Nature communicates with us all the time through our bodily senses. We see, we smell, we hear and we touch. We also feel with emotions that are not always able to be explained with words or rationalized with thoughts. We live in a world that we ourselves have built with structure and systemized ways of carrying out daily life, sometimes forgetting that we are as natural as the Earth itself and connected to it more deeply than we realize. William Wordsworth came to understand the importance of realizing this fundamental connection by spending time in nature and simply observing, feeling and learning from the experiences he underwent while doing so. He found that while books and academia could provide one kind of knowledge, the natural world around us was filled with all the knowledge we would ever need and was right there in front of us all the time, if only we could “listen” to what She has to say.
The beginning of “Expostulation and Reply” introduces us to a speaker, Matthew who finds his friend, William, sitting on a rock and assumes him to be daydreaming, that is, not accomplishing much of anything. Matthew is puzzled as to why William wastes his time sitting alone when he could be studying and learning from those who came before him:
“Where are your books? -that light bequeathed
To Beings else forlorn and blind!
Up! Up! And drink the spirt breathed
From dead men to their kind. (4-8)
Matthew seems to be under the impression that knowledge is learned through the study of books and doesn't consider that there may be a source of knowledge unseen, available for the taking. William replies that he is learning while he sits on the stone by the lake. He explains that nature is always speaking and our senses are always interacting with it, it is not a matter of choice. “Our bodies feel, where'er they be, against or with our will” (19-20). We cannot shut off our senses, information is always entering our internal system, but we can decide to learn something from it simply by being aware that it is happening, instead of remaining ignorant of our own experiences. Wordsworth continues on to explain that through this connection he experiences with nature, he is imparted with a sense of intuition, of insight that “impress” (22) upon his mind. By capitalizing “Power”(21), it seems that he is referring to a force that presents the insight he achieves by simply being aware of his own experience as he sits by the lake. To impress upon the mind is to stamp or press it into our awareness, we could say that it has been made memorable. By using the word “impress”, we can find evidence that
Wordsworth found the content of what he was learning in solitude to be significant. The lines “That we can feed this mind of ours/In a wise passiveness” (23-24) suggests that if we open ourselves up to this natural connection, we may find that our mind can teach itself all sorts of valuable lessons through experience and feeling without any work or real effort at all. This particular passage describes how intuition is effortless if you let nature “speak”(26) and you listen in return. Nature teaches you how to feel, instead of how to think and we shouldn't find that surprising. Wordsworth poses a question…