Manual Wordsworths informed reader: structures of experience in his poetry

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Pragmatic Research on Reader Responses to Literature with an Emphasis on Gender and Reader Respones
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I only entered the slam because I wanted to present a different type of experience for the audience. In I was thirty-eight and I was already a writer of fiction. My first degree was in English and American Literature and fine art and I had recently completed a MA in creative writing.


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I had been to several slams and although I enjoyed the immediacy and passionate delivery by the poets I felt that the overall tone was predominantly testosterone fuelled. My intention to enter the slam in was light-hearted, I wanted to show that a woman could also stand up and do poetry. I also wanted to have a bit of fun. I won this slam and retrospectively I can see why. I wrote three poems with the audience in mind. They were crowd pleasing, energetic and well crafted. My entry into spoken word was a baptism of fire of sorts and in those early slam years I continued to stand out because I was different.

At that time many people took up spoken word or performance poetry as it was called then because they were expressing what they felt about something. Spoken word performers came from a wide background of cultures and some emerged through recovery from their life experiences, such as Lemn Sissay, or were influenced by stand up comedy, such as John Cooper Clarke. In I was an unemployed single parent but I had a degree in English Literature so I had the knowledge of the British poetic canon to inspire me.

Although I sometimes use comic devices my poetry is essentially lyrical. I want the use of words to stand out. Since those heady days of slam the poetry in the spoken word scene has developed. It is not enough now to shout out loud to your audience. The poetry I write too is no longer constrained by the slam format.

I do not have to keep to three minutes, or think about immediate impact, or chose a topic that will instantly appeal to my audience. I am now involved in co-writing theatre length shows which may contain stand-alone pieces but also have multi voiced poems. Carmichael, In Count Me In, I created the character of Maureen, my polar opposite, shy and needy, she is a home bird who dreads the day she will no longer look after her granddaughter. My main challenge in the writing of the poetry for The Book of Hours has been to find a contemplative form of spoken word that can be translated to poetry film.

I found early on in the project that any narrative structure would have to be much briefer in a poetry film, or even abandoned. Detailed descriptions, explanations and dialogue, the bedrock of much of my previous spoken word poetry, proved to be too long and complicated. A poetry film does not need so many words. In a film format the images and indeed the sound also carry meaning.

This is the challenge faced by filmic adaptation of novels; much of the text has to be sacrificed to the image. Poetry filmmakers often have distinct preferences about which poems they want to use, John Scott, for example has worked with the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop , and produced a documentary film about her life using the poetry film format to illustrate her work. Scott, Other poetry filmmakers, like Alastair Cook, adapt poetry that inspires them visually. Cook, A current approach towards spoken word poets, when combining their work to film, is to create a film of them reading or performing the poem.

Spoken word films, like music videos, rely on the physical presence of the performer. In the recent Nationwide Voice of the People campaign the poet sits or stands and addresses the camera. Nationwide, The poems, although much shorter than the artists usual spoken word pieces, have been personal and confessional. I felt that such an approach was limiting. I needed to investigate the original Books of Hours, discover what they offered their readers, and how I could translate this into the writing of the poetry.

A medieval Book of Hours was a collection of religious readings and accompanying images. Fay-Sallois, By the fourteenth century these had become highly decorative works of art and many were produced by craftsmen for wealthy patrons. The book began with a calendar illustrated by images of activities connected to each month, such as sowing crops, harvest and feasting.

The subsequent texts were divided into sections that replicated the religious activities of the monastic life. The purpose of a Book of Hours was for lay people to follow this religious structure. In our secular times we can underestimate the importance of the Christian calendar in medieval times. The Christian calendar represented an unwavering structure in an uncertain world and the progression from Christmas to Easter to Ascension would be imbedded in the minds and habits of everyone. The monastic life was seen as the epitome of behaviour and direct connection with God was desirable.

For an ordinary person to posses access to the religious life, in book form, was also highly desirable. It was common in medieval art, and also in the pages of the books of hours, for the patrons to be depicted in religious scenes, such as witnessing the birth of Christ or worshipping at the feet of the Virgin, thus placing themselves directly into the holy narrative. They were created in a portable size so they could be carried by the owner and referred to on a daily basis. In The Morville Hours , a contemporary re-working of a Books of Hours, Katherine Swift acknowledged the desirability and extent of the medieval texts.

