The Sublime in Tintern Abbey

In reading William Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey, the one philosophy that stood out to me the most was definitely the sublime. Wordsworth’s poem even starts out with the sublime with his description of “steep and lofty cliffs, which on a wild secluded scene impress thoughts of more deep seclusion”. Just those very adjectives, steep, lofty and secluded encompass the feeling of fear and a sense of vastness (particularly steep and lofty), which is often associated with the sublime. Wordsworth also ends his poem with those same adjectives in his description “these steep woods and lofty cliffs”.

Also, another aspect associated with the sublime that I saw was the feeling of being overcome nature and nature inspiring profound emotion. In the second stanza of the poem, Wordsworth describes his feelings that come from those forms of beauty at Tintern Abbey. He describes “sweet sensations” felt in the blood, along the heart and through his mind. He also mentions in the poem “I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused”.

 

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One thought on “The Sublime in Tintern Abbey

  1. Yes, these are definitely moments of the sublime, but how do they relate to the poem’s meaning? The occasion is the mature poet’s memory of his youthful self, with hopes that his sister will attain the wisdom he now possesses. How does the sublime relate to that?

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