The English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth had a gift for putting into words the beauty and emotion of nature. His poem Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey is a perfect example of the passion he had for the nature around him. Today with a visit to the ruins of Tintern Abbey, you will surely feel the same inspiration.
The remains of the 12th century abbey lay on the banks of the Wye River, just over the Welsh border. It was founded by the Cistercian order of monks in the 1100s. The Cistercians would go on to build impressive abbeys throughout the country. For the next 400 years, the abbey quietly operated, surviving on the farming of the abbey-owned lands. The abbey was added onto as the surrounding community grew. With the reign of King Henry VIII, the religious community faced massive upheaval. In 1536, the dissolution of the church was implemented and Tintern Abbey surrendered to the King's forces. All of the valuables from within the abbey were taken and the massive roof was sold, leaving the rest of the abbey exposed to the elements. This was repeated at abbeys throughout the country, leaving these once impressive buildings to fade back into the surrounding nature.
Though the abbeys would never again become operational, they would have a second life. In the mid-18th century, The Romantic Age was in full swing and an appreciation for nature and the past inspired people to travel the countryside and rediscover forgotten places. There was a longing for solitude and simplicity that only nature could afford. Though the massive abbeys of the past were most likely breathtaking in their original form, the visitors of the Romantic Age found even more beauty in the skeletal remains of the buildings which had been taken over by vines and flowers.
A visit to Tintern Abbey is sure to make even the most modern of visitors aspire to become a poet. The contrast of the heavy stone architecture and the wilds of nature coexist perfectly. The massive windows are empty of glass but the tree-covered hills are able to shine through. Amongst the heavy pillars, the vibrant green grass rolls out like a carpet. It is easy to see why poets and visits find inspiration in the ruins of the abbey. And like Wordsworth, the images and feelings of your visit to Tintern will return when you need them the most.
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