A Book of Hours can also be seen as an interactive text as these books were not intended to be read chronologically. The reader chose which readings to refer to according to time of day, season and spiritual mood. The most noted example of a Book of Hours created for a wealthy patron is the Tres Riches Heures commissioned by John the Duke of Berry between and illustrated by the brothers Limbourg. This is currently held in the Musee Conde in Chantilly, France. Limbourg, n.

The Duke of Berry was a passionate collector of books and his library contained more then fifteen Books of Hours. The Tres Riches Heures is a supreme example. The illuminated pages are exquisitely illustrated; they depict a calendar of the month, the signs of the Zodiac and scenes from life, according to the seasons. What I gained from my understanding of the medieval Books of Hours and what I felt I could translate into my project were the following aspects: The text, and in my case the films would be an embarking point for reflection.

This reflection would not be a religious one but a contemplative one, offering responses to modern life and situations. It would be presented in a calendar format, following the months of the year, times of day and the seasons. I now needed to find other writers who had attempted to create a modern version of a Book of Hours. The first poet I investigated was Rilke. It is a philosophical as well as a religious text, for Rilke was not an orthodox Christian and the God he addresses is a human facing God rather than a remote entity. His manner of addressing God is akin to Manley Hopkins, it is personal and direct.

Rilke is looking for answers, for meaning in life, but he is also conflicted about what he sees as the visceral link between man and deity. Rilke challenges not that a God exists but that God needs mankind in order to exist. The link between man and God is inescapable. I was particularly interested in his use of questions, sometimes rhetorical or sometimes as an opening gambit for further dialogue. When I your broken pitcher lie? The first addressed to my dying brother as he contemplates a death with no belief in an afterlife and the second reflects how one memory can link one event into another, but the overall feeling is still of loneliness.

His fields, clouds and seas are generalised rather than particular. This was unintentional. However, the surrounding landscape, the apparent remoteness of the location, the lushness of the hedgerows and a pervading sense of history crept into the poetry and on subsequent writing breaks I have chosen to be near or in The Golden Valley in Herefordshire, Radnorshire, or on the slopes of Sugar Loaf mountain.

I do not live here but it feels like this stretch of country is my spiritual heartland. To convey this sense of connectedness I looked to the prose of nature writers. There has been resurgence recently in writing about the British Countryside, not writing it as a history or as a reference guide but writing about the experience of it, akin to Richard Jefferies; the emotional connection to place.

Most well known is Robert MacFarlane who seems to have trampled to every single remote place in the UK and reflected on his experience of being there. Emmanuel College, This type of writing contains detailed and knowledgeable observations about wildlife and flora, descriptions of weather patterns, and plenty of historical and biographical reflection. Other types of writers have contributed to this body of work such as poet Kathleen Jamie who writes about the Scottish coast, and Anna Pavord, the garden writer.

Writing in this vein is Katherine Swift whose The Morville Hours , is the story of the creation of a garden. Swift, Swift acknowledges the influence of the early Books of Hours on her initial plans for her garden and also in the structure of her account. Her previous work as keeper of early manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin gave her an intimate knowledge of these manuscripts and she, like myself, is fascinated by the detail. The Morville Hours is an attempt to draw our attention back to the wonder and beauty of the growing world as seen through the eyes of a passionate gardener.

At the heart of the narrative is the construction of her garden and her emotional progress as she develops it, but the book contain a history of the occupants of Morville Hall, reflections on our changing attitude towards nature and society, and the story of her relationship with her family. It is also a contemplation on the nature of time. Gardens, she realises only exist because somebody gardens them, and her time on earth is limited. A garden is a process, not a product. She connects to her reader by placing her descriptions of her garden in the present tense, even through we learn that she started working on it in We are drawn into her sense of wonder as she addresses us directly.

Beneath the wall the bearded irises are in bloom, the tall uppermost petals so gauzy, so delicate, that each bloom, once opened, lasts hardly longer than a day. Look, you can almost see through them. This is a clever strategy and is probably one of the reasons why so many people, including myself, love this book.

