at Midnight, happiness is not as evident, due to the poet s regrets of being

reared in the great city (line 52), and not raised in the country, and finding only beauty

in the sky, and stars. This leads to the hope, and later happiness that his cradled son will

be raised in the country, which is evident through lines (52-56):

For I was reared

In the great city, pent ‘mid cloisters dim,

And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.

But thou, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze

By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags

In this quote, Coleridge hopes that his son will grow up in nature, and his hope brings happiness to him. Happiness is also connected to the character in Tintern Abbey, by returning to a loved and distant place that brought back feelings of enlightenment and calmness with the nature. This is shown in (line 49) “we see into the life of things.” In both poems, the description of beautiful settings, one in the Wye Valley and the other of his imagination and hope, radiate the love of nature and the happiness it brings to people.

In both poems, life is presented in a series of distinct phases, with

recapitulation of memories, characterized by different responses to nature.

In the first twenty-one lines, Wordsworth describes the scene as unchanged during the

past five years. The poet emphasizes the lapse of time, saying, “again hear,” (line 2)

“again do I behold,” (line 4) and “again I see.” (line 14). In line 22, Wordsworth shifts his

attention from the present scene to sift through his memories of it. In Frost at

Midnight, we see this again, as the man cradling the baby from line 28, recapitulates his

memories and distinct phases in time. For Wordsworh s poem, these memories have

comforted and consoled him in the intervening years spent in less beautiful, more urban,

city-like settings. They have also generated moods of calmness and a sense of

peacefulness of the Wye Valley, to enlighten him. In such mood, another kind of

perception comes, where “we see into the life of things” (line 49). It seems to the reader

that Wordsworth is indeed quite deep in his love and understanding of nature, as his

love for the Wye Valley is shown in lines 46-49:

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

Wordsworth is spiritually attached to the Wye, and retreats to it from the busy and worrisome world. In Frost at Midnight, Coleridge is not as meaningful or understanding of the nature as Wordsworth is in his poetry. While Coleridge just describes nature in great imaginary detail, Wordsworth probes deep into the meaning of nature and gives a vivid picture of what he sees. In line 58, Wordsworth begins a transition back to the present time and displays the pleasure of the moment and also predicts that he will enjoy it in future memories. Frost at Midnight does not have the same stages of maturity in its poem as Tintern Abbey does, but there is a stage of youth and maturity in it. Lastly, there is a sense that as the infant grows up, he too will be part of the new natural pure life cycle. In Tintern Abbey (line 66} he starts to summarize his life as a series of stages in the development of a relationship with nature. At first, he roames as freely as an animal, but as he grows up he feels joy and passionate involvement with his own youth. He becomes involved with human concerns, is more thoughtful and sees nature in the light of those thoughts. His love for nature is more subdued as he matures, and leads into lines 106-107, where Wordsworth suggests that the mind not only receives sensations from the outside world, but it also creates new ones. In the line the “mighty world of eye and ear” is based on nature but is also shaped by the poet’s mind. In the final section of the poem, from line 111 to the end, Wordsworth turns to his Sister, and he compares her simple, intense pleasure with his own at the earlier stage of his life. The poem closes as he argues that she will benefit from the love of nature as he has done and will find comfort from the “dreary” scenes of adult daily life (line 131).

The beautiful, and picturesque settings of landscape in Tintern Abbey and

Frost at Midnight leads to the love, and understanding of nature. As Wordsworth wrote

his poem Tintern Abbey, it was the beautiful landscape of the Wye Valley that inspired

him. However Coleridge was less inspired by nature, describing nature only in his hopes

for his son, (lines 55-60):

But thou, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze

By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags

Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,

Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores

And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear

The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible+

In Tintern Abbey, the description, detail, and suggestion of nature is very deep and

meaningful. For example the use of landscape in Wordsworth s poem which is shown as

rich, green, and peaceful, suggests the seclusion of a hermitage. In his poetry, the theme

of suffering from Lyrical Ballads, are shown with references to vagrant dwellers in

the houseless woods (line 20), and the still, sad music of humanity (line 91). Frost at

Midnight has a less complex meaning where, the father has not experienced nature at

such a young age, and was not taught the eternal language (line 61) of nature at a

innocent age. To him the sky and stars (line 54) were beautiful, because he was distant

and shut out of simple humble life in the country, by being reared in the great city (line

52). In contrast, his hope after seeing the beauty of nature, seeing the silent icicles,

(line 74) greenness, (line 68) or the redbreast sit and sing (line 68), is that his baby

will grow up with the things he did not have and learn the beauty and serenity of nature,

which is symbolized by the frost in the poem.

While poems Tintern Abbey and Frost at Midnight have a similar message, however, Wordsworth is far more expressive and shows a deeper understanding of the nature then Coleridge. Nevertheless, both deal with the beauty of nature and human distress, while recollecting thoughts on the past. Both authors try to alter the mundane reality by providing a magical and imaginary tour of nature. These poets were pioneers in the Romantic era of poetry and provided future poets such as Keats, Shelly and Lord Byron with inspiration to further the Romantic Movement.

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