Wordsworth's Poetical Works

Discuss William Wordsworth as a poet of nature. Justify your answer.

Is William Wordsworth ia poet of nature? Discuss.

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"William Wordsworth is the Romantic poet most often described as a "nature" writer; what the word "nature" meant to Wordsworth is, however, a complex issue. On the one hand, Wordsworth was the quintessential poet as naturalist, always paying close attention to details of the physical environment around him (plants, animals, geography, weather). At the same time, Wordsworth was a self-consciously literary artist who described "the mind of man" as the "main haunt and region of [his] song." This tension between objective describer of the natural scene and subjective shaper of sensory experience is partly the result of Wordsworth's view of the mind as "creator and receiver both." Wordsworth consistently describes his own mind as the recipient of external sensations which are then rendered into its own mental creations. (Shelley made a related claim in "Mont Blanc" when he said that his mind "passively / Now renders and receives, fast influencings, / Holding an unremitting interchange / With the clear universe of things around".) Such an alliance of the inner life with the outer world is at the heart of Wordsworth's descriptions of nature. Wordsworth's ideas about memory, the importance of childhood experiences, and the power of the mind to bestow an "auxiliar" light on the objects it beholds all depend on this ability to record experiences carefully at the moment of observation but then to shape those same experiences in the mind over time. We should also recall, however, that he made widespread use of other texts in the production of his Wordsworthian (Keats said "egotistical") sublime: drafts of poems by Coleridge, his sister Dorothy's Journals, the works of Milton, Shakespeare, Thomson, and countless others. Wordsworthian "nature" emerges as much a product of his widespead reading as of his wanderings amid the affecting landscapes of the Lake District.

His poems often present an instant when nature speaks to him and he responds by speaking for nature. The language of nature in such instances is, like the language Wordsworth uses to record such events, often cryptic and enigmatic. The owls in the often-quoted "Boy of Winander" passage of The Prelude hoot to a Wordsworthian child who answers first in their owl-language and then with a poem that records only the mirroring image of an "uncertain heaven," the dark sky reflected in a still silent lake. Wordsworth longs for a version of nature that will redeem him from the vagaries of passing moments, but he usually records those natural phenomena that promise only the passing of time and the cyclical transience of natural process. "Nutting" holds us up painfully against the ravaging of a pristine and naturally spiritualized bower. The Lucy poems tells us that Lucy is back into nature at her death, but that consolation seems small recompense for the humanized "nature" of the loss. The Prelude wants to keep us in touch with a childhood and subsequent adult identity realized within the natural world; at the same time, however, this autobiographical epic leaves adult readers feeling a long way from the "spots of time" of childhood. Nothing in Wordsworth is simple or singular; like Milton, he is a poet who almost resists the possibility of final or definitive interpretation. His view of nonhuman nature is likewise open-ended. Wordsworth's "nature" points us away from the closed world of theocentric symbol-making toward the unstable world of postmodern meaning." (Ashton Nichols)