“Something far more deeply interfused”

“Something far more deeply interfused” July 17, 2019


Wordsworth's last resting place
The Wordsworth family plot at St. Oswald’s Church, in the Lake District village of Grasmere. We have, of course, made our pilgrimage here. Several times.   (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


A few nights ago, as we watched the 2008 WGBH (Boston)/BBC Sense and Sensibility, the one with Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood, I heard a quotation from William Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” (or, to be more full and exact, from Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798”).  That led me to re-read the poem yet again, and to be struck, yet again, by this passage, in which the poet tells how he has moved from a simple youthful veneration of wild nature to a perception that nature somehow points to something vast, perhaps something divine, beyond itself.


— I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,

That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, not any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.— That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur: other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,— both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.


Maybe it’s the landscape around me now, the landscape that I just saw coming in on the plane, that’s reminding me of Wordsworth and England’s Lake District . . .


Posted from Las Vegas, Nevada



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