WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770-1850

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- grasp of rural communal relationships
- admired Burns’ achievement – pilgrimage to Ayrshire: ‘To the Sons of Burns
after Visiting their Father’s Grave’
- poetry of place, character, relationships
Lyrical Ballads 1798 – use of the ballad form remoulding traditional subjects,
striving to find appropriate language (Preface)
- ‘humble and rustic life’, ‘the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in
which they can attain their maturity’; ‘(they) speak a and more emphatic
language’
- while Burns’ vernacular poems draw strength from the vigour of the living
dialect, Wordsworth lacks such an alternative; he has the desire to break with
the artificialities of the 18th century tradition of pastoral decorum
- his early poetry shows a radical shift from gentility and false sophistication,
but it is not revolutionary in thought and theory
- ambition to effect literary reform
- ‘The Excursion’ 1814, Book VIII – manufacturing district in northern England
‘a huge town, continuous and compact/Hiding the face of earth for
leagues.../O’er which the smoke of unremitting fires/Hangs permanent’ –
against industrialisation
- his birth and education in NE (Lake District) made him sensitive to wild
nature, the cooperative workings of humankind and nature
- defines himself through his perception of the natural as opposed to the
mechanical world – political and social ideas ordered to rural mutual
responsibility
- early protest against suffering, injustice, incomprehension, inhumanity – later
retracts the radical ‘ Salisbury Plain’ 1793, revises ‘The Ruined Cottage’ 1897
to Book I of the Excursion (neutral)
- ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the Banks of the
Wye during a Tour, July 1878’ – self-justifying explanation of his partial retereat
from politics
- the longest poem; eschews the ballad simplicity, crowns the collection;
introspection and meditation
- remembered natural scenery, ‘felt in the blood, and felt along the heart’,
‘tranquil restoration’, ‘still, sad music of humanity’
- love of nature and its teachings precludes social perceptions of class divisions
in industrialisation, rural depopulation, explosion of social questioning (French
rev)
- preface – ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’; emotion stimulated by nature
and related outwards by a moral or social incident
- society is secondary and derivative from the primary experience of the still
undamaged natural word

1

Ode (Intimations of Immortality) – nature representations. an ideal pattern of self-representation. the creative energy of God in pedlars. The Tables Turned . panoramic. 1805-39 – published 1850 – ‘the growth of a poet’s mind’. farmers. wanderers . historic. ambition to be a man speaking to men – a community of listeners.interaction between his personal morality and the landscape’s tutelary power. ‘best portion of a good man’s life…little. breaks with old prejudice and tastes and moulds new ones. Michael reads nature in the signs of lost history. ragged soldier in Prelude IV . he recreates and revivifies history . self-centred speaker . not an isolated. nameless. confusion of London.happy but passive responsiveness to place and sensation. impersonal. peopled and empty. massive.long autobiography in the Prelude. ‘A multitude of causes unknown to former times are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind’ . vivid accounts of action. morally educative nature. ecstatic accounts of awing grandeur – beyond place description .Michael: A Pastoral Poem. ‘that universal power/And fitness in the latent qualities/And essences of things. speculation and hearsay. an explanation of the poet’s destiny.The Thorn – interplay between personal experience. Ecclesiastical Sonnets 1822-45 – public declaration and address in Miltonic tone – Milton as the spirit of English liberty . passivity – turning from books to nature – ‘an impulse from a vernal wood teaches you more than all the sages can’. 1800 – real shepherd with a mind ‘intense. culture. Cambridge. I Wander’d Lonely as a Cloud.other speakers (child in We are Seven.To the Daisy. unremembered acts/ Of kindness and of love’ .sonnets dedicated to Liberty in 1809. By which the mind/Is moved by feelings of delight’. free imagination and creative solitary figure . leech gatherer in Resolution and Independence. a solitary secluded narrator implies the listener as his sister and friend. lexical and metrical gift. from solitary contempt to public statement 2 . secular speculation.tragic or unhappy incidents.redefinition of proper subjects/objects of poetry. language of ballads . dissenters from the established systems of poetry and criticism…the most formidable conspiracy against sound judgement in matters poetical’. love of nature/humanity . learning. ‘fair seed-time…fostered alike by beauty and by fear’ in his Lake District childhood. (1807 Poems. and frugal.‘sect of poets. manual/mechanical labour.later impact on E. vision=action. apt for all affairs’. acute distinction between urban/rural. dynamic. To the Celandine. 2 volumes). leech-gatherers. labourers. landscape as useful.descriptive blank verse. 1799. retired life.. the poet as a hero of is poetic life (Keats’s ‘egotistical sublime’). dialogue form in Expostulation and Reply.

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