Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree

The lyrical ballad “Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree” by William Wordsworth contrasts with Enlightenment sensibility in that it focuses on communion and harmony with nature as opposed to the mastery of it. The speaker says that “the wind breath[ing] soft” and the “curling waves…against the shore” will “lull thy mind” (5-6). This implies that nature is soothing and also creates a content tone. In Enlightenment pieces nature is not viewed as a source of tranquility but rather as something to be used, particularly for economic purposes. The male subject in this poem turns to nature for salvation and pleasure after facing “jealousy…hate, and scorn” from the public (16-17). The inclusion and description of human emotions throughout also differentiate this poem from Enlightenment ideals which tend to focus on reason. The beauty of nature is inspiring to the subject in this poem; nature “subdue[s] him to herself.” This Romantic idea greatly contrasts with the idea of the mastery of nature in Enlightenment works.

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One thought on “Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree

  1. Do you think Wordsworth thought that the “jealousy, hate, and scorn” from society was found inherently or if it came from the ideals of working for salvation. In other words, do people just natural hate and scorn each other if they are away from nature for too long, or did these ill feelings towards each other come from the capitalistic ways of the economy? It would be interesting to think about what the Romantics would decide on that.

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