Wordsworth's Informed Reader: Structures of Experience in His Poetry

Her prose is intoxicating and her use of detailed descriptions and sense of timelessness do indeed create for me a similar response to reading an illuminated manuscript. I am a critical reader though, and although I enjoy the way she writes about irises, or roses, or lavender I am aware that her account has airbrushed out much of her life. She does not write about the difficulties of driving to the supermarket up country lanes in January, or trying to earn a living in the countryside.

We only learn via a few sentences that she took on work for the National Trust and David Austin roses, that she became ill with ME, that she possibly is bi polar and is certainly an obsessive. Swift, , p. The narrator explains how humans start in an ideal world that slowly fades into a shadowy life: [28]. Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing Boy, But He beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy; lines 58— Before the light fades away as the child matures, the narrator emphasises the greatness of the child experiencing the feelings. By the beginning of stanza VIII, the child is described as a great individual, [30] and the stanza is written in the form of a prayer that praises the attributes of children: [31].

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie Thy Soul's immensity; Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind, That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep, Haunted for ever by the eternal mind, — Mighty Prophet! Seer blest! On whom those truths do rest, Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; lines — The end of stanza VIII brings about the end of a second movement within the poem.

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The glories of nature are only described as existing in the past, and the child's understanding of mortality is already causing them to lose what they once had: [29]. Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom lie upon thee with a weight, Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life! The questions in Stanza IV are answered with words of despair in the second movement, but the third movement is filled with joy. Hence in a season of calm weather Though inland far we be, Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither, Can in a moment travel thither, And see the Children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

The children on the shore represents the adult narrator's recollection of childhood, and the recollection allows for an intimation of returning to that mental state. In stanza XI, the imagination allows one to know that there are limits to the world, but it also allows for a return to a state of sympathy with the world lacking any questions or concerns: [33]. The Clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality; Another race hath been, and other palms are won.

The poem concludes with an affirmation that, though changed by time, the narrator is able to be the same person he once was: [34]. Thanks to the human heart by which we live, Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. The first version of the ode is similar to many of Wordsworth's spring poems. The ode is like To the Cuckoo in that both poems discuss aspects of nature common to the end of spring. Both poems were crafted at times when the natural imagery could not take place, so Wordsworth had to rely on his imagination to determine the scene.

Wordsworth refers to "A timely utterance" in the third stanza, possibly the same event found in his The Rainbow , and the ode contains feelings of regret that the experience must end. This regret is joined with feelings of uneasiness that he no longer feels the same way he did as a boy. The ode reflects Wordsworth's darker feelings that he could no longer return to a peaceful state with nature. The poem argued that a poet should not be excessive or irresponsible in behaviour and contains a sense of assurance that is not found within the original four stanzas.

Instead, there is a search for such a feeling but the poem ends without certainty, which relates the ode to Coleridge's poem Dejection: An Ode. However, Wordsworth's original four stanzas describing a loss is made darker in Coleridge and, to Coleridge, only humanity and love are able to help the poet. While with Wordsworth, Coleridge was able to read the poem and provide his response to the ode's question within an early draft of his poem, Dejection: an Ode.

Coleridge's answer was to claim that the glory was the soul and it is a subjective answer to the question. Wordsworth took a different path as he sought to answer the poem, which was to declare that childhood contained the remnants of a beatific state and that being able to experience the beauty that remained later was something to be thankful for.

The difference between the two could be attributed to the differences in the poets' childhood experiences; Coleridge suffered from various pain in his youth whereas Wordsworth's was far more pleasant. It is possible that Coleridge's earlier poem, The Mad Monk influenced the opening of the ode and that discussions between Dorothy and Wordsworth about Coleridge's childhood and painful life were influences on the crafting of the opening stanza of the poem.

The poem is similar to the conversation poems created by Coleridge, including Dejection: An Ode. The poems were not real conversations as there is no response to the narrator of the poem, but they are written as if there would be a response. The poems seek to have a response, though it never comes, and the possibility of such a voice though absence is a type of prosopopoeia. In general, Coleridge's poems discuss the cosmic as they long for a response, and it is this aspect, not a possible object of the conversation, that forms the power of the poem.

