January 23, 2010

William Wordsworth is an eminent mystic poet of the Romantic Age with an amazingly subtle mind and a deviant capacity for expressing personal beliefs and thoughts. Wordsworth was a true mystic. His mystical experiences are principally revealed in the context of his treatment of nature. Wordsworth never confined his verse within the vivid portrayal of the sights, sounds, odors, and movements of various elements of nature. He aimed at attaining something higher and divine and leaving behind a record of his mystical experiences in nature and human life in his poetry. So his poetry is not simply an artistic encapsulation of lovely and tranquil aspects of nature but also a comprehensive account of his mystical experiences.

Wordsworth's Mysticism

Wordsworth’s mysticism is remarkable for its meditative mood and pantheistic conception of nature. It is moulded by the belief that nature is a living being and the dwelling place of god. Nature is the means through which a man can come into contact with god. Wordsworth maintains that a divine spirit pervades through all the objects of nature. As a true pantheist he also says that all is God and God is all. Many of his poems can be studied with this contextual consideration. This perception is particularly reverberated in Tintern Abbey, where he says with great devotion:
“...And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something for more deeply infused,
Whose dwelling is the light of the setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:”
He finds the existence of god even in the mind of man. Wordsworth upholds that there is a pre-arranged harmony between the mind of man and the spirit in nature, which enables man to form a relationship or communication with nature. The relationship is materialised when the mind of man forms a kinship with the thoughts of nature. And it is this cordial and intellectual junction between man and nature that helped to shape his belief that nature has the power to teach and educate human beings. Man accomplishes perfection and practical knowledge through the education he receives from nature. He believes that the person who doesn’t receive education from nature is worthless and his life is unsuccessful. The poet considers nature as a bountiful source of knowledge. He also believes that nature is the nurse and the protector of the mankind. Nature’s benignity considers only the welfare of human beings. In his words, nature is:
“The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul.
Of all my moral being.”
In Wordsworthian belief, nature is capable of alleviating the tormented mind of man. The beautiful and frolicsome aspects of nature are an infinite source for healing power. The material life sometimes become so stark and painful that human beings loose the aspiration for living. When life becomes such unbearable then the sweet and affectionate contact with nature can easily drive away the cloud of cynicism from the mind of the viewer of nature. The noise and disturbance of the town or city life may make human life intolerable but even the recollections of nature in some lonely room can eliminate the burden of desolation, anxiety and suffocation:
“But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensation sweet.
Felt in the blood and felt along the heart;
And passing even into the purer mind
With tranquil restoration...”
Wordsworth, like a true mystic, sees life in all objects of nature. According to him, every flower and cloud, every stream and hill, the stars and the birds that live in the midst of nature, has each their own life.

Wordsworth honours even the simplest and the most ordinary objects of nature and human life.  For him nothing is mean or low, since everything that is present in the universe is touched by divine life.

To conclude we ought to say that Wordsworth never looked at nature like the way we do. With great devotion and enthusiasm, he sought to read the profoundest meaning of human life in nature. In the way of doing so he forged himself as a great poet of nature with a true mystical vision.
Tanvir Shameem Tanvir Shameem is not the biggest fan of teaching, but he is doing his best to write on various topics of language and literature just to guide thousands of students and researchers across the globe. You can always find him experimenting with presentation, style and diction. He will contribute as long as time permits. You can find him on:


  1. The mysticism of Wordsworth is something unique in its kind, though there are some characteristics that can be seen in all modes of mysticism. It is a type of Nature-mysticism. Wordsworth mystical experiences are mainly depicted in the context of his treatment of nature


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