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BIOGRAPHIES, NOTES, AND
PART ONE: THE EARLIER NINETEENTH CENTURY
ROGERS: A WISH
tainous country in the north of England.
Born at Cockermouth, educated at HawksThis poem is one of the best examples head Grammar School, he lived close to of that eighteenth century pastoralism (the nature and to rustic folk through boyhood more or less conventional yearning of city and youth. At Cambridge, where he poets for the country) which the spirit of matriculated in St. John's College, he young Wordsworth was just then con- doubtless acquired a richer culture than he temning. Unlike Wordsworth, Samuel himself supposed, though, all his life, he Rogers (1763-1855) cared little for rural derived less from books than have most retirement. When he was a youth con- poets of his rank. During the summer fined to London by his father's tanking vacation of 1790 he made a walking tour business, his poetic mood could well find through France and Switzerland, witnessrelief in the idyllic scene of “A Wish.” ing the early enthusiasm of the French But when he retired from active business Revolution; and in the following year, some twenty years later a wealthy, after graduation, he was again in France, witty, and sociable personage - he domi- where he became an ardent disciple of the ciled himself, not near a “willowy brook," Revolutionary faith, and where, as has but close to the heart of London. His recently been discovered, he had a liaison house became a sort of headquarters of with a young French lady, named Annette literary society in the earlier nineteenth Vallon, that resulted in the birth of a century. He was friend, and sometimes daughter. He accepted responsibility for helper, of the greater poets. Before any of his child, and in after years remained in them had risen into prominence his reputa- communication with both mother and tion had been established in 1792 by “The daughter. Near the close of 1792, on the Pleasures of Memory,” a poem in the still verge of risking his life as a leader of the regnant mode of the school of Pope. It Girondins, Wordsworth was recalled to has the careful grace of rhythm and dic
England. tion, and also the quiet sweetness of spirit, As the Revolution developed, he retained which appear also in "A Wish.”
his faith in it long after its sinister events (1.) 1. cot: cottage. — The two lofty ob- had brought disillusionment to many enjects in the neighborhood of the cottage are
thusiasts, including Coleridge. In 1793 he placed, one in the first and one in the last published his first poems, “An Evening line of the poem, like protecting termini. Walk” (page 1; written probably in his How are the other objects grouped, in each college days) and “Descriptive Sketches of stanza?
a Pedestrian Tour in the Alps.” Without definite occupation and virtually homeless,
for several years he visited friends and WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
wandered through various parts of Eng(1770-1850)
land and Wales, until, in 1795, a legacy
rendered possible his dedication to poetry. Most of his long life Wordsworth spent With his sister Dorothy, whose affection in the Lake District, the beautiful moun- and understanding made her one of the leading influences on his life, he settled at republican society of college men at CamRacedown, in the south of England, where bridge; his "bliss" at the dawn of the great he saw much of the young poet Coleridge, Revolution and his experience later when whose Aexibility of heart and fancy helped he became part and parcel of that movemuch to set Wordsworth's stiffer genius ment; his profound moral crisis when flowing. In 1797, the Wordsworths, de- Britain made war upon the Revolution, siring to live close to Coleridge at Nether and France invaded Switzerland,
and Stowey in Somerset, removed to Alfoxden. Napoleon rose as dictator; the abandonHere they became, as Coleridge says, ment of his enthusiasm for a radical re"three persons and one soul,” and here, ordering of society in accordance with through mutual stimulation, both Cole- abstract reason; the healing influence of ridge and Wordsworth found themselves his sister and of the spirit of nature; and and produced some
of their greatest the deepening of his love for nature into a poetry. The direct result was a collabo- religion based on the conviction that joy is rative and anonymous volume entitled fundamental in the universe, and that man Lyrical Ballads, one of the epoch-making may win it, together with moral guidance, books in English literature, in which the by res ding to the influence of the world artificial diction, the versification, and the of nature. His old mainstay, the intellect, frigid feeling of eighteenth-century poetry or logical faculty, is now discarded as were decisively rejected and the new intruding between the human soul and Romantic art was represented at its best reality. It is not reason, but nature that in such poems as “The Ancient Mariner" leads us on, through our senses and feel(page 56) and “Lines Composed near Tin- ings, to "see into the life of things.” The tern Abbey” (page 6). According to the period covered by "The Prelude" has been “Advertisement" that follows the title- finely studied by Émile Legouis in La page, most of the poems ("Simon Lee," for jeunesse de William Wordsworth, transexample; page 4) "were written chiefly lated, in 1897, as The Early Life of Wil. with a view to ascertain how far the lan- liam Wordsworth. guage of conversation in the middle and From this faith in nature, Wordsworth lower classes of society is adapted to the does not depart during the period of his purposes of poetic pleasure.”
greatest achievement, the decade from 1798 Shortly before Lyrical Ballads appeared to 1808, although already in 1805, in the in 1798, the Wordsworths and Coleridge "Ode to Duty” (page 38), he strikes a sailed for Germany, where Wordsworth, new note.
