Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798

Original Text: 
William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (London: J. and A. Arch, 1798). No. 4. (Victoria College Library, Toronto). Photographic facsimile edition (Kobe, Japan: Konan Joshi Gakuen, 1980). PR 5869 L9 1798A C. 1 Robarts Library.
2Of five long winters! and again I hear
3These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
4With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
5Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
6That on a wild secluded scene impress
7Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
8The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
9The day is come when I again repose
10Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
11These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
12Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
13Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
14'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
15These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
16Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
17Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
18Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
19With some uncertain notice, as might seem
20Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
21Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
22The Hermit sits alone.
23                                        These beauteous forms,
24Through a long absence, have not been to me
25As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
26But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
27Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
28In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
29Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
30And passing even into my purer mind
31With tranquil restoration:--feelings too
32Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
33As have no slight or trivial influence
34On that best portion of a good man's life,
35His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
36Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
37To them I may have owed another gift,
38Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
39In which the burthen of the mystery,
40In which the heavy and the weary weight
41Of all this unintelligible world,
42Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,
43In which the affections gently lead us on,--
44Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
45And even the motion of our human blood
46Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
47In body, and become a living soul:
48While with an eye made quiet by the power
49Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
50We see into the life of things.
51                                                    If this
52Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft--
53In darkness and amid the many shapes
54Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
55Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
56Have hung upon the beatings of my heart--
57How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
58O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
59      How often has my spirit turned to thee!
60  And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
61With many recognitions dim and faint,
62And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
63The picture of the mind revives again:
64While here I stand, not only with the sense
65Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
66That in this moment there is life and food
67For future years. And so I dare to hope,
68Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
69I came among these hills; when like a roe
70I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
71Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
72Wherever nature led: more like a man
73Flying from something that he dreads, than one
74Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
75(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days
76And their glad animal movements all gone by)
77To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
78What then I was. The sounding cataract
79Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
80The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
81Their colours and their forms, were then to me
82An appetite; a feeling and a love,
83That had no need of a remoter charm,
84By thought supplied, not any interest
85Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
86And all its aching joys are now no more,
87And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
88Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
89Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
90Abundant recompense. For I have learned
91To look on nature, not as in the hour
92Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
93The still sad music of humanity,
94Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
95To chasten and subdue.--And I have felt
96A presence that disturbs me with the joy
97Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
98Of something far more deeply interfused,
99Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
100And the round ocean and the living air,
101And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
102A motion and a spirit, that impels
103All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
104And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
105A lover of the meadows and the woods
106And mountains; and of all that we behold
107From this green earth; of all the mighty world
108Of eye, and ear,--both what they half create,
109And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
110In nature and the language of the sense
111The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
112The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
113Of all my moral being.
114                                         Nor perchance,
115If I were not thus taught, should I the more
116Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
117For thou art with me here upon the banks
118Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
119My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
120The language of my former heart, and read
121My former pleasures in the shooting lights
122Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
123May I behold in thee what I was once,
124My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
125Knowing that Nature never did betray
126The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
127Through all the years of this our life, to lead
128From joy to joy: for she can so inform
129The mind that is within us, so impress
130With quietness and beauty, and so feed
131With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
132Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
133Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
134The dreary intercourse of daily life,
135Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
136Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
137Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
138Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
139And let the misty mountain-winds be free
140To blow against thee: and, in after years,
141When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
142Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
143Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
144Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
145For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
146If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
147Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
148Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
149And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance--
150If I should be where I no more can hear
151Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
152Of past existence--wilt thou then forget
153That on the banks of this delightful stream
154We stood together; and that I, so long
156Unwearied in that service: rather say
157With warmer love--oh! with far deeper zeal
158Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
159That after many wanderings, many years
160Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
161And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
162More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

Notes

1] First published in 1798, as the concluding poem of Lyrical Ballads. Composed on July 13, 1798, while Wordsworth and his sister were returning by the valley of the Wye, in south Wales, to Bristol after a walking tour of several days. "Not a line of it was altered and not any part of it written down till I reached Bristol." The poems planned for Lyrical Ballads were already in the hands of the printer in Bristol when Tintern Abbey, so different in theme and style, was added to the volume. Back to Line
155] In a letter of 1815 to a friend, Wordsworth denied that he was "A worshipper of Nature." He blamed the misunderstanding on "A passionate expression, uttered incautiously in the poem upon the Wye...." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1798
RPO poem Editors: 
J. R. MacGillivray
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.328.
Rhyme: