Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798
What’s Up With the Title?
Everyone (including us) refers to this poem as "Tintern Abbey," but its real title is "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798." Tintern Abbey itself doesn't get mentioned by name in the poem at all, although the river Wye does (line 56). This seems like an awfully strange, long-winded title, doesn't it? What if you titled an essay, "Written at the Last Minute on my Laptop for an Early Morning Class on the History of Versification"? But for Wordsworth's purposes, the title works: the whole point of the poem is the location and the time. The title is very specific as to both. It tells us exactly where the speaker is (a "few miles above Tintern Abbey, on […] the banks of the Wye" river), and exactly when (he's "revisiting" the spot on "July 13, 1798"). If Wordsworth had titled the poem something more traditional, like "Ode to Nature," he might have made the experience of the speaker seem more universal, but the universality isn't the point. It's about the influence that this particular piece of nature "a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey" had on the development of his past self, the boyish "William," into his present self.