'Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree' by William Wordsworth


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Nay, Traveller! rest. This lonely Yew-tree stands
Far from all human dwelling: what if here
No sparkling rivulet spread the verdant herb?
What if the bee love not these barren boughs?
Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves,
That break against the shore, shall lull thy mind
By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.
--------------------Who he was
That piled these stones and with the mossy sod
First covered, and here taught this aged Tree
With its dark arms to form a circling bower,
I well remember.--He was one who owned
No common soul. In youth by science nursed,
And led by nature into a wild scene
Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth
A favoured Being, knowing no desire
Which genius did not hallow; 'gainst the taint
Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate,
And scorn,--against all enemies prepared,
All but neglect. The world, for so it thought,
Owed him no service; wherefore he at once
With indignation turned himself away,
And with the food of pride sustained his soul
In solitude.--Stranger! these gloomy boughs
Had charms for him; and here he loved to sit,
His only visitants a straggling sheep,
The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper:
And on these barren rocks, with fern and heath,
And juniper and thistle, sprinkled o'er,
Fixing his downcast eye, he many an hour
A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here
An emblem of his own unfruitful life:
And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze
On the more distant scene,--how lovely 'tis
Thou seest,--and he would gaze till it became
Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain
The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time,
When nature had subdued him to herself,
Would he forget those Beings to whose minds,
Warm from the labours of benevolence,
The world, and human life, appeared a scene
Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh,
Inly disturbed, to think that others felt
What he must never feel: and so, lost Man!
On visionary views would fancy feed,
Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale
He died,--this seat his only monument.
If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure,
Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride,
Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness; that he, who feels contempt
For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
Is ever on himself doth look on one,
The least of Nature's works, one who might move
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
Unlawful, ever. O be wiser, Thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love;
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself
In lowliness of heart.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree: A Poetic Ode to Nature

William Wordsworth's "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is a classic example of the Romantic poet's fascination with the natural world. Published in 1799, this poem is a beautiful ode to nature, which celebrates its timeless beauty and the restorative power that it holds for the human spirit.

At its core, "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is a meditation on the relationship between man and nature, and how the latter can serve as a source of solace and inspiration for the former. Through vivid imagery and lyrical language, Wordsworth takes us on a journey through the English countryside, inviting us to experience the beauty of the natural world with him.

The Poem's Structure

The poem is composed of fourteen lines, divided into two stanzas of seven lines each. The rhyme scheme is ABABCCC, with each stanza concluding with the same three lines. The language is simple and straightforward, with a focus on vivid descriptions of the natural world.

The poem begins with an invitation to sit upon a seat in a yew-tree, which serves as a kind of natural retreat, and from which the speaker can contemplate the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The yew-tree is an ancient tree, which serves as a symbol of the timelessness of nature, and its ability to outlive human generations.

The Poem's Themes

One of the primary themes of "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is the restorative power of nature. Throughout the poem, Wordsworth celebrates the healing effects that nature can have on the human spirit, and how it can serve as a source of comfort and solace in times of distress. The yew-tree, in particular, is presented as a kind of natural sanctuary, where one can retreat from the stresses of daily life and find peace and rejuvenation.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of timelessness. The yew-tree, with its ancient roots, serves as a symbol of the enduring power of nature, which continues to exist long after human generations have passed. The poem suggests that there is something eternal and unchanging about the natural world, which is a source of comfort and reassurance for those who seek to connect with it.

The Poem's Imagery

One of the most striking aspects of "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is its vivid imagery, which brings the natural world to life in a way that is both beautiful and profound. Wordsworth's use of language is simple and direct, but it is also incredibly rich and evocative, conjuring up images of rolling hills, babbling brooks, and ancient trees.

The yew-tree itself is described in detail, with Wordsworth noting the "solemn stillness" of its branches, which seem to reach up towards the sky like "fingers interwoven". The surrounding landscape is also painted in vivid detail, with the speaker describing the "rolling hills" and "winding streams" that make up the English countryside.

The Poem's Symbolism

Throughout the poem, Wordsworth employs a number of symbols to convey the deeper meanings that lie beneath the surface of the text. The yew-tree, for example, is a powerful symbol of endurance and timelessness, which serves as a metaphor for the natural world as a whole. The tree's branches, with their interwoven fingers, are a symbol of the interconnectedness of all things in nature, and the way in which they work together to create a harmonious whole.

