Renewal of Faith in Nature and in Man: Summary & Analysis

Also Read

(The Prelude Book XIV: Lines 430 to 454)

Oh! yet a few short years of useful life,
And will be complete, thy race be run,
Thy moment of glory will be raised:
Then though (too weak to tread the ways of truth)
This age fall back to old idolatry,
Though men return to servitude as fast
As the tide ebbes, to ignominy and shame,
By nations, sink together, we shall still
Find solace-knowing what we have learnt to know,
Rich in true happiness if allowed to be Faithful alike in forwarding a day
Of firmer trust, joint labourers in the work
(Should Providence such grace to us vouchsafe)
Of their deliverance, surely yet to come.
Prophets of Nature, we to them will speak
A lasting inspiration, sanctified
By reason, blest by faith: what we have loved,
Others will love, and we will teach them how,
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth On which he dwells, above this frame of things
(which, ‘mind all revolution in the hopes
And fears of men, doth still remain unchanged)
In beauty exalted, as it is itself
Of quality and fabric more divine.


      The last books of The Prelude trace Wordsworth’s bitter disillusion with the course taken by the French Revolution, and his gradual region of confidence.


      In these lines, with which The Prelude concludes, Wordsworth expresses a hope that what he and Coleridge have learned and what they would communicate in their poetry would inspire the people. He and Coleridge, he says, would continue to work hopefully to bring about a time of faith and confidence, so that if God grants it, mankind will be liberated. Wordsworth is optimistic that such a time is sure to come. He and Coleridge are prophets of nature, and will interpret the lessons gained from Nature to the people. People would thus be lastingly inspired. The poets would be enlightened by reason and exalted by the faith. They will teach the people to love things which they loved and how the mind of man is exalted so that it transcends the earthly or physical plane. The power of the mind transcends external events, because it has a divine quality.


      The course taken by the French Revolution, the violence and bloodshed, and the return of a dictatorship (or Napoleon) negating the very ideals of the revolution—caused deep disillusion to Wordsworth. In the same period of time, his personal life was also fraught with difficulty. He was struggling to find for himself a satisfying way of life. His life was going through a period of crisis and confusion. He came out of this crisis with some difficulty. However, he regained confidence in himself, and in this he was indebted a great deal to his sister Dorothy and to Coleridge. In the conclusion of The Prelude Wordsworth reveals imagination in its various aspects as the faculty of creation. Wordsworth now speaks in a confident and hopeful tone. His earlier faith in Man and Nature has been renewed, indeed, deepened; he feels that the mind of man is close to divinity. In the last lines, there enters a didactic note. The voice of the sage seems to dominate over the thrilling note of the child of Nature. Here Worsworth’s conviction that the poet is a teacher finds expression.

Previous Post Next Post