William Wordsworth And Presence Of His Ideas In Poems

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As a Romantic poet in the world following industrialisation, Wordsworth’s poetry heavily concentrated on the landscape and its effects on the mind, soul and emotions. In the poems selected by Seaumus Heaney, Wordsworth’s poetry demonstrates that Nature and its manifestations provide both joy and sorrow. Positive emotions and a sense of serenity along with the loss and grief highlight the varying feelings provided by the landscape, both natural and manmade. Wordsworth also establishes the spiritual effects of the environment and the way in which they can transcend the human’s mind and soul. According to Heaney, from Wordsworth’s poetry we can discern “Wordworth’s poems communicated such an impression of wholeness and depth… as they arrived as the hard-earned reward of resolved crisis.”

Wordsworth presents the joy found in Nature and its power to heal and soothe humankind. A multitude of poems demonstrate the state of positivity and happiness produced through the landscape. In “I wandered lonely as a cloud”, the first three stanzas illustrate the poet’s personal ‘paradise’, where serenity and all forms of joyful feelings are present. Wordsworth describes the daffodils to “dance” “in glee”, creating a sense of delight amongst readers. The personification of the daffodils additionally exhibits the influence on the poet as he breathes life into them, giving them attributes, feelings and motions. Further, the reverse personification of the poet becoming the “cloud” demonstrates how easily we can transgress with Nature, become one with it and how it also heals us. He reveals his feelings in the scene when he speaks, “A poet could not be but gay”, highlighting the connection between the poet and the daffidols and their effects. The view has also given him “wealth”, when he speaks “what wealth the show to me had brought”, pinpointing the enrichment that Nature has provided to his life. Although the poet does refer to the sadness of the short lived experience of his ‘paradise’ and speaks of the reality of life that does not provide such feelings, it is clear that this experience will affect the speaker for a long time. It is undeniable that the joyful character of the landscape works to strengthen man’s state of mind and essentially heals him to feel better. Nature provides good influences to the human mind. All manifestations of the natural world elicit only noble, elevated thoughts and passionate emotions in the people who observe them. Likewise, In “Resolution and Independence” the Leech Gatherer perseveres cheerfully in the face of poverty by the exertion of his own will. The first two stanzas describe the intense clarity of the sky after a storm. Wordsworth shows the primal joy of existence, dominated by images of fertility such as the “Stock-dove broods” and the “morning’s birth”. The poem demonstrates the melancholy of the poet through his thoughts of fear and sadness which are healed through meeting the Leech Gatherer and observing the serenity provided by his connection with Nature. The Speaker realises that the Leech Gatherer seems to be at peace as he continuously wanders a lot alone and silently. From observing the old man the Speaker learns that perseverance and persistence are the keys to maintaining human commitment. There is an affirmative resolution at the end which shows how the Speaker resolves the feelings of melancholy and hopelessness. Spiritual enlightenment is provided by the Leech Gatherer’s profound knowledge of his place in the world and his elevated understanding of the landscape.

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On the other hand, Wordsworth demonstrates that at times the landscape is a source of sorrow, occasionally leading to acceptance. In “Elegiac Stanzas”, the poet speaks of his previous perception of the castle, the sea and nature prior to a tragic incident, and then his new perception. This is how we come to understand the extent of his transformation, and the way in which Wordsworth himself reveals the sea-change that has developed in his own perception. The poet has taken a step back and now he does not take part in the joy that is there all around him, demonstrating the duality of Nature that can provide such sorrow. The poet begins to see the value in suffering and mourning, a fortitude acquainted with the natural sights depicted by Beaumont’s painting. What is available to him now is serene, yet sad acceptance of what it is. In a similar way, in “Lucy Gray; or Solitude” when Lucy’s father sends her out on a dark afternoon to light the way home for her mother on “a stormy night, becomes lost and is swept from a bridge to her death. Wordsworth demonstrates that the storm, an element of the landscape, can elicit grief and despair. The poem conveys the profound sense of loss caused by the loss of a child, human pain and suffering. He shows the universal truth about human existence that life and death are creative opposites. In contrast to these two poems, in London 1802, the scenery of urbanisation demonstrates the loss of human emotions provided by the natural landscape. The poet speaks of the loss of the connection to Nature due to the urbanisation leading to the country having lost its ‘inward happiness’. Wordsworth emphasises that the citizens have become selfish and show no empathy. The loss of England’s virtues has provided the poet with a great sense of sadness.

The landscape for Wordsworth becomes a spiritual connection. From the beginning of his poetry, Wordsworth demonstrates his appreciation for Nature and its beauty. However, through the maturation of his ideas and relationship with the natural world, he is able to see a new magnificence in everything in nature. Recognising that in the world there is more than just beauty but a presence that is truth allows one to see the beauty of Nature in more fulfilling ways. In Simplon Pass, Wordsworth not only proclaims Nature’s eternality but understands it as mystical and everlasting. He now has the ability to see its endlessness however when the elements are described as “characters of the great Apocalypse” Wordsworth contradicts eternity. This reflects the poet’s heightened sense of imagination where his emotions clash with Nature itself. The elements of Nature can refer to characters in the bible and becoming agents of God conveying a sense of divinity in Nature. Recognizing the truth in the world, however, is not always portrayed pleasurable. Seeing things as they really are means seeing the bad as it really is, as well as the good. Wordsworth’s spirituality does not only allow him to have a better recognition of the beauty of the world, but he recognizes that the dark aspects of Nature need to be looked upon in the same way. The storm grows darker when he begins to see Nature for what it actually is. His new way of viewing the world means he no longer has “aching joys,” or “dizzy raptures,” but hears the “sad music of humanity.” This spiritual way of seeing the world allows him to see it for what it actually is, a world that is often filled with sadness and despair. Again, this may not be as pleasurable as seeing things the way he would like them to be, but it is seeing truth, and that creates a more fulfilling joy, or “abundant recompense,” as Wordsworth says.

Through this process, one can recognise the significance of the landscape both natural and urban and the role it plays on our emotional state. The duality of nature leaves readers understanding the power of Nature as a source of not only joy and sorrow but of discovery deeper than the simple facts of life. Overall, Wordsworth’s presentation of these ideas demonstrate the importance in observing our surroundings and how they affect us. 


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