Summary of The Tables Turned by William Wordsworth

About the Poet: – William Wordsworth is a British poet who is credited for being one of the best Romantic poets in English literature. He is one of the famous poets who has written poems about the beauty of nature. His first successful work was the Lyrical Ballads, which is opened by Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner”. The poet has composed many famous romantic poems, and is considered as one of the best romantic poets in the history of English literature.

About the Poem:

The poem is about the poet encouraging his friend to leave all his books and the knowledge that he thinks that he gets from it and enjoy the nature. He says that the nature has the best of knowledge to offer, which is not preachy like the books that he reads. Hence, he should come out into the sunlight and absorb the beauty of nature and learn the lessons of life through it. The nature is something which is kindred and relaxing as opposed to the books which are preachy and dry. The nature will teach much more in a very calm manner than the books, which dissects all the beautiful things down trying to understand the meaning and existence of everything. The poet encourages his friend to leave arts and sciences behind, and take resort to nature in order to understand the lessons of life and the beauty of it.


Setting of the Poem

The poet has used a mood of peace and serenity through the poem, where he is inviting his friend to admire the nature around him. Wordsworth discourages learning from books, and says that books cannot teach a person everything that he needs to learn. The lessons of life are learnt through Nature. He encourages his friend to understand the beauty and depth that is present in the nature.

Annotations Stanza Size

4th Stanza: into the light of things: This expression is about understanding everything through and through. The poet has used this as a metaphor that his friend should come out to the sunlight and understand the things that exist in the nature around him.

5th Stanza: moral evil and of good: This annotation is rather used to sum up the teachings of life and experience. The poet has used this for his friend to make him understand the knowledge he could gather from the nature.

Summary of The Tables Turned

Stanza 1

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?

Here, the poet is telling his friend to leave all his books, and get up to come along with him. He says that if he doesn’t quit so much reading, then he would grow bigger in his mind than he actually is.  The friend is baffled at his behavior, and looks at him. The poet asks him to get up again, and asks why he is looking at him so troubled and confused.

Stanza 2

The sun above the mountain’s head,

A freshening lustre mellow

Through all the long green fields has spread,

His first sweet evening yellow.

The poet says that the sun is climbing down in the sky, and now is in the mountain’s head. The grassland and the meadows are green but they look golden in the rays of the evening sun.

Stanza 3

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.

The poet says that books are something that are dull and it is like an endless work of reading and finishing the book. He asks his friend to leave all the books away and come out with him to admire the beauty of nature. He says that one can absorb more wisdom by going out and observe the nature around us.  One can learn a lot from the music of nature.

Stanza 4

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.

He asked his friend to listen to the things around him in the nature and observe, as they are much nicer and sweeter than the preachy lessons that the authors of the books sound like. He finds the books very preachy and boring, and he urges that his friend comes in the light of things that really exist around him. He pleads to his friend that for once he should let nature be his teacher.

Stanza 5

She has a world of ready wealth,

Our minds and hearts to bless—

Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,

Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

The poet says that the nature around us is full of knowledge and teachings. The nature is the best things to bless anyone’s heart. The nature could fill one’s heart with the heart and health with wisdom. Nature could fill someone’s heart and soul with cheerfulness and joy. Nature will fill anyone’s heart with joy and cheerfulness.

Stanza 6

One impulse from a vernal wood

May teach you more of man,

Of moral evil and of good,

Than all the sages can.

The poet says that the one element of the nature could teach his friend more than what the books could teach him. The books cannot contain the knowledge that the nature could provide her. The trees and the woods could teach him much more about truth and morals much more than all the sages put together could teach him.

Stanza 7

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;

Our meddling intellect

Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—

We murder to dissect.

The poet says that nature could bring some sweet feelings and expressions to the human mind and soul. It brings peace to our mind which is meddling with knowledge and intellect. The poet says that our intellect and knowledge tends to mis-shape the things that are beautiful as we try to understand the meaning and the reason behind it. We tend to find the meaning and purpose of everything around us, and hence we tend to take the beauty of the subject away. But nature brings peace to our minds and we rest in peace enjoying the beautiful things.

Stanza 8

Enough of Science and of Art;

Close up those barren leaves;

Come forth, and bring with you a heart

That watches and receives.

The poet tells his friend that he needs to stop with the theories of art and science, and close all his difficult and barren books that are not productive at all. He asks him to come forth with his eyes, heart, and other sense. He says that his friend should open his heart and be learn from what he has seen and heard around him in the nature.

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