Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Wandered Lonely as a Clud...

Oh brag on, I know.
But seriously, I'm in love with Wordsworth's Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.  Which so redeems him from the crap I thought the "I wandered lonely as a clud" poem was.  Yeah, clud.  You can thank Georgia Nicolson and/or Louise Rennison for that excellent change to the English language. Anyways. Such a brill poem.  So I thought I would share my luuurvely essay on it with you chumettes.
And don't let said luuurveliness throw you off, go read his poem cause it's gorgey. 
Okay thanks. And go to Lazy Oaf cause I've been on it for ages and it's fab and also vair amusing and I'm SO DIYing like a million things on there. Also seriously thinking about buying the blue anorak there to throw my grams off her frenzy. (It's seriously an obsession she has. Like I'll die in London without one. (Possibly true.)  And I can't let her dig out her 90s Gap anorak, that would be just wrong and also demented.) Anyways!
I luuurve you children and I hope this weekend is a groovy one.
Going to see Hunger Games, anyone? Delicious.  So in love with Jennifer Lawrence (because of X-Men, children.  Obvs.) No Harry Potter, obvs, but fun stuff eh?
Bon week-end! (How I love cognates.)
xxx and all that jazz

In one line of Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, William Wordsworth captures the essence of not only what it is to commune with nature, but, perhaps redundantly, to be really, truly alive.  “And so I dare to hope” (NA 697).  “Hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity” (697), Wordsworth “felt a presence that disturb[ed] (him)… with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused” (697, 698).
“…Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air…” (698). Like the phrase, “the good earth”, “the round ocean” is whole, lovely, warm, even alive.  The spirit of which Wordsworth speaks, the “presence”, which “impels all thinking things” (698), “rolls through all things.”  Wordsworth, as a master wordsmith, is expected to come up with beautiful phrases, to pick the right words and the truest images.  Yet that does not overshadow the perfection of this line. The spirit of Nature, which Wordsworth so loves, rolls through like a silent swell.  Wordsworth adopts an image of absolute beauty – roundness and wholeness in nature, found in snow and fauna and the sea and the flowers – and uses it to express the nature of Nature.  What better way?

How Nature does what it does to us, he has told us.  In lines 132 and 133, Wordsworth attempts to put in words what exactly it is that Nature does to us – a sentiment many have tried and failed to express, falling to clichés and overwrought phrases that try far too hard.  It is not enough to tell us – we must feel it before we can agree and admire.  Wordsworth tells his sister, “(Nothing) shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb our cheerful faith, that all which we behold is full of blessings” (698).

My grandma once told me about when she fell in love with my grandpa, and, pointing to a spider on the wall, she said, “When you’re in love, the whole world is in love.  You see a spider, and you think, “I wonder if he’s going to visit his girlfriend!””  While my grams is tremendously cheerful by nature, and probably attributed charming characteristics to everything even before she was ever in love, I’m more than inclined to believe her.  And in the way that Grams described love’s potent influence, Wordsworth described nature’s power.  Just like when one is in love, the whole earth is filled with love; just like when one feel the Spirit of God, the whole world is full of good things; when one is filled with the spirit of Nature, “all…is full of blessings.” 
And I’ll hazard this:  the spirit of Nature and the Spirit of God?  Probably one and the same.  To hear this spirit as Wordsworth described it: “The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, the guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul of all my moral being” (698).   If in that phrase you don’t hear a definition of the Spirit of God, go sing a hymn and take a walk in the mountains – you’ll hear it, and feel it, and smell it and taste it and see it then.

It’s “a sober pleasure” (698), this thing we speak of. “In….the heavy and weary weight of all this unintelligible world” (696), we find in nature, as Wordsworth did, “that in this moment there is life and food for future years” (697).  With all the weighty power of an artist who truly sees his subject, Wordsworth gathers the shadows and impressions of thoughts that “roll through” at quiet moments, hardly noticed, and invites them to make letters and words and fall in place as they will. 

The beauty of being alive is thought to be impossible to describe – it’s a fleeting sensation felt during beautiful music, in nature, sitting at a fireplace, witnessing a newborn testing out his powerful lungs.  Yet because Wordsworth  both understands it as imperfectly as any human, and lets it filter through his mind and medium like the artist he is, he is able to harness a feeling so matchless and pure as this.  And this is a gift in which “there is life and food for future years.”

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