The Tables Turned: Summary
“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 tells his friend to leave all his books and get up to come along with him. He says that if he doesn’t read so much, he will 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.
“The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening luster mellow
Through all the long green fields that 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.
“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 dull, 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.
“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 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.
“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. Nature is the best thing to bless anyone’s heart. 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.
“One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Then all the sages can.“
The poet says that the one element of nature could teach his friend more than what the books could teach him. The books cannot contain the knowledge that 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.
“Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
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 tend to misshape the beautiful things as we try to understand the meaning and the reason behind them. 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.
“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. 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 nature.