I think the background to Wordsworth is varied and complex: he is just as
much 'about' the industrial revolution, the revival of piety, the Napoleonic
Wars as well as the French Revolution, the new religion of work and
earnestness and the coming into power of the middle class, as he is 'about'
'rocks, and stones, and trees'' or the still pools of recollection. Eros, as
well as word play, is banished. Those wonderful accounts of stealing eggs
and the dizzy awe of cliffs and crags and the world spinning in a child's
eyes have also opened the doors for an endless stream of me me me, although
it would have happened without him.
There's a kind of build up to Wordsworth - Cowper for instance - and
autobiography is what the culture has been moving more and more towards
before him - you could even go back to St Paul (!) - the prototype of the
individuated convert - certainly Wordsworth could never have 'happened'
without Martin Luther.
So I think Wordsworth, the younger Wordsworth, is a kind of protestant
On 8 September 2011 00:34, Bob Grumman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I recognised it as Wordsworth as soon as I read it, Bob, as you say, the
>> skates told me. I did rack my wits a little to see if I could find another
>> candidate, as I thought your reference to the first major ascent a little
>> questionable. I can see why you made it, but I don't think of a precise
>> point for 'modern' English beginning (you could make a very strong
>> for Dryden's 'MackFlecknoe' as representing such a point for example,
>> certainly Dryden and Pope were 'modernists' in relation to the main thrust
>> of their immediate literary past) while of course the writers of the early
>> 20th century saw Donne in particular as if contemporary (underneath the
>> thees and thous) And so on. You can certainly see a foreshadowing of
>> Wordsworth in both Henry Vaughan and Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
>> Anyhow I don't see 'literary' time (nor its unscripted original) as being
>> simply linear anyhow, eddies and bobs, as it were, Bob ;)
> I am close to agreeing with you, Dave, but I think Wordsworth started
> English poetry's first chain reaction. I see the change occurring as
> between concern with formal received (classical) themes and concern with
> less formal ad hoc personal themes. It's all my impression--I don't know
> enough to be sure of it. I wonder, though, did anyone before Wordsworth
> write a lyric poem or passage in a long poem about something like the joy of
> boyhood skating? It also strikes me--right now--that Wordsworth in his best
> poems never plays word games like Donne and Shakespeare. Did he get that
> from the poet who was, I think, his immediate predecessor, Crabbe. I don't
> know his work well, at all.
> Basically, for temperamental reasons no doubt, I like seeing things in
> black and white terms--big antitheses--although I don't deny the validity of
> seeing them as all tremory grey.
> all best, Bob
David Joseph Bircumshaw
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is
that none of it has tried to contact us."
- Calvin & Hobbes
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