Wordsworth--Completing the Thought

Yesterday, I kept the excerpt short and to the point.  So short and to the point, that indeed, the point wasn't even there.  And so today, the point.

from The Prelude: Book II
William Wordsworth

Thus were my sympathies enlarged, and thus
Daily the common range of visible things
Grew dear to me: already I began
To love the sun; a boy I loved the sun,
Not as I since have loved him, as a pledge
And surety of our earthly life, a light
Which we behold and feel we are alive;
Nor for his bounty to so many worlds—
But for this cause, that I had seen him lay
His beauty on the morning hills, had seen
The western mountain touch his setting orb,
In many a thoughtless hour, when, from excess
Of happiness, my blood appeared to flow
For its own pleasure, and I breathed with joy.
 In his ecstasy of auto-mythmaking, Wordsworth recalls not merely his youthful relationship with all things natural, but that relationship as it was changed by aging and by a more materialistic view of the world.  He will go on to talk about how the scientific intellect is devoted to the division of things.  But here he describes the unity of things.  The sun is treasured not for what it can do or how is supports life, but rather for its simple beauty and being.  Encapsulated in this moment is one view of life which he will later oppose to the materialist/empiricist viewpoint. 

I can't help but liken it to the debate that rages today between the new-atheists and the almost theists who have lost their way.  Wordsworth here tells us how he was connected, how all things are, in fact a unity.  The sun was cherished because Wordsworth had "seen him lay//His beauty on the morning hills. . ."  it is the act of unifying sun and hills, of bringing everything into focus that is the center of the sun's beauty.

And so we continue.  Hope you all are enjoying Wordsworth as much as I am.  From the visit figures, ir hasn't been a blockbuster; but that's okay, because what is worth bringing forward is worth bringing forward, even if only for me to have a place to return to my own enjoyment of the work.  I share that enjoyment with you and hope that you will take it up and find your own way of appreciating this wonderful poem.


  1. You say, "Wordsworth here tells us how he was connected, how all things are, in fact a unity." Steven, in my humble opinion, you've scored a perfect bullseye. Too many readers of Wordsworth overlook the simple key to appreciating his work (particularly his early work because too much of his later work gets a bit bogged down). For Wordsworth, Nature (with a capital N) is the window, so to speak, through which mortals can connect with the Divine (however the mortal might wish to define that entity). The common man's connection with the Divine through Nature is the Wordsworthian contribution to English Romanticism, and it is a spirit-filled aesthetic that is much needed in the 21st century.


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