William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life


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By This Poet

Coleridge and Charles Lamb both died in , their loss being a difficult blow to Wordsworth. The following year saw the passing of James Hogg. Despite the death of many contemporaries, the popularity of his poetry ensured a steady stream of young friends and admirers to replace those he lost.


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Wordsworth's youthful political radicalism, unlike Coleridge's, never led him to rebel against his religious upbringing. He remarked in that he was willing to shed his blood for the established Church of England , reflected in his Ecclesiastical Sketches of This religious conservatism also colours The Excursion , a long poem that became extremely popular during the nineteenth century; it features three central characters, the Wanderer; the Solitary, who has experienced the hopes and miseries of the French Revolution ; and the Pastor, who dominates the last third of the poem.

Wordsworth remained a formidable presence in his later years. In , the Scottish poet and playwright Joanna Baillie reflected on her long acquaintance with Wordsworth. In , Wordsworth received an honorary doctorate in Civil Law from the University of Durham and the following year he was awarded the same honorary degree by the University of Oxford, when John Keble praised him as the "poet of humanity", praise greatly appreciated by Wordsworth.

Early life and education

He initially refused the honour, saying that he was too old, but accepted when the Prime Minister, Robert Peel , assured him that "you shall have nothing required of you". Wordsworth thus became the only poet laureate to write no official verses. The sudden death of his daughter Dora in at age 42 was difficult for the aging poet to take and in his depression, he completely gave up writing new material. William Wordsworth died at home at Rydal Mount from an aggravated case of pleurisy on 23 April , [30] and was buried at St Oswald's Church, Grasmere. His widow Mary published his lengthy autobiographical "poem to Coleridge" as The Prelude several months after his death.

Though it failed to arouse much interest at that time, it has since come to be widely recognised as his masterpiece. Isaac Asimov 's novelization of the film Fantastic Voyage sees Dr. Peter Duval quoting Wordsworth's The Prelude as the miniaturized submarine sails through the cerebral fluid surrounding a human brain, comparing it to the "strange seas of thought". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 18 September For other uses, see Wordsworth disambiguation.

For the English composer, see William Wordsworth composer.

Sojourn in France

English Romantic poet. Main article: Early life of William Wordsworth. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

William Wordsworth

National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 December A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. William Wordsworth in Context. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 28 May Cornell University. Retrieved 13 February London: J. Retrieved 13 November Lyrical Ballads with Other Poems. London: Printed for T. Longman and O. II 2 ed. Lyrical Ballads with Pastoral and other Poems. Oxford Standard Authors. London: Oxford U. Wordsworth's renewed contact with France only confirmed his disillusionment disappointment with the French Revolution and its aftermath.

During this period Wordsworth had become increasingly concerned with Coleridge, who by now was almost totally dependent upon opium a highly addictive drug for relief from his physical sufferings. Both friends came to believe that the realities of life were in stark contradiction disagreement to the visionary expectations of their youth.

Wordsworth characteristically sought to redefine his own identity in ways that would allow him a measure of meaning. The new turn his life took in resulted in an inner change that set the new course his poetry followed from then on.

Poems about England and Scotland began pouring forth from Wordsworth's pen, while France and Napoleon — soon became Wordsworth's favorite symbols of cruelty and oppression. His nationalistic intense pride in one's own country inspiration led him to produce the two "Memorials of a Tour in Scotland" , and the group entitled "Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty.

The best poems of , however, deal with a deeper level of inner change. In Wordsworth's poem "Intimations of Immortality" March—April , he plainly recognized that "The things which I have seen I now can see no more"; yet he emphasized that although the "visionary gleam" had fled, the memory remained, and although the "celestial light" had vanished, the "common sight" of "meadow, grove and stream" was still a potent strong source of delight and solace comfort. Thus Wordsworth shed his earlier tendency to idealize nature and turned to a more sedate calm doctrine set of beliefs of orthodox Christianity.

