The Tables Turned

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2002

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The Tables TurnedWilliam Wordsworth's stanzaic poem The Tables Turned (1798), expresses his belief that true knowledge is learned through and by nature, not by reading books. Wordsworth uses his friendly relationship with the reader to convince them to quit their books and go out into the world and discover what it has to offer. Wordsworth's welcoming relationship with the reader, his ongoing petitioning, and his assurance of true knowledge leaves the reader with a sense of his insight.

William Wordsworth creates a relationship with the reader in the first line of the poem by pleading "Up! Up! My Friend!"� This beginning gains the reader's attention and forms a bond between the reader and Wordsworth. The way Wordsworth expresses this piece of poetry almost seems as if he is looking out for the reader, as evident in the second line of the first stanza stating "Oh surely you'll grow double"¦"� Wordsworth goes on to state that books impart no knowledge that nature cannot bring; for books, Wordsworth explains, are nothing but "toil and trouble"¦and a dull and endless strife."�

This "toil and trouble"� that he explains are exactly why Wordsworth petitions the reader to go out into the world and discover its offerings. "Come hear the woodland linnet"¦there's more wisdom in it,"� Wordsworth proclaims. He professes to come forth into the light of things, and let nature guide you and teach you. He uses very descriptive language when describing how nature can teach a person more bountiful wisdom then the knowledge learned in books. An example of this is when Wordsworth states, "Sweet is the lore which nature brings."� His description of nature lures the reader to his understanding.

Wordsworth uses his vivid petitioning in his final promise to the reader. The last stanza simply states to give up that science and art, to "Close up those barren leaves."� He wants the reader to come forth and bring with them a heart. He describes that those who bring with them an open heart will "watch and receive"� the true knowledge imparted by nature; a knowledge which books can not provide.

In conclusion, William Wordsworth's poem The Tables Turned is a stanzaic poem expressing a belief in nature-born knowledge verses book-taught knowledge. He builds a relationship with the reader so that they will see his point of view on this matter. He declares, "Let nature be your teacher"� and "Give up that science and art."� For in the end, bring with you an open heart, Wordsworth cites, that "watches and receives."� To read a book is nothing but "toil and strife,"� explains Wordsworth. Yet to watch and receive what nature has to offer imparts true knowledge on one's soul.