When reflecting about living-in-place, it is a pleasant adventure to return to the poetry of Wordsworth who is perhaps the most famous of what can be called English language “nature-poets.” His descriptions of being in nature seem to be from the perspective of being fully immersed in Nature. Wordsworth writes from the vantage point of an 18th century inhabitant of England and is considered amongst the English Romantic poets along with Keats, Shelly and Blake.
In my youth, I traveled the Lake District of England with a volume of Wordsworth in hand to imbibe the sensations of the locale that was a focus of the poetry that I had once read in college. Now, as I spend more time reading and writing about living and designing around place, it is refreshing to revisit Wordsworth and his perspective.
Interestingly, in his poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” (1798), Wordsworth writes about revisiting this scene of his youth after a number of years of being involved in day-to-day city life.
Here is his description of his return.
And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service; rather say
With warmer love — oh! With far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for they sake!
Earlier in the poem, Wordsworth describes the scene that had so impacted him earlier in his life that he is now returning to.
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
‘Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-grows, hardly hedge-grows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild.
One message from this poetic adventure is for each of us to remember the experience of being in Nature in days gone by, to gain comfort from it as I do even while writing this short article and to project this as part of a future vision of living more anchored in place in a regenerated landscape.
I have started carrying around a pocket-sized (literally) book of Wordsworth’s selected nature poetry entitled: The Book Of Nature: Wordsworth’s Poetry on Nature” (2020) which I recently obtained. Each poem is a pleasant respite as I sit and have my coffee in my current urban setting. Wordsworth’s images help to dispel the sounds of cars and busses going by.