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unit6 William Wordsworth


English literature of Early Nineteenth Century
The period of Romanticism

Social background
? the Industrial Revolution major social conflict (industrial capitalist vs. p

roletariat) find expression of their political pursuits in spontaneous struggles and movements ? the French Revolution "liberty, equality, fraternity" Romanticism, a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual movement, came into existence.

Romanticism
? It trumpets dissonant ideas against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightment. ? It was strongly represented in visual arts, music and literature. Representative figures Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner, Gericault, Delacroix, Hugo, Stendhal, Pushkin……find in strong emotions a source of aesthetic experience so as to put emphasis on experiences felt when confronting nature's sublimity and picturesqueness.

English Romanticism
? Beginning: Lyrical Ballads in 1798 ? Essence: reflect all that is spontaneous and unaffected in nature and man. ? Best medium: poetry ? End: death of Walter Scott in 1832

Romanticists
? passive romanticists: Coleridge and Wordsworth ? turn to past for the ideal by the way of revolt against capitalist development ? active romanticists: Byron and Shelley, Keats ? praise of the newly born proletariat and an ideal future society free of oppression and exploitation ? essays of Lamb and novels of Austen and Scott

English Romanticism
? Main features: ? Imagination Imagination is the supreme faculty of the mind. Imagination can change and create. Imagination can unify different elements into a complex whole. ? Suggested poem ? The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge

English Romanticism
? Idealization of Nature Nature has a healing power. Nature is a source of subject and image. Nature is a refuge from the artificial constructs of civilization. "that Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." ---Wordsworth ? Suggest poem ? Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey

English Romanticism
? Individualism Man is the center of all concern. Romanticists emphasized the dignify of man. Man is an individual in a solitary state. Romanticists valued the exploration and evaluation of the inner self. ? Suggest poem: ? George Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

English Romanticism
? Glorification of the commonplace materials: the natural, the commonplace, the simple common incidents and situations natural diction and language ? Suggested poem: ? The Solitary Reaper by Wordsworth

English Romanticism
? The lure of the exotic Wordsworth and Coleridge: lived by the riverside Byron and Shelly: self-imposed exile expanded the imaginary horizons spatially and chronologically ---the middle ages ---the distant places allow free play to the supernatural ? Suggested poem: ? Coleridge’s Kubla Khan

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
? A leader of English Romanticism ? A lake poet ? Poet of nature

William Wordsworth
? He was born into a lawyer’s family in 1770 at Cockermouth, Cumberland. ? His parents died when he was very young. He was taken in charge by relatives. He got his education at the Grammar School of Hawkshead. ? He was a worshipper of nature from his childhood.

Wordsworth’s birthplace in Cockermouth, Cumberland

Lake District

The Lake District

Lake District

William Wordsworth
? In 1787, he started his education at St. John’s College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with B.A. in 1791. ? He had great sympathy with the French Revolution. He paid 2 visits to France.

? In 1795 he and his sister Dorothy settled down in Racedown, Dorsetshire.
? In 1797 he met Coleridge and they started a friendship considered as one of the most extraordinary in English literature. ? In 1798, Wordsworth and Coleridge published their Lyrical Ballads.

William Wordsworth
? In 1798 and 1799, he made a tour around Germany. Wordsworth was totally disillusioned by the Jacobin dictatorship and the French invasion of other European countries. He became conservative in politics.

? Upon his return to England, he and his sister retired to Dove Cottage in Grasmere, the most beautiful place in the Lake District. Coleridge & Robert Southey lived a stone’s throw from their dwelling place. The three poets came to be known as Lake Poets.
? In 1802, Wordsworth got married to Mary Hutchingson. In 1813, he got a sinecure job as distributor of stamps.

Grasmere in Lake District and Dove Cottage

William Wordsworth
? In 1842, he received the government pension and in the following year, he succeeded Southey as Poet Laureate. ? He died at Rydal Mount on April 23rd 1850 and was buried in the Grasmere churchyard.

Old Residence of William Wordsworth in Rydal Mount

Gravestone of Wordsworth, Grasmere

Wordsworth’s major works
? Wordsworth’s fame lies chiefly in his short poems. His short poems fall into 2 categories: poems about nature and human life.

? He is a “worshipper of nature”. His best known poems of nature include: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, Tintern Abbey, To the Cuckoo, My Heart Leaps up, To a Butterfly, An Evening Walk.
? His best known poems about human life include: Lucy Poems, The Solitary Reaper , The Old Cumberland Beggar, Michael.

Wordsworth’s major works
? Wordsworth wrote many sonnets. His famous sonnets are: Upon Westminster Bridge, On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic, 威尼斯共和国的毁灭 & Thought of a Briton on the Subjugation of Switzerland. 一个英国人对征服瑞士的思考
? His best known long poem is The Prelude. In this poem Wordsworth analyzes the growth of his poetic genius during his childhood and youth, and recalls the lessons he owes to nature. ? Wordsworth’s greatest contribution to English literature is his poems and his Preface to The Lyrical Ballads.

Preface to Lyrical Ballads
? Though The Lyrical Ballads is known as the collaborated work of Wordsworth and Coleridge, all the poems but one (The Rime of The Ancient Mariner) are written by Wordsworth. Most of his most quoted poem are taken from this collection. ? Wordsworth’s Preface (1800) to Lyrical Ballads is the manifesto of English Romanticism. ? He is primarily concerned to justify the kind of his poems which he had contributed to Lyrical Ballads.

Key points in his Preface
? Definition of a poet He ( poet) is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind.

Key points in his Preface
? Creative process of authentic poetry

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred (similar) to that which before was the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition generally begins……

Key points in his Preface
? Subject matter & poetic language The principal object…was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men , and at the same time, to throw over them a certain coloring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented in an unusual aspect……

Key points in his Preface
? Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity…… ? The language, too, of these men has been adopted (purified indeed from what appear to be its real defects, from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust) because such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived.

His Features
1) A poet of nature Sensitive to every subtle change in the world around him Best at the truthful presentation of nature Finding abundant beauty in the common world. City life tends to weaken and pervert humanity; a return to nature and its simple way of life is the only remedy for human wretchedness 2) The common life The joys and sorrows of the common people are his themes. 3) Simple, colloquial language

Wordsworth is regarded as a "worshipper of nature." He can penetrate to the heart of things and give the reader the very life of nature. "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is perhaps the most anthologized poem in English literature, and one that takes us to the core of Wordsworth's poetic beliefs.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (To Daffodils)
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils: Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
The waves beside them danced; but they Outdid the sparkling waves in glee; A poet could not but be gay; In such a jocund company; I gazed-and gazed-but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.

Questions for Discussion
1. What is your general impression on this 2.

3.
4.

5.
6.

poem? What does the image of cloud suggest to you? What has cheered the poet up? What has the poet meditated from what he has described? And the theme? Do you think that nature can have the healing effect on mind? Pay attention to the tense used in this poem. What does it indicate?

Question 1
? What is your general impression on this

poem?

Question 2
?What does the image of cloud suggest to you?
I wandered lonely as a cloud---loneliness ? That floats on---aimlessness ? High over vales and hills---solitude, isolation, aloofness Loneliness, isolation, solitude, aimlessness, aloofness
? ?

Cloud represents the feelings of the speaker (the poet) essentially.

Question 3
?What has cheered the poet up? And how?
? ? ? ?

a host of golden daffodils, fluttering, dancing and glittering daffodils Shine and twinkle as the stars Stretched endlessly

?

The cloud-like poet is deeply attracted by the beauty of the nature and turns to be highspirited, instead of being lonely any more.

Question 4
?What has the poet meditated from what

he has described? And the theme?
? In loneliness or in low spirit, the recollection of

the nature beauty brings him “the bliss” and “pleasure” in his heart.
? Therefore the idea of going back to nature is

advocated and clearly expressed in this poem.

Question 5
?Do you think that nature can have

the healing effect on mind?

Question 6
?Pay attention to the tense used in this

poem. What does it indicate?
? past tense

? the recollection of the past experience will

arouse a new sense of the old memories

“what wealth the show to me had brought” “the bliss of solitude/ flash upon that inward eye”

Quotes

“Poetry takes its origin from emotion recollections in tranquility… tranquil contemplation of an emotional experience matures the feeling and sensation, and makes possible the creation of good poetry like the mellow of old wine”.
----- William Wordsworth

Summary of the poem
?What does the poem impress you most?
? Use of image
? Vivid description of nature ? Daily language

Appreciation of the Poem:
? The four six-line stanzas of this poem follow a quatrain-couplet rhyme scheme: ABABCC. Each line is metered in iambic tetrameter. ? The language: simplicity and purity ? Tone: merry and relaxing ? The poem can be divided into two parts: scenery and emotion. ? The plot is extremely simple, depicting the poet's wandering and his discovery of a field of daffodils by a lake, the memory of which pleases him and comforts him when he is lonely, bored, or restless.

Stanza 1: The persona “I” was surprised to see a stretch land of golden daffodils. There is a comma after "a crowd", "a host" for a pause due to his sudden discovery and surprise. The bright color of "golden" gives one a deep impression. Stanza 2: The poet’s responses: as stars twinkle in the milky way the sublimity: vast, numerous, never-ending the inverted sentence: ten thousand the motion: toss, not shake due to “the breeze”

Stanza 3: daffodils vs. wave but they / Outdid the sparkling waves in glee ? the color: golden > white / blue / green (brightness) ? the number: the golden tossing heads

Stanza 4: return to nature, bliss of solitude nature: inward and outward eyes In the final stanza, for the poet, the beautiful scenery in nature can heal people’s wound. When in loneliness and helplessness, people can recall the pleasant time in nature and thus to cheer up.

The chain of development :
The breeze + the flowers’ own beauty => looks like they’re dancing joyously => affecting the waves on the lake nearby => affecting the poet (on-looker) immediately, but also having subtle long-term effects: with his own “inward eye,” in an empty, pensive mood, he will again and again enjoy this joyous dance in his heart

宋代黄庭坚逗留荆州时,有诗曰:

借水开花自一奇, 水沉为骨玉为肌。 暗香已压酥糜倒, 只比寒梅无好枝。


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