The human mind holds memories we experience throughout life, and with that comes all our emotions. Through the good times and the bad, each memory can affect us in different ways and perhaps spark imagination and color within the world around us. The human brain can hold up to around one million gigabytes of memory, which is amazing how humans can hold so much of what life is all about just inside our own heads. William Wordsworth was one of the English poets from the Romantic period, whom had written this piece from his heart and embraced upon his memory and imagination in his poem “Tintern Abbey”, through imagery and the contrast of nature to his experiences of life, all within the ruins which border Wales to England by the Wye River.
In just 5 years, the first visit in 1793 to his second in 1798 brought him to realize his love for the beauty of nature and how his experience sparked his imaginations and brought him bittersweet joy within his emotions.
In this poem, he delightfully linked together how he felt the connection religiously in God, through the human mind, and the beauty of nature.
With the time that has passed since Wordsworth had visited the ruins of Tintern Abbey, it is still essentially the same for him, as he reflected back to his previous visit 5 years before. The memory he had of this place came flooding back to him through all his senses. Wordsworth used imagery in his poem to portray the senses from his memory just as he had remembered it.
The sound of the bustling waters of the river Wye from the mountains flowing towards the ocean, the sight of the natural cliffs where it seemingly connected to the sky above, and the smell of the crisp air with the feeling of the breeze against him. The serenity he had experienced brought him his “tranquil restoration” healing to his mind, and with the hustling of life and the crowded places he was, the memory of Tintern Abbey helped his mind ease and be at peace.
This idea concentrated at the beginning of the poem truly reflects on his inspiring experience and shows how deeply this affected him in a delightful way and how he cherished these moment as they became an important memory to him. “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.” (Lines 45-49) Reliving this experience a second time almost as if it was a reawakening of Wordsworth’s memory and a way of showing how nature’s beauty and mankind are connected to each other in a powerful way, and how it makes him feel sentimental, not just only shallowly think about.
Wordsworth described the human mind as a “river”, which is powerful and fluid. He reflected about whatever he perceived remained the same, even if there were any physical changes to the ruins. The imagination of his memories provided pleasant, joyful feelings even after the experience was over. In the poem he describes his memory as an essential part of him; “In nature and the language of the sense, the anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, the guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul of all my moral being.” (Lines 108-110) He added in after that what we believe in and connect to “half creates” the world and shapes it into how we perceive it. Once Wordsworth had returned again after 5 years he experienced the same familiarity of his memory of the Tintern Abbey all over again, reminiscing on the beauty of his surroundings and how much life had changed since last time he was there.
Wordsworth adapted his perceivement of nature in his poem to the relationships in life, leading him to view them as a beautiful part of life. His dear sister Dorothy, was like a motherly figure in his life, and described her in “Tintern Abbey” in a similar way how he perceives nature. He describes her as “my dearest friend” as in a younger, more innocent way even though they were only about a year and a half apart in age. The language about Dorothy was written in a religious view; “May I behold in thee what I was once, my dear, dear Sister! And this prayer I make, knowing that Nature did never betray the heart that loved her;”(Lines 119-123) Wordsworth’s admiration and love for his sister was clear to him as he sees his younger self in her.
He also noted himself as “a worshiper of Nature” and applied his connection with nature to not only the relationship he had with his sister, but other relationships in his life. He had also encouraged the idea for the moon to shine upon her, so that nature will reflect on her being, which proves the deep faith Wordsworth held on nature’s connection to the people in his life. “Therefore let the moon shine on thee in solitary walk;”(Lines 134-135) He then proceeds to add in solitude of nature could help overcome any fear or grief one might face, as in nature’s moonlight upon his sister would help her overcome any difficulties in her life. Wordsworth wanted to show his dear sister that she could always use her memories for healing as a “dwelling place, for all sweet sounds and harmonies;”(Lines 141-142)
Wordsworth’s subject of memory in “Tintern Abbey” focused on the real power a memory can hold on any individual, which he himself had experienced first hand from his first visit to the the ruins of Tintern Abbey to the second time he was there. Through this experience, he developed this poem piece which centered around the idea that the human mind is like a river in it power and fluidity, and how the beauty of nature itself connects with the surroundings of the world. Memories are essentially a critical part of human lives, which reflect our being, emotions, relationships, and imagination. Wordsworth truly depicted the simplicity of an experience in his life and shared it in a meaningful way of how powerfully his memory applied it to many areas of his life.