Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (as edited and slightly revised by Geoff Fox, April 4th, 2020. Wordsworth’s great poem is anchored in the Self. This new version goes from the Self to God.)
I hear these waters, rolling from their mountain-springs with a soft inland murmur impressing on a wild secluded scene thoughts of more deep seclusion; and I connect the landscape with the quiet of the sky.
I repose here, under this dark sycamore, and view again these hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms, green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
Oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din of towns and cities, I have owed to them, in hours of weariness, sensations sweet, felt in the blood, and felt along the heart with tranquil restoration ………..
……….. feelings too of unremembered pleasure: memories of that best portion of a good man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered, acts of kindness and of love.
Nor less, I trust, to them I may have owed another gift, of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, in which the burthen of the mystery, in which the heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world, is lightened ………..
……….. that serene and 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.
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, with many recognitions dim and faint, and somewhat of a sad perplexity, the picture of the mind revives again.
And so I dare to hope.
I’m changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded 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.
I cannot paint what then I was.
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.
They had no need of a remoter charm, by thought supplied.
That time is past,
All its aching joys are now no more.
And all its dizzy raptures.
Not for this faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts have followed; for such loss, I would believe, abundant recompense.
For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes the still sad music of humanity, nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power to chasten and subdue.
And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air, 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.
Therefore am I still a lover of the meadows and the woods and mountains; and of all that we behold from this green earth.
I am well pleased to recognise 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 and of all my moral being.
And so this prayer I make, knowing that Nature never did betray the heart that loved her:
Praise Our Lord!
For He and She and It 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 judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, nor 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.
Therefore let the moon shine on thee in thy solitary walk and let the misty mountain-winds be free to blow against thee: and, in after years, when these wild ecstasies shall be matured into a sober pleasure; when thy mind shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, let thy memory be as a dwelling-place for all sweet sounds and harmonies,
Praise Our Lord!