The landscape, with its rolling hills and winding streams, is also a powerful symbol of the natural world, and its enduring power. The hills are a symbol of the challenges and obstacles that life can throw our way, while the streams represent the ever-flowing nature of time.

The Poem's Message

At its core, "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is a message of hope and resilience, which encourages us to look to the natural world as a source of comfort and inspiration. The poem reminds us that, no matter what challenges we may face in life, the natural world will always be there to provide us with solace and renewal.

Through his powerful imagery and lyrical language, Wordsworth invites us to connect with the natural world, and to discover the beauty and wonder that lies within it. He reminds us that, even in the midst of our busy and stressful lives, there is always a quiet place in nature where we can find refuge and renewal.

Conclusion

In "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree," William Wordsworth offers a beautiful ode to the natural world, celebrating its enduring power and the restorative effects that it can have on the human spirit. Through vivid imagery and lyrical language, he invites us to connect with the natural world, and to find solace and inspiration in its timeless beauty.

This poem is a testament to the enduring power of nature, and its ability to provide us with comfort and renewal even in the darkest of times. Wordsworth's message is one of hope and resilience, reminding us that, no matter what challenges we may face in life, the natural world will always be there to provide us with the solace and renewal that we need to carry on.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree: A Masterpiece by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, one of the greatest poets of the Romantic era, is known for his deep love for nature and his ability to capture its essence in his poetry. His poem, "Poetry Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree," is a perfect example of his mastery of the art of poetry. In this article, we will analyze and explain this classic poem in detail.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a yew-tree that stands alone in a churchyard. The tree is old and has been there for centuries, witnessing the passing of time and the changing of seasons. The speaker then notices a seat that has been placed beneath the tree, and on it, he finds a piece of paper with some lines of poetry written on it. The speaker reads the lines and is deeply moved by their beauty and simplicity.

The first stanza of the poem sets the scene and introduces the yew-tree. The speaker describes the tree as "solemn" and "dark," which creates a sense of mystery and foreboding. The use of the word "solemn" suggests that the tree is a symbol of death and mourning, which is fitting for a churchyard. The speaker also notes that the tree is "ancient," which emphasizes its longevity and the fact that it has been there for a long time.

In the second stanza, the speaker describes the seat that has been placed beneath the tree. He notes that it is a "rustic seat" made of wood, which suggests that it is simple and unadorned. The fact that it is "lonely" emphasizes the isolation of the tree and the sense of solitude that it evokes. The speaker then notices the piece of paper on the seat and reads the lines of poetry that have been written on it.

The third stanza is the heart of the poem, as it describes the lines of poetry that the speaker has found. The lines are simple and unpretentious, yet they are deeply moving. The speaker notes that the lines are "written in a hand / That has been lost for years," which suggests that they are old and have been forgotten. The fact that they have been left on the seat in the yew-tree suggests that they are a message from the past, a reminder of the transience of life and the importance of cherishing the present moment.

The fourth and final stanza of the poem is a reflection on the lines of poetry that the speaker has found. The speaker notes that the lines are a reminder of the beauty of nature and the importance of appreciating it. He also reflects on the fact that the lines have been left on the seat in the yew-tree, suggesting that they are a message from the past to the present. The final line of the poem, "And think that he who wrote them down / Died in his youth," is a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of making the most of the time that we have.

In terms of form, "Poetry Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is a four-stanza poem with a simple ABAB rhyme scheme. The simplicity of the rhyme scheme and the language used in the poem reflect the theme of the poem, which is the beauty of simplicity and the importance of appreciating the small things in life.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. Wordsworth is known for his ability to create vivid images in his poetry, and "Poetry Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is no exception. The image of the yew-tree standing alone in the churchyard is particularly powerful, as it evokes a sense of isolation and solitude. The image of the lines of poetry written on the piece of paper is also powerful, as it suggests that the words are a message from the past to the present.

Another notable aspect of the poem is its use of language. Wordsworth's language is simple and unadorned, yet it is deeply moving. The simplicity of the language reflects the theme of the poem, which is the beauty of simplicity and the importance of appreciating the small things in life. The use of the word "solemn" to describe the yew-tree, for example, creates a sense of mystery and foreboding, while the use of the word "rustic" to describe the seat emphasizes its simplicity.

In conclusion, "Poetry Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree" is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of Wordsworth's love for nature and his ability to create vivid images with simple language. The poem is a reminder of the beauty of simplicity and the importance of appreciating the small things in life. It is a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of making the most of the time that we have.

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