Every now and then a man or woman is born who’s writings are so great and so different that they change peoples perspectives on literature for hundreds of years or more. William Wordsworth was a man like this. He was one of many poets responsible for starting the romantic period, changing previous styles of poetry, which tended to be based upon science and facts, to being something in which emotion was felt and expressed.
Born in 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland he was one of five children, closest to his sister Dorothy she remained to be his closest companion and inspiration for many poems throughout his life.Although while married no children were born to him, Wordsworth did have one daughter with Annette Vallon, a woman whom he met in his time in France during the revolution. This was a time of big change for him. Wordsworth became involved in politics and becomming an ardent revolutionary.
He recorded some of his time in France by writing a sonnet in which he states his affection for the country and sorrow at the destruction of its beautiful countryside. The sonnet depicting the state of France at his time has an ABBA rhyming pattern and lines of 10 syllables each.He states that the damage created by war could be mistaken for a natural disaster “One might believe that natural miseries had blasted France and made it land unfit for men. ” Although next he says that the war was so common that; ‘Rural works are there; and ordinary business without care, Suggesting that the ongoing war had been accepted by Frances people and was now a part of everyday life.
He goes on to state that the war and country’s problems were caused by they’re own ignorance. He feels that it was a shame to destroy such a beautiful country by war and destruction, ‘Spot rich in all things that can sooth and please!How piteous then that there should be such dearth, Of knowledge; That whole myriads should unite, To work against themselves such fell despite: Should come in phrenzy and in drunken mirth, Impatient to put out the only light Of liberty that yet remains on Earth! On returning to England Wordsworth felt that he had lost contact with nature, something wich he had been close with since childhood. (One might attribute his love, or obsession even with nature, to two things. The fact that he grew up in the Lake District; a beautiful area surrounded by nature: which would inspire anyone to embrace and become close with nature.
And the fact that his parents used little discipline while they’re children were growing up instead giving them much freedom to roam and explore the surrounding area. ) Wordsworth held his political involvement responsible for his separation with nature and had so many questions and doubts that he finally decided to ‘yield upon moral questions’ in despair and eventually devoted himself to poetry. He spent much time with Coleridge and enjoyed his intellect, accrediting him and his sister Dorothy for his spiritual reunion with nature. He wrote this of her in the poem the sparrow’s nest: ‘She gave me eyes, She gave me ears;And humble cares, and delicate fears; A heart, the fountain of sweet tears; And love, and thought, and joy.
This shows his affection for her is so great, that he credited her with his ability to write love poems effectively. And she showed him things that otherwise would have gone unnoticed, in my opinion I feel that Dorothy helped to open a door which was necessary in order for him to connect with nature again Although Wordsworth is renowned for writing sonnets, perhaps, his greatest work, The Prelude, is something quite the opposite. It is in short his life story or to be more accurate the memories, which are most prominent in his memory.This to me is my favorite of his works.
His ability to create tension and atmosphere is present throughout in these two encounters. In the first Wordsworth is drawn to the lake at night and there he takes a little boat out to explore further. He starts the passage off imediently with a personification, ‘One summer evening (led by her) I found,’ it isnt just any personification. He personifies nature, which reinforces his beliefs as a pantheist, the thought of nature as a god.
As Wordsworth advances to the boat and begins his ‘adventure’ the mood is pleasurable but secretive nevertheless.From this we can tell that he was not supposed to be in this place and certainly not allowed to go boating at such a late hour. He describes in detail the movement of the boat o the lake, ‘Nor without the voice of mountain echoes did my boat move on; leaving behind her still, on either side small circles glittering idly in the moon,’ This in the imagination creates a very romantic image of his journey across the water, describing the boats movements so that she almost sounds like a graceful swan, which he does actually state later on in the passage.Wordsworth in the true nature of a young boy sets himself a challenge to row in a straight line to a craggy ridge.
‘She was an elfin pinnace’ again Wordsworth describes the boat romantically as that of a fairytale boat. He shows what pleasure this experience gives him as he states, ‘lustily I dipped my oars into the silent lake,’ this line in addition to being an alliteration has evident rhythm, which in this situation reflects the rhythm of oars rowing.Wordsworth manages to create great atmosphere in this section by drawing on words, his choice of descriptive words (lustily etc) and the fact that he reports every sound and sight seen and heard adds to this. His descriptions of the boat continue throughout the passage and now he states what is felt (in my opinion) by the reader earlier on, ‘Heaving through the water like a swan,’ conveys the effortlessness with which the boat glides on the surface of the lake.