Younger poets and critics soon blamed him for this "recantation" renouncing , which they equated with his change of mind about the French Revolution. His Ecclesiastical Sonnets are clear evidence of the way in which love of freedom, nature, and the Church came to coincide come together at the same time in his mind. Nevertheless, it was the direction suggested in "Intimations of Immortality" that, in the view of later criticism, enabled Wordsworth to produce perhaps the most outstanding achievement of English romanticism: The Prelude.

He worked on it, on and off, for several years and completed the first version in May The Prelude can claim to be the only true romantic epic long, often heroic work because it deals in narrative terms with the spiritual growth of the only true romantic hero, the poet. The inward odyssey journey of the poet was described not for its own sake but as a sample and as an adequate image of man at his most sensitive. Wordsworth shared the general romantic notion that personal experience is the only way to gain living knowledge.

The purpose of The Prelude was to recapture and interpret, with detailed thoroughness, the whole range of experiences that had contributed to the shaping of his own mind. Wordsworth refrained from publishing the poem in his lifetime, revising it continuously. Most important and, perhaps, most to be regretted, the poet also tried to give a more orthodox tinge to his early mystical faith in nature. Wordsworth's estrangement growing apart from Coleridge in deprived him of a powerful incentive to imaginative and intellectual alertness.

Where was William Wordsworth born?

Wordsworth's appointment to a government position in relieved him of financial care. Wordsworth's undiminished love for nature made him view the emergent just appearing industrial society with undisguised reserve. He opposed the Reform Bill of , which, in his view, merely transferred political power from the land owners to the manufacturing class, but he never stopped pleading in favor of the victims of the factory system.

In Wordsworth was appointed poet laureate official poet of a country. He died on April 23, Davies, Hunter. William Wordsworth: A Biography.


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New York: Atheneum, Gill, Stephen. William Wordsworth: A Life. New York: Oxford University Press, Johnston, Kenneth R. New York: W. Mar 23, James Lang rated it really liked it. I keep biographies of my favorite writers, artists, and musicians in a regular rotation on my reading list, and this was a very solid biography of a writer whose work I have increasingly admired with each year.

The dual image of Wordsworth as both the fiery young poet of the poor and the settled Tory of his later years have always been mysterious to me, and Gill does an excellent job of connecting the dots. He also erased for me something that I have always heard about Wordsworth--that he stoppe I keep biographies of my favorite writers, artists, and musicians in a regular rotation on my reading list, and this was a very solid biography of a writer whose work I have increasingly admired with each year.

He also erased for me something that I have always heard about Wordsworth--that he stopped composing in his later years. He composed less, but he continued to revise and re-work his entire corpus until very late in his life, and that counts as creative work as far as I'm concerned. This book definitely also showed some of the unattractive sides of Worcester--his careful guarding of his work and reputation against critics--but overall I came away excited to return to the poetry.

Aug 26, Brian Willis rated it really liked it. Long considered the best biography on Wordsworth, it's hard to disagree. He may be the least fascinating personally of the Romantic poets although there is plenty for a psychologist to unpack if they read between the lines , but his impact was real. Nonetheless, a balanced and perceptive life account which also, not to be dismissed, is not too harsh on Coleridg Long considered the best biography on Wordsworth, it's hard to disagree. Nonetheless, a balanced and perceptive life account which also, not to be dismissed, is not too harsh on Coleridge as most Wordsworthians tend to be.

I do suspect though that modern sensibilities will see a touch of the misogynistic in his personal life, a man whose sister lived with him unmarried throughout his life, utterly devoted to making his dreams come true, a wife who did the same along with her unmarried sister, and a daughter who married rather late who did the same.

William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life

It appears Wordsworth loved being doted on by women, which makes it doubly ironic that poor Coleridge could never achieve the same and was indeed thwarted by Wordsworth. Still, a good bio by a leading scholar of Wordsworth. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Stephen Gill. Stephen Gill. Books by Stephen Gill. Trivia About William Wordswort No trivia or quizzes yet.

William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life
William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life
William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life
William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life
William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life
William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life
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