In Wordsworth’s ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ he describes a “presence”:

                                And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

William Wordsworth (1798). ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798’. In Lyrical Ballads (2nd edition), volume I, p. 206. London: Longman.

What did Wordsworth mean by this “presence”, “motion” or “spirit”? Did he mean the Christian god? If so, why did he use such oblique language? Or was he alluding to some other philosophical or religious idea?

1 Answer 1


what you get when you meditate for some time. The presence of nothingness. It can be beautiful, especially if and when you aren't trying for it.

  • This would be improved by relating the answer more clearly to the text. Given that the "presence" is the feeling you get when you meditate for some time, how does it "dwell in the light of setting suns", "impel all thinking things", etc.? Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 19:16

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