William Wordsworth was moved to write about Tintern Abbey, and so was Alfred Lord Tennyson. Of the two I find Tennyson’s the more moving. The sight of the abbey evoked a sense of a lost past and the transience of life so much so that Tennyson began to weep. So there is a sense of times lost and the sadness of nostalgia. This is not a poem to cheer us up but its eloquence may give voice to our sadness and, by expressing it, relax its hold on us.
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken’d birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign’d
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!