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Written in Early Spring,” particularly the second and last stanzas (page 5). (8.) 108. the language of the sense: See note to page 5, line 30, above.
148-149. these gleams Of past existence: See lines 116-120.
(14.) 176-180. This threw
their contraries: His love of his native land was changed to antipathy, and thus the proper groundwork of his expanded benevolence for all nations was shaken. Internationalism and patriotism conflicted. Moreover, his love of nature, which was inwoven with his love of his native country, was soured. This meant the corruption of the very source of all his sentiments (see lines 168-172).
216-222. I adhered more firmly to old tenets etc.: In his political theorizing he had previously been joyous and genial (see lines 105 ff, 155 ff); but now he became abstract, polemical, and self-deceptive.
282. Friend: Coleridge, to whom "The Prelude" was addressed.
PRESENCES OF NATURE IN BOYHOOD
Whereas in "Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth is concerned with his youth and early manhood, here he looks back to his boyhood in the Lake District. He describes his boyish pastimes — mentioned cursorily in "Tintern Abbey," lines 73-74 (page 7) — and the mystic experiences which mingled with them. The whole theme is effectively gathered up in the closing apostrophe to the "Presences of Nature” (lines 464-475). — In what important way does Wordsworth's relation to nature in boyhood prefigure his relation to nature in early manhood as represented in “Tintern Abbey”? (9.) 310. springes: snares.
This should be read as a supplement to lines 333-356 of the preceding selection. In both cases, notice how the word "peace" comes into the climax. How was this state of inward serenity brought about, and what are its qualities? How was it reflected in "Tintern Abbey" (page 6)?
DOWN THE SIMPLON PASS
(12.) 636. Were all like workings of one mind: Compare the preceding selection, lines 401-404.
656. Fit resting-place: how "fit”? – Observe the different nature of the waters, and of the poetic mood, in each of the three paragraphs.
THE POET AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Three phases of Wordsworth's political thought are here described: (1) growth, (2) disorder (line 176), and (3) healing (line 321). Each phase is summarized by the poet in the close of his treatment of it. 91-92. Lodged only
- - in its bosom: The beneficent forces in human society, though allied with the "Wisdom and Spirit of the universe,” are not yet constant and safe, but are mixed with evil and subject to injury. This is the condition which the poet says he overlooked in his youthful inexperience, and in his optimism regarding political progress.
The relation between “The Recluse" and “The Prelude" is hinted in the two titles. Wordsworth explains in his preface to “The Excursion” that “The Prelude” was conceived as a biographic introduction to a long philosophical poem “entitled 'The Recluse,' as having for its principal subject * the sensations and opinions of a poet living in retirement.” Only a portion of this work was written. The selection here given is “a kind of Prospectus of the design and scope of the whole Poem." It serves for us
as an epitome of the full scope of Wordsworthian thought concerning the relationship of man and nature; and it is significant for the literature of the nineteenth century as a whole. In this connection may be read Emerson's tract on "Nature" (in the volume Nature, Addresses, and Lectures) written thirty-five
(17.) 766. numerous: rhythmical, melodi William Wordsworth, I, 377-78.) But it
Thus used in “Paradise Lost," V, is clear that, written during a visit to 150.
Germany, the poems are very largely the (18.) 776-783. "fit audience" etc.: The outcome of a nostalgic mood, - a yearnallusions are to Milton's beautiful invoca ing, mixed with sadness, for familiar tion to Urania, his “Heavenly Muse,” in
In respect to mood and imagery, "Paradise Lost," VII, 1-39, which may be compare the second and third poems with read in this connection. — Throughout the Rogers' “A Wish” (page 1). rest of the paragraph Wordsworth alludes (20.) 64-68. Both law and impulse to various physical features of the story of To kindle or restrain : This dual influence “Paradise Lost," and throws his own of nature appears also in Wordsworth's poetic method into contrast.
account of his own childhood in “The 787. empyreal: pertaining to the em Prelude" (page 9). pyrean or highest heaven, which consisted, in the old belief, of purest fire and light. 807-808. shall find
MICHAEL day: The happy regions of old fable are merely fanciful anticipations of the joy Underneath its plain, actualistic surface, which shall be a natural part of everyday this poem is a deeply imaginative fiction, life; cf. line 771.
turning upon a single character-creation. 824. argument: theme. This refers “I have attempted," wrote Wordsworth to the whole subject of lines 805-824: the after finishing it, "to give a picture of a true and joyous harmony of men, and man of strong mind and lively sensibility, Man, with nature, to be achieved through agitated by two of the most powerful love and intellect. This thought is the affections of the human heart: the paoutcome and consummation of the poet's rental affection; and the love of landed developing experiences shown in “Tintern property, including the feelings of inheritAbbey” and the selections from "The ance, home, and personal and family indePrelude.”
pendence.” Two separate incidents from 832. barricadoed: barricaded. The actual life helped to suggest the plot, and idea is that city evils, with fearful power, are brought together in the course of it: hold out against alleviating forces. Words the disloyalty of the dissolute son of an worth's experiences during the 1790's had old couple, of whom the poet had heard; sharpened his perception of the strength of and the laborious erection of a stone sheepevil; see note to page 12, lines 91-92, fold by an aged shepherd. And of course above.
many objects long familiar to the poet's (19.) 837-838. the human Soul
own eyes are woven in.
