Lyrical Ballads, and other early poems

William Wordsworth

1785-1799

(A poetic sage takes lessons on goodness and beauty from nature.)

WilliamHavellTinternAbbeyCrop of Tintern Abbey (1804), by William Havell.  Hikers laze above the abbey in the Wye Valley, just as Wordsworth did with his sister before composing his most famous poem.  This painting is at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford.

 

A man of wisdom, a poet of nature, is Wordsworth.  These are the goals to which he aspires, goals that are discernable in his work from a very early age.  He wrote many of his greatest poems in the years covered here, before he reached 30.  Wisdom, or more specifically a yearning for and contemplation of goodness and beauty, suffuses his poetry.  Thus he is keen to deliver moral advice, and almost seems to teach or prophesy rather than reflect.  But it is the deepest and most profitable kind of reflection, I can almost hear him replying, whose results teach the reflector something.  And since he insists in the Preface to his Lyrical Ballads that he writes each poem with a purpose, and with the intent of delivering objective truths rather than ideas that one may take or leave as a matter of preference, we must prepare for a slight didactic or pedagogical flavor now and then.  For Wordsworth, though firmly against elitism in poetry, is aware of his own wisdom, and is driven to share it with others.  The topics range from attitudes towards people (as in “Matthew”), to attitudes towards nature (as in “Lines Written in Early Spring”), to a straightforward exhortation to be good (as in “Goody Blake and Harry Gill”).  He imparts his values on social matters as well, regarding for instance the evil of slavery (at the end of “Descriptive Sketches”), the necessity of legislated charity (at the beginning of “The Old Cumberland Beggar”), and thoughts on education (e.g. “Expostulation and Reply”).

LyricalBallads-TitlePageIn this general project of sharing wisdom by means of poetry, I must agree with Wordsworth, though it is at odds with some of today’s poetical principles.  Poetry, it seems to me, should be free to serve any passion or mission of the poet, even it is—perhaps especially if it is—to share principles he believes are important.  Sometimes poets will sit down with a pen to explore their own hearts or minds, or to describe raw experience, or to express freely without explicit outward objective.  We need not worry that those sorts of poems will tell us how we ought to think, or how we ought to experience things—we are not so much an audience as a voyeur of such poems.  But those aren’t the only kinds of poems.  Imagine the poet looking us right in the eye and picking up his pen specifically to get us to see something.  That is an exciting prospect for an open or sympathetic reader, if the poet has something worthwhile to say.  Of what use is it then for the poet to sabotage his task by obscuring the message, removing the poem somewhat from us, say as a matter of courtesy?  Certainly, to do so would allow us readers a broader scope for our conclusions.  The poet would retain an air of mystery and his poem would refrain from invading our existing notions.  Poetry with an open meaning can heighten our perception of things we already perceive, but it can also strengthen whatever biases and ignorance we happen to have, for our psyche tends to mold what we read to its preexisting structure—we hear what we want to hear.  Maybe (although now I am approaching the cantankerous) we can see why open meaning might be the preferred perspective in a time when much of poetry has receded from public view, into the gated community of educated opinion.  Those whose job it is to think are often jealously protective of their own ideas, whatever they happen to be-- so they might prefer poetry that doesn't mess with them.  On the other hand, poetry that aims for an objective purpose has at least the possibility of improving or enlarging our perspective and our views.  Wisdom has content.  Who knows whether this or that poet has a handle on it, but such content must exist if there is any difference between wisdom and foolishness.  We need not—and will not—agree with all of the particulars of what Wordsworth feels he must teach us; nevertheless I’ll go out on that trite limb and suggest that we grow even by giving the poetry honest and imaginative consideration.

