Contributed by: Joe Stickney, Clyde High School, Clyde, OH
Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey is a difficult poem even for advanced students because of language, length, and age. However, students can make a connection to it once they come to an understanding that Wordsworth is describing a place that is important to him and he includes a person for whom he wants that particular place to be meaningful also. A starting point is the music of Bruce Springsteen. In Springsteen’s song, “My Hometown” the singer talks about an emotionally significant place and the people connected to that place.
Since Springsteen is relatively more contemporary, and sings and writes in modern American English, the student can easily understand “My Hometown” which then provides a connection to “Lines...”. Once the student makes that connection, the platform is there to explore Wordsworth’s themes, use of nature and the elements of Romanticism. Also, the poem provides a means to discuss metaphors and their connotations.
The student will be able to:
- identify and discuss theme and tone;
- make emotional and intellectual connections to a writer’s work;
- work cooperatively in a group to find meaning;
- identify the elements of Romanticism and Wordsworth’s use of nature;
- understand the impact of metaphors and their connotations.
12th grade British literature class
2-3 class periods
CD/tape player, respective handouts
Students are generally familiar with Bruce Springsteen, but may not be familiar with all his work. Maybe beginning with “Born in the USA” and playing several of his more well known hits and discussing them will “set the stage” for “My Hometown.” Students should already be familiar with the Romantic era and Romanticism.
- Begin with a discussion of Springsteen and his music.
- Review tone and theme definitions.
- Pass out lyrics and then play “My Hometown.”
- Pass out guidesheets and divide into groups of three. Instruct groups to discuss and complete the “My Hometown” half of the guidesheet.
- Preview “Lines...” by explaining that like Springsteen, Wordsworth is also describing a meaningful place and its significance to another person; read the poem or play a recording, if available.
- Offer an opportunity for questions, and if necessary identify sections of the poem: describing setting, Wordsworth’s first visit, second visit, appearance of Dorothy.
- In groups complete the remainder of the guidesheet.
- In entire class setting discuss groups’ responses.
- Review elements of Romanticism and ask students where they appear in “Lines...”.
- Discuss Wordsworth’s attitude toward nature and the metaphors he uses to characterize its significance to him.
Participation and contribution to groups and completion of the guidesheet
“My Hometown” recorded by Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA. Columbia, 1984); written by Bruce Springsteen, ASCAP.
Write and describe a place and time that is meaningful, that carries emotional significance or a memory that you connect with an event or person, particularly a place in nature.