Wordsworth & Coleridge Despite surface differences between Coleridges Frost at Midnight and Wordsworths Tintern Abbey, upon close examination and reading it becomes clear that they are two fundamentally similar poems. The language in each is similar, as well as the use of descriptive imagery to appeal to the readers visual sense. Mostly though, the similarities are found in the tone and message of the two poems. Both poets are remembering nature/commonplace scenes and speaking of them to their loved ones, Coleridge in a more supernatural sense and Wordsworth in a very open, honest manner. The structure of both poems is exactly the same, except for the fact that Tintern Abbey is longer than Frost at Midnight.
Both poems follow a return upon itself structure and begin with an enjoyment of the present scene around the speakers, then gradually move into lamentations on the past. Then they both move back to the present with the speakers regaling a loved one with memories, promises, and pleadings to always enjoy what God has created around them. Wordworth believed in writing about commonplace people, places and things in a language used by ordinary men. His poem Tintern Abbey takes advantage of that philosophy, it is written as beautifully as anything from Tennyson or Dante Rossetti but far less metaphorically. He is very straight to the point with his words, but not to the extent that the beauty of them is lost. Coleridge also appears to follow that philosophy, but Frost at Midnight is a little more difficult to understand.
The language is simple and very informal but he includes many complex metaphors, such as the opening line the Frost performs its secret ministry. Frost at Midnight and Tintern Abbey share the same basic idea of storing up memories to help the speaker make it through tough times when otherwise he might have given up. Coleridge uses a line in his poem which adequately reflects the ideas expressed in Wordworths poem also, Henceforth I shall know that nature neer deserts the wise and pure (60). To them, nature is a continuous force that will always be there and will always live up to ones expectations. Coleridge is lamenting on the beauty of nature to his young son who is cradled in his arms, and is promising him that he will not have to grow up amidst the smog and strife of city life, but instead he will have the opportunity to wander like a breeze by lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags of ancient mountains and beneath the clouds (lines 55-60).
From there he promises that all seasons shall be sweet to thee (65). He also alludes to the fact that enjoying nature gives him a sense of life going on beyond his own perception. Tis calm indeed! So calm, that it disturbs and vexes meditation with its strange and extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood, this populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood, with all the numberless going-ons of life, Inaudible as dreams! (lines 8-12). Perhaps he is referring to nature giving him a reprieve from the troubles of ordinary life or maybe this is where he begins to enter into the supernatural realm that his poem eventually becomes part of.
In either case, this is where himself and Wordsworth become unmistakably similar in their views of the power of nature. Wordsworth is also speaking to a beloved family member in his poem. His sister Dorothy is being called upon to see and feel what he had first experienced when he saw the beauty of nature, and she is being asked to always remember the scene before her because it will assist her whenever hard times come her way. He states that Dorothy should let the moon shine on thee in thy solitary walk; and let the misty mountain-winds be free to blow against thee: and, in after years, when these wild ecstasies shall be matured into a sober pleasure; when they mind shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, they memory be as a dwelling place for all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! Then, if solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts of tender joy wilt thou remember me and these my exhortations! (lines 134-146). Both poets used the idea of sound and silence to emphasize the emotions and feelings running through the poems.
Coleridge refers to the hush of nature (17) and the contrast between that and the harsh loudness of the owls cry. Later, when he is speaking of his child, he says that the babe has gentle breathings, heard in the deep calm (45). Wordworth also uses sound but in a different way. To him sound is just one more aspect of the beauty of nature, from the mountain springs with a soft inland murmur (3) to the quiet of the sky (7) and the wreaths of smoke sent up in silence (17).
Wordsworth and Coleridge seemed to spend much of their time writing poems in response to something that the other had written, in fact they jointly published Lyrical Ballads. With some of the poems the similarities are far more opaque but Frost at Midnight and Tintern Abbey are obviously meant to reflect one another and are clearly based upon the same ideas. The texts do not make it clear whether these similarities were planned upon or whether they occurred subconsciously because the two poets enjoyed each others work but the two poems are undeniably on the same level. Bibliography none Poetry Essays.