Such is the man of wisdom; but something must be said as well about the poet of nature.  Wordsworth is adamant that the insights he wishes to share are best acquired through deep attention to nature.  We must go into the fields and forests and mountains ourselves to find these truths.  His main role is to tempt us to do so, by his descriptions of the landforms and birds and plants and bodies of water, as in so many poems including “Descriptive Sketches”, “A Night-Piece”, and “An Evening Walk”.  His philosophy that nature can teach us of goodness and beauty and of the importance of imagination, and do it better than anything else, is found most tersely in the manifesto “The Tables Turned”, but is evident in many other poems.  In these same poems he aims a decidedly critical eye at natural science, which is too materialistic to gather this wisdom.  In the Preface he is more conciliatory, admitting that the Poet and the Scientist must walk side by side, one gleaning the “matters of fact” while the other gleans the poetry and wisdom.  But what is this Nature of which Wordsworth so beautifully speaks?  It is not really the nature of the natural sciences, admittedly, but it is the nature that at least some of us see when we walk into the woods.  Wordsworth believes, it seems, (to appropriate a manner of speaking of the philosopher G. E. Moore) that Nature is Nature, and that is all that can be said of the matter.  The imagination must be activated for us to see what is there, and then we are left in no doubt of the teachings and the wisdom that are there to be received.  I am more doubtful of this, as much as I respect and relate to the lessons Wordsworth gains while in natural settings.  I must ask, why would Nature be teaching us these things?  Who or what is this Nature that Wordsworth denotes with a proper name and worships with such humble piety?  It seems that Wordsworth is pointing us to a God, and yet only occasionally and half-heartedly alluding to this fact.  Nature seems to be the wonderful book from which he is reading about this God, and if this is the case he is mistaking the book for the author unless he believes them to be one and the same.  If I am getting this wrong, and selling Nature short by removing Wordsworth’s God from it, then we have yet to get a real picture of who or what this Nature is; and then I must be convinced that it is worthy of respect and worship in order to concur with the poet.

I can remember when I first read “Tables Turned” in high school.  I didn’t analyze it—I didn’t think I was supposed to.  It simply made me want to get out of that dusty building immediately and go into the woods.  For most, the dry philosophical questions of what Wordsworth’s Nature is or ought to be will, and probably should, be set aside and nearly forgotten in the joy of sharing the poet’s experiences and realizations.  Wordsworth would be the first to see the silly contradiction in being preoccupied with tedious thoughts about the importance of getting rid of tedious thoughts, and getting into nature.  Close the book, (he’d tell me), close the mouth, open the mind, and get out there.

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POEM SUMMARIES

This portion of Wordsworth’s poetry includes all of the poems we have from him before he began his autobiographical Prelude, except for Peter Bell:  from a school assignment of 1785 when he was 14, through 1799.  These are in chronological order, as far as was known in 1904 anyway (I love those old Cambridge Editions of the poets).  My votes for the best are marked with one or more asterisks.

(1785-1797)

“Lines written as a School Exercise at Hawkshead, anno aetatis 14”

-A celebration of Britain’s coming-of-age through education. [Amazing that Wordsworth sees the value of education at 14!]

“Extract from the Conclusion of a Poem, composed in anticipation of leaving School”

-The setting sun instigates a thoughtful promise to always remember his home.

“Written in very Early Youth”

-The stillness of nature allays the sadness of missing his friends.

“An Evening Walk. Addressed to a Young Lady”

-Description of geography, flora, and fauna in a natural area; including birds, a sunset, and associated people.

“Lines written while sailing in a Boat at Evening”

-Poets pursue beauty despite the gloom of “coming down” from the experience of it.

“Remembrance of Collins, composed upon the Thames near Richmond”

“Descriptive Sketches taken during a Pedestrian Tour of the Alps”

“Guilt and Sorrow; or, Incidents upon Salisbury Plain”

-An old man meets a woman who has lost her husband and children, and then a man who has beaten his child. Then he chances on his own elderly wife, whom he had abandoned and is now near death.  These experiences drive him to ask her forgiveness, and later to turn himself in for killing his own son.

“Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaite, on a desolate part of the Shore, commanding beautiful Prospect”

-A prideful man fails in life.

The Borderers. A Tragedy.

-On the Scottish Borders, a man (Oswald) who is miserable for having killed wrongly, wants company. So he tempts and beguiles Marmaduke to kill (or allow to die) an old innocent man, Herbert, who is the father of the girl Marmaduke loves, Idonea. Eventually Marmaduke capitulates to Oswaldo’s deceit. After Herbert is dead, Oswald tells Marmaduke the truth. Marmaduke’s men then kill Oswald, and Marmaduke retires to a hermitage. It is a story of how dangerous rumor and temptation can be, Oswald sounding very much like the tempter Satan.

