Reflections through the eyes of the unknown

Wordsworth’s poem, “written a few miles above Tintern Abbey,” produces a beautiful insight to the sublime and questions our state of being through the presentation of the text.  This poem, composed with a bird’s eye view of Tintern Abbey, surveying the scene, is looking for feelings to supplement reality and question the conception that we have on the way we are altered through the experience that we obtain through living our lives.

The way that the text flows creates a pleasant reading and allows us to engage in the text and actually enjoy what we are reading. This is vital to the purpose of this piece because it places us in a space where we are comfortable enough to reach to the outermost parts of our imagination and reflect upon the ideas approached in the poem and how they connect with our own lives.

“Until, the breath of this corporeal frame, and even the motion of our human blood almost suspended, we are laid asleep in body, and become a living soul: while with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things” (Damrosch,430).

This quote totally itemizes the idea of the sublime that is stressed to complete the meaning of this poem. The idea of the powerful capability that the unknown has on our senses and way of thinking is seen through the text. This piece challenges us to imagine the detachment from our own bodies and constructs a confusing but alluring concept that combines death and life coexisting, “…laid asleep in body, and become a living soul…” (Damrosch, 430). “Seeing into the life of things” exemplifies this idea by the element of simply not knowing exactly what things you are looking at and is reinforced by Wordsworth’s questioning of his own thoughts in the next stanza, “be but a vain belief,” which shows that something about his experience produces feelings of doubt, reinforcing the unknown.

The effect that the text brings through detailing the experience he has by bringing his sister to share this view with him. The anticipation that he has for her growth from eyes of innocence to eyes of experience reveals the desire of shared impact of the sublime. “To chasten and subdue. And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused…” (Damrosch, 431 ). This portion of the text highlights that the sublime operates outside of our understanding and power and is not an experience that we can bind and keep. This indescribable feeling is something that is unable to be communicated with words or actions and is simply something that can be revealed through an individual’s own encounter with the sublime.  Wordsworth recognizes change within himself when he encounters his former self and questions how he changed. The sublime acts through his awestruck wonder and curiosity, both of which are constructed throughout the poem.


Works Cited

Wordsworth, William. “Lines Written a few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 5th Edition. ed. David Damrosch and Kevin J.H. Dettmar. New York: Pearson, 2012. 429-433. Print.