William Wordsworth's poem, "The Tables Turned," espouses the belief that understanding and knowledge does not exist in the worlds of books. Rather, if one is searching for a sense of truth, they can find in the natural world and on one's own. This shows a major theme of Romanticism, that nature can be better teachers than academic exercises, in stark contrast to the preceding traditional belief in learning. In the first stanza the speaker is speaking to a friend from immersed in book study. The speaker is imploring the speaker to step up and escape from this traditional approach to learning and studying and examine the natural world of beauty and individual expression, which he deems as dead and cold. "Up! Up! My Friend, and quit your books; or surely you'll grow double" (lines 1-2). Wordsworth believes more harm than good is done when our education is handled in a formulaic and traditional way, which he calls a "dull and endless strife" (line 9). Human beings can gain more from embracing a natural and almost rural approach to understanding.
In the next two stanzas Wordsworth describes the landscape and the music of the evening. The sun is over the mountain and the green fields look yellow under the evening sun. "Through all the long green fields has spread,.
His first sweet evening yellow" (Lines 7-8). The speaker is calling for his friend to wake up and see the beauty of the world through his own eyes and not through the words of others. He seems to tell his friend to come into the woods and hear the bird. His music is sweet and has in it more wisdom than the books do. Stanza five is meant to be read as Listen to the song of the throstle. "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" (Lines 13-16). He's a preacher and a teacher also. Nature has lessons to teach.