The rebuttal is that books and reading aren’t a requirement for learning and fulfillment, as also seen in Lines, the poet encouraging his sister to “bring no book”, the implication being a closeness with nature provides whatever intellectual stimulation a man needs. Indeed, The Nightingale goes as far as to castigate learned assumptions; A melancholy Bird? O idle thought! In nature there is nothing melancholy … And many a poet echoes the conceit
The poet encourages a natural approach to nature, that by abandoning the ‘conceits’ of (previous) poetry, one can truly understand nature, and as a result receive pleasure in everything experienced. Nonetheless, the attitude towards books isn’t completely derogatory – another feature of an idyllic childhood in The Female Vagrant is reading; And afterwards, by my good father taught, I read, and loved the books in which I read;
For books in every neighbouring house I sought, And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought. Though there is a pointedly lack of formal education, the woman is described as having the perfect childhood, involving her books. The poets’ personal lives seem to reflect this – the fact they were writing poetry to be read is one indicator that they found no evil in publishing, and both Coleridge and Wordsworth drew inspiration from political pamphlets and writings.
The Tables Turned (a poem in sequence to Expostulation and Reply) includes the line ‘let Nature be your teacher’ rather than the ‘dull and endless strife’ of books. Perhaps the suggestion is that nature offers new and unfatigable outlooks and opportunities for learning – a man need not ‘bend double’ over books if his mind is opened to nature. Nature is consistently demonstrated as important throughout the Lyrical Ballads.
The capitalisation of ‘Nature’, turning it into a proper noun, implies an important, perhaps concious, being with which reason must be reconciled in order to experience the bliss of the nightingale’s singing or the “freshening lustre mellow” of the sun. The use of abstract nouns (love, spirit, sympathy in The Nightingale, joy, pleasure, May’s dewy prime, in The Female Vagrant and so on) give a further etheral element to nature, and in turn implies a need for humans to understand spirits and the sublime, the almost supernatural aspect of nature that is perfection, before happiness can be obtained.