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The Poetic Works Of William Wordsworth

A substantial portion of the poetic works of William Wordsworth tends to be fairly autobiographical, or, at the least, highly concentrated upon his own experiences of enlightenment or lack thereof. Wordsworth has an obvious and deliberate propensity to be intensely self-revealing in his works, not only in assessing and describing his own morality and mysticism, but, also, in his perceptions of the world (more specifically, his perceptions of nature). Wordsworth closely examines his self-attributed position as a poet in The Prelude and asks himself whether or not it is his title to claim.

He as essentially obtained writer’s block and attempts to cure it by finding his origin of his ordainment as a poet. He accomplishes this by reviewing his childhood memories and the almost spiritual experiences that he believes endowed him with his status as a poet. These memories, or “Spots of Time”, are believed by Wordsworth to be of a healing nature after a traumatic experience. These experiences, to Wordsworth, are far from being supernatural, and are more overly-natural than anything else. It is starkly evident from near all of Wordsworth’s works that he places a great deal of spiritual value on nature.

He, very apparently, believes that nature reveals to us the essential values, the spiritual experiences, and, as he explains in The Prelude, even the role we are ordained to take up in our lives. He believes, as stated in other poetic works, that nature makes out favored individuals and acts upon them, as it acts upon him. In the Prelude, he refers to his childhood, not only as a subject for verse, but also to confirm to himself, in his time of self-doubt, that he was meant to be a poet. He refers to his first recollection of poetic inspiration: his profound encounter with a river at the age of five years old.

He recalls playing and swimming in it as it passively enlightened him: Oh, many a time have I, a five years’ child, In a small mill-race severed from his stream, Made one long bathing of a summer’s day; Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again Alternate, all a summer’s day, or scoured The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves Of yellow ragwort; or, when rock and hill, The woods, and distant Skiddaw’s lofty height, Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone Beneath the sky, as if I had been born On Indian plains, and from my mother’s hut Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport A aked savage, in the thunder shower.

He attributes this river with his own initiation as a poet, although just one stanza before, he describes his own state of frustration and invokes the river (or, the powers that had invested within him the gift of poetic ability) in a nearly accusatory manner, asking if it was worth that power and energy for the thwarted mental state that he is now experiencing: Was it for this That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved To blend his murmurs with my nurse’s song, And, from his alder shades and rocky falls, And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice That flowed along my dreams?

For this, didst thou, O Derwent! winding among grassy holms Where I was looking on, a babe in arms, Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts To more than infant softness, giving me Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm That Nature breathes among the hills and groves. He states that he has had ample education in the poetic medium to be able to successfully think in that manner and thus denies it as an obstruction.

He determines that it is neither a lack of education nor the possibility that he was not destined to be a poet that is currently hindering him from riting a substantial piece of work. He decides that it is nothing else but his own mind, likening it to a “House of Bondage” and a tempest, stating that it is self-destructive due to the count and complexity of his own thoughts, for they can not be organized. He hopes that the “breeze” (or, poetic inspiration) will free him from the “House” so he can again write as he desires.

To invoke the breeze, Wordsworth attempts to mentally reconstruct his childhood and repair the traumatic experiences he underwent, the most prominent of which was the ominous French Revolution. The French Revolution is one of the most prominent muses by which Wordsworth is usurping in order to be free of his writer’s block, and, consequentially, a “spot of time” that he must label either healing or detrimental. As an early childhood experience with death and mortality, The Revolution is more of a disengaging experience to Wordsworth, and he feels the need to re-center himself in the tenth book of the Prelude.

The “spots of time” strategy is especially applicable to Wordsworth here for that reason, and he imagines time and history operating within segments. This is n ironic observation, due to the obvious attribute of continuity that time inherently has, although time to Wordsworth is encapsulated in individual memories, detached from one another. This is one of the earliest, and possibly the most severe experience with mortality that Wordsworth recollects. Inevitably, any experience with death for a child brings up sudden and severe awareness with eternity and mortality, as well as the progression of time.

Essentially, a child never imagines his or her own death until the death of another (or many others, in this specific case) ccurs within their range of perception. I crossed the square (an empty area then! ) Of the Carrousel, where so late had lain The dead, upon the dying heaped, and gazed On this and other spots, as doth a man Upon a volume whose contents he knows Are memorable, but from him locked up, Being written in a tongue he cannot read, So that he questions the mute leaves with pain, And half upbraids their silence.

But that night I felt most deeply in what world I was, What ground I trod on, and what air I breathed. This sudden and deep awareness of his mortality is made clear in this assage. Although history, to Wordsworth, is ineffably significant to the populous which it affects, the individual’s experience is just as weighty, if not more so, and very relevant to the very center of the psyche of the observer, even to the awareness of oneself.

Wordsworth is obviously saddened by the mass scale of the atrocities encapsulated in The French Revolution, giving a sympathetic and almost elegiac summary of the war’s events and the effects it placed on the French within the first two stanzas. Wordsworth apparently feels that he cannot help but speak of his ndividual epiphanies due to the Revolution, though he feels guilty that he must: But these are things Of which I speak, only as they were storm Or sunshine to my individual mind, No further.

Let me then relate that now– In some sort seeing with my proper eyes That Liberty, and Life, and Death, would soon To the remotest corners of the land Lie in the arbitrement of those who ruled The capital City; what was struggled for, And by what combatants victory must be won; The indecision on their part whose aim Seemed best, and the straightforward path of those Who in attack or in efence were strong Through their impiety–my inmost soul Was agitated…

Wordsworth sees History and the Revolution as intensely personal (which is characteristic of him and to be expected); as a “spot of time” upon which he came to terms with his own mortality. However, it is the mass scale of the atrocity that allows his individual experience to be so intense. It is this, along with many other experiences that he encounters, that confirms to Wordsworth that his status as poet is, in fact, ordained to him because of the experiences that nature and circumstances have allowed him to encounter.

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