The mood up until now is that of sheer enjoyment but from here onwards that does change. When from behind that craggy steep till then the horizons bound, a huge peak black and huge. As if with voluntary power instinct. ‘ Wordsworth changes the atmosphere radically in just a couple of lines.
The romantic picture, which was painted in the reader’s imagination, has now been erased and replaced with one, which is almost frightening. He repeats the word ‘huge’ in indicate the sheer size of the ridge and personifies it (upreared its head) to create an image of the ridge in almost human form rising from behind the rocks to peer down and frighten Wordsworth.I struck and struck again’ this phrase increases the pace. He uses an ongoing alliteration, Still Stature, Stole, Star, Strode, harsh sounding words which are in keeping with his now atmosphere of almost terror! Wordsworth frightened like and animal retreats in the boat back to the shore.
The mood is now stealthy but pleasurable and focuses on Wordsworth’s troubled mind. For days afterwards he was affected and suffered almost from depression, feeling solidarity almost as if nature (which previously had been such a big part of his life) had abandoned him.Haunted in sleep by nightmares of his excursion he is very sensitive. His feelings come out strongly in this passage and it seems as though he was almost dependent on nature.
Towards the end of this section it feels as though nature was teaching him a lesson for going out onto the lake which was almost certainly forbidden for a boy of his age. The second encounter with nature is while he is skating with friends. He describes the experience of skating on the lake as joy for all the boys but sheer rapture for him.This almost immediently creates a pleasurable atmosphere and shows with how much joy he holds this experience.
He uses an alliteration, ‘All shod with steel, We hissed along the polished ice in games,’ which in the context are reminders of the sounds a skate makes while travelling on ice. The whole passage is quite unusual. For Wordsworth is still a boy and prefers to leave his friends in order to experience his surroundings, but it expresses his sheer passion for nature, which returns to him in later life.Once again every detail is written and a beautiful scene of the sunset and surrounding area is painted, ‘Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars, Eastwood were sparkling clear, and in the west the orange sky of evening died away.
‘ Throughout all of his works, nature is present. If not used as the main theme it serves as a backdrop. Using nature to describe any manner of things. The most effective of the poems I have studied, in my opinion occurs in the Lucy poem.
‘A violet by a mossy stone Half hidden from the EYE! Fair as a star when only one Is shining in the sky! ‘In this verse Wordsworth describes Lucy, through metaphors of nature, as a shy, retiring, delicate figure. ‘Half hidden from the eye’ here he basically tries to convey that she led a quiet life and was not known or noticed by many. She is to Wordsworth, unique and special, standing out from the crowd: ‘Fair as a star when only one, Is shining in the sky! ‘ Another of Wordsworth’s poems, which I favor, is The Tables Turned. In my opinion this poem is quite ironic -written in retaliation to pleas from his friends during his time at university to concentrate more on his studies and less on poetry and nature!The poem outlines his exact thoughts regarding studying and Mother Nature herself.
‘Close up these barren leaves’ a clever pun as he is referring to the leaves of a book but connects it with the leaves of a tree. He believed that study was quite monotonous and his beliefs that more could be learned by nature than in a thousand books are expressed quite freely. ‘Quit your books or surely you’ll grow double!!! ‘ By analyzing Wordsworth’s work further I have noticed that he had a heart for others. He often wrote sad narrative poems for example ‘We are seven’.
The poem itself is written fairly simply, with a s 3, 4, stress beat, which is similar to that of nursery rhymes. An AB rhyming pattern is used, and syllables are in the pattern, 8,6 these add to its childishness and simplicity. The poem is about a little girl who the author meets, and when asked how many in her family she is adamant that there are seven children, although two have passed away. These poems in which feelings are stated so clearly show that Wordsworth was a kind hearted man who felt for others.
Wordsworth was unique, his style and descriptions different from any other poet of his time. His passion, emotion and beliefs as a pantheist (the most evident expression of this I feel is in the last verse of the Lucy poem, when the latter has passed away and Wordsworth states: ‘No motion has she now, no force; She neither hears nor sees, Roll’d round in earth’s diurnal course With rocks and stones and trees! ‘ He believes, as a pantheist that her body will reunite with nature) are expressed in all of his work and is passed on to the reader by means of just words.A versatile writer he could be both in-depth (The Prelude) and simple (We are seven). This was an advantage to be able to vary is work drastically to keep readers enthralled.
I feel it might be due to his unusual upbringing that Wordsworth’s work is so unique. Learning morals and maturity form nature certainly made him very different to others. But it is this which enabled him to become ‘Poet Laureate’ before his death in 1843 and which enabled him to leave behind a legacy in English Literature.