Wordsworth took up the form in both Tintern Abbey and Ode: Intimations of Immortality , but he lacks the generous treatment of the narrator as found in Coleridge's poems. As a whole, Wordsworth's technique is impersonal and more logical, and the narrator is placed in the same position as the object of the conversation.

The narrator of Wordsworth is more self-interested and any object beyond the narrator is kept without a possible voice and is turned into a second self of the poet. As such, the conversation has one of the participants lose his identity for the sake of the other and that individual represents loss and mortality. The expanded portion of the ode is related to the ideas expressed in Wordsworth's The Prelude Book V in their emphasis on childhood memories and a connection between the divine and humanity.

To Wordsworth, the soul was created by the divine and was able to recognise the light in the world. As a person ages, they are no longer able to see the light, but they can still recognise the beauty in the world. Who has not felt the same aspirations as regards the world of his own mind? Having to wield some of its elements when I was impelled to write this poem on the "Immortality of the Soul", I took hold of the notion of pre-existence as having sufficient foundation in humanity for authorising me to make for my purpose the best use I could of it as a Poet.

I do not profess to give a literal representation of the state of the affections and of the moral being in childhood. I record my feelings at that time,--my absolute spirituality, my 'all-soulness,' if I may so speak. At that time I could not believe that I should lie down quietly in the grave, and that my body would moulder into dust. Wordsworth's explanation of the origin of the poem suggests that it was inspiration and passion that led to the ode's composition, and he later said that the poem was to deal with the loss of sensations and a desire to overcome the natural process of death.

As for the specific passages in the poem that answer the question of the early version, two of the stanzas describe what it is like to be a child in a similar manner to his earlier poem, "To Hartley Coleridge, Six Years Old" dedicated to Coleridge's son. In the previous poem, the subject was Hartley's inability to understand death as an end to life or a separation. In the ode, the child is Wordsworth and, like Hartley or the girl described in "We are Seven", he too was unable to understand death and that inability is transformed into a metaphor for childish feelings.

The later stanzas also deal with personal feelings but emphasise Wordsworth's appreciation for being able to experience the spiritual parts of the world and a desire to know what remains after the passion of childhood sensations are gone. Although this emphasis seems non-Christian, many of the poem's images are Judeo-Christian in origin. The idea of pre-existence within the poem contains only a limited theological component, and Wordsworth later believed that the concept was "far too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith. What is missing in Origen's platonic system is Wordsworth's emphasis on childhood, which could be found in the beliefs of the Cambridge Platonists and their works, including Henry Vaughan's "The Retreate".

What concerns the narrator is that he is not being renewed like the animals and he is fearful over what he is missing. This is similar to a fear that is provided at the beginning of The Prelude and in Tintern Abbey. As for the understanding of the soul contained within the poem, Wordsworth is more than Platonic in that he holds an Augustinian concept of mercy that leads to the progress of the soul. Wordsworth differs from Augustine in that Wordsworth seeks in the poem to separate himself from the theory of solipsism, the belief that nothing exists outside of the mind.

The soul, over time, exists in a world filled with the sublime before moving to the natural world, and the man moves from an egocentric world to a world with nature and then to a world with mankind. This system links nature with a renewal of the self. Ode: Intimations of Immortality is about childhood, but the poem doesn't completely focus on childhood or what was lost from childhood. Instead, the ode, like The Prelude and Tintern Abbey , places an emphasis on how an adult develops from a child and how being absorbed in nature inspires a deeper connection to humanity.

A Reader who has not a vivid recollection of these feelings having existed in his mind in childhood cannot understand the poem. In a letter to Isabella Fenwick, he explained his particular feelings about immortality that he held when young: [56] "I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence, and I communed with all that I saw as something not apart from, but inherent in, my own immaterial nature.

Like the two other poems, The Prelude and Tintern Abbey , the ode discusses Wordsworth's understanding of his own psychological development, but it is not a scientific study of the subject. He believed that it is difficult to understand the soul and emphasises the psychological basis of his visionary abilities, an idea found in the ode but in the form of a lamentation for the loss of vision.