As he advances in years, he retracing the growth of his mind, began draws closer to the traditional view of the composition of his long poem “The man's moral constitution. By 1822 he Prelude" (page 9). Returning to England publishes a long series of Ecclesiastical in 1799, he settled in the Lake District in Sonnets, of slight importance as poetry, which he had been born; and there he re- though comprising such sonorous pieces as mained, with his sister and his wife Mary "Mutability" (page 53) and "Inside of Hutchinson (he married in 1802), until his King's College Chapel" (page 53). And death half a century later, taking long in his old age he turns more and more to tramps with Dorothy, working hard at his the Church of England for the happy poems, seeing much of certain friends, and faith that he had previously found in growing more and more conservative in his human reason and in outward nature. A political and religious outlook on life. right attitude toward nature can come to
In "The Prelude," completed at Gras- men only through self-control and “grace mere in the Lake country when he was divine,” he now says in the lines "Not in thirty-five years old, Wordsworth recounts the Lucid Intervals of Life" (page 54). the whole story of his early life the Yet his quietly penetrating delight in natunthinking activity of boyhood; the ecstasy ural beauty is still alive, — "a little unpre. of his youth in the presence of nature; his tending rill of limpid water” (page 52): association with the plain and sturdy folk "The immortal spirit of one happy day of the Cumberland mountains, and the Lingers beside that rill, in vision clear."
AN EVENING WALK
EXPOSTULATION AND REPLY In his note on this poem, Wordsworth Wordsworth states that this poem and says that when not more than fourteen the next "arose out of conversation with years old he had a "consciousness of the a friend who was somewhat unreasonably infinite variety of natural appearances attached to modern books of moral philoswhich had been unnoticed by the poets of ophy.” On Wordsworth's own any age or country, so far as I was books, see the third sentence of the biogacquainted with them;" and that he "made raphy, page 655. a resolution to supply, in some degree, this 30. Conversing as I may: Interpret deficiency.” Actual and original observa- this in the light of three preceding stanzas; tion of nature was rarely a chief aim in “conversing” does not here mean talking. the pastoral poetry of the eighteenth century; see note on Rogers, above.
THE TABLES TURNED (1.) 101. bright obscurity: Compare the sense of Milton's phrase "dark with exces- (6.) 12. more of wisdom: What idea of sive bright” (Paradise Lost, III, 380). wisdom is developed in the remaining stanThe whole selection is concerned with the zas, and where was it introduced in the effect of the evening light, first upon the preceding poem? general landscape around the lake, and then upon the lake itself.
LINES COMPOSED NEAR TIN
TERN ABBEY LINES LEFT UPON A SEAT
The trend of this great poem will beInstead of being sheer description like come clearer if you can have in mind, by the preceding verses, this poem develops a way of comparison, your experience of twofold thought, which is suggested in the some familiar scene which you revisited subtitle by the phrases, "desolate part of after a considerable absence. Recall: (1) the shore” and “beautiful prospect.” What the main physical features of your scene, does each of these phrases symbolize? See (2) what feelings you had for it in absence, lines 8-32, and 33-46.
(3) how it affected you in younger days
when you first became familiar with it, SIMON LEE
and (4) your maturer attitude upon revis
iting it. Such is the plan followed in the With this poem may be read Words- poem.
But in the fourth part, the poet worth's tale of “Peter Bell," written in the passes to nature in general (line 88), and same year, and likewise devoted to extreme to the sister who shared his experiences of simplicity and sympathy. Peter is a "ruf- nature (line 114), — returning to the presfian wild” who is converted, through sym- ent scene only near the close (line 150). pathy for certain sufferers, into "a good In substance, the poem is Wordsworth's and honest man." The chief and most whole experience of joy in nature coninteresting actor in the plot is a devoted densed upon a particular scene and occaAss.
sion, and poured out in an intense, ode-like (4.) 66. Such stores etc.: stores of what, chant. Mark the sentences in which the particularly? Does this stanza help or word “joy” occurs, and study them cominjure the poem, in your opinion?
paratively, observing that they form a
series of wave-crests in the current of LINES WRITTEN IN EARLY poetic thought. What is the special quality SPRING
of Wordsworth's joy, as distinguished
from other kinds? How is his joy related (5.) 1. a thousand blended notes: Why to his faith and conduct? Compare with does the poet begin with this particular the thought of the two preceding poems. image, rather than with one of those given (8.) 88-102. For I have learned in lines 9-20?
rolls through all things: Compare “Lines