“The Reverie of Poor Susan”

-Hearing a thrush’s song makes the world new, for a moment.

“The Birth of Love, translated from some French Stanzas by Francis Wrangham”

-Cupid is wooed by the Graces.

 

(1798)

“A Night-Piece”

-A sketch of the moon in a cloudy sky.

*”We are Seven”

-A little girl refuses to subtract two from her number of siblings when they are dead.

“Anecdote for Fathers”

-Contrasting with his father’s sadness at having moved from a place, his simple boy is more carefree.

“The Thorn”

-A small thorn-tree, a tiny hillock of moss, and a muddy pond inspire a story of a wailing woman who was jilted by her lover. She has buried her infant beneath the moss, and mourns there often.

“Goody Blake and Harry Gill. A true Story”

-A man is stricken cold forever after seizing an old woman for taking sticks from his hedge for a fire to warm herself.

“Her eyes are Wild”

-A young lonely mother suckles her infant boy and explains how he is the only thing she lives for.

“Simon Lee, the old Huntsman; with an incident in which he was concerned”

-An old Scots huntsman is very grateful for the author helping him in his yard work—a significant occurrence, as people are more often ingrates.

**”Lines written in Early Spring”

-All nature is joyful and worships God-- but what about man?

*”To my Sister”

-The spring teaches and inspires the finely attentive soul. He invites his sister to come and enjoy it!

“‘A whirl-blast from behind the hill’“

-A hailstorm makes the dead leaves on the ground hop to life.

*”Expostulation and Reply”

-Going to nature is not a waste of time-- it can teach us by means of our experiences there.

***”The Tables Turned. An evening Scene, on the same Subject”

-Stop intellectual endeavors and go to nature, which imparts greater wisdom!

“The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman”

-An Amerindian woman left to die mourns her fate.

“The Last of the Flock”

-A man forced to sell his flock of beloved sheep one by one, cries as he brings his last lamb to town.

“The Idiot Boy”

-A mother sends her mentally retarded boy on an errand. He joyfully gets lost, and is finally found by his worrying mother.

**”Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

-A description of the spiritual benefits of attention to nature. Visiting a place he knew in his childhood, he thinks of his lost childlike attitude toward nature. He doesn’t mourn, though, for his spirit is still as strong—only matured.  After this poem he writes a note on the composition of the poem.  It begins thus: “No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this. I began it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just as I was entering Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four or five days, with my Sister.”

*”The Old Cumberland Beggar”

-On the value of poor people; their worth intrinsically and even to society.

“Animal Tranquility and Decay”

 

(1799)

“The Simplon Pass”

-An eternal aspect to nature.

“Influence of Natural Objects in calling forth and strengthening the imagination in Boyhood and early Youth”

-The poet relates how natural things developed his emotions and imagination as a child.

“There was a Boy”

-A boy who used to call to the owls died before he was 12, and is fondly remembered.

“Nutting”

-A trip into the woods for nuts teaches him that he can mar the beauty of nature, if he is not careful.

“‘Strange fits of passion have I known’“

-He has been prone to superstition when gazing at the moon on the way to his lover’s cottage.

*”‘She dwelt among the untrodden ways’“

-Lucy lived and died alone—but affected Wordsworth deeply.

“‘I travelled among unknown men’“

-He misses England and his home; and he misses Lucy who is almost a symbol of both.

“‘Three years she grew in sun and shower’“

-Nature takes Lucy, and incorporates her into the “genius loci”, the spirit of the place.

“‘A slumber did my spirit seal’“

-She seemed ageless—and now, being dead, she is.

*”A Poet’s Epitaph”

-A poet comments on members of society, and considers the simple rural man (i.e., the ideal poet) most worthy to approach his grave.

 “Address to the Scholars of the Village School of ---”

-Three perspectives on the death of a beloved old schoolmaster.

*”Matthew”

-A heartfelt eulogy for his schoolmaster, a kind, emotional, wise man.

“The two April Mornings”

-A walk with Matthew (the old schoolmaster again), who recollects his daughter’s grave and the sight of a pretty young girl.

