Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798
by William Wordsworth
Stanza 2, lines 22-49 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
- This stanza goes into a kind of flashback, describing the way the speaker felt during the "five years" that had passed.
- Since his last visit, the memory of the "beauteous forms," or the awesome view he's just described, has been so present to him that he could practically see it – not like the description of a "landscape to a blind man," who wouldn't be able to imagine it fully.
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:
- The speaker often felt comforted by his memory of those "beauteous forms" when he was "lonely" or cooped up in the "din" (noise), of "towns and cities" (25-6).
- When he was feeling totally fried by a long day in the big bad city, he felt the "beauteous forms" somewhere in his "blood," and then in his "heart," before it finally went into his "purer mind" (don't ask us to explain how that works anatomically).
- But, however the "beauteous forms" got into his "blood," he found that the memory of this view along the Wye could "restore" him to "tranquility," or calmness (30).
– feelings too
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
Of kindness and of love.
- Remembering the "beauteous forms" also brought up "feelings" of "unremembered pleasure," or pleasant things that seemed insignificant at the time, but are actually really important.
- It's the memory of having done nice things for people, even if each individual act of kindness was "little, nameless, [or] unremembered" by the person (34).
Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime;
- The speaker thinks that he "may have owed" even more to "them" (i.e., the "beauteous forms" that he remembers from his trip to the Wye).
- So, besides acting as a pick-me-up when the speaker was feeling totally run down from living in the city, the memory of the "beauteous forms" gave him another "gift" that was even more "sublime," so lofty, grand, and exalted as to be almost life-changingly spiritual.
that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
- The "sublime" gift that the "beauteous forms" gave him was a "blessed mood" that made the weight of the world seem lighter.
- The sentence structure gets pretty difficult to follow, here: both the "burthen" (or burden) of the "mystery" and the "heavy and weary weight/ Of all this unintelligible world" are being "lightened" by the "blessed mood."
- That's an awfully powerful mood, right there. Suddenly, just by recalling the "beauteous forms" of the landscape from the banks of the Wye, all of the "unintelligible," incomprehensible, and "myster[ious]" aspects of the "world" stop bothering him.
– that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on, –
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:
- The speaker tells us more about the "blessed mood" created by recalling the "beauteous forms." He's already in a state in which the "weary weight" of the "world" has been "lightened," and then his "affections" take him a step further.
- It's not clear whether the "affections" that he's talking about (42) describe his feeling for his friends and family or for nature in general, or some combination of both.
- The next step is that the "affections lead" him to a place where his physical body (the "corporeal frame") is almost irrelevant. Even his blood has almost stopped moving in his veins.
- So, the physical body is now irrelevant, or "asleep" (45), so that only the "soul" (46) matters.
- Hm, this seems kind of like the experience some people describe when they meditate. Only, the speaker is able to experience that kind of meditative trance just from recalling the "beauteous forms" of nature.
- Notice how there's a sudden switch in line 42 from the first person singular that he's been using up until now ("I", "me," "my," etc.) to the first person plural ("us", "we," "our", etc.). It's as though the speaker wants us (the reader) to be included in the meditative trance he's describing.
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
- The "eye" is now "quiet," or, to put it another way, the speaker is no longer aware of his immediate, physical surroundings because of his meditative, trance-like state.
- Now that we're not distracted by our surroundings, we're able to "see into the life of things," or, we're able to see things as they really are and figure out how everything is interconnected in ways that we can't always put into words.