But the story things to come: cf. Shakespeare's "pro
itself is a new creation; and its value phetic soul Of the wide world, dreaming resides in its central character and atmoson things to come” (Sonnets, No. 107). phere. Observe how the other two perBut notice that Wordsworth is invoking, sonages, and each successive object and not this "Soul,” but the "prophetic Spirit” occurrence, are subordinated to that char(line 836) that inspires it. The whole in acter and atmosphere. vocation (lines 836-860) may fruitfully be To what extent does the poem illustrate compared, as to tone and idea, with the Wordsworth's purposes
as declared in two great invocations in “Paradise Lost": "The Recluse,” lines 809-835 (pages I, 1-26; and III, 1-55.
a ravine or chasm in a hill, generally THE LUCY POEMS
containing a rapid stream.
posing the poem Wordsworth was accusIt is not known whether the poet had an tomed to take the walk here described, actual girl in mind. (For an interesting stopping to rest, and to write, near the discussion of this question, see Harper's remains of the sheepfold (line 17).
(33). 4. eldest child of Liberty: Venice was founded in the fifth century, and, when conquered by Napoleon in 1797, had been an independent republic for a millenium.
8. espouse the everlasting Sea: alluding to the old annual ceremony of wedding the Adriatic, when the Doge threw a ring into the sea.
TO TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE
While similar in subject to the preceding, this poem has supreme lyric concentration, and is magical in its music and suggestiveness. Like other great lyrics e.g., the next poem, "To the Cuckoo” – it is not a transcript of a single experience, but a distillation from many. The immediate impulse to write it came from the following fine sentence which Wordsworth read in a book by a friend: “Passed a female who was reaping alone; she sung in Erse, as she ended over her sickle; the sweetest human voice I ever heard; her strains were tenderly melancholy, and felt delicious long after they were heard no more" (from Thomas Wilkinson's Tour in Scotland). The poet himself, during
Toussaint (1743-1803), negro revolutionary leader in the island
Haiti or San Domingo, and afterwards able governor in the name of France, tried to make the island completely independent. He was defeated by Napoleon's forces in 1802 and imprisoned in France.
the Highland tour in 1803 which produced (1) Duty, as lawgiver, is stern. the preceding poem, had seen many “small (2) But there are happily constituted percompanies of reapers.”
sons who, without conscious effort at dutifulness, are generally led aright by “the
genial sense of youth” (line 12; cf. "genial TO THE CUCKOO
spirits” in “Tintern Abbey,” line 113, page
8. The meaning is: a youthful, vital kind(37.) 16. A voice, a mystery: What fea liness and joy). ture of the preceding poem is recalled? (3) Indeed, it is the proper destiny of huWhat else of emotion and method have man nature that love and joy shall become the two poems in common?
unerring guides (cf. “The Recluse,” lines 800-808, page 18). Even now, it is happi
ness to shape one's life "in the spirit of this SHE WAS A PHANTOM OF creed,” yet seeking whenever necessary the DELIGHT
support of Duty.
(4) The need of such support the poet The subject is the poet's wife.
has discovered in his own experience. Generally, his native disposition has led
him aright (cf. “Tintern Abbey,” lines I WANDERED LONELY
107-111, page 8; also “The Recluse," lines
772-775, page 18). This poem resembles the preceding in (5) But this "unchartered freedom" rhythm and general movement, - passing i.e. freedom unrestricted by devotion to from a sensuous to a reflective delight, but Duty's laws—has led him into bondage of recapturing its brighter movement in the impulses (e.g., see "Resolution and Indeclosing couplet.
