William Wordsworth’s Philosophy of Nature
William Wordsworth has respect or more, great reverence for nature. This is evident in both of the poems Ode: Intimations of Immortality and Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey in that, his philosophy on God, immortality and innocence are elucidated in his contact with nature. For Wordsworth, nature had a spirit, a soul of its own, and to know is so is to experience nature with all the five senses. In both his poems there are many references to seeing, hearing and feeling his surroundings.
He speaks of mountains, the woods, the rivers and streams, and the fields. Wordsworth realized, in each of us, there is a natural affinity for a certain setting for nature. To elaborate, a fisherman would be most comfortable in a setting where he can be beside the sea, which is beside the shore. His affinity towards nature is oriented to the sea. In the same way, a shepherd would like to be near meadows and fields and near lush rolling hills. Wordsworth’s affinity would be to mountains, woods, rivers, streams, and fields.
He knew the sprit, the soul and the feel of these places for he was able to experience these places in the fullness of youth (Sparknotes, n. d. ). Both of these poems by Wordsworth are poems of recollection and in these recollections, Wordsworth came across something that was truly immortal: Nature and its soul. Though change, death and destruction might be normal occurrences that come to nature, there is rebirth and continuity to life. As in death and destruction, human endeavors are also mortal and temporary when compared to nature and its spirit.
Nonetheless, though these things are only mortal, or temporary, they are still as much a part of it as much as water droplets individually make up a river. Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,/As have no slight or trivial influence/On that best portion of a good man’s life ,/His little nameless, unremembered, acts (Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, stanza 2) portray life and all its endeavors as mundane to something immortal like nature and its spirit.
Still these aspects of everyday life are swept away by the strong force that binds the spirit of nature to its occupants. These sentiments are expressed in Ode as well; Though nothing can bring back the hour/Of splendor in the grass, or glory in flower;/We will grieve not, rather find/Strength in what remains behind;/In the primal sympathy/Which having been must ever be;/In that soothing thought that spring/Out of human suffering (Ode: Intimations of Immortality, stanza 10).
Wordsworth also speaks of his memory of childhood or innocence retraced in communing with nature in his adult years saying nature has the power to unearth those memories for a grown man to reflect upon. (Sparknotes, n. d. ) In Ode, he celebrates the gift of childhood memory or of innocence sharing the same insights in Tintern Abbey by expressing his delight to find himself once more with nature. As a young boy he delighted in his every interaction with nature. Nature made his day.
Though, times have changed, he does not mourn nor shed a tear from this bittersweet memory of childhood rather Wordsworth, reminisces with new insights or what he claims as mature gifts that comes with growing up, the childhood memories becoming more valuable by the discovery of a philosophic mind. Innocence is not all lost but can be retraced through nature, nature reminding what has been lost and found. In the midst of his contemplation with nature, he discovers a far greater power beyond humanity, the presence of God in nature, “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting… Not in entire forgetfulness, / And not in utter nakedness, /But trailing clouds of glory do we come / From God, who is our home/ Heaven lies about in our infancy! ”(Ode: Intimations of Immortality,stanza 5) from Ode . He discusses further the relationship of God in Nature in Tintern Abbey. He goes, “a motion and a spirit that impels / All thinking thoughts… / And rolls through all things,” (Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, stanza 4) beyond nature, an energy spurs him to weigh upon “moral being”.