Wordsworth’s depiction of youth in “Tintern Abbey”

Wordsworth’s poem “Tintern Abbey” mainly focuses on memory. The speaker’s location brings back memories of years past in the same spot. He also remembers a time that things were very different than his current situation. The way that the speaker compares his youth to his mature self speaks a lot to how Wordsworth viewed youth. He remembers his youth as a time of limitless freedom, when he “bounded o’er the mountains, by the sides / of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, / wherever nature led”. The speaker mentions nature a lot, usually in reference to his youth and the memories he has from that time.
A key phrase that caught my attention was when the speaker said he was “more like a man / Flying from something that he dreads, than one / who sought the thing he loved”. This line sticks out to me because oftentimes, we think of youth as the people who have the freedom to pursue what we love, that’s what most of us are in college to do. We have the freedom to figure out what we love and to follow it, while we relate adulthood to being saddled with all the worries and stress of real life. As for Wordsworth’s poem, I think that this line is referencing the reckless abandon with which the speaker would run free in his youth. Pursuit of something you love would require a bit more purpose and direction. Youthfulness is to be free of that purpose and direction; those are binding to the youthful spirit. And though the speaker enjoys remembering those free and joyful days, he equally enjoys his mature life, the “sober pleasure” of being an adult rather than the wildness of youth.


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