pendence,” stanzas iv, vi, page 30). Thus The closing stanza recalls Wordsworth’s | the serene repose of spirit which is the statement that good poetry, though a very goal of his creed has not been firmly "spontaneous overflow of powerful feel achieved (see lines 17, 40; also the note on ings,” nevertheless "takes its origin from "Nature's Healing,"
page 658, above). emotion recollected in tranquillity" (pre (6) He therefore turns to Duty, and finds face to Lyrical Ballads). In his own now that, while stern, she is also benign, case at least, the excitement of composi beautiful, and vital, - related to nature's tion was preceded by much tranquil reflec order and strength. tion, aided by a strong visual memory. (7) Guidance and strength for himself he See "Tintern Abbey,” lines 22-30 (page 7); seeks from her. Through increased humiland note to page 36, line 74, above. ity and readiness to sacrifice his desires, he
hopes to increase in wisdom and the "con
fidence of reason” (in contrast with the ODE TO DUTY
kind of confidence referred to in lines 27
28). As “bondman" of Duty, he will be "This ode is on the model of Gray's Ode free "in the light of truth" (cf. lines to Adversity, which is copied from Horace's Ode to Fortune” (from Wordsworth's note). In spirit, too, the poet
ELEGIAC STANZAS here approaches classical tradition. His final stanza closely resembles Gray's. But This poem also shows the poet modifya comparison of the two poems as wholes ing, so to speak, his "creed” of joy; see will throw into vivid relief Wordsworth's
the "Ode to Duty," above, personal emphasis and originality.
section (3). But here the He seeks in this piece a harmony of free trol” to which he submits himself (line personal joy and lawgiving duty. The 34) is grief and fortitude. The occasion course of his thought may be indicated, for the poem was the death of his brother stanza by stanza, as follows:
(39.) 1. thy neighbor once: Wordsworth A general question for discussion: what spent part of a college vacation on the of the experience in this poem is more or coast of Lancashire near Peele Castle. less peculiar to Wordsworth, and what of
18. how different from this: i.e. it is common to many ? from the stormy setting in Beaumont's (40.) 4-5. celestial light
of a painting. The poet would have put into dream: the fresh, dreamy, sometimes myshis own picture the serene, untried ideal tical wonder of a child in regard to the ism of his youth.
world around him. Compare the follow57-58. But welcome
ing passages, where such wonder, or the borne: Cf. “The Recluse," lines 825-835 spirit within us that inspires it, is alluded (pages 18-19).
to in varying terms: lines 18, 56-57, 64-74,
83, 118-122, 129-132, 141-151, 175-178, ODE ON INTIMATIONS OF IM 180-182, 190. — Observe that the "celestial MORTALITY
light” is quite distinct from esthetic or
poetic appreciation, which remains (see The full subject of the poem is not so stanza II) when it is gone. "To that well indicated by the title
as by the
dream-like vividness and splendor which motto, adopted by Wordsworth from invest objects of sight in childhood, every "My Heart Leaps Up" (see page 32). By one, I believe, if he would look back, could "natural piety,” in this context, he prob bear testimony" (from Wordsworth's ably means a spontaneous reverence for note). the high things in, and symbolized in, na
25. The cataracts
the steep: ture. Such devotion, persisting through Cf. the waterfalls in “Down the Simplon out the changing years of his life, can bind Pass,” lines 626-629 (page 12). them together in one high meaning. The
28. The winds of sleep: i.e. same idea runs through “Tintern Abbey," the west winds-why? but here it is developed more explicitly, 51-55. But there's a tree etc.: The and with an ecstasy and changeful har poet recalls the look – so different from mony that demanded irregular stanzas in their present look - which the tree, field, stead of blank verse.
and pansy wore for him in early years. Following is a topical outline of the (41.) 58-65. Our birth is but a sleep etc.: Ode, according to stanzas:
Before answering the question asked at the (I, II) The “celestial light” upon natural close of the preceding stanza, as to whither objects, and its departure from them. "the visionary gleam” has gone, the poet (III, IV) The poet's regret for it, amid a tells whence it came. Concerning the idea joyous May scene.
of pre-existence, he says in his note: "It (V, VI) Its origin in heavenly existence is far too shadowy a notion to be recombefore birth; its fading, as the child grows mended to faith, as more than an element to manhood.
in our instincts of immortality. But let (VII, VIII) The child imitating man's us bear in mind that, though the idea is affairs, and thus preparing to lose it. not advanced in revelation [i.e. the Bible), (IX) Its persistence in manhood as a dim there is nothing there to contradict it, and feeling, but with power to nourish the the fall of Man presents an analogy in its man's insight into that which is eternal. favor. Accordingly, a pre-existent state (X) The poet's resultant joy amid the has entered into the creeds of many naMay scene; his determination to find tions; and among all persons acquainted strength in the feeling continued from with classic literature, is known as an inchildhood together with the insight gained gredient in Platonic philosophy ---I in manhood.
took hold of the notion of pre-existence as (XI) His devotion to natural objects, per having sufficient foundation in humanity sisting from childhood to manhood; the for authorizing me to make for my pursober coloring (instead of the "celestial pose the best use of it I could as a poet." light”) thrown upon them by his deepened For Plato's idea of pre-existence, see his experience of human emotions.
“Phaedo,” sections 72-77 (Jowett's trans