A Picturesque Connection to Nature

Wordsworth’s “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey” captures the philosophy of the picturesque by explaining how his appreciation of nature has grown as he has matured, but continues to fill him with that same sense of awe.  The picturesque is somewhat an intermediate between the sublime and the beautiful; the former exacts pleasure from pain on a grand scale, while the latter is pleasure from merely admiring something that pleases the senses.  Rather, something picturesque is one which invokes beauty and character from unevenness and imperfection.  Upon revisiting the Banks of the Wye after several years, Wordsworth is able to fully appreciate its grandness on both a spiritual and emotional level.

As a simple boy, Wordsworth explored the scene at the River Wye like someone “flying from something that he dreads” (72), as nature embodied everything he loved in the world.  Upon his return, his experienced eyes are able to see once again, all of its distinct features and how they “disturb the wild green landscape” (14-15).  The images from the Wye and the emotions stirred in his soul due to them give him a sense of hope during times of loneliness and despair.  The details and impurities abound at the River Wye give it a spirit in Wordsworth’s mind and it remains to him a place of tranquility for his mind to rest from the stress of the world.  A number of years have passed since his last visit, however, and he can now appreciate nature on a higher level and “not as in the hour of thoughtless youth” (90-91).  His connection with nature has intensified and become more picturesque in the process as nature is now his lifeblood and has reenergized his life in a way nothing has before.  The picturesque is therefore, Wordsworth’s newfound feeling of beauty that reflects the detail and complexity of nature.  In the poem, this mirrors how he has aged and become more weathered by the world.

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One thought on “A Picturesque Connection to Nature

  1. Yes, the picturesque is a reflective sensibility that tends to synthesize powerful emotion after the fact, as Wordsworth does in this poem. This will be something to discuss in class today.

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