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The Ideas Borrowed from Tintern Abbey

By Qaisar Sultan

Our past memories sometimes become our nurse and guide to give us comfort when we are alone, lying in bed or in our travels. The human hearts that find it alone at times use memories as tool to pacify the present unsatisfaction. To reminisce about our past has a sweet sense of time gone by. Most of the time, it reminds our youth and its relations to the people, places and even foods. But oft, in lonely rooms, amid the din/of towns and cities, I have owed to them/ In hours of weariness, sensation sweet/felt in the blood, and felt along the heart- Williams Wordsworth.  Sometimes we allow only the serenity to nurse the present and provide the colored prism of our memory to please our senses. The memories are the records of our experiences, both good and bad. We ignore all other emotions and realities of that time and block any negativity attached to it to feel good at times. The happy recollections have to be free from the obstacles, sadness and the demands of the time. There are those unremembered acts of kindness and untested love that only allow a glance to unselected events amidst focal and unwieldy emotional attachment to more suitable and apposite events in life. The mental images of the events that have the reality mixed with our fantasies, good or bad, beget a mystical notion of the past; the small fish story becomes a tale of a giant whale.  Some of the old and distant memories are restored in such a manner that they are not barrowed from the eye of the objective reality of time; but rather becomes the guardian of our hearts. How mind converts small to great and bizarre to sublime is a subject that has to be analyzed by the neurologists. The mind recognizes and reconciles the perplexity of the sadness and put a veil of happy thoughts to find tranquility in the present. On the other hand, when gloomy and depressing thoughts have to be entertained, we see the world as a dark place; where the deception, cruelty and brevity of this life seems to be dominating thought process. The strong stimuli for strong negative thoughts and memories tell and ask us to behave in such a manner so that we could overcome some of our shortcomings. The men think that they should be physically and financially strong and may think about those events when they had difficulties dealing with them. The motivation of our brains to retrieve those negative thoughts is based on our evolutionary needs to solve the difficulties that come in our way to stop us from a total freedom. We think and talk about the old days that were better than the present day. Somehow we were convinced that our forefathers lived a better life than us. I do not know how true it is? We have better facilities, better food, TV, cell phones, faster mode of transportation, better medicines and more opportunities in life. May be, we do not have that much time in our hands to enjoy our personal lives? There is certain element of insecurity in real and perceived sense. The loved ones are mostly doing what their heart desire for their own happiness and demands of their lives. So, it is natural to think the old days as better than now as we miss the company of the loved ones when they move out- In the older days, people stayed put.


Technically, we like to record our past in our memories so that we can tailor our future based on the right actions and avoid the mistakes. The history that is a natural evolutionary process of man’s conscious and freedom has recorded the past both on the basis of first hand information and through memories. There is mostly human prejudice, likes and dislikes, reverence and hatred that played the crucial part in writing the history; just like our own minds play the same trick on our thinking process. There are those memories deeply infused in our moral being that have become our companions to shield us from boredom of idle mind.


Williams Wordsworth wrote Tintern Abbey in 1798; he visited the Abbey in 1793. He drew the most breathtaking depiction of the nature through his memories which were entrenched in his mind so profoundly that it appeared current in his poem.  If the traumatic sequence of events that he remembered after the death of his sister had any bearing on his writing, the power of nature compensated the pain of old age recollection of the loss . The tranquil restitution recompensed through revisiting the Abbey lead him to see the mystery of providence in pure nature through his memory. The faith, believing in nature that we are endowed by Al-mighty God and our will to see the best of the most of our faculties lead us to recollect and recompense for our lonesome existence.


The mind that is within us, so impress/with quietness and beauty, and so feed/with lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongue/Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men/Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all/The dreary intercourse of daily life/shall ever prevail against us, or disturb/our cheerful faith, that all which we behold/ is full of blessings. (Wordsworth). That is the power of our thought process; we think and we think- That is what makes us humans- “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am) Rene’ Descartes. We dream so that we can find the reality in this abstract world. What matters what we dream and think? It is our world and the universe we paint in our dreams and thoughts makes us happy and sad. We remember the past because we like to see our present and future as beautiful as we like to conceive our past as wonderful as it was supposed to be. We focus on sadness because we do not wish to be sad.  We die because we lived; and live because we have to die. But we remember our past because we do not wish to forget.

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