Wordsworth’s Poetry

by: William Wordsworth

“Tintern Abbey”

Summary “Tintern Abbey”

“Tintern Abbey” is a monologue, imaginatively spoken by a single speaker to himself, referencing the specific objects of its imaginary scene, and occasionally addressing others—once the spirit of nature, occasionally the speaker’s sister. The language of the poem is striking for its simplicity and forthrightness; the young poet is in no way concerned with ostentation. He is instead concerned with speaking from the heart in a plainspoken manner. The poem’s imagery is largely confined to the natural world in which he moves, though there are some castings-out for metaphors ranging from the nautical (the memory is “the anchor” of the poet’s “purest thought”) to the architectural (the mind is a “mansion” of memory).

The poem also has a subtle strain of religious sentiment; though the actual form of the Abbey does not appear in the poem, the idea of the abbey—of a place consecrated to the spirit—suffuses the scene, as though the forest and the fields were themselves the speaker’s abbey. This idea is reinforced by the speaker’s description of the power he feels in the setting sun and in the mind of man, which consciously links the ideas of God, nature, and the human mind—as they will be linked in Wordsworth’s poetry for the rest of his life, from “It is a beauteous evening, calm and free” to the great summation of the Immortality Ode.

Wordsworth’s Poetry: Popular pages