TASK: In your own words briefly say how the ideas in “Expostulation & Reply” & “The Tables Turned” have helped you to understand Romanticism.
The central idea in Expostulation and Reply and The Tables Turned is that there is more to life than books and that the natural world can teach us more than books ever could. In Expostulation and Reply, Wordsworth is bid by his friend Matthew to take up his books and begin reading again to improve his mind and Wordsworth replies that he shall not, because of all the wonder and awe his natural surroundings provide him. In The Tables Turned, Wordsworth continues to persuade Matthew to put his books away and join him in wonderment at the natural world.
The main theme of Romanticism is that nature and the environment can inspire creativity and individuality better than any book or teacher can (“Nor less I deem that there are Powers… that we can feed this mind of ours in a wise passiveness” – Expostulation and Reply). These two poems have definitely helped me understand Romanticism through the motif of nature, especially The Tables Turned. Wordsworth’s language in this poem paints the scene of a lush environment (“the sun… a freshening lustre yellow, through all the long green fields has spread…”) and it sounds so appealing that you can’t help but want to spend time outside to just simply be in nature, without any other worries. The lines of “Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher” and “Enough of Science and Art; Close up those barren leaves…” quite effectively encapsulate the Romantics’ feelings of the time – that of simply being in and appreciating nature and all the wisdom and knowledge it can offer us with its beauty, as opposed to the boring pages of a book that just offer printed words.