Read our detailed study guide on the poem “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth. Our study guide covers The Tables Turned analysis, introduction, summary, and themes.


William Wordsworth, the major English Romantic poet, was born in Cumberland, England on April 7, 1770. He initiated the Romantic Movement in English Literature with the help of Samuel Taylor Coleridge after their joint publication of Lyrical Ballads in 1798. With the publication of Lyrical Ballads, the successful literary career of Wordsworth started. This collection also contains the poem Tintern Abbey, his one of the famous poems. Wordsworth is best known as nature’s poet. He shows his affection and love for nature in his one of the famous poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. His other famous works include “London, 1802″, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”, “Resolution and Independence”, “The Solitary Reaper”, “The World Is Too Much with Us”, and “Character of the Happy Warrior”. He died at the age of 80 on April 23, 1850, in Westmorland, England.

The Tables Turned, a poem written by Williams Wordsworth, was first published in Lyrical Ballads in 1798. Lyrical Ballads is the collection of poem mainly by William Wordsworth that is generally considered to be a starting point where Romantic Era in English Literature has started. Coleridge only contributes his four poems in Lyrical Ballads, together with his famous poem The Rime of Ancient Mariner.

Wordsworth dedicates this poem to his dear friend and asks him to leave all his books on the side and come out with him to observe and enjoy the nature. To Wordsworth, the books that human reads are of no use while nature provides them with the knowledge and wisdom that books are lacking. Nature, to him, is filled with knowledge that would offer him peacetime and tranquility. On the other hand, these book are of no good to humans rather it dissects them from the nature that is something beautiful and worth enjoying.

The Tables Turned by William Wordsworth Summary

The Tables Turned, by William Wordsworth, is a poem that echoes a poet strong faith in nature and is confident that nature is the best teacher rather than books. The poem fervently repeats that a man can only attain knowledge in the circle of nature. In the poem, the poet has turned the tables when he asked his friend to leave his dull and barren books behind and observe the nature rather than saying that why is he wasting his time outside instead of focusing on his studies.

The poet, in the poem, points out that nowadays man is so busy with his books that he forget to go outside and spend some time in nature. The peace and tranquility that nature provides couldn’t find out insides the book. Books may provide you with knowledge but this knowledge is little or of no use. Nature is filled with knowledge and it will give you wisdom which is superior to knowledge. The wisdom that you get from nature will always keep you fit and healthy.

Spending time in nature, according to Wordsworth, will not provide you only with mental peace and health but also teaches you more about humanity, goodness, and evil as well. However, the poet sadly says that the melodiousness of nature and the understanding it carries has been slanted by the way human beings try to brutally divide it. On the basis of bookish knowledge, we make differences. The poet gives an example of birds that they are the creature who lack bookish knowledge and are free from duality, but there is distortion in humans because of so-called bookish knowledge that preaches duality.

The poet ends the poem by asking his friend to leave aside Science and Arts and close their books as its pages are just barren leaves that is of no use. He asks his friend to come up with an open heart that is willing to receive and absorb the message from nature.

Themes of the Poem

The Favorable Impact of Nature:

Wordsworth praises nature throughout his works. According to him, nature provides the eventual good impact on human mind. Wordsworth frequently highlights the significance of nature to an entity’s academic and spiritual progress. A good affiliation with nature benefits individuals to connect to both the mystical and the communal worlds.

Nature is the best teacher:

Wordsworth praises the supremacy of human knowledge. To Wordsworth, bookish knowledge is nothing but a deviation. It divides human races rather than to unite it. While on the other hand nature teaches us wisdom and tranquility. The wisdom and knowledge we acquire from nature, couldn’t be provided to us in any book. Spending time in nature, according to Wordsworth, will not provide you only with mental peace and health but also teaches you more about humanity, goodness, and evil as well.

Know Thyself:

The Tables Turned, by Williams Wordsworth is the best example of “know thyself”. Know thyself means “to know yourself”. According to Wordsworth, humans have lost their originality. We have become what we are not. We associate ourselves to various shadows of self (human); these shadows are religion, race jobs, etc. and we prioritize our shadows on our real self. Wordsworth says this is because of the lack of wisdom that we prioritize our shadows. Firstly we are human than we are shadows. We have forgotten ourselves due to lack of wisdom which only comes from observing nature.

The Tables Turned Literary Analysis

Stanza 1:

The poet begins the 1st stanza by exclamation Up! Up! He calls upon his friend to get up or stand up and leaves his books. These books are not a proper source of knowledge. He claims that these books will make him double, losing his originality and reality.

