It was as I had imagined is would be – a pastoral setting, with a herd of cows in the forefront of the ruins of Tintern Abbey. Founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow in May 1131, Tintern (Welsh – Abaty Tyndyrn) is on the Welsh bank of the River Wye. The Cistercians, known as the White Monks, who lived in the Abbey were adherents to the Rule of St. Benedict, the principles of which were obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer and work.
King Henry VIII’s reign brought about the Dissolution of the Monasteries. On September 3, 1536, Abbot Wyche surrendered Tintern Abbey and all of its estates to the King. And so ended a way of life that had lasted for over 400 years. Nevertheless, Tintern remains a gracious testament to survival. It has outlasted the vagaries of human intervention. Perhaps it is the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary that stands as a vigilant protector.
Over the centuries, Tintern has become a place of inspiration. This visit was no different. For in the center of the chapel was a young woman reciting the words of William Wordsworth to the solid walls and open skies. I stood there, a silent listener…
This is an excerpt from William Wordsworth’s eloquent and heartfelt tribute to his memories of the Wye River.
Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
31 thoughts on “Tintern Abbey – On the Banks of the River Wye”
Ah… the ultimate beauty of William Wordsworth romantic poems. I love it! Awe inspiring and breathtaking. You are a romantic one Rebecca, and truly know the just right poetic buttons to push. I can but envy such poetic talent. Thank you this dear lady… Maybe some day some of this beauty will rub-off on me. Jean-Jacques
Ah, JJ – you have the heart of a poet! I am so enjoying visiting your blog. A few years ago, I was looking into the poems by Robert Frost and was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) by these words…
“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
Your visits and comments are very much appreciated!
Thank you for your generous words Rebecca… As the old cliche goes, truer words were never spoken, at least as it relates to a struggling scribbler of the poetic medium. And in support of master Wordsworth, I humbly offer a piece from one of my books that tells a like tale, you may find appropriate.
“ Agonies ”
~ of an aspiring poet ~
Words swirl round
A restive head,
Like leaves so scatter
In autumn winds,
As I reach in vain
To save thin words
From the ensuing rain,
As I awake to tears
Lo threatening blur
My words proposed,
Thought cogent prose…
To give words life,
Probing to shape
As in a duel of fate
Each dubious choice,
Be cause poem unfolds…
Whilst I persist
To disgorge such,
The like express
A noble feeling,
Words oft trap
Rather than flow,
Or eke in anguish
As desperate whispers
Of an aspiring poet!
written in Vence, Fr.
© Jean-Jacques Fournier
Thank you, JJ – “Hence agonize to give words life….”
By the way, I looked up Vence, “The City of Art”, France. What a lovely place. Thank you for sharing your insightful poem. 🙂
thanks for sharing that lovely verse. It makes me wish I could write well. But without the masters, what would we aspire for ?
A very good point. And who knows, maybe they will look back on our writing and think that we were the masters!!! 😆
well, that made me smile.
How lovely to know that you were there, Rebecca….Chepstow was my home from eighteen to twenty two, and there is so much history there… Offa’s dyke ended in our garden….the inn opposite Tintern Abbey where I went to my first hunt ball… the whole place throbs with memories and history, and I love to think that you felt some of it….
Oh Valerie!!!! Believe it or not, I thought of you when I was there – not certain why, but now I know the reason. When I came to Wales, I felt like I was coming home. You are so right about memories and happenings. Every step I took, I walked on history. I am heading over to your blog to read Home, History and a House…
What a poignant moment to hear the woman reciting Wordsworth’s poem. What did you say to the walls and old stones 😉 ?
I think I said something to the effect of “Thank you for sheltering all who came through your doors; for graciously welcoming me into your walls; for letting the sun and the rain come into your sanctuary.”
That is lovely. I am so pleased you did.
I wish you had been there for, shortly thereafter, we found a place for tea. I had a sponge cake with a rich vanilla pudding. It was so delicious – it reminded me of you post on Milk pudding!
Oh, how delicious!
🙂 🙂 🙂
To many of us these scenes will only ever be pictures in a book. 😦 Your visits and commentary do help make them more real. 🙂
Thank you – I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post. I am not an easy traveller – flying has never been a passion for me. Yet, I know that when I land in another place, I will be glad that I boarded the plane. To me, traveling is about seeing things in a fresh way….
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Beautiful scenery. Beautiful poem. So wonderful that it was as you had imagined it. 🙂
Thank you!!!! This was an amazing adventure. We took public transit all of way! And when we didn’t take it, we walked and walked and walked! A great way to see the countryside.
“My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk.” John Keats
What a gorgeous building and what a treat to have visited there!
The best view was when we came over the hill and saw the cows munching peacefully in front of the monastery. There was a slight mist over the countryside, just before the sun came out from behind the clouds. Ah, you must visit. 🙂
First Vence, and then Grasse, The City of Roses and Perfumes, were my homes away from home for eight years. JJ
Sounds wonderful! It seems that there will always be somewhere to travel – which gives me great joy. Even if we don’t get to all of them, someone has and I can live vicariously through their experiences. 🙂
Hello Rebacca 🙂
It;s been many year since I visited this Abbey so thank you – great post Rebecca
Did you come across the relevance of the name Tintern ?
We have a Abbey here that was given the same name by the same order.
I did not know that there was another Tintern. 🙂 !! I checked out Wikipedia and found the name “Tintern may derive from the Welsh din + d/teyrn, meaning “rocks of the king.” There was something about a king named, Tewdrig, who “came out of retirement as a Tintern hermit to defeat the invading Saxons in battle.”
Thank you for asking. I learn something new everyday!!! 🙂
That brilliant Rebecca 🙂 me too so thank you !!!!
Thanks for sharing, Rebecca! 🙂 I’ve never been there, so was extra interesting to see and read this post!
I am so glad you stopped by – always a pleasure to have your thoughts and comments! 🙂
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