I think the end of the poem is the most beautiful though. What Wordsworth goes on to say is really quite thought provoking and pokes and prods at what my idea of the world really was. You see, he mentions, “truths...which we are toiling our whole lives to find” (115-116), and in my opinion, everyone is searching for something. We all need a little meaning to life or a reason to live and Wordsworth, throughout this whole poem, struggles with what his is. As he takes the reader with him through his journey of self discovery, or rather self loathing if we’re honest, he challenges himself and us to think about the way loss affects life. Does it make us stronger? Does it ruin everything? Are we able or unable to recover from it and depending on that answer, is life the same afterward? These are big life questions and Wordsworth is going out on a limb here asking them and forcing us to think about them.
The pinnacle of this poem comes when you realize what Wordsworth is actually saying and concluding about loss. The sense of sadness we experience from something lost isn’t from what or who we actually lost, but rather it’s from what we have have imagined or perceived the thing gone to be or have been to us, not necessarily what it actually is. This is the whole point! Wordsworth is trying to get us to see, or maybe he isn’t trying to get us to see it because he’s only wrestling through his own ideas here, but I think it’s safe to say that in the end, Wordsworth realizes that perception is reality. Your memories of what you lost are clouded by whatever your perception of that thing was and so whether or not it was good or bad, that is the taste you are left with.
It’s a hard thing to grapple with - loss. Loss of someone, loss of life, loss of a job, house, etc. Sometimes we lose big things or people who play big roles in our lives, and how are we supposed to cope with that? Or how are we supposed to just age and not let life jade us and make us cynical and bitter? Why are we always looking behind with rose colored glasses rather than looking forward that way? Well I think Wordsworth shows us, through his own struggles and strife that it’s okay to struggle and strive and challenge and be upset and angry. Those feelings are good and those emotions are healthy, as long as we keep moving. He didn’t stop and fester in his self-loathing or give up once he landed there. He pushed on, he kept writing, he kept struggling. In the end, it paid off for him - he saw the fountains, meadows, and hills again and he returned to his first love. His message of loss is all about perception being reality and when you lose something, don’t stop looking for it.