Study Guide

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798 Contrasting Regions

By William Wordsworth

Contrasting Regions

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! (1-2)

The first lines describe how long it's been since the speaker's first visit to the river Wye, but they also suggest, through the repetition and emphasis on how long those years felt, that those years were not spent pleasantly. We learn later in the poem that at least some of that time was spent in the city, far from the river Wye, and far from natural beauty of any kind.

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye (22-24)

Even in the middle of the noisy city, the "beauteous forms" of the Wye river valley were present in the mind's eye of the speaker.

But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities (24-25)

The city feels "lonely" to the speaker, even though there are more people than in the country. He also emphasizes the distracting "din," or noise of the city.

hours of weariness (27)

Like in the opening lines, the speaker emphasizes the period of time that has elapsed. The "hours" could have "weari[ed]," or tired him out, either mentally or physically. Spending any time at all in the "din/ Of towns and cities" seems to take quite the toll on the speaker.

when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— (52-54)

The "fretful stir," or anxious bustle of the city is described as "unprofitable." The speaker uses a word that suggests that the hubbub in the city is useless in some absolute, quantifiable way. "The fever of the world" also suggests that the city makes people feverish, or agitated. The place has a physical effect on the speaker. The sense of oppression and anxiety "hung upon the beatings of [his] heart."

The dreary intercourse of daily life (131)

The speaker imagines the kind of distractions and anxieties that could get his sister, Dorothy, down in the future. The "dreary intercourse of daily life" sounds an awful lot like the "fretful stir" (52) he experienced in the city.