“The Fountain. A Conversation”

-A touching discussion of old age and happiness between two friends: one old, one young.

“To a Sexton”

-A sexton as a “gardener of the dead”—Wordsworth wishes to be placed with his lover Jane and let them lie together.

“The Danish Boy. A Fragment”

-A sketch of an ethereal mountain scene, where a nature-loving, serene boy lives alone in a valley.

“Lucy Gray; or, Solitude”

-The story of a girl who dies on an errand on a winter night.

“Ruth”

-A sad biography of a girl of nature who loses her mother, and later loses her wayward American husband, and so returns to live a wild life in the forest.

“Written in Germany, on one of the coldest days of the Century”

-A fly dies on a cold night, and Wordsworth would rather have saved even this small life till spring.

“‘Bleak season was it, turbulent and wild’“

-A couple move through a wintry land, struggling but admiring nature’s sternness.

“‘On Nature’s invitation do I come’“

-Wordsworth admires a natural scene like a lover, and expresses love, gratitude, and peace, with the companionship of his sister.

 
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TIDBITS OF SIGNIFICANCE

From such verses the Poems in these volumes will be found distinguished at least by one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose. Not that I always began to write with a distinct purpose formally conceived, but habits of meditation have, I trust, so prompted and regulated my feelings, that my descriptions of such objects as strongly excite those feelings will be found to carry along with them a purpose.

-Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800).

 

I here use the word ‘Poetry’ (though against my own judgment) as opposed to the word Prose, and synonymous with metrical composition. But much confusion has been introduced into criticism by this contradistinction of Poetry and Prose, instead of the more philosophical one of Poetry and Matter of Fact, or Science. The only strict antithesis to Prose is Metre; nor is this, in truth, a strict antithesis, because lines and passages of metre so naturally occur in writing prose, that it would be scarcely possible to avoid them, even were it desirable.

-Note 1 to Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800).

 

...men who speak of what they do not understand; who talk of Poetry, as of a matter of amusement and idle pleasure; who will converse with us as gravely about a taste for Poetry, as they express it, as if it were a thing as indifferent as a taste for rope-dancing, or Frontiniac or Sherry. Aristotle, I have been told, has said, that Poetry is the most philosophic of all writing: it is so: its object is truth, not individual and local, but general and operative; not standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion; truth which is its own testimony, which gives competence and confidence to the tribunal to which it appeals, and receives them from the same tribunal. Poetry is the image of man and nature.

-Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800). [Poetry as universal and objective in intent—postmodernists eat your heart out!]

 

Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man.

-Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800).

 

If the labours of Men of science should ever create any material revolution, direct or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the Poet will sleep then no more than at present; he will be ready to follow the steps of the Man of science, not only in those general indirect effects, but he will be at his side, carrying sensation into the midst of the objects of the science itself. The remotest discoveries of the Chemist, the Botanist, or Mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the Poet’s art as any upon which it can be employed.

-Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800). [A laudable and interesting aim—science as a subject for poetry.]

 

But Poets do not write for Poets alone, but for men. Unless, therefore, we are advocates for that admiration which subsists upon ignorance, and that pleasure which arises from hearing what we do not understand, the Poet must descend from this supposed height; and, in order to excite rational sympathy, he must express himself as other men express themselves.

-Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800). [Against elitism in poetry.]

 

...all men feel an habitual gratitude, and something of an honourable bigotry, for the objects which have long continued to please them: we not only wish to be pleased, but to be pleased in that particular way in which we have been accustomed to be pleased.

-Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800).

 

Science with joy saw Superstition fly

Before the lustre of Religion’s eye

-”Lines written as a school exercise”, 43-44.

 

To teach, on rapid wings, the curious soul

To roam from heaven to heaven, from pole to pole,

From thence to search the mystic cause of things

And follow Nature to her secret springs;

Nor less to guide the fluctuating youth

Firm in the sacred paths of moral truth,

To regulate the mind’s disordered frame,

And quench the passions kindling into flame;

The glimmering fires of Virtue to enlarge,

And purge from Vice’s dross my tender charge.

-”Lines written as a school exercise”, 73-82. [On the value of education; a good guide, especially for children.]