The poet again calls his friend to get up who looks confused by the sudden call. He put emphasizes by again using exclamation Up! Up! He asks his friend to clear his looks; that is to change his perspective on seeing things. The way he (the poet’s friend) is seeing the world is quite complicated. The poet asks him that why he is facing all the “toil” and “trouble” when he has easy ways to see things.

Stanza 2:

Wordsworth, nature’s poets, through the use of imagery in this stanza, beautifully creates the picture/ scenery of sunset. He says that the sun has spread all over the mountain’s head and fields. The Savannah and the fields are green, however, they appear golden in the glimmers of the evening sun.

In this stanza, the poet emphasis on the pictures of nature to convey a message that knowledge is not inside the books. It is outside, in nature; and one can only get the true knowledge when observes the nature.

Stanza 3:

The poet begins this stanza with an exclamation Book! He calls books dull along with endless strife. To him, reading books are like a long conflict against an enemy which never ends and is useless. Wordsworth invited his friend to come and listen to the woodland linnet (birds). He swears that there is more wisdom in the song of a bird than of books.

In this stanza, the poet claims that books make us double, losing your identity while on the other hand birds, nature’s creature, is free from this duality. He says that there is distortion in humans due to bookish knowledge. On the basis of knowledge, humans have divided themselves.

Stanza 4:

The poet, in this stanza, argues with his friend that in order to acquire real knowledge and wisdom, he should listen to the blackbirds. These birds are not preachers. But on the other hand, if he read books, they are written by preachers and every preacher preaches his own point of view, not the universal point of view. In order to know who is right and what is right, you should come to the metaphysical light of things that really exist around. The post says that let the nature to be your teacher, nature is the best teacher and will let you see the world with a different perspective. Once you accept nature as your teacher, you will be enlightened.

Stanza 5:

The poet, in this stanza, says that the nature surrounding us is filled with wisdom and instructions. Nature has a lot of wealth of wisdom to bless our mind and hearts with. By observing nature, we are spontaneously breathing wisdom and health. The wisdom nature offers is a true wisdom and it can fill you with a joy and cheerfulness.

Stanza 6:

The poet, arguing with his friend, claims that one component of nature can you more than any book, written by man, on the earth. Spending time in nature, according to Wordsworth, will not provide you only with mental peace and health but also teaches you more about humanity, goodness, and evil as well. On the other hand, the books are supposed to be written by wise men, however, these can’t teach you what nature can.

Stanza 7:

The poet says that every knowledge and wisdom that nature brings is full of sweet feelings and expression that brings peace to the human mind and soul. But it is human’s nature, says the poet, that they with their intellect and knowledge miss-shape the things that are attractive. When they try to understand the meanings of this the murder things as “we murder to dissect”. Humans tend to search objective/purpose of each and everything around and this takes the beauty of things away.

Stanza 8:

The poet, in the last stanza, asks his friend to leave the philosophies of Science and Arts. He called the books as barren leaves as they are useless and have no wisdom in them. He tells him to bring his heart, not mind, with him; the heart with receives the message from nature because mind dissects but heart, on the other, heart understands.

Rhyming Scheme:

The Tables Turned, by William Wordsworth, is an eight-stanza poem having a rhyming scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gfgf, ijij, klkl, mnmn, opop. In simple, every stanza has abab rhyming scheme.


The poem is the 1st person narrative in which the poet himself, speaking to his friend, is the speaker advocating the nature.

Structure Analysis:

The poem consists of eight four lines stanza. It is a ballad written in iambs with four syllables in the 1st and 3rd line three syllable in the 2nd and 4th line of each stanza.


The whole tone of the poet is direct, fervent, and enthusiastic. His tone changes from this encouraging voice to influential in the second last stanza when he states, “We murder to dissect.”


The poet/speaker uses a formal language in the poem. The use of uncommon words and phrases like lore, come forth, hark and blithe makes the poem difficult to understand.


Wordsworth creates the image of the Lake District in the second stanza where he grew up. He associated nature with many things creating a visual picture in the minds of readers. He uses various metaphors between nature and education. For instance: “freshening mellow”, and “long green field”.

Figures of Speeches:

  • Personification:

Personification is the attribution of human qualities to the non-human object. In this poem, the poet uses personification in various instances. For instance: “let the nature be your teacher”, and “above the mountains head”.

  • Alliteration:

Alliteration is the existence of the same sound or same word at the start of adjacent words. In this poem, the poet uses alliteration at: “Toil and Trouble” and “world of ready wealth”.

  • Anaphora:

By the mentioning UP! UP!, in the first and 3rd line of the 1st stanza, the poet makes use of anaphora.

  • Onomatopoeia:

The use of the sound of an object in the literary work is called as onomatopoeia. We can imagine the sound of birds y reading the poem. For instance: “And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!.

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