Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 32 (William Wordsworth)

The Prelude
Wordsworth, William
The Prelude


Purchased at the Fordham University Bookstore.

Back to work today. Sigh.

The English Romantics were really my first introduction to poetry. I took the second half of a two-part class on them before I took the first half. Part two covered Byron, Shelley and Keats. My love of these three, especially Keats, led me to take the first part of the course, which featured Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake. At the time I wasn't as keen on those three, least of all Wordsworth. It wasn't until later, much later, that I began to appreciate his work.

Still I can remember the professor's description of the mountain appearing and also his discussion of the section in which the young boy sees a drowned man and the older poet records that his feelings were not as powerful as they might have been because he had read so much about corpses in books. He went on to compare this to our own lack of feeling whose cause was our constant exposure to violence on television.

There is a bookmark on page 73, Book Second. This edition has the 1805 and 1850 versions on facing pages. Here's an excerpt from the latter:

Our steeds remounted and the summons given, 
With whip and spur we through the chauntry flew 
In uncouth race, and left the cross-legged knight, 
And the stone-abbot, and that single wren 
Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave 
Of the old church, that--though from recent showers
The earth was comfortless, and, touched by faint
Internal breezes, sobbings of the place
And respirations, from the roofless walls
The shuddering ivy dripped large drops--yet still
So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible bird
Sang to herself, that there I could have made
My dwelling-place, and lived for ever there
To hear such music. Through the walls we flew
And down the valley, and, a circuit made
In wantonness of heart, through rough and smooth
We scampered homewards. Oh, ye rocks and streams,
And that still spirit shed from evening air!
Even in this joyous time I sometimes felt
Your presence, when with slackened step we breathed
Along the sides of the steep hills, or when
Lighted by gleams of moonlight from the sea
We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand.

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