Unpacking Wordsworth's Poetic Process Through 'Tintern Abbey'

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SWBAT apply their understanding of poetic process to a close reading of 'Tintern Abbey'

Big Idea

"The principal object, then, proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life." William Wordsworth

Review of Wordsworth's Poetics

10 minutes

We ran out of time the day before to unpack Wordsworth's poetic process from his Preface to Lyrical Ballads. So we begin class by resuming the process of unpacking his process. 

The students had made notes as they read Wordsworth's Preface and now I collect their ideas on the whiteboard. 

 Some of their suggestions include:


  • Imitate and adopt the language of men
  • Celebrates the imagination
  • Logical Order
  • Language that excites
  • Not affected by society
  • Subject of poetry is not predetermined but comes naturally


We will use these points when we read Tintern Abbey to see how Wordsworth's ideas manifest themselves in his poetry.

Reading 'Tintern Abbey'

35 minutes

As we read the poem we stop occasionally to review Wordsworth's process. At the end of the first stanza we pause to look at the way Wordsworth started the poem. The imagery Wordsworth chooses to start with is rich in time and place.  We agree that although the language is dense and poetic, it is still simple and easy to understand. There is a sense in these opening lines that Wordsworth is allowing his imagination to direct his writing; he isn't self-conscious in his writing, nor does he seem to be speaking to a specific audience, but instead writes his lines from those memories that are strongest to him.