Sunday, June 8, 2014

Poem of the Day: "The Tables Turned" by William Wordsworth, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for June 8, 2014 is "The Tables Turned" by William Wordsworth, Poet of the Month.  Information about the Songs of Eretz Poet of the Month feature as well as a biographical essay about William Wordsworth may be found here:  "The Tables Turned" is the sequel to "Expostulation and Reply" which was featured in the Review yesterday

The Tables Turned
A Woodland Linnet
An Evening Scene on the Same Subject
William Wordsworth

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There's more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Here we have yet another of Wordsworth's rhyming ballads; this one is in iambic tetrameter but leaves a foot off of every even line.  Wordsworth, the narrator, addresses his friend Matthew to whom he makes reference in "Expostulation and Reply."

The message is the same as in "Expostulation," but there are some nice, goose-bump-provoking lines here worth highlighting (see below).  

"Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife" is a statement that every student eventually realizes is so, so true--some too soon, others too late.

"We murder to dissect"--here Wordsworth makes the important distinction between the appreciation of nature and the study of nature (and recommends the former).

"Close up those barren leaves"--a nice pun on "leaves," those of books being barren, and those of nature being full of life and beauty.

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