 

[I noticed] the infinite variety of natural appearances which had been unnoticed by the poets of any age or country, so far as I was acquainted with them; and I made a resolution to supply, in some degree, the deficiency.

-preface to “An Evening Walk”.

 

And hope itself was all I knew of pain

-”An Evening Walk”, 22.

 

Were there, below, a spot of holy ground

Where from distress a refuge might be found,

And solitude prepare the soul for heaven;

Sure, nature’s God that spot to man had given

Where falls the purple morning far and wide

In flakes of light upon the mountain side;

Where with loud voice the power of water shakes

The leafy wood, or sleeps in quiet lakes.

-”Descriptive Sketches”, 1-8.

 

Dear is the forest frowning o’er his head,

And dear the velvet green-sward to his tread

-”Descriptive Sketches”, 21-22.

 

How still! no irreligious sound or sight

Rouses the soul from her severe delight.

-”Descriptive Sketches”, 352-353.

 

Once, Man entirely free, alone and wild,

Was blest as free—for he was Nature’s child.

He, all superior but his God disdained,

Walked none restraining, and by none restrained

Confessed no law but what his reason taught,

Did all he wished, and wished but what he ought.

-”Descriptive Sketches”, 433-438. [Primeval man, ‘pre-Fall’, premoral. Theologically and biologically interesting. And 80 years before Darwin’s Descent of Man...]

 

Still have I found, where Tyranny prevails,

That virtue languishes and pleasure fails

-”Descriptive Sketches”, 597-598.

 

Three lovely babes had lain upon my breast;

And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed,

And knew not why.

-”Guilt and Sorrow”, 264-266. [The ‘maternal instinct’.]

 

...he, who feels contempt

For any living thing, hath faculties

Which he has never used

-”Lines left upon a seat in a yew-tree”, 52-54.

 

...true knowledge leads to love;

True dignity abides with him alone

Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,

Can still suspect, and still revere himself,

In lowliness of heart.

-”Lines left upon a seat in a yew-tree”, 60-64.

 

...sin and crime are apt to start from their very opposite qualities, so are there no limits to the hardening of the heart and the perversion of the understanding to which they may carry their slaves.

-note to The Borderers.

 

Do we not live on ground

Where Souls are self-defended, free to grow

Like mountain oaks rocked by the stormy wind.

-Lacy, The Borderers, II.564-566. [Excellent description of human will.]

 

...all is slavery; we receive

Laws, but we ask not whence those laws have come;

We need an inward sting to goad us on.

-Oswald, The Borderers, IV.207-209.

 

—A simple Child,

That lightly draws its breath,

And feels its life in every limb,

What should it know of death?

-“We Are Seven”, 1-4.

 

—Her beauty made me glad.

-“We Are Seven”, 12.

 

Put on with speed your woodland dress;

And bring no book: for this one day

We’ll give to idleness.

-“To My Sister”, 14-16.

 

Love, now a universal birth,

From heart to heart is stealing,

From earth to man, from man to earth:

—It is the hour of feeling.

-“To My Sister”, 21-24.

 

One moment now may give us more

Than years of toiling reason:

Our minds shall drink at every pore

The spirit of the season.

-“To My Sister”, 25-28.

 

“Think you, ‘mid all this mighty sum

Of things for ever speaking,

That nothing of itself will come,

But we must still be seeking?”

-William, “Expostulation and Reply”, 25-28.

 

One impulse from a vernal wood

May teach you more of man,

Of moral evil and of good,

Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;

Our meddling intellect

Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—

We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;

Close up those barren leaves;

come forth, and bring with you a heart

That watches and receives.”

-“The Tables Turned”, 21-32.

 

...Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

That on a wild secluded scene impress

Thoughts of more deep seclusion

-“Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey”, 4-7.

 

...with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.

-“Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey”, 47-49.

 

...For nature then

(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,

And their glad animal movements all gone by)

To me was all in all.

-“Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey”, 72-75.

 

...Nature never did betray

The heart that loved her; ‘t is her privilege,

Through all the years of this our life, to lead

From joy to joy: for she can so inform

The mind that is within us, so impress

With quietness and beauty, and so feed

With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,

Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,

Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all

The dreary intercourse of daily life,

Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb

Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold

Is full of blessings.

-“Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey”, 122-134.

 

But deem not this Man useless. —Statesmen! ye

Who have a broom still ready in your hands

To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,

Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate

Your talents, power, or wisdom, deem him not

A burthen of the earth!

-”The Old Cumberland Beggar”, 67-73. [A potent admonishment not to denigrate or undervalue the poor.]

 

...’T is Nature’s law

That none, the meanest of created things,

Or forms created the most vile and brute,

The dullest or most noxious, should exist

Divorced from good—a spirit and pulse of good,

A life and soul, to every mode of being

Inseparably linked.

-”The Old Cumberland Beggar”, 73-79. [All created things are good—this recalls Augustine, who taught that all things that exist are good, and evil is merely the privation of good.]

 

...Then be assured

That least of all can aught—that ever owned

The heaven-regarding eye and front sublime

Which man is born to—sink, howe’er depressed,

So low as to be scorned without a sin;

Without offence to God cast out of view

-”The Old Cumberland Beggar”, 79-84.

 

—But of the poor man ask, the abject poor;

Go, and demand of him, if there be here

In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,

And these inevitable charities,

Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?

No—man is dear to man; the poorest poor

Long for some moments in a weary life

When they can know and feel that they have been,

Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out

Of some small blessings; have been kind to such

As needed kindness, for this single cause,

That we have all of us one human heart.

-”The Old Cumberland Beggar”, 142-153. [Recalls “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.]

 

As in the eye of Nature he has lived,

So in the eye of Nature let him die!

-“The Old Cumberland Beggar”, 196-197.

 

All effort seems forgotten; one to whom

Long patience hath such mild composure given,

That patience now doth seem a thing of which

He hath no need.

-“Animal Tranquility and Decay”, 9-12.

 

Then, dearest Maiden, move along these shades

In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand

Touch—for there is a spirit in the woods.

-“Nutting”, 54-56.

 

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

-“‘A slumber did my spirit seal’”, 3-4.

 

And he has neither eyes nor ears;

Himself his world, and his own God

-“A Poet’s Epitaph”, 27-28.

 

And you must love him, ere to you

He will seem worthy of your love

-“A Poet’s Epitaph”, 43-44.

 

And she...

Had built a bower upon the green,

As if she from her birth had been

An infant of the woods.

-“Ruth”, 7, 10-12.

 

“Sweet Ruth! and could you go with me

My helpmate in the woods to be,

Our shed at night to rear;

Or run, my own adopted bride,

A sylvan huntress at my side,

And drive the flying deer!”

-“Ruth”, 91-96.

 

Stern was the face of Nature; we rejoiced

In that stern countenance; for our souls thence drew

A feeling of their strength.

-“‘Bleak season was it, turbulent and wild’”, 12-14.

 

On Nature’s invitation do I come,

By Reason sanctioned.

-“‘On Nature’s invitation do I come’”, 1-2.

 

Oh, if such silence be not thanks to God

For what hath been bestowed, then where, where then

Shall gratitude find rest?

-“‘On Nature’s invitation do I come’”, 13-15.

 

Back to Section Head

READ THIS WHEN…

...you want to open your imagination to the deep lessons which can be learned in nature;

or,

...you are in the mood to chew on nuggets of poetic wisdom.

 

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU'D LIKE:

(for the nature-lover:)

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature  (1836)
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden  (1854)
  • Robert Frost, poems  (1913-1945)
  • Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac  (1948)

(for those with an active and reverent imagination:)

  • Longinus, On the Sublime (1st century)
  • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1590-1596)
  • William Wordsworth, “Ode. Intimations of Immortality, from Recollections of Early Childhood” (1806)
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins, poetry  (d.1889)

 

FIND THIS BOOK:

Hardcover

The Cambridge Edition can still be found!  Hurry before it goes the way of all wonderful things when they become forgotten.

If you want to take the poet out into nature, the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets is exactly what you want among books currently in print:

 

Paperback

You'd think the Wordsworth Poetry Library ought to do a good edition of its favorite poet, so here:

But if you'd like the book Lyrical Ballads that made headlines back then, the early stuff of both Wordsworth and Coleridge, it's still (remarkably!) in print:


 

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