Growing Up With Nature – William Wordsworth’s Nutting
Touch-for there is spirit in the woods.” That small extract from William Wordsworth’s “Nutting” represents very well the theme throughout the poems I will look at, the theme of growing up with nature and how nature teaches and guides him through life.
In the poem “Nutting” Wordsworth starts off the day as he has done many times before, going out and looking for chestnuts, the childhood ritual which all children do at one stage during their life. But unlike before he goes to a part of the wood he has never been and which no one else has been to either, “I came to one dear nook
Unvisited.” This untouched area of the wood delights Wordsworth and he is overjoyed to have found it himself, “A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights.” A tree full of,
“tempting clusters”. This
“virgin scene” began to seduce Wordsworth and he falls in love with it and begins to think that he owns the tree. So of course trouble is inevitable. “Then I rose,
And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with crash
And merciless ravage:
Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up.” Wordsworth has totally “mutilated” this tree and feels “rich beyond the wealth of kings.” He really does feel delighted with the work he has just done but as the reality of it sets in and the picture of what this scene once was begins to give Wordsworth “a sense of pain.” This pain caused by the anguish of what he has just done to this defenceless tree. From this sense of guilt Wordsworth begins to realise that “there is a spirit in the woods.” And the foundations for his future beliefs in pantheism have been set. Wordsworth has moved on from his previous thought of a tree just being an object but now believes it has a kind of life force in it.
In the poem “The Prelude (I)” Wordsworth follows a similar theme of growing up. In this poem young Wordsworth takes a boat which is not his and he is feeling very adventurous. “It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure.” He felt very good when he took the boat and was having a very good time, until Wordsworth realises what he has done wrong but this is not realised until he reaches his destination in the lake. “The horizon’s bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct
Upreared its head.” This is the climax of the poem and helps show the sudden change in mood. Wordsworth is happily rowing the boat when suddenly this huge big thing shows itself. To Wordsworth this is some sort of hideous creature. But in fact as you go through the poem you learn that this is the first few signs of his developing conscience. “For many days my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o’er my thoughts
There hung a huge darkness….
…moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my brain.” These show the signs of a guilty conscience, guilty from knowing he took the boat: a conscience Wordsworth is being taught about from nature and it again points to his emerging belief of Pantheism, that nature is God.
The main focus in this poem “The Prelude (II)” is that of moving on. The poem has a picturesque setting of the “twilight gloom” This type of light however would tell Wordsworth to go inside, as if nature was telling him as a parent calls their children. But “I heeded not their summons.” So he carried on “All shod with steel,
We hissed along on the polished ice in games:” a nice use of alliteration to convey the movement of ice skating. But Wordsworth being a Pantheist he cannot stay so he wonders off “not seldom from the uproar I retired.” Wordsworth here shows his poetic ability and understanding of nature because he realises that the hills are “melancholic.” His subconscious understanding of nature forces him to go off and explore. What he realises is that everything around him is moving. “With visible motion her diurnal round!
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as dreamless sleep.”
As a child he is travelling with the spirit of nature.
I think everyone could relate to Wordsworth poems in someway: I know that I can relate to his feeling of a spirit in the woods. When I was lost I in the woods I felt as if someone was there showing where to go. So I will end on this note “Touch-for there is a spirit in the woods.”