To Wordsworth, vision is found in childhood but is lost later, and there are three types of people that lose their vision. The first are men corrupted through either an apathetic view of the visions or through meanness of mind. The second are the "common" people who lose their vision as a natural part of ageing. The last, the gifted, lose parts of their vision, and all three retain at least a limited ability to experience visions. Wordsworth sets up multiple stages, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and maturity as times of development but there is no real boundary between each stage.

To Wordsworth, infancy is when the "poetic spirit", the ability to experience visions, is first developed and is based on the infant learning about the world and bonding to nature.

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As the child goes through adolescence, he continues to bond with nature and this is slowly replaced by a love for humanity, a concept known as "One Life". This leads to the individual despairing and only being able to resist despair through imagination. The idea allows the narrator to claim that people are weighed down by the roles they play over time.

The narrator is also able to claim through the metaphor that people are disconnected from reality and see life as if in a dream. Wordsworth returns to the ideas found within the complete ode many times in his later works.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality - Wikipedia

There is also a strong connection between the ode and Wordsworth's Ode to Duty , completed at the same time in The poems describe Wordsworth's assessment of his poetry and contains reflections on conversations held between Wordsworth and Coleridge on poetry and philosophy. The basis of the Ode to Duty states that love and happiness are important to life, but there is something else necessary to connect an individual to nature, affirming the narrator's loyalty to a benevolent divine presence in the world.

However, Wordsworth was never satisfied with the result of Ode to Duty as he was with Ode: Intimations of Immortality. The argument and the ideas are similar to many of the statements in the ode along with those in The Prelude , Tintern Abbey , and "We Are Seven". He would also return directly to the ode in his poem Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendor and Beauty where he evaluates his own evolving life and poetic works while discussing the loss of an early vision of the world's joys. In the Ode: Intimations of Immortality , Wordsworth concluded that he gives thanks that was able to gain even though he lost his vision of the joy in the world, but in the later work he tones down his emphasis on the gain and provides only a muted thanks for what remains of his ability to see the glory in the world.

Wordsworth's ode is a poem that describes how suffering allows for growth and an understanding of nature, [40] and this belief influenced the poetry of other Romantic poets. Wordsworth followed a Virgilian idea called lachrimae rerum , which means that "life is growth" but it implies that there is also loss within life. To Wordsworth, the loss brought about enough to make up for what was taken. Shelley, in his Prometheus Unbound , describes a reality that would be the best that could be developed but always has the suffering, death, and change.

John Keats developed an idea called "the Burden of the Mystery" that emphasizes the importance of suffering in the development of man and necessary for maturation. In Coleridge's theory, his poetic abilities were the basis for happiness and without them there would only be misery. The ode praises children for being the "best Philosopher" "lover of truth" because they live in truth and have prophetic abilities.

The omnipresent Spirit works equally in them, as in the child; and the child is equally unconscious of it as they. Richards, in his work Coleridge on Imagination , responds to Coleridge's claims by asking, "Why should Wordsworth deny that, in a much less degree, these attributes are equally suitable to a bee, or a dog, or a field of corn? Later, Cleanth Brooks reanalyzes the argument to point out that Wordsworth would include the animals among the children.

He also explains that the child is the "best philosopher" because of his understanding of the "eternal deep", which comes from enjoying the world through play: "They are playing with their little spades and sand-buckets along the beach on which the waves break. If Wordsworth's weakness is incongruity, his strength is propriety. That Coleridge should tell us this at such length tells as much about Coleridge as about Wordsworth: reading the second volume of the Biographia , we learn not only Wordsworth's strong and weak points but also the qualities that most interest Coleridge. While modern critics believe that the poems published in Wordsworth's collection represented a productive and good period of his career, contemporary reviewers were split on the matter and many negative reviews cast doubts on his circle of poets known as the Lake Poets.

Many, with inferior abilities, have acquired a loftier seat on Parnassus, merely by attempting strains in which Mr. Southey, in an 8 December letter to Walter Scott, wrote, "There are certainly some pieces there which are good for nothing The Ode upon Pre-existence is a dark subject darkly handled. Coleridge is the only man who could make such a subject luminous. Francis Jeffrey, a Whig lawyer and editor of the Edinburgh Review , originally favoured Wordsworth's poetry following the publication of Lyrical Ballads in but turned against the poet from onward.

In response to Wordsworth's collection of poetry, Jeffrey contributed an anonymous review to the October Edinburgh Review that condemned Wordsworth's poetry again. We can pretend to give no analysis or explanation of it;-- our readers must make what they can of the following extracts.

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He believed that Wordsworth's greatest weakness was portraying the low aspects of life in a lofty tone. Another semi-negative response to the poem followed on 4 January in the Eclectic Review. The writer, James Montgomery , attacked the collection of poems for depicting low subjects. When it came to the ode, Montgomery attacked the poem for depicting pre-existence. Wordsworth himself is so frequently compelled to employ it, for the expression of thoughts which without it would be incommunicable. These volumes are distinguished by the same blemishes and beauties as were found in their predecessors, but in an inverse proportion: the defects of the poet, in this performance, being as much greater than his merits, as they were less in his former publication.

After our preliminary remarks on Mr. Wordsworth's theory of poetical language, and the quotations which we have given from these and his earlier compositions, it will be unnecessary to offer any further estimate or character of his genius. We shall only add one remark Of the pieces now published he has said nothing: most of them seem to have been written for no purpose at all, and certainly to no good one. Wordsworth often speaks in ecstatic strains of the pleasure of infancy.

If we rightly understand him, he conjectures that the soul comes immediately from a world of pure felicity, when it is born into this troublous scene of care and vicissitude This brilliant allegory, for such we must regard it, is employed to illustrate the mournful truth, that looking back from middle age to the earliest period of remembrance we find, 'That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth,' Such is Life ".

Though it was a review of his uncle's Remorse , he connects the intention and imagery found within Coleridge's poem to that in Ode: Intimation of Immortality and John Wilson's "To a Sleeping Child" when saying, "To an extension or rather a modification of this last mentioned principle [obedience to some internal feeling] may perhaps be attributed the beautiful tenet so strongly inculcated by them of the celestial purity of infancy. Wordsworth, in a passage which strikingly exemplifies the power of imaginative poetry".

In the review, he partially condemns Wordsworth's emphasis in the ode on children being connected to the divine: "His occasional lapses into childish and trivial allusion may be accounted for, from the same tendency. He is obscure, when he leaves out links in the chain of association, which the reader cannot easily supply In his descriptions of children this is particularly the case, because of his firm belief in a doctrine, more poetical perhaps, than either philosophical or christian, that 'Heaven lies about us in our infancy. John Taylor Coleridge continues by explaining the negative aspects of such a concept: "Though the tenderness and beauty resulting from this opinion be to us a rich overpayment for the occasional strainings and refinements of sentiment to which it has given birth, it has yet often served to make the author ridiculous in common eyes, in that it has led him to state his own fairy dreams as the true interpretation and import of the looks and movements of children, as being even really in their minds.

Wordsworth, we should have said nothing; but we believe him to be one not willing to promulgate error, even in poetry, indeed it is manifest that he makes his poetry subservient to his philosophy; and this particular notion is so mixed up by him with others, in which it is impossible to suppose him otherwise than serious; that we are constrained to take it for his real and sober belief. In the same year came responses to the ode by two Romantic writers. Leigh Hunt , a second-generation Romantic poet, added notes to his poem Feast of the Poets that respond to the ideas suggested in Wordsworth's poetry.

These ideas include Wordsworth's promotion of a simple mental state without cravings for knowledge, and it is such an ideas that Hunt wanted to mock in his poem. However, Hunt did not disagree completely with Wordsworth's sentiments. Far be it also from me to hinder the communication of such thoughts to mankind, when they are not sunk beyond their proper depth, so as to make one dizzy in looking down to them.

Wordsworth's New Poems" in three parts, starting in the 21 August Examiner. Although Hazlitt treated Wordsworth's poetry fairly, he was critical of Wordsworth himself and he removed any positive statements about Wordsworth's person from a reprint of the essays. Wordsworth's poetry is to be found only in the subject and style: the sentiments are subtle and profound.

In the latter respect, his poetry is as much above the common standard or capacity, as in the other it is below it We go along with him, while he is the subject of his own narrative, but we take leave of him when he makes pedlars and ploughmen his heroes and the interpreters of his sentiments. In came two more responses by Romantic poets to the ode. Coleridge was impressed by the ode's themes, rhythm, and structure since he first heard the beginning stanzas in In his argument, he both defended his technique and explained: "Though the instances of this defect in Mr.

Wordsworth's poems are so few, that for themselves it would have been scarce just to attract the reader's attention toward them; yet I have dwelt on it, and perhaps the more for this very reason. For being so very few, they cannot sensibly detract from the reputation of an author, who is even characterized by the number of profound truths in his writings, which will stand the severest analysis; and yet few as they are, they are exactly those passages which his blind admirers would be most likely, and best able, to imitate.

Extract from 'The Prelude', by William Wordsworth: Mr Bruff Analysis

Another aspect Coleridge favoured was the poem's originality of thought and how it contained Wordsworth's understanding of nature and his own experience. Coleridge also praised the lack of a rigorous structure within the poem and claimed that Wordsworth was able to truly capture the imagination. However, part of Coleridge's analysis of the poem and of the poet tend to describe his idealised version of positives and negative than an actual concrete object. At its core is the Poems volume published in by Agneau 2, long since out of print.

But there have been over half-a-dozen other works since then published by small presses in small print runs. This new volume is entirely up-to-date, taking in the pun-rich and highly codified For the Monogram , published in by Equipage. Rightly particular about the presentation of poetry - the integrity of text, the frame and field of the page, the context in which presentation and consequently reception take place - Prynne has been patient in collating another "collected" volume. Prynne's is a poetry that has always been concerned with much more than the way the individual self understands its relation to the social and natural environments; right at the centre of the reading experience it offers is an encounter with the languages and findings of various disciplines that coincide in demonstrating how the self is formed by processes that often lie beyond the grasp of individual perception and cognition.

These might locate humankind in relation to geological time scales or to the infinitesimal events of neurochemistry, to the migration patterns of other species or to the systems logic of information technology. Such an array of different kinds of knowledge and discourse could never be reduced to the scope of the familiar, speaking voice without submitting to an illusion of control and conscious orientation.

Prynne's poetry rather prompts a critical awareness of how the impulse to translate the strange into familiar terms can be seen as a form of denial, as a refusal to face up to the moral and political impasse of contemporary selfhood. In the social reality of our own era, translations like this can often be ethically disastrous, when they co-opt the terms of one special language and set of relations into another; one clear example, which is extremely prominent in Prynne's writing, involves the contamination of social politics by the criteria of economic transactions.

Syntactically and semantically, the language of the poems reaches beyond the grasp of conventional modes and measures, in order to register the lateral pressures and sometimes buckling impact of incongruous vocabularies, competing idioms and conflicting programmes. There is no point of view being transcribed here, rather the constant inscribing of conditions which both generate and limit the individual point of view.


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After the rationalistic meditations of a first volume that he has decided not to reprint, the oeuvre has been marked by strongly motivated deflections of established reading methods. In The White Stones and Kitchen Poems , the fluency and balance of the philosophical monologist are belied by crowding intimations of a whole series of relativising contexts for the occasion of utterance.

The English landscape is seen in relation to the withdrawal of the glaciers, its patterns of settlement judged in relation to the customs of nomadic tribes. In Brass , the reader is jolted, more rudely and exhilaratingly, from one unruly format to another, and is forced to cope with constant adjustments of tempo and tone, stretching from invective to elegy, not simply within the volume as a whole, but often within each text.

Linearity and narrative, if not dispensed with altogether, become increasingly redundant, and in the adoption of the poetic sequence as the most frequent vehicle for Prynne's concerns, the emphasis on recurrent figures and sound patterns begins to tip the balance in favour of "vertical" rather than "horizontal" priorities in interpretation.