Analysis Pages

Literary Devices in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

Literary Devices Examples in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey:

Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798

🔒 11

"Nor, perchance–..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

Introduced with the negating phrase “Nor, perchance—,” Wordsworth describes the possibility of his death, when he can no longer hear or “catch from thy wild eyes these gleams / of past existence.” If he should die, he hopes that Dorothy will still remember this experience together, surrounded by nature and profoundly affected by its unique beauty.

"so inform..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

The speaker utters a prayer, in which he asks that Dorothy find the same sense of tranquility and serenity in nature as he does. Through repetition and variation, he creates a sense of the grandeur of nature, suggesting its capacity to restore the human spirit. Personifying nature as a “she,” he states that she can “so inform… so impress… so feed.” The repetition with “so,” combined with the various ways in which nature can bring transformation, adds to the complexity of what nature can offer.

"Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean, and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man, A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. ..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

With his newfound appreciation of nature, the speaker recognizes something he failed to recognize in his youth: a presence that pervades all of nature. With this more philosophical understanding of nature, the speaker imagines that this seemingly divine force inhabits and passes through the ocean, the air, the sky, and “the mind of man.” With various literary devices—the repetition of the word “and,” as well as the use of spondees, specifically the two consecutive strong stresses on the words “round ocean” and “blue sky”—the speaker accentuates his reverence for the enormity and grandeur of nature.

"And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again:..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

In this stanza, the poem shifts tone as the speaker, enlivened by nature, awakens out of his reverie and realizes where he is. Nature has several effects on the speaker: it helps to stir his memory, as well as jolt him out of “dim and faint” thought into the sensuous reality of the present moment.

"How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

Through repetition of the phrase “how oft” and its variant “how often” throughout this stanza, the speaker highlights how frequently he has turned to the thought of nature for consolation.

"In darkness, and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight;..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

The speaker contrasts the dismal, dark imagery associated with city life to demonstrate the uplifting qualities of nature that restore the speaker’s spirit. His life without the presence of nature is like a “fever” or “joyless delight.” The speaker demonstrates that by imagining nature, which he often did while living in the city, his spirit is renewed.

"Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world Is lightened:..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

According to Wordsworth, imagining nature allows readers to cope with our complex and incomprehensible world. By reminiscing on the beauty of nature, readers can reach a “sublime” state—the “blessed mood”—where the burdens of life and all its mysteries are alleviated. Wordsworth employs juxtaposition to demonstrate what the “blessed mood” can achieve. Set against negative terms such as “burthen,” “heavy and weary weight,” and “unintelligible,” the blessed mood instead lightens.

"As may have had no trivial influence..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

Wordsworth employs a litote, an understatement of the affirmative which uses the negative of the contrary. By stating that the memory of nature had “no trivial influence,” Wordsworth’s speaker means that, to the contrary, nature had a significant influence during his time in the city.

"hardly hedge-rows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild;..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

Here, the speaker’s bird’s-eye view skews his vision. As he looks down at the man-made hedges, he sees that they are “hardly hedge-rows” and more like “little lines / or sportive wood run wild.” His physical view of nature changes depending on his perspective, just as his philosophical view of nature changes depending on his age and stature—a theme Wordsworth touches on later in the poem.

"connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky...."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

One of the major visions of the Romantic movement was to paint and write about landscape with newfound reverence. Here, Wordsworth praises nature through his description of his surroundings, specifically in the blurred distinctions between the objects in nature—how the landscape “connect[s]” with the sky through the imprint of the cliffs; how the color green extends to every door. The melding of land and sky, as well as the broader conception of Nature as a unified whole, is a motif that characterizes much of the art of the Romantic movement.

"Once again..."   (Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798)

In addition to the exclamation in the second line, the phrase “once again,” which is repeated twice throughout this first stanza, emphasizes Wordsworth’s return to his place under the sycamore tree. By placing this phrase at the end of line four, Wordsworth enjambs the sentence, causing the reader to pause and recognize the importance of the speaker’s return before describing the place.

Analysis Pages