Introduction:

‘The Tables Turned’ is a poem written by William Wordsworth. It praises nature, shunning the knowledge that is gained from books alone.

About the Poet:

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a notable English Poet. He was one of the most important of those who made way for the Romantic Age. Famous works of his include ‘The Solitary Reaper’, ‘I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud’, and ‘The Prelude’.

Theme:

The theme of this poem, being the Romantic poem that it is, is nature. The persona hails nature as a better teacher as opposed to books, highlighting it in every stanza of the poem.

Structure:

This short, lyric poem is divided into eight stanzas consisting of four rhyming lines each. The rhyme scheme followed is ‘abab cdcd’ and so on and so forth. 

Stanza 1:

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books; 
Or surely you’ll grow double: 
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks; 
Why all this toil and trouble?

In the very first stanza, the persona urges the reader, whom he establishes to be his ‘friend’, to let alone the books for it weighs and pulls one down. He then asks the reader to cheer up and let go off all that ‘trouble’. 

Stanza 2:

The sun, above the mountain’s head, 
A freshening lustre mellow 
Through all the long green fields has spread, 
His first sweet evening yellow.

This stanza is a beautiful description of nature, the sun in particular. The persona details on the beauty of sunset atop the mountain, how aesthetic it is as it spreads over the green fields. 

Stanza 3:

Books! ’t is a dull and endless strife; 
Come, hear the woodland linnet, 
How sweet his music! 
On my life, There’s more of wisdom in it.

This stanza is an immediate contrast to the previous one. As opposed to the beauty of nature, books are what he calls as ‘boring’. He again urges the reader to let go of them and admire the music of a linnet, a kind of bird, for he feels that there is much more wisdom in it than in books.

Stanza 4:

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! 
He, too, is no mean preacher: 
Come forth into the light of things, 
Let Nature be your teacher.

A continuation of the emotions in the previous stanza follows. The birds singing, as against books, is not ‘mean’ preaching. He thus asks the readers to learn from Nature in itself for it is a much better teacher.

Stanza 5:

She has a world of ready wealth, 
Our minds and hearts to bless 
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, 
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

‘She’, that is, nature, has a rich world to bless the reader, that is to say, humans with. Truth and wisdom can after all be easily learnt from nature and its cheerfulness.

Stanza 6:

One impulse from vernal wood 
May teach you more of man, 
Of moral evil and of good, 
Than all the sages can.

Again, the sentiment of nature being a teacher is highlighted. A forest, the persona states, can teach better about morality and ethics rather than sages who are considered to be the epitome of wisdom. 

Stanza 7:

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; 
Our meddling intellect 
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things: 
We murder to dissect.

The persona states that the sweet offerings of nature are, in our pursuit of academic intellect, are marred for we end up murdering it’s beauty in the process. 

Stanza 8:

Enough of science and of art; 
Close up those barren leaves; 
Come forth, and bring with you a heart 
That watches and receives.

In this final stanza, the persona takes on an assertive tone, demanding the readers to stop pursuing science and art for the books and its pages are nothing but ‘barren leaves’. He thus asks the reader to have an open heart that is ready to watch, listen, and learn from nature. 

Conclusion:

This is a beautiful poem that glorifies nature. It elucidates on how nature can prove to be a better teacher than books and human being themselves should they be willing to learn from it.