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10 Most Famous Poems by William Wordsworth
Is there any blank space left for a new poem, old subjects? William Wordsworth An Epistle; in verse. Johnson, Descriptive Sketches. In Verse. Longman, London, ; London: Printed for J. Arch, ; revised and enlarged edition, 2 volumes, London: Printed for T. Longman and O. Francis, Thanksgiving Ode, January 18, The Waggoner, A Poem.
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Galignani, Selections from the Poems of William Wordsworth, Esq. Raynor, The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth 6 volumes, London: Moxon, , ; enlarged, 7 volumes, ; enlarged again, 8 volumes, Kay, Jun. Munroe, Kendal and Windermere Railway. The Poems of William Wordsworth, D. Appleton, Wordsworth's Literary Criticism , edited by Nowell C. Smith London: H. See at his feet some little plan or chart, Some fragment from his dream of human life, Shaped by himself with newly-learned art— A wedding or a festival, A mourning or a funeral; And this hath now his heart, And unto this he frames his song.
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!
O joy, that in our embers Is something that doth live, That nature yet remembers What was so fugitive! 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.
Then sing, ye birds! We in thought will join your throng, Ye that pipe and ye that play, Ye that through your hearts to-day Feel the gladness of the May! What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now forever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower? We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind; In the primal sympathy Which, having been, must ever be; In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering; In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O ye fountains, meadows, hills, and groves, Forebode not any severing of our loves! Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might; I only have relinquished one delight To live beneath your more habitual sway. 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.
Though I myself happen not to love this poem half so dearly as many other Wordsworthians, it is undeniably great in its ambition and scope, and to miss it from a list of greatest poems owing to personal caprice would be much to condemn the value of the list. Wordsworth treated this theme constantly, particularly in his early poetry, but this is his best attempt.
He begins with a short epigraph to the poem which sums up his deep feelings on the matter:. The first version written is only three, and poses the problem: the fading away of the sense of the divine in nature with the coming of age:. However, most great poets—in whatever languages I can think of—tend to excel in one metre. The only exceptions I can think of are Goethe and Horace, who excelled in a variety. Next comes the addition of , making the poem 11 stanzas in length.
Stanza 4 picks up the joyful measures of 3 in a way which sounds truly symphonic, and the metres get rougher and I dare say for all that, more exciting no matter how much I yearn to tidy some of them into neat iambs :. The argument of the remainder of this section is that the heavenly stays with us in youth, and ebbs away as we age. Again, although grand, the feeling is also a little doctrinal, and I think Wordsworth, had he wished this to be taken seriously as doctrine, ought to have adopted the systematic philosophical prose treatise.
But never mind: we have a fine poem in order to recompense us of the absence of the former. The following stanzas elaborate further on the argument. There are some lovely lines in these sections. Thereafter, stanzas ten and eleven bring us to the conclusion with the pleasant crashes of the end of a symphony:. Around —9, Coleridge began bothering Wordsworth about writing a long philosophical poem. It was appreciated by the late Victorians as equal in worth with the famous Prelude; but today it has dwindled to the point of hardly being read at all.
It exists in several versions. There are two book-length versions, and ; a five-book Prelude of ; and a two-part Prelude of There is also a fragment from probably which is effectively just the start of the two-book version of For a reader without the leisure to commit to the vast later Preludes, I would very much recommend the two-book of This is full of curious moments—including one or two that might surprise a too-narrow understanding of Wordsworth—and soaring, beautiful language and description.
Needless to say, this is no substitute for the full richness of the long Preludes, so the reader might then try the five-book, or, if desiring a longer read, the full or Ernest de Selincourt, the great Wordsworthian, famously discovered, preferred, and published the more youthful and simple I think there is plenty to love in both the and the , and that here we have an embarrassment of riches.
Fortunately, the two versions have been put together with the two-book Prelude and the fragment in one affordable and attractive Penguin edition edited by Jonathan Wordsworth. The and are side-by-side, with the former on the left-hand pages, the latter on the right, so that one can choose one text, and make easy comparisons as they go. Opening this volume, one is met with the achingly beautiful fragment which was to become the great later work:.
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice To intertwine my dreams? Being a poem to Coleridge, the poem ends by addressing him, and with some of the finest lines he or anyone else ever wrote:. It manages to be light and graceful in tone whilst remaining truly substantial and informative.
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Its detailing of the rather tragic Coleridge and Wordsworth relationship also makes truly moving reading—and this important aspect is almost completely absent from The Prelude itself. Five years have passed; five summers, with the length Of five long winters! The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits, Among the woods and copses lose themselves, Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb The wild green landscape.
Thou wanderer through the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! For nature then The coarser pleasures of my boyish days, And their glad animal movements all gone by, To me was all in all. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite: a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, or any interest Unborrowed from the eye. Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur: other gifts Have followed, for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompence.
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For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes The still, sad music of humanity, Not harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean, and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man, A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye and ear, both what they half-create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense, The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being. Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain winds be free To blow against thee: and in after years, When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling-place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; Oh!
Nor, perchance, If I should be, where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence, wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came, Unwearied in that service: rather say With warmer love, oh! Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake.
Wordsworth read copious amounts of eighteenth-century poetry, and there is much of the style of the time—albeit deeply transformed—in his writing, too. The Lyrical Ballads of was a revolutionary book, and contained one of the entries here no. It enjoyed a quiet early life, and was republished in with a huge Preface by Wordsworth in which he laid out many of his deep convictions and insightful observations on what the art of poetry is, has been, and what it ought to be.
The Abbey—that is, the place itself—is on the Welsh border. Wordsworth had seen it and its surrounding landscape five years before he wrote the poem and, on revisiting, transmuted his deep feelings on the place into this ode, which is addressed to his beloved sister, Dorothy. I am not alone in thinking this the greatest lyric poem in English. Nor am I alone in being unable to read it without tears:. There is in the lines of this Ode a moving, quiet music, which Wordsworth was never to match again, great though his later achievements were.
The weaving together of the landscape description and its psychological effect remains unmatched:. From these beautiful descriptions, Wordsworth departs into a meditation on the benison which such scenes are to the memory:. But this is not the only beneficent influence which the poet has enjoyed; there has been something even deeper than this:. There are not really any words, to my mind, adequate to praise these lines justly. Let us move on therefore. For nature then The coarse pleasures of my boyish days And their glad animal movements all gone by To me was all in all.
It is dear, and it is tragic. Of course he cannot adequately describe himself: to do so would be to describe nature exhaustively too!
Not for this Faint I, nor mourn, nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompense. These last three lines are surely amongst the greatest written by anyone—at least in English. But Wordsworth must always add a sense of the spiritual and sublime to his humane insights, and so follows the impressive passage:.
Again, this is Wordsworth at his most doctrinal: it is at once the most impressive and least beautiful, because we can find so many objections to its argument for beauty. It is, again, that striving, unsubdued idealism of Wordsworth—exclusive, grand, unreal—and he will go on to address this very objection in a short space in the poem.
But for this verse paragraph he is to conclude that he is. The most beautiful, and tear-provoking, moment in the poem comes now, as Wordsworth turns to address his silent sister Dorothy:. Loaded with such a sense of due thanksgiving, and weighed with such reflections as we have seen, Wordsworth then makes a prayer to Dorothy:. Stunningly beautiful though this is, it is as nothing but prelude to what comes next.
He continues his words to Dorothy:. Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake! Wordsworth re-wrote and, more importantly, re-thought throughout his life. Of course we need every version he ever made to be on record. Do you like this poet? She Dwelt Among The Untrodden She dwelt among the The Poems; Vol.
John O. Famous Poets. Best Poem of William Wordsworth.