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Title: ‘A higher power than fancy’ : a study of religion, neoplatonism and imagination in William Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey and the prelude.
Authors: Goh, Mark Ek Ming.
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature::English
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: In Tintern Abbey, William Wordsworth, through the voice of his speaker declares that he is “a worshipper of Nature” (Wordsworth, Abbey 261). This sums up Wordsworth’s religious preoccupation with Nature in many of his later poetic works like The Prelude and Tintern Abbey. In his works, Nature is exalted to the status of a deity of whom he worships, prays to and visits as a religious pilgrim. Nature, as it seems, offers Wordsworth comfort, refuge and inspiration in troubled times, very much like the Christian God. However, why does Wordsworth, an Anglican, attribute these transcendental qualities to Nature as opposed to his very own Christian God? Is he, in actual fact talking about his faith and by extension, God through the proxy of Nature? Or, is he employing religious tropes to further complement his descriptions of nature? Having said that, in book fourteen of The Prelude, the poet’s mention of “Imagination having been our theme” (Wordsworth, Prelude bk14 206) suggests that apart from religion, imagination is also a prevalent theme in The Prelude. Here, could it be that when Wordsworth talks about religion and Nature, he is actually referring to the imagination of the human mind? I would assert that while religion and Nature are dominant themes in The Prelude and Tintern Abbey, they are not the main message that Wordsworth is driving at in both poems. Rather, he employs the themes of religion and Nature to further his illustration of the workings of his mind and that of imagination. This essay then, seeks to explore the themes of religion, Neoplatonism and Imagination, in three sections, to justify how a reading of Wordsworth’s The Prelude and Tintern Abbey through the lens of Christianity and Neoplatonism can help us to better understand the workings and creative processes of Wordsworth’s mind.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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