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Selected Poems by William Wordsworth
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Selected Poems

by William Wordsworth

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I can't help it if my heart doesn't leap with joy with Wordsworth's respectful and magisterial poems. I feel some kind of guilty distance with his realistic and moderated exultation of Nature, his aspirations towards perfection and his Odes full of bucolic and idealized countryside.

There are some brilliant stanzas though which show the almost anecdotal wonders of an apparently monotonous life, but still I find them lacking in originality and too self-centered in the soul of the poet, framed in nature, basking in the mutual reflection between the soul and the world; the landscape becoming the revealing image of moral life and religious transcendence. And this recurring need to isolate his artistic self in order to write straight from the soul is not convincing, at least for me.
Maybe because he is trying too hard, but he doesn't reach to me the way that other poets do, for example, Robert Frost, who also speaks of the rural life but with an underlying need to return to the origins, which is absent in Wordsworth's poems.

"Humility and modest awe, themselves
Betray me, serving often for a cloak
To a more subtle selfishness; that now
Locks every function up in blank reserve,
Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye"

His poems leak with more consciousness than inspiration, his verses being usually nostalgic recollections of a better times, usually during childhood, when the soul is in harmony with the world and experiences are lived intensely and purely.

"There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;-
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen now I can see no more."

But somehow, his willingness to elevate his writing to the intellectual knowledge and to democratize the lyrical language creates an artificial rhetoric which diminishes the impact of his words, at least for me.

"Ye winds and sounding cataracts! 'tis yours,
Ye mountains! thine, O Nature! Thou hast fed
My lofty speculations; and in thee,
For this uneasy heart of ours, I find
A never-failing principle of joy
And purest passion."

Nevertheless, I have to give him credit for being one of the first English Romantic Poets who will lay the foundations for Byron, Shelley and Keats, and for trying to elevate his meditations towards great poetry.
Although not one of my favorites, (I'm aware I'll make a bunch of detractors here), he surely earned the right to be read and re-read again and again. ( )
  Luli81 | Apr 16, 2013 |
Great collection. Notes very insightful. ( )
1 vote | LydieR | May 3, 2007 |
I am a huge fan. ( )
  eslee | Aug 12, 2006 |
Folio Society
  rogerlinton | Dec 31, 1969 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Wordsworthprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
(Editor), Walford Daviessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, Damian WalfordEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One of the major poets of Romanticism, Wordsworth epitomized the spirit of his age with his celebration of the natural world and the spontaneous expression of feeling. This volume contains a rich selection from